|Ben, Mike and Stevie the stalker|
Ben Moon the English climber of the late 80s had a huge influence on rock climbing standards. In my opinion he could have climbed harder. Now after many years Ben is Back, he just red pointed 8c again after casting his Zimmer frame away. In celebration of his comeback I reprint a little piece I wrote which prophetically credits Ben with the first 9a.
Ben Moon did the first ascent of Hubble in 1990, it was the first 9a in the world under the new Uefa grading system, I burnt him off once. He wasn’t pleased!
Ben Moon was eclipsed in many ways by Wolfgang Gullich, who was certainly not Bens equal in pure bouldering, or redpointing. This is the odd way history is, its not an accurate thing, its easily subverted.
Now then a few months after Ben did Hubble, his best buddy Jerry Moffat was climbing well so he thought he would try Hubble. By some weird coincidence I was there with Kurt Albert, Wolfgang’s old training buddy. The World is indeed a small place full of odd coincidences. Anyway Jerry huffed and puffed but could not blow Hubble away, Kurt and I laughed, Jerry fumed and then went incandescent but all to no avail. Hubble is apparently a hard nut to crack. Kurt and I being out of our league decided to go arête climbing on the Grit instead, we did Archangel, Ulysses, Edge Lane and Great Arrete, we Talked about how routes can break you mentally, we had a great time. Kurt was a talented pianist and told me that certain bits of music broke him, a bit like redpointing, you know you can do them, but you cant!
Some years later in Salt Lake City I met up with a few strong people and we were all messing around. A certain Ben Moon became interested in picking up a weight attached to a needle, he was adamant that he could beat everybody, he was wrong. He couldn’t beat me. I burnt Ben Moon off.
I went out a few times to watch Ben and Mike Beck bouldering as a master class lesson. Mike Beck was really cranking at the time and it was very inspiring to watch him, very short, no excuses, and him and Ben enjoyed each others company. Anyway I moved Mats for them and brushed a few holds, and generally gawked.
At one boulder venue however I was lucky and did something and Ben looked at me shocked, and said ‘Stevie you could be good if you lost a bit of weight’, inside I laughed. “Condescending young Whippersnapper” I said, ‘I am the Champ at weight lifting with a needle and don’t forget it’..
After my tiny victory I was relegated to labouring for Ben and Mike, Ben would point at tree stumps and I would up root them like the trained Mule I am. Its horses for courses, and bouldering is not weightlifting.