Steve McClure on fire again on Petzl Roc Trip 2014
- Friday 24th October 2014
The 2014 Petzl Roc trip has just finished and most of the climbing wads have jetted off home from Turkey leaving the dust to settle and the rest of us scratching our heads in wonder at the standards the top climbers are operating at.
Usually the Roc Trip involves the Petzl athletes heading into a new and undeveloped area where a load of new lines have been pre-bolted and all the athletes get stuck-in and grab as many new routes as possible. Typically, there’s an ultimate route bolts for the best of the best to get involved with.
The 2014 Roc Trip however was a bit different as Petzl changed the format somewhat. This year the Roc Trip was just that - a road-trip spanning weeks and visiting several countries before heading to and finishing in Turkey. In Turkey itself the climbers visited the established venue at Geyikbayiri as well as the new crags at Citidbi and Olympos where the trip finished.
Chill time. Photo Neil Gresham
We caught up late yesterday with ‘Our man in Havana’ (a.k.a.) Steve McClure. As usual, it seems as Steve was climbing like a beast. He joked – or rather croaked…“Yeah, I caught a cold on the way out there and could barely speak after then”. Fortunately speaking isn’t an essential element in climbing (unless you’re into your power screams) and it seems that it didn’t to slow Steve down much if his tally of routes is anything to go by. Steve again; “yeah, I climbing ten straight days in a row and did a bunch of stuff”. Pushing him for the gory details, Steve eventually spilt the beans with the highlights which included on-sights on an 8b/+, several 8a+/8as as well as a host of ‘easy’ routes. Almost as an afterthought he dropped in that he’d redpointed a couple of 8bs.
Neil Gresham was on the Petzl trip as well and kept the world informed via social media. Neil knows a thing or two about climbing hard himself and he was clearly impressed with Steve; “The Brits are so often the underdogs but Steve McClure is no such thing. He's doing his country proud out here on the Petzl Roc Trip, onsighting 8as, 8a+s & 8bs relentlessly and all with a hacking sore throat that he caught on the plane. The man.”
It sounded as though the different format went down a storm as well. Steve McClure again; “there was just loads of stuff going on – deep water soloing, routes to be climbed, boat trips to local caves. Forty odd Petzl athletes all pitching in - it was just like a carnival - really busy all the time”.
We threw a few questions in Neil Gresham’s direction to get a few more details as well:
Seeing all the Petzl athletes together it must be really interesting and very tempting to compare inputs and outputs across the climbers. You were clearly impressed by Steve McClure's output and the others that were banging the routes out. Can you share an inspirational moment or two with us and just outline why it impressed you?
The thought of climbing in the presence of so many world class climbers was daunting at first, but I quickly realised that people were far too busy enjoying the rock and making new friends to care about grades and performance. It was literally like being at a music festival where people were casually onsighting 8a+s whilst chatting and socialising. Of special note was that Britain's Steve McClure completely set the pace, in spite of catching a hacking sore throat on the plane. On the first day he onsighted an 8a, an 8a+ and an 8b at Citibi, a newly-equipped super crag in Antalya. Meantime others such as Michel Fuselier sauntered up a multi-pitch route with an 8b pitch and Jerome Pouvreau sent a new 8c in a few tries. However the guy who impressed me most was Sweden's Said Belhaj, more for the fact that he plays 6 musical instruments to professional standard and onsights 8b and redpoints 9a as a bit of a sideline!
Steve McClure - he's our man! Photo Neil Gresham
As well as being an experienced climber you've spent years involved with coaching. Spending time with and watching the athletes climb on the Roc Trip did you see evidence that they'd been working with coaches or did you get a feeling that there were some still 'flying solo'?
I didn't get the impression that most of the climbers were being coached and if they were it was on a fairly casual basis. Most were coached in their youth, so they learn all the tricks when they're young and then move on to carve their own groove. The main difference these days is the age people start and the crags and facilities they have access to. Believe it or not, you end up climbing better if you climb at Santa Linya and a state-of-the-art wall in Austria rather than Stoney Middleton and some vertical brick-edge traversing wall. The main difference however is the sheer volume of climbing these guys do. You don't see them stressing about getting on things, it's just another onsight and if they drop it they just laugh and move on to the next. Unlike most of the Brits, they can keep churning it out all day like robots, rather than being burnt-out after the first major pump.
Most climbers will pick up new tips and techniques all the time to try for themselves whilst climbing but with so many top climbers on the Roc Trip and with so much talent on display did you see anything new or interesting going on that you've put away into the Neil Gresham masterclass locker for later?
So many things. It's the little details that make all the difference. If I had to pick one thing it would be an amusing comment that was made to me on the last day by top Canadian climber Read Macadam: 'It's pretty simple really - you just have to not make mistakes or let go!' Perhaps I've been over analizing things for all these years!
Thanks to Neil for giving us a peep the inside view from the Roc Trip and the photos. To see more on Neil’s coaching activities check his website here… http://www.climbingmasterclass.com/index.asp
And although as we can’t all go on the Petzl Roc Trips or climb like Steve, we can read about them and what makes Steve tick when his autobiography is published in early November. Make sure you get your copy – it’ll doubtless go like hot cakes…