Book Review: Statement – The Ben Moon Story


During the 80’s and 90’s, British climbers were at the forefront of the international scene, yet three individuals stood out from the rest: Johnny Dawes for his creative interpretations, Jerry Moffat for his excellence over many disciplines and Ben Moon, widely considered to be the first man in the world to climb 9a, and the father of the new bouldering movement.

Award-winning writer Ed Douglas’ biography of Ben Moon has its fair share of route names and grades to satisfy the climbing geek, Douglas has succeeded in weaving an intimate portrait of an individual that makes for a fascinating story. Moon, the son of a Tate Modern recognised artist, comes across as a private, thoughtful and considered person, struggling to balance the drive to succeed at the highest level of a performance sports whilst trying to maintain some sort of normalcy in his regular life.

The book’s name pays homage to Moon’s ground breaking route , Statement of Youth at Pen Trwyn (arguably the first genuine 8a sport route in the UK), and tracks his progress through a decade of pushing sport climbing standards though 8a and onto 9a. Like the flawed telescope it was named after, Moon’s infamous 8c+/9a route ‘Hubble’ both marked the pinnacle of his career and the beginning of the end of his remarkable 12-year stint at the cutting edge of the climbing scene. Following a series of injuries, Moon’s motivation began to crash and life in general started to get in the way. From this point on, however, the book paints a picture of an altogether more relaxed and happier person who became the pioneer of the modern bouldering revolution.

Like many other UK climbers in the 80’s, Ben Moon was on the dole and able to spend a huge amount of time climbing. At their peak, Moon and his Sheffield cohorts were a special generation who pioneered many of the modern climbing techniques that we now take for granted. They led a revolution fuelled by a very timely set of circumstances and a powerful motivation for training. Ed Douglas’s book eloquently leads us through this unique chapter in the sport and in the process has penned one of the best-written climbing biographies of a modern climber.

Review by Duncan McCallum.


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