Flurry of Repeats on ‘England’s Hardest Route’ After 5 Years of no Traffic

Widely considered the hardest climb in the country, Rainman is the only British route to merit the 9b/5.15b grade. After Steve McClure’s 2017 first ascent, no climber had sniffed a repeat — not even Adam Ondra.

Then on May 13, as ExplorersWeb previously reported, Eder Lomba grabbed the route’s first repeat with a Herculean 18-minute effort. Just 21 days later, a little-known 18-year-old also clipped the chains.

Josh Ibbertson ticked the Malham Cove testpiece on June 3 after launching a redpoint campaign in March. To do it, he picked his way around his final exam schedule.

MonoCulture Films, which documented the attempt, used the “mind blown” emoji to describe Ibbertson’s success.

“What a phenomenal effort and all that in the middle of sitting his A-levels,” the small filmmaker commented. “It was a privilege to watch him in the process of working the route.”

Rainman achieves its substantial difficulty primarily through combining various other routes’ cruxes. The link-up showcases the gnarliest parts of Rainshadow (9a/5.14d), Batman (9a/5.14d), and Bat Route (8c/5.14b).

Each climber tore into Rainman with prior ascents of Rainshadow and Batman under his belt.

The feedback loop for repeats on the route appears to be tightening: McClure’s first ascent took 128 days of work, and Lomba’s first repeat required 46.


Ibbertson climbed it not only amid final exam hassles but also despite poor conditions.

“It ended up being a bit of a battle with conditions as it got wet after I dropped it near the chains a few weeks ago. Today, a strong wind meant that the start was finally dry enough to climb without ending up with wet hands for the rest of the route and I clipped the chains first go of the day,” he told Gripped.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.