Will Bosi repeats Mutation, 23 years after Steve McClure’s first ascent at Raven Tor
On 31 October 2021 Scottish climber William Bosi made the long-awaited second ascent of Mutation at Raven Tor. First ascended by Steve McClure in 1998 and originally graded 9a, Bosi has now suggested an upgrade to 9a+.
The news is huge: 22-year-old William Bosi from Edinburgh, Scotland, has made the highly anticipated first repeat of Mutation at Raven Tor in England. First ascended by Steve McClure way back in 1998, the line is an extension to the 8c+ Evolution and, graded 9a, it ushered in the next two decades during which McClure was the undisputed driving force behind British sport climbing.
Bosi first started trying the line 4 years ago and finally sent it late on Sunday evening after investing 40 intese sessions. He believes the climb warrants at least 9a+ and not 9a as originally suggested which, for those interested in sport climbing history, opens up interesting scenarios that will need exploring in the future.
Mutation had resisted attempts not due to lack of attention, on the contrary; Raven Tor is an extremely popular sport climbing destination close to Sheffield, famous for its high proportion of strong elite level climbers, and this 23-year hiatus attests to the difficulty of the line.
Bosi commented after his ascent "Finally! This was by far and away my longest project on a route and I am so happy to clip the chains on it. It is so typical of the redpointing game that the route went down on the last go of the day with little expectation that I would send it! Full credit to Steve McClure on an amazing first ascent and for establishing a climb with such amazing moves."
As to the grade, he explained "Honestly, I think I lost all concept of the grade on this one about 20 sessions ago! However, I do know it cannot be 9a as the first half of the route is Evolution and gets 8c+. I sent Evolution in three attempts in the middle of July, in contrast to send just the Mutation extension link took me around five days! So in my head the top half has to be at least 8c+ too…? Now 8c+ into 8c+ definitely doesn’t make 9a. Also to note, I reckon I must have sent Evolution hundreds of times by now which makes it even harder to grade, the bottom only takes about a minute to climb through now also! So is Mutation the world's first 9b? Maybe, time will tell with other ascensionists but I think I will go for 9a+ for now…"
Bosi was not even born when the route was first established on 14 October 1998 by British climbing icon, Steve McClure. "Strong Steve" as he was rightly nicknamed over two decades ago commented on the first repeat "My first reaction when I got the news was 'Awesome!' I was so psyched for Will that he had finally done Mutation. A few years ago, I was really worried that the route was going to gather dust and not see a repeat so it was great when Will opened his account on it. Obviously, I think he took probably longer than he would have wanted on it but for me, the route is at the absolute limit with no margin for error. You need to have the route dialled, be in great shape and have perfect conditions so I am really happy that it all came together for Will!"
Steve McClure climbing Mutation 9a at Raven Tor, UK. Video by Alastair Lee, Posing Productions.