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Hubble - the first 9a!?
OffLine 8a.nu
  2012-01-13 00:00:00    
UKC has an interesting article regarding the possibility of Hubble being the first 9a which Ben Moon did in 1990 as an 8c+. The 9a speculation was actualized based on the opinion of Adam Ondra saying it is as hard as Action Direct (AD), the world's first 9a.

Ondra is of course right, compared to AD (and the modern 9a's), Hubble is at least as difficult which actually also Graham and Moon think. The problem is that Hubble was the first 8c+ in the world and also considered as the first 8B boulder. Further more, AD was originally given 8c+/9a by Gullich in 1991 but has later been upgraded, which also happened for the first 8c, Wall Street.

So, how could the history logically be re-written, as Ben Moon should be credited for skipping 8c+ and making the world's first 9a? Maybe, beside some grade inflation, it is because the top old-school climbers spent much more time specializing and optimizing for just one insanely hard red-point project, as there was not much else to do then.

Most modern top climbers of today, instead, travel around the world doing as many routes in different styles as possible. Probably, if Ondra would have focused on one route for months, we would have seen a 9b+. (c) Ben Moon
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OffLine R D
  2012-01-14 12:55:00    
I think you do Ben Moon and other climbers from that period a massive disservice to suggest that the only reason they climbed hard was through being very specialised. Hubble was done in 1990, the same year as Liquid Ambar, an 8c from Jerry Moffatt that is now thought to be 8c+, that Ben quickly repeated. Prior to doing these, Ben had established Agincourt and Maginot Line, 8cs in different styles in France. He was also placing highly in competitions. He had repeated, up to that date, all the hardest routes in france. Within the next few years he repeated Bronx and Super Plafond stating at the time that they were a grade easier than Hubble. Jerry, who had just done Liquid Ambar in 1989/1990 was also arguably the worlds best all rounder, winning World Cups, and climbing hard trad routes as well as establishing the hardest sport routes. Jerry had travelled worldwide. He had flashed the hardest trad routes in America. The other world leader at this time, Wolfgang Gullich, was also extensively travelled. He had established the hardest route in Australia (Punks - repeated by Jerry), soloed Seperate Reality, and went on to establish some of the hardest big wall free routes in Patagonia. These were all climbers with a traditional climbing background that were, or had been, involved in almost every style of free climbing worldwide. That's not to say that they didn't train specifically for the hardest routes, but that is really no different to Sharma spending years on Realization/Biographie or FRFM.  
OffLine Franz the Stampede
  2012-01-14 15:22:33    
Although many years of life in the UK as a non-national taught me how incredibly biased British (English maybe better?) sports media can be towards their own heroes (blame it on the football?), I think that the UKC article is fair and that Rupert Davies brought a lot of evidence to the table and in impeccable style. Climbing today is more specialised than ever. Sharma's routes all seem pretty similar in style: long moves, big dynos on relatively positive holds. Andrada seems to be specialising more and more on cave roofs. Good old Manolo (I mention him as he still making hard FAs) is a long term slab specialist. It seems pretty clear that climbers from the 80s and 90s had much more varied climbing even in their prime, which probably made them more objective at giving grades.  For the same reason, Ondra is probably a more objective grader than most top SPORTS climbers at the moment, being equally at ease with slabs (Tough Enough, WoGü), roofs (Chilam Balam, Marina Superstar), overhanging long routes (essentially, the Spanish stuff), boulders, comps etc...
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2012-01-14 15:54:02    
@ Rupert: Thanks for your thoughts which made me explain my thoughts in the article hopefully a little better. I have just written that "Maybe"... talking about specializing I was mainly refeering to that most of the routes at the time was short power endurance routes. Sure these guys travelled and did several routes but it can not be compared to how most top climbers take advantage of hard core climbers around the world.  Today, most top climbers climb both very long endurance routes, sometimes spending 30+ minutes on onsight attempts, a well as boulders where mainly power is challenged. (I have re-written the article to make this more clear. What are your thoughts on how Ben Moon and Wolfgang Gullich already 20 years ago, climbed almost at the top level of 2011? Why has there not been more development? In some years, maybe Hubble will be considered as one grade harder compared to all endurance 9a's in the world.
OffLine Greg Sobczak
  2012-01-14 19:01:26    
greg SOBCZAK i 'm a hold climber of eighties .maybe it' s the true.hubble first 9a! yes it's possible. for take a hard way , i can stand one year ! if adam Ondra stand one year he climb 10a... christophe Laumone and jp Bouvier have take a try on "hubble". they said "it 's monster!", and it's the must bleausard old at the time with "jacky"... best regards ben moon good happy new year 2012 Greg Sobczak
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2012-01-15 18:47:09    
Everything in this column are written by me as it says above all articles. It is just (c) of Ben Moon.