Category: Climbers

March 29, 2016

Ben Moon - Statement of Youth

I recently had the pleasure of reading the Ben Moon Story which provides a great history of British climbing and one of the people that helped make it.

Statement: The Ben Moon StoryOn 14 June 1990, at Raven Tor in the Derbyshire Peak District, twenty-four-year-old Ben Moon squeezed his feet into a pair of rock shoes, tied in to his rope, chalked his fingers and pulled on to the wickedly overhanging, zebra-striped wall of limestone. Two minutes later he had made rock-climbing history with the first ascent of Hubble, now widely recognised as the world’s first F9a.

Born in the suburbs of London in 1966, Moon started rock climbing on the sandstone outcrops of Kent and Sussex. A pioneer in the sport-climbing revolution of the 1980s and a bouldering legend in the 1990s, he is one of the most iconic rock climbers in the sport’s history.

In Statement, Moon’s official biography, award-winning writer Ed Douglas paints a portrait of a climbing visionary and dispels the myth of Moon as an anti-traditional climbing renegade. Interviews with Moon are complemented with insights from family and friends and extracts from magazines and personal diaries and letters.

‘Ever since I first set foot on rock at the tender age of seven years, climbing has been the most important thing in my life. In fact I would go so far as to say it is my reason for living and as long as I am able to climb I hope I will. It is from climbing I draw my inspiration for life.’

One of Ben’s most notable early ascents was Statement of Youth (8a) at Lower Pen Trwyn which he climbed when just seventeen. Having made history with Hubble (9a) at the age of twenty four he subsequently went on to send his second 9a, Rainshadow at the age of forty nine, twenty five years later! Certainly Ben has had a long and impressive career in climbing and he’s still in really good shape. I quite liked this ascent of Hubble by Sean McColl as it shows how difficult a climb it is even for the younger generation of climbers

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February 9, 2016

Climbing Magazine’s 2015 Golden Piton Awards

Climbing Magazine has just announced their 2015 Golden Piton Award winners. According to their web site: -

Climbing Magazine 2015 Golden Piton AwardsSponsor-laden Instagram posts, video clips, and news blips come and go, but some climbing achievements truly are destined for immortality. Each January, Climbing re-examines the past 12 months of great ascents around the world and chooses a few standouts for our top honor: the Golden Piton Awards.

For 2015 we’ve selected eight climbs and remarkable climbers to celebrate. Without further ado: Climbing’s 14th annual Golden Piton Awards.

This is a really good selection of the top climbers and climbs and has made me aware of some climbers that I didn’t know about.

Ashima Shiraishi is a 14 year old climber who has gone from strength to strength this year. What stands out for me this year is her double gold at the 2015 IFSC World Youth Championships and becoming the youngest athlete to send a 9a+ route.

The climb of the Dawn Wall by Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell was something I also followed quite closely. I got to see glimpses of the climb as its featured in the Reel Rock 10 video but I’m looking forward to the day they release a full feature film since what’s shown in Reel Rock is just a snippet.

As for Will Gadd, being the first person to ice climb Niagara Falls is an amazing accomplishment and quite unlikely to be repeated, firstly because it’s normally illegal to do it and secondly because the freezing conditions that caused the ice build up this year were also quite unique.

Daniel Woods ascent of the first v16 Boulder problem "The Process" also captured in the Reel Rock 10 film has certainly taken bouldering to new heights. More recently it was good to watch him and Megan Mascarenas competing at US Nationals this year.

I’m wondering if these climbers actually receive a "golden piton" or something symbolic of that.

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January 31, 2016

Alone on the Wall: Alex Honnold and the Ultimate Limits of Adventure

Alone on the Wall: Alex Honnold and the Ultimate Limits of AdventureToward’s the end of last year Alone on the Wall: Alex Honnold and the Ultimate Limits of Adventure was released. I had pre-ordered it and read it pretty quickly since I’ve always followed Alex Honnold’s exploits. As a climber I’m amazed by solo climbers, particularly the newer generation since they seem to be getting better at staying alive. Personally, I don’t plan to become a hard core soloist as I have no interest in causing myself death or serious injury any time soon. However, I don’t mind soloing something that is within my limits. What those limits are is continually changing as I improve my grade and climbing ability.

The inside cover of the book reads

Alex Honnold is thirty years old, and perhaps the world’s best ‘free-solo’ climber, scaling impossible rock faces without ropes, pitons or support of any kind. There is a purity to Alex’s climbs that is easy to comprehend, but impossible to fathom; in the last forty years, only a handful of climbers have pushed ‘free soloing’ to the razor-edge of risk.

Half of them are dead.

From Yosemite’s famous Half Dome to the frighteningly difficult El Sendero Luminoso in Mexico, Alone on the Wall is structured around Alex’s seven most extraordinary climbing achievements so far. These are tales to make your palms sweat and your feet curl from vertigo. Together, they get to the heart of how - and why - Alex does what he does. Exciting, uplifting and truly awe-inspiring, Alone on the Wall is a book about the essential truths of risk and reward, and the ability to maintain a singular focus, even in the face of extreme danger.

I really enjoyed this book as it’s a very easy read and I like the style in which it is written where sections are personally written by Alex himself. I knew plenty about Alex’s solo climbs in Yosemite but in the book he talks about his climb of El Sendero Luminoso in Mexico which is 2,500 feet high. It’s 11 pitches graded at 7a+ or harder, here’s the clip of this amazing send

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