Steve McClure

At the forefront of british sport climbing. Put up the UKs first 9a+, Mutation and first 9b, Rainman as well as a raft of routes from 8c+ upwards. Also a dab hand on trad with several very hard ascents to his name and some very impressive onsight ascents.

The first time I came to Malham it looked like the easiest crag in the world...

Interview on The Nugget Climbing Podcast


Nightmayer (E8)
Added at 18:12 on 18 December 2020
Hubble (9a)
Added at 18:12 on 18 December 2020
GreatNess Wall (E10, FA)
Added at 09:12 on 19 December 2020
Rainman (9b, FA)
Added at 09:12 on 19 December 2020
Kaa'bah (8c+, FA)
Added at 12:12 on 22 December 2020
Rhapsody (E11)
Added at 16:12 on 29 December 2020
Choronzon (E10)
Added at 17:01 on 19 January 2021
Overshadow (9a+, FA)
Added at 13:02 on 05 February 2021
Bat Shadow (8c+, FA)
Added at 13:02 on 05 February 2021
Elder Statesman (E8, FA)
Added at 12:01 on 30 January 2021
Batman (9a, FA)
Added at 13:05 on 10 May 2021
Rainman (9b, FA)
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Added at 07:05 on 19 May 2021
Impact Day (E8)
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Added at 10:05 on 20 May 2021
Lexicon (E11)
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Added at 05:09 on 22 September 2021
The Very Big and the Very Small (8b+)
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Added at 14:06 on 28 June 2021
Elder Statesman (E8, FA)
Added at 22:02 on 22 February 2021
The Very Big and the Very Small (8b+)
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Added at 14:06 on 28 June 2021
Lexicon (E11)
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Added at 15:09 on 23 September 2021
Lexicon (E11)
Added at 13:09 on 26 September 2021
Olympiad (8b)
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Added at 16:05 on 28 May 2021
Olympiad (8b)
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Added at 16:05 on 28 May 2021
Olympiad (8b)
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Added at 21:05 on 28 May 2021
Mutation (9a+, FA)
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Added at 16:10 on 15 October 2021
North Star (9a, FA)
Added at 09:07 on 03 July 2021
The Final Round (E9)
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Added at 10:05 on 01 May 2021


51 recorded ascents.

Climb Grade FA Ascent Date
Rainman 9b (Lead) 04 Jun 2017

Known as 'The Easy Easy' project before it was done. 127 sessions spanning 10 seasons.

Steve's diary of his attempts on the route is available here

16/5/2013 - session 40, on a training link of Bat Route in to the top of Rainman.

Great conditions. I knew I would do it. But I didn’t! Foiled by the snagging krab, Rich Heap had left it open when filming. Gutted! 2nd go fell on heartbreaker slap, 3rd go actually almost held the sloper. All over it today, it just would not give in!

20/4/2014 - Session 53

Waste of time today, and very frustrating. Whats the point of spending all season building back up to a level that is nowhere near. Basically I already know its too hard, the curve doesn’t come close to the target. I’m out of time already. Mentally its over, probably forever, with motivation to reach high points only. Managed floor to undercut clip. And yes, that’s high, but its nowhere, again!


Evolution at Ravenstor lapped 3 times with short rest. Puts perspective on Malham project!

5/6/2015 - Session 74

Twice to stab from belay! Bah, just can’t nail that move! And I can’t get this link [from Raindogs belay to top]. I think this link is harder than Batman. It must be 9a+ as a link. So font 8a into 8c+ = 9a+? sounds about right. Or maybe this link is even harder? I’ve spent 75 days now and still not done this link. But a bit wet, crag starting to seep – what, its june!

15/6/2015 - Session 76

managed from floor to stab! Definite high point! Some beta changes mean I am flying through! Feels awesome. But battered later and failed to get through bulge twice. Very good though. And a good point to finish the season. Still feels like a long way, but enough to keep me motivated to get back on it.

29/9/2015 - Session 79

Good efforts today from floor, once to stab, once to razor. That’s awesome. BUT spotted a major sequence change, getting LH into pocket instead of R, much easier, then use the tooth as a side pull for RH to move LH to the micro block, then RH into pocket. Absolutely can’t believe I didn’t spot this. All that messing around years ago trying to find a way to get RH into pocket!! And then years of trying the section with the poor undercut. What an idiot! Very exciting!

5/10/2015 - Session 80

Condensed crag, even failed on RD! But went on upper bit excited about new sequence. But straight away ripped the tooth off, totally lost, no chance of repair. Gutted. How about that for a teaser? Not happy.

