Steve McClure, 52, Repeats Runout 5.14 Trad Route
The nearly 40-metre sandstone climb in France is technical, physical, and spicy
British climber Steve McClure just repeated another hard, spicy trad test piece. The 52-year-old climber has sent Le Voyage in Annot, France, one of the hardest trad climbs in the country. James Pearson made the first ascent of Le Voyage in 2017, grading it E10 7a in the British system, which roughly equates to spicy 5.14- in the Yosemite Decimal System.
The 38-metre route starts with a 5.14 crack before moving into a good rest position. A traverse on tiny holds follows, with the finishing moves in an upper crack with lousy jams. Throughout the route, there is just enough protection to keep it relatively safe. In 2021, Babsi Zangerl, Jacopo Larcher and Siebe Vanhee all repeated the route.
“Wow! What a route!” said McClure via Instagram. “Managed to absolutely skin-of-teeth scrape my way up ‘Le Voyage’. This is an absolutely amazing trad route from James Pearson at Annot. One of the best in the world. 8b+ [5.14a].
“Enough gear, but spaced and pumpy to place. It feels like a real adventure. 40m long too! Just a couple of days and first lead effort, seems like my usual adopted style of only just getting it, with the odd section still barely worked out! But so much fun!”
Pearson recently sent Bon Voyage, an ungraded trad climb, potentially the hardest in the world. The route shares the same start as Le Voyage but then traverses across an imposing blank face via a series of shallow pockets to finish up a technical arete. “Hats off to [Steve McClure] for his quick repeat of Le Voyage,” said Pearson about McClure’s send via Instagram.
McClure has had a legendary climbing career. He has put up many of the U.K.’s hardest sport climbs, including Overshadow 5.15a in 2007 and Rainman 5.15b in 2017. He has also repeated the country’s hardest trad lines including Dave MacLeod’s Rhapsody 5.14c R/X and Neil Gresham’s Lexicon 5.14aR. In a conversation with McClure about how he approaches hard trad, he told Gripped here, “Absolutely case by case. I’m certainly no expert in this field and have a lot to learn. I’ve realized that perhaps the key skill in this kind of climbing is judgment; to know when is the time to try. Too much caution and you’ll never set off, too little, and you could die. I’m very analytical as a climber, and I’m not a really bold climber. I’d say my main strategy is to analyze the danger and realistically be able to decide if its ‘for me’ or not. If I determine the danger is really high, I’ll walk away.”
Footage of McClure’s send has not yet been released. In the meantime, you can watch Pearson’s FA and Zangerl’s repeat in the videos below.