I didn’t climb at Malham much last year. I only had a few trips up there to briefly try Steve McCure’s 9a test piece Rainshadow, just to see if it might be possible for me in the future and what I might need to improve on to have a chance of redpointing it.
Having trained most of the winter with Rainshadow in mind I’ve been spending most of my climbing days this spring at Malham. My aim this spring was to spend around 10 days trying it and hopefully link from the belay of Raindogs to the top. This might not sound like a big deal but it’s probably a hard 8c link and it’s a good stepping stone to having the confidence to thinking I can redpoint the route. For me there’s no point trying it from the ground if I can’t do that link, and its good training doing the top section when I’m tried. This link incorporates the crux bulge above the belay of Raindogs, which for me not being much of a boulderer felt desperate to start with, and then the upper wall which is probably around 8a/+ with no rest in between. The crux is about 9 moves and around font 7C+, but it took me 8 days this year to link it! I know I don’t boulder much but all the boulder problems I’ve done at this grade have only taken me a maximum of 2-3 days to do. Some 7C+’s I’ve done in a day so it’s been tough struggling with this crux so much, also with the knowledge in the back of my mind that I’ve got to try and do it after climbing an 8a+ route! God this route’s hard! & it’s going to take me a while to do it, if I can do it at all. But I don’t mind spending a long time on such a good route. Adam Ondra’s comment after he’d done it was that it is one of the best routes he’d ever done! High praise indeed coming from someone who’s climbed so many routes all over the world. I actually managed to get 13 days on it this spring, mainly because everything else was so wet! I didn’t quite get the link I wanted but made progress everyday which helped my psyche massively.
There’s been a great scene up at Malham this year, even with the terrible weather in April, with loads of the hard routes getting tried by various people. One day I was there, there were people on redpoint on Cry Freedom (8b+/c), Bat route (8c), Unjustified (8b+) & Power Ranger (8b+), and then Jordan and me working Rainshadow. That’s almost every hard route at Malham with someone on it! A few years ago it would have been very rare to see any one of these routes with a person trying it, now it’s hard to know where to look to watch the action. It’s great to see so many people trying these hard routes now, and it just go to shows how much the sport climbing level in this country has improved over the last few years.
Over the next few weeks I seem to have loads of other climbing plans, like a long weekend trip to the Frankenjura with my sponsors Marmot and a few trad climbing trips, that mean I wont get back to Malham for a while. This isn’t too bad as I generally find Malham too hot in the summer to get good conditions on regularly, so Rainshadow will have to wait until September when it hopefully cools down a bit.
Contributed by: Neil Mawson