19/4/2016 - Session 91

Floor to Stab move!! Very exciting. A real high-point. So just maybe it could be possible? If I hold the pocket well I should get a move higher, then it’s the heartbreaker… that’s really close… wow, it could go!!

23/5/2016 - Session 99

Last day, and I knew it. Heart not in it, I figure I am burnt out now, I’ve been going backwards a while. However, that pressure-off thing helped, and from floor I got fingers in pocket, soo close to holding, but not quite. But I was blown really. I need to have a bit left there and I didn’t. But good place to leave it, I’m pretty psyched!

7/11/2016 - Session 108

The end!!! Good conditions, wanted progress, but fell off bulge 3 times! Gutted really. Mentally gave up. Will I even come back?? I’m now so many years in. Its been great, and to be fair there isn’t much else to do at Malham, but that’s not my reason for being on it. I love the process, the journey. But now it really looks like the journey has no end, and I don’t think I can just carry on forever!

28/4/2017 - Session 117

2 x floor to stab. So back on high points. Feel pretty good this year. Not sure if it’s the micro beta? Bulge I’m getting most times, Kneebar I’m really milking though its so intense on the body, then I’m so fast on the next section.

12/5/2017 - Session 121

Progress. Beta worked. So marginal! But twice held the pocket. Once just for a second, then next go managed to move feet. So a breakthrough. Now it actually feels possible. For the first time ever its ON!! Need more progress though. Its still a bunch more after that.

21/5/2017 - Session 124

Good conditions, though warm at first. But ominous, as forecast truly boiling. Everyone talking of sacking off Malham. No one coming after today. I had 2 goes, 1st held stab, but not well, 2nd just slapped stab. That’s it, its over again. But last move. Then I had a last go ‘to get the draws out’ but conditions amazing, just kept going, no pressure. Then I’d held the heartbreaker, and the RH crimp, foot on edge, reached for final undercut… but somehow just short. 5mm further and I was in. But NO. so gutted. Suddenly I was devastated. First time ever on this route I have been truly gutted

4/6/2017 - Session 127

YES!! Was it always on? I don’t think so. Was this my last chance? Maybe, forecast is truly awful!! Pressure was on! First go was great weather, but rock a tad warm from sun. Almost held heartbreaker. Then tired. Felt drained, disappointed, felt that was it! Rested 3 hr, then nailed it. BUT so close, like ridiculous, closest ever, almost dropped very last move to good holds, and then even in BR I absolutely struggled. Panicked at BR rest and stayed for ages. But then the last 8a wall was easy, and just SOO much fun. Every move I knew it was gonna happen, the moves just flowed, and then at last, it was over.

Mutation 9a+ (Lead) 14 Oct 1998

A hugely impressive ascent. Steve suggested 9a but it is now considered 9a+ which makes it the first of the grade in the UK and the first of the brade by a British person.

It took Steve 24 sessions over 4 years to make the first ascent.

The first time I did that move from the ground, I did the route, but I only did the last move by the skin of my teeth. I'm pretty sure a gust of wind blew me up that last move...

Steve's diary [2]

Below are some extracts from Steve's diary while he was attempting the route.

7th October 1998, day 22:

Yet another failed day. Getting annoying now! Feel as though I should be doing better. Maybe I am getting a ‘head’ problem on ‘that’ move. Today I had 2 RP efforts, first go was the best, swinging over to the pinch but not getting the distance. 2nd go was rubbish. No psyche and hardly tried. Evo is feeling a path, but that cross is just a killer! Today I got Myles (Gibson) up there for a look, and with his fingers his opinion on moves is really important. He found it nails too, and no info change really (would have been nice if he found an easier way!). He reckoned 8b at least for the extension if not more, so it means the route could be overall 9a. That’s probably why I’m not getting up it!

10th October 1998, day 23:

THAT move FOUR times today! Excellent conditions. I’m wasting them! They will run out soon for sure. Not sure about the head problem except I expect to fail now. I set off knowing I’ll get to that move, and fall off that move. But I still think I’m trying hard enough, even on the move. Its just so momentum orientated. I need to have the movement pattern in my mind and not just try and static it. I’m sure it will go. Spent ages fiddling with the move and found perhaps a slightly easier way of swinging it, but only slightly, and probably not at all really. But that top section is still so hard. Today after each go I climbed the top section to keep it fresh. I could for sure drop that bit! Just need to keep plugging away.


[2] Extracts from Steve's diary in the days leading up to making the first ascent

Overshadow 9a+ (Lead) 23 May 2007

Northern Lights 9a (Lead) 18 Jul 2000

Steve cemented himself as the top sport climber in the UK, taking over from Moon and Moffatt and leading sport climbing in the UK in to a new era.

