April 2 2020
One of Great Britain’s most distinguished climbers, Steve McClure has spent the last few decades scaling cliffs and crags all over the world. In spite of his globetrotting status, he likes nothing more than to tackle challenges on the rock walls of his home country. This is how, after sending Rainman in Malham in 2017, he became one of only a handful of people to climb 9b. In 2019, he finally settled a long overdue score by onsighting Nightmayer, a hard, complex, and committing route!
Classic British Climbing
Nightmayer. The final challenge on The Cromlech, perhaps the best and most famous traditional cliff in Britain. Steeped in history, the routes on the smooth faces on either side of the open book corner remain essential targets for rock climbers of all levels;
- Cenotaph Corner: E1,
- Left Wall: E2,
- Resurrection: E4,
- Right Wall: E5,
- Lord of The Flies: E6.....
Every route is of the highest quality, and represents all that is the British traditional climbing experience: long sustained pitches, complex ropework, hard earned protection, technical movement, all in a beautiful setting in the mountains.
But there is another classic, the well named Nightmayer, lying out of reach of most climbers. At hard E8, with sport 8a difficulty and barely enough protection, there have been few ascents.
The Ultimate Route
"It has been on my radar; at first I looked on in awe at the first ascent way back in 1992. Over time I realized perhaps I could climb it, with practice of course... And then the possibility of an onsight came into view. The idea excited me; challenges of this quality and intensity are hard to find. A route that would really push me right to the limit physically and mentally. The more I thought about it the more it became clear, this was the ultimate route! One of a kind, perhaps there will never be a better challenge: one attempt, all or nothing. I could practice and most likely succeed, but I knew I'd not be satisfied.
But there was more to consider, a fall from high up could be fatal. There is protection, but not much. Would I find it? Was it hard to place? Would it come out in a fall? At sport 8a difficulty I figured I had a 50/50 chance of success, if it was bolted and I wasn't scared and climbed with focus and control. But how would I fair facing a big fall onto small wires? I didn't know."
Patience and Planning
"I set about preparing. Planning rationally. Looking up and drawing imaginary lines of safety and danger; working out where I could go for it and face a lob, and where I needed to re-assess. I convinced myself my plan was solid. I needed all the cards stacked in my favour; conditions, my fitness, the route clean and dry and ideally with some chalk (mainly to show that it was clean and dry). I waited for the right moment. A whole year went by, but this challenge could not be rushed. To rush would be to fail. And then suddenly I was there, tied in, helmet on, racked up. Everything was in place. I wouldn't get a better chance. A deep breath and away we go..."
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