Steve McClure

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Steve McClure
Personal information
NicknameStrong Steve[2]
Born (1970-07-25) 25 July 1970 (age 53)
Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Riding of Yorkshire[3]
EducationSacred Heart, Redcar[3] Sheffield University[4]
Height169 cm (5 ft 7 in)
Weight57 kg (126 lb)[5]
Climbing career
Type of climber
Highest grade
Known forCreating hardest British sport climbs; repeating hardest British traditional climbs
First ascents
  • Rainman (9b)
  • Overshadow (9a+)
  • Rainshadow (9a)
  • Northern Lights (9a)
  • Mutation (9a)
  • GreatNess Wall (E10 7a)
Major ascents
  • Rainman (9b)
  • Rhapsody (E11 7a, 5.14b R/X) (2nd ascent)
Updated on 13 January 2022.

Steve McClure (born 25 July 1970) is a British rock climber and climbing author, who is widely regarded as Britain's leading and most important sport climber for a period that extends for over two decades, starting from the late 1990s. In 2017, he created Rainman, Britain's first-ever 9b (5.15b) sport route, and by that stage was responsible for developing the majority of routes graded 9a (5.14d) and above in Britain. Although mainly known for sport climbing, McClure has also been one of the most successful British traditional climbers, and British onsight climbers (in both sport climbing and traditional climbing formats).

Climbing career[edit]

McClure started climbing early as both parents were keen climbers, and by age 16 was onsighting E6.[6] McClure did not take up British sport climbing until he was 24, and said that it took him time to adapt saying, "[in sport] it's possible to commit 100%, rather than considering the risk and the danger [in traditional]".[6] He went from onsighting E6 to onsighting 7b (5.12b); within one year was doing 8b (5.13d) redpoints in a day; within 2 years he was doing 8c (5.14b); within 4 years, at age 28, he was doing 9a (5.14d).[6] As a late-comer to sport climbing, McClure had mixed form in competitions, retiring in 2004.[1]

For the next two decades, McClure dominated British sport climbing, repeating the hardest routes of his predecessors such as Ben Moon's Hubble (8c+/9a), and Jerry Moffatt's Evolution (8c+), and developing Britain's first 9a routes.[7] In 1998, he created Mutation, at the time Britain's second 9a (5.14d);[a][8][5] but on its first repeat 23 years later was regraded to 9a+ (5.15a), Britain's first 9a+.[b][9][10][11] In 2000, he freed Britain's third 9a (5.14d), Ben Moon's Northern Lights.[8][5] In 2007, McClure created Britain's second 9a+ (5.15a) route, Overshadow.[b][5][12] In June 2017, aged 46, McClure completed long term project Rainman, Britain's first-ever 9b (5.15b),[5][13][14] with PlanetMountain saying: "Steve McClure is the climber who almost single-handedly has dictated the pace of cutting-edge sport climbing in the UK. Practically all the hardest climbs in the country are his, starting in 1998 with his 9a Mutation at Ravens Tor".[13]

While McClure is best known for sport climbing, he is one of the few who have repeated the hardest traditional climbing routes in Britain, including Dave MacLeod's Rhapsody (E11 7a, 5.14c R/X) in 2008,[15] and Neil Gresham's Lexicon (E11 7a, 5.14a R) in 2021.[5][16] He has also freed projects such as GreatNess Wall (E10 7a), in 2019.[17][18] On traditional climbing risk, he had said: "Routes like Harder Faster, Indian Face, The Bells The Bells and Meshuga just fill me with dread, and I have absolutely no drive to do them at all.",[16] and, " I like the technical challenge of placing gear, but I'm not interested in death routes".[19]

McClure is also known for onsighting routes, and in 2002, became the first British climber to onsight an 8b+ (5.14a) with Indian Summer at Kilnsey (he has since onsighted more routes at 8b+, such as Tom et je Ris, in Verdon in 2013).[20][21] In 2009, he was unlucky not to become the first British climber to onsight an 8c (5.14b) failing at the final move of Amistad in Rodellar, Spain.[22] In 2019, McClure made the first onsight of Nightmayer (E8 6c),[23] one of the hardest onsights of a traditional climb in Britain,[c][15] and in 2021, he flashed Impact Day (E8 6c).[24] McClure's first British onsight of Ron Fawcett's Strawberries (E7 6b) in 2014, was also notable.[25][26]

