Watch Steve McClure going guns out for the Triple Crown

Posted by Peter Burnside on 21/07/2017
Steve McClure negotiates The Groove (8a+) at Malham. Photo: Euan Ryan

To earn the Triple Crown, Steve McClure had to climb the UK’s three best sport routes, on the UK’s three best sport cliffs, all 8a+, all in a day, and he had to travel between them under his own steam. UPDATED: BMC TV film now live.

The three best routes in Yorkshire: Urgent Action at Kilnsey, Supercool at Gordale, and The Groove at Malham. All classic 8a+ routes on notoriously tricky limestone, made even slipperier by soaring temperatures.

Steve might have already climbed the three routes a while back, rightfully earning himself a crown at the time. But when he heard that Andy Mitchell had climbed all three in a day, running between the three crags, he began to think it was “the ‘real’ triple crown”.

“I guess the ultimate crown is all three onsighted in a day moving between them under your own steam. But that’s not likely for many people. Second best could be all three onsighted or flashed in a lifetime, but I blew that on The Groove (the other two I got). But the ‘in a day crown’ still remained.”

The game was on, and Steve began laying out the logistics, the plan for action, and the rules of the challenge. Just one rest day after Steve's mammoth prep day to refresh his memory of the routes, having to cycle between the crags due to a foot injury, he decided to go for it.

“Honestly? I didn’t fancy my chances. Aching, wobbly legs, skin trashed. One rest day was not enough. Normally it would have been, but to have dug so deep into reserves takes a bit of climbing out of!”

WATCH: Steve McClure tackles the Triple Crown challenge

Despite the tiredness, Urgent Action fell relatively quickly and Steve was swiftly on his way heading towards Supercool at Gordale. A baltic breeze made for better conditions than the prep day and Steve shivered his way up to the top in a oner. The second route was in the bag and, with the end in sight, they headed back to Malham.

“Baking in the sun, body crumbling around me, and with a certain route to do. It felt all too familiar. Except this time it was my last chance. This was no prep day. If I didn’t do it I’d have to wait till September at best, if I could even muster up the psyche to go for it all again.”

“I knew without doubt it was a one shot effort. I didn’t even have enough energy to work the moves, just had to hope I could remember them all. And again, the half-height rest, that place where everyone recovers, I was barely hanging on: my legs were shot!”

“Prematurely I set off, sprinting as the pump poured in. At the same spot as Tuesday I felt the same; basically my tank didn’t have enough fuel in … But conditions were just that bit better, I could feel texture and bite. The crux went with little to spare, and the last 15 moves of pumpy climbing was a scrap to the limit, wobbling and shuddering my way up as planned sequences collapsed.”

“Body sagging, holds out of reach, improvising and slapping with an out of time clock chiming the end. Somehow the belay came. What a buzz.”

Congrats to Steve for completing his epic challenge. 

 


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