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Steve McClure Comments on Rhapsody

The day after Steve McClure made a super fast ascent of Rhapsody at Dumbarton everyone was waiting for what he had to say. So after composing his thoughts, Steve has commented exclusively on the Climb website on his subsequent feelings on the route, the line and the grade. It makes for some very interesting reading.

Over to you Steve;

"My background is traditional climbing. It was all trad till I was about 24, I moved to Sheffield when I was 18 specifically for the traditional challenges there; London Wall, Bat Out of Hell, Strapadictomy. However, particularly around the gritstone edges, as the difficulty rises, generally so does the danger. It's rare to find a physically hard route that isn't dangerous. Dangerous routes have never appealed. 
 
Rhapsody stood out instantly as an obvious challenge, clearly extremely difficult physically, but having the advantage of being a traditional route without the 'death' badge. The climbing looked awesome to me too, long sections of climbing as opposed to the more bouldery gritstone problems. I wanted to try it from the first time I heard about it, maybe not to try and do it, but just to try, to try and see what E11 really is!
 
Headpointing I don't understand. It's only my personal feeling. Full respect to those that get it, their level is above mine, but for me traditional climbing is about the onsight. I'm not drawn to practice dangerous routes repeatedly to ensure success. I'd rather redpoint a sport route, or perhaps a trad route that has a sport feel. In a way that’s even better, accepting the full challenge of the rock (i.e. no bolts) but not necessarily in a truly dangerous position.  More on this later in CLIMB magazine. Rhapsody has a sport feel about it.....with a dose of spice, a large dose!   
 
There have been a lot of comments on the line of the route, and the grade. These have come from all angles, from well qualified to total armchair critics. I don't wish to comment much now; there will be more in CLIMB. However, on the line, it is escapable, and perhaps not the soaring, pure direct I was expecting. I'm not sure I'd have known where it went if I'd turned up knowing just that it was a direct on Requiem. There are 'rules'. The purest lines don't have rules, on these you use anything in reach, clip whatever you can and make life as easy as possible. On the grade. A lot of people want the route downgraded for whatever reason, typical Brits! Firstly I'm hardly qualified having only climbed E9. The climbing is at least hard F8c, it felt like F8c+ compared to other sport routes I've done quickly, but perhaps fear added a notch. That makes E9 for effort straight away. Originally I assumed it may be E10, going straight for the lead after just a few hours looking at the route, taking a massive whipper and barely feeling a thing. The fall was safe. But I underestimated the route. There is a lot more climbing above where I fell, and on my lead I had to dig deeper than I have for a long time. The last move was as close as it gets. Perhaps if I'd fallen I'd have known for sure....
 
What I will say is that Dave did not overgrade the route. Not from what he experienced. The climbing is super hard, and the falls are big. Dave was hurting himself repeatedly during the falls. He didn't know if one of them could turn out really nasty. The first ascencionist can only propose a grade. This is how it works."

 

                               

Steve McClure on the headwall of Rhapsody at Dumbarton. Photo: © David Simmonite

 

Steve is sponsored by Fat Face, Five Ten, Petzl and Entre-Prise

 

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