In 2013, McClure became the first-ever British nominee for a Salewa Rock Award at the 2013 Arco Rock Legends, and a citation calling him: "a true legend of this sport and his nomination rewards a lifetime of cutting-edge climbing";[27] the four nominees were Steve McClure, Chris Sharma, Alex Megos, and Adam Ondra (who won).[28][27]

Notable ascents[edit]

Sport climbing routes[edit]

  • 2002: Indian Summer 8b+ (5.14a), Kilnsey. First British onsight of an 8b+ sport climb.[20][21]
  • 2003: Rainshadow 9a (5.14d), Malham Cove. First ascent.[31] Has become one of the most well-regarded and coveted 9a routes in Britain.[32]
  • 2008: North Star 9a (5.14d), Kilnsey. First ascent (an extension of Northern Exposure), and repeated by Adam Ondra in 2010 who confirmed grade.[34]
  • 2009: Stevolution 9a (5.14d), Raven Tor. First ascent.[13]
  • 2009: Hubble 8c+/9a , Raven Tor. Circa fifth ascent of Ben Moon's 1990 watershed route in British sport climbing; now considered closer to 9a.[6]
  • 2017: Rainman 9b (5.15b), Malham Cove. First ascent; links Raindogs 8a (5.13b) to Rainshadow 9a (5.14d), to finish directly.[13] Rainman is now considered to be the first-ever 9b route in Britain.[36][37]

Traditional climbing routes[edit]

  • 2004: Elder Statesman (HXS 7a, 5.14), Curbar Edge, Peak District. First ascent; McClure used three ropes for protection due the danger of cutting a rope on the sharp arete in a fall; featured in the films Hard Grit and The Elder Statesman.[38]
  • 2015: Choronzon (E10 7a), East Range, Pembrokeshire. 2nd ascent after Neil Mawson's FFA in 2014.[19]
  • 2019: Nightmayer (E8 6c). Dinas Cromlech. First onsight and 4th ascent of Steve Mayer's 1990s route.[23]
  • 2019: GreatNess Wall (E10 7a), Nesscliffe. First ascent of a project that had been tried unsuccessfully by several parties.[17][18]


  • Beyond Limits: A life through climbing (Steve McClure), November 2014. ISBN 978-1910240199.
  • Sport Climbing+: The Positive Approach to Improve Your Climbing (Steve McClure, Adrian Berry), December 2006. ISBN 978-1873341865.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b The first British 9a was considered to be Neil Carson's 1996 route, The Big Bang at Lower Pen Trwyn, Wales.[8][29]
  2. ^ a b c The first British 9a+ was considered to be John Gaskin's 2004 route, Violent New Breed, a short-semi bouldering route at Giggleswick in North Yorkshire.[12]
  3. ^ The hardest onsight of a traditional climbing route in Britain was considered to be James Pearson's 2014's ascent of Something's Burning (E9 7a) at Pembroke.[24]


