words by BEN MOON
pic by STEVE LEWIS/MOON CLIMBING
Yesterday I realized the dream I had of climbing Steve McClure’s classic 9a route Rainshadow. The dream began in 2012 while walking in the Yorkshire Dales with my wife. Our route took us under the amazing limestone cove of Malham. It wasn’t a great day for climbing and most of the cove was wet but there was one lone climber working a route up the center of the cove. It turned out to be Jordan Buys and the route was Rainshadow. At the time I knew little or nothing about the route other than it was one of the hardest in the UK and graded 9a. Adam Ondra repeated it in 2011 in just two days and afterwards he said it was one of the best 9a routes he had climbed. Later in 2012 Jordan made the third ascent.
Since that day I’ve learnt a lot more about this route and what makes it so special. It takes a stunning line up the centre of the cove on bullet hard limestone, and requires that special combination of strength and endurance. It’s not enough to be strong or fit. You need to be strong and fit. The route starts up a classic 8a called Raindogs before trending right below the huge crux bulge to a poor resting spot. To this point it is 8a+. After the rest, you make a couple of moves up to the bulge before the meat of the route instantly kicks in, a 12-move Font 8a boulder problem on poor pinches, lay-aways and underclings. Once you have negotiated this, there is no time to rest or catch your breath before launching out left to find your way up the impending headwall at 8a+. It’s a stunning climb in an impressive location and is a must-climb 9a route.