Mammut ‘rock classics’ – Hubble 8c+

Mammut presents six ‘rock classics’ — milestones in the history of sports climbing. And the people who climbed them for the first time, revisiting their own routes accompanied by top climbers from the Mammut Pro Team. This Episode: Sean McColl


HUBBLE 8C+ | RAVEN TOR, PEAK DISTRICT, ENGLAND

What do a space telescope and a rock wall in the Peak District in England have in common? Not only are they both reminiscent of a concave mirror – they are also both called “Hubble”. Well, the rock wall really isn’t, but a route on it is. It is one of the most famous climbing routes in Great Britain.

There are many raven’s rocks– who would be surprised by that? Ravens like to nest in high, free-standing rock walls. Just remember the Rabenfels in the Frankenjura, where Wolfgang Güllich’s (that Güllich again!) “Ghettoblaster” (8b) from 1986 was an important milestone. The Peak District in England has a raven’s rock as well – this one is called “Raven Tor” (Tor = craggy rock, naked hill). Due to its location right above the road between Buxton and Tideswell, ravens rather avoid it today. In contrast to the ravens, sports climbers have been flocking to Raven Tor for three decades. After all, the cliff, which is up to 35 metres high, is one of the most famous climbing destinations not only in Derbyshire, but anywhere in Great Britain.

 

«Climbing these first few metres freely was the great challenge»

 

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Ben Moon, the Englishman who showed the French how it was done back in 1989 and opened the world’s first 8c+ in 1990

When “young hot shot” Ben Moon, just 23 years old, tried out the “Hubble” route for the first time in 1989, he didn’t quite realise what he was in for. The route line existed already, but the first two bolts were conquered by hook-climbing. Climbing these first few metres freely was the great challenge. Two roofs, apparently without holds for hands or feet – or so they seemed! There were sideholds and underclings, all of them tiny and where they really weren’t of much use either: a complex boulder problem consisting of nine moves, smooth rock and painful tiny ledges.

 

Ben had shocked the French in 1989 with his first ascents of “Acincourt” (Buoux) and “Maginot Line” (Volx), then the most difficult climbing route of France – and not only there. Putting together the moves needed for “Hubble” was another thing altogether, though! Ben managed the individual moves, but redpoint was far out of reach. He had to work at his maximum strength. Ben rebuilt the individual moves of the route in his basement and practised them over and over again with his friend Jerry Moffatt and a young Scottish climber named Malcolm Smith.

 

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This was the birth of the moonboard, an artificial climbing wall for boulderers with a very narrow screwing grid and adjustable inclination – one of the pillars of Ