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Statement

 

Statement - The Ben Moon Story (2015)

ISBN: 978-1-906148-98-0

Written by: Ed Douglas

Published by: Vertebrate Publishing

Reviewed by: Karin Magog

 

Statement by Ed Douglas is the authorised biography of Ben Moon, one of the UK's most famous and well respected rock climbers. Ben was both a pioneer in the sport climbing revolution in the 1980's and a bouldering legend in the 1990's and still climbs at a very high standard today (he recently made the fourth ascent of Steve McClure's Rainshadow F9a at Malham). He is perhaps most well known for his route Hubble at Raven Tor, which he graded F8c+, but which is now widely regarded as F9a, making it the first route of this grade in the world. However, Ben was also responsible for several other hard first ascents, including the controversially named Agincourt and Maginot Line, two 8c's which he climbed in France, as well as making quick repeats of the test pieces of the time. He also continued to push the standards when he turned his hand to bouldering, climbing up to Font 8C, and added several hard new problems in both the UK and abroad.

The first couple of chapters cover Ben's family history and childhood and tend to be more factual rather than personal, although quotes from other family members and snippets of correspondence add interest. Tales from school friends, and an entertaining report card ('it is, in fact, only in climbing that he finds purpose'), help give us some insight into the young Ben. However, I have to admit to finding these first few chapters hard work and it wasn't until we got to
Statement of Youth that I finally got hooked. From here I didn't want to put the book down and enjoyed it immensely. Ben's story is supplemented with more snippets from family letters, both to and from Ben, which really make it all feel more personal. His own letters offer a fascinating glimpse of his true personality and are quite thoughtful and inquiring, offering quite a contrast to his more direct interview style. The inclusion of some of his diary entries make interesting reading, reflecting the up and downs of climbing that I think many climbers will be able to relate to. The book has many quotes from Ben including the now famous '6c is just not that hard any longer, and 6b is approaching a rest'. There's also numerous quotes and insights from other leading climbers of the both the past and present, such as Jerry Moffat, Johnny Dawes, Marc Le Menstrel, Andy Cave, Steve McClure and Dan Varian to name a few, all of which certainly add to the story.

The book also contains a great selection of photographs, both black and white and colour. They were great to flick through again and again, documenting both changing hairstyles and fashions, as well as showcasing some of Ben's many achievements. The ones at Buoux and especially of Agincourt blew me away and reminded me just how hard those routes are still.

Statement is a fascinating and well written biography, which as well as describing many of Ben's achievements, also highlights the hardwork and determination it takes to be one of the world's best climbers. A highly recommendable read and an excellent piece of writing by Ed Douglas.

 

Further Information

Ben Moon interview from 2005

Ben Moon on Statement of Youth, 8a, Anniversary Climb.