  1. ^ a b "STEVE MC CLURE". International Federation of Sport Climbing. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  2. ^ Smith, Abbey (21 February 2008). "Steve McClure – The Full Interview". Climbing. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  3. ^ a b Blackburn, Mike (25 November 2015). "Leading rock climber Steve McClure handed honorary degree at Teesside University". TeessideLive. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  4. ^ McClure, Steve (November 2014). "Chapter 10. God's own Rock". Beyond Limits: A life through climbing. ISBN 978-1910240199.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Words with Steve McClure on Hard British Trad and Whippers". 29 September 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  6. ^ a b c d Geldard, Jack (July 2012). "Video + interview: Steve McClure on Hubble 8c+". Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  7. ^ Pritchard, Ben (June 2018). "How Steve McClure Became Britain's Best Sport Climber". Rock & Ice. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  8. ^ a b c d e Pohl, Björn (25 July 2000). "Steve McClure climbs 9a in England". Retrieved 13 January 2022. This testpiece is Britain's third 9a. "The big bang", situated at Lower Pen Trwyn, Wales was climbed by Neil Carson in 1996. "Mutation", an extension to Jerry Moffat's 8c+ "Evolution", was climbed by Steve McClure in 1998.
  9. ^ a b "Will Bosi repeats Mutation, 23 years after Steve McClure's first ascent at Raven Tor". 2 November 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  10. ^ a b "Will Bosi Suggests 5.15a Upgrade to Mutation After First Repeat Since 1998". 2 November 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  11. ^ a b "Bosi makes historic second ascent of Mutation (F9a+/b?)". Climber. 2 November 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  12. ^ a b c Ryan, Mick (29 May 2007). "Steve McClure Succeeds at Malham. UK's Hardest Sport Route!". Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  13. ^ a b c d "Steve McClure frees Rainman at Malham Cove, Britain's first 9b". 6 June 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  14. ^ Pritchard, Ben (6 June 2017). "Steve McClure, 46, Establishes the U.K.'s First 5.15b, Rainman". Rock & Ice. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  15. ^ a b c "Steve McClure grabs the second ascent of Lexicon, E11 trad climb at Pavey Ark". 29 September 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  16. ^ a b c Sterling, Sarah (4 October 2020). "Interview: Steve McClure, the second ascent of Lexicon E11 7a and that fall". British Mountaineering Council. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  17. ^ a b Brown, Nick (29 May 2019). "First ascent of GreatNess Wall (E10 7a) for Steve McClure". Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  18. ^ a b Gardner, Hannah (18 June 2019). "The Spring of Trad: Three 5.14 FA's Rank Among the World's Hardest Trad Routes". Climbing. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  19. ^ a b c Messenger, Alex (14 July 2015). "Pembroke demon route Choronzon slain by strong Steve McClure". British Mountaineering Council. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  20. ^ a b "News Flash: Steve McClure on-sights F8b+ in Chulilla". Climber. 12 January 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  21. ^ a b Campbell, Duncan (17 July 2013). "Steve McClure flashes Tom et Je Ris, 8b+, Verdon". Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  22. ^ Ryan, Micj (2 October 2019). "Steve McClure 8c Onsight? UPDATED 7 Oct". Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  23. ^ a b Sterling, Sarah (17 July 2019). "Interview: Steve McClure makes first onsight of Nightmayer E8 6c". British Mountaineering Council. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  24. ^ a b c "Steve McClure flashes Impact Day, difficult trad climb at Pavey Ark, UK". 26 May 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  25. ^ a b Campbell, Duncan (18 June 2014). "Steve McClure on Strawberries Onsight Interview". Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  26. ^ a b Messenger, Alex (18 June 2014). "Sweet taste of Strawberries for Steve McClure". British Mountaineering Council. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  27. ^ a b "Arco Rock Legends and the 2013 nominations". 6 August 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  28. ^ Campbell, Duncan (19 August 2013). "McClure Nominated for Arco Rock Legends". Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  29. ^ "McHaffie makes historic repeat". 31 July 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  30. ^ "Josh Ibbotson bags fifth ascent of Northern Lights (F9a)". Climber. 31 August 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  31. ^ Glasby, Tim (15 June 2012). "McClure storms Rainshadow". Climbing. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  32. ^ "Stu Littlefair talks about his ascent of Rainshadow and Kepler 16b". Climbr. 9 September 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  33. ^ Björn Pohl (May 2011). "Ondra gets Overshadow". Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  34. ^ a b Fox, Amanda (30 May 2012). "5.15a Second Ascent for Ondra". Climbing. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  35. ^ Campbell, Duncan (23 May 2013). "Steve McClure Climbs Batman, 9a/+". Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  36. ^ Messenger, Alex (5 June 2017). "Steve McClure climbs Rainman: Britain's first 9b". British Mountaineering Council. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  37. ^ Pritchard, Ben (19 April 2018). "Steve McClure Climbs Britain's Hardest, Rainman (9b/5.15b)". Rock & Ice. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  38. ^ "James Pearson repeats Elder Statesman at Curbar". 9 February 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  39. ^ Geldhard, Jack (30 May 2011). "Steve McClure Repeats The Quarryman (E8)". Retrieved 14 January 2022.

External links[edit]