Notably, Steve used a different sequence from what Ben Moon was trying with the original line. Steve's sequence loops out slightly where Ben was trying to go very direct.

Rainshadow 9a (Lead) 20 Jun 2003

Extension to Raindogs. Breakdown is 8a in to 8A in to 8a+.

North Star 9a (Lead) 15 May 2008

Stevolution 9a (Lead) 01 Jan 2009 (approx)
Batman 9a (Lead) 22 May 2013

Hubble 9a (Lead) 30 Jul 2009

A real milestone, possibly my biggest achievement in climbing, even bigger perhaps than overshadow. Hubble is special, it's a massive trophy and a world icon with a real history.

Kaa'bah 8c+ (Lead) 01 Jan 2004 (approx)

Cruz Diablo 8c+ (Lead) 05 Nov 2010
Fixation 8c+ (Lead) 01 Sep 2020 (approx)

Magnetic North 8c+ (Lead)
Bat Shadow 8c+ (Lead)

The Bastard 8c+ (Lead)

Second ascent.

Mecca Extension 8c (Lead) 01 Jan 1998 (approx)
Dreadnaught 8c (Lead) 01 Jan 1999 (approx)
Hajj 8c (Lead) 01 Jan 2004 (approx)
The Reign is Over 8c (Lead) 01 Apr 2018 (approx)
Transform 8c (Lead) 01 Jan 2000 (approx)

Second ascent.

Steve and Malcolm Smith worked the route together then Steve made the second ascent a few days after Malc made the FA.

The Great Escape 8b+ (Lead) 01 Jan 2010 (approx)
The Very Big and the Very Small 8b+ (Lead) 01 Jan 1998 (approx)

Second ascent.

Indian Summer 8b+ (Lead Onsight) 01 Aug 2002

First 8b+ onsight by a brit?

Kalea Borroka 8b+ (Lead Onsight) 20 May 2009
Tom et je Ris 8b+ (Lead Onsight) 12 Jul 2013

Taka Okame 8b+ (Lead) 01 Jan 2016 (approx)
Dr Crimp 8b+ (Lead Onsight)
Monsterosity 8b (Lead) 01 Jan 1999 (approx)
Victor Hugo 8b (Lead Onsight)
Idefix 8b (Lead Onsight)
Kali Yuga 8b (Lead Onsight)
Austrian Oak 8b (Lead Flash)
Climb Grade FA Ascent Date
Fat Lip 8B (Boulder)
Close of Business 8B (Boulder) 01 Sep 2003
Climb Grade FA Ascent Date
Rhapsody E11 (Lead) 15 Jun 2008

Lexicon E11 (Lead) 21 Sep 2021

Second ascent.

Before the successful ascent Steve took a huge fall from the very top of the route, estimated to be around 20m!

GreatNess Wall E10 (Lead) 27 May 2019

Choronzon E10 (Lead) 12 Jul 2015


Muy Caliente! E9 (Lead) 16 Jul 2015 (approx)
The Final Round E9 (Lead) 26 Apr 2021

Elder Statesman E8 (Lead) 02 Mar 2004

Steve used 3 ropes on the first ascent. This turned out to be a very wise choice!

The Quarryman E8 (Lead) 27 May 2011
Dawes Rides a Shovelhead E8 (Lead Onsight) 01 Aug 2011 (approx)
Nightmayer E8 (Lead Onsight) 01 Jan 2019 (approx)

Une Jeune Fille Quatre Vingt Dix Ans E8 (Lead Flash) 27 May 2019 (approx)
Impact Day E8 (Lead Flash) 19 Jun 2021

Strawberries E7 (Lead Onsight) 15 Jun 2014 (approx)

Always the Sun E7 (Lead Onsight) 01 Aug 2021 (approx)
Climb Grade FA Ascent Date
Finest Pedigree 9a+ (Boulder) 08 Jul 2010

Date src

Pedigree Chum 8c+ (Boulder) 01 Jan 2010 (approx)
Olympiad 8b (Lead) 18 May 2021 (approx)

Second ascent, and the first on trad gear. Steve suggested E10 6c.

Later on, discussing with those on the ground, they all clearly noted three different and distinct stages in my climbing: the first part to the kneebar was shaky and nervous, pessimistic even. The second to the distant wire was focused, determined and streamlined. But the third was like engaging an unknown 6th gear! There was just no way I was falling off; that extra 6th gear only available with the prospect of hours of knackering aid climbing and the knowledge that the next available opportunity could be anywhere between a few months and a decade away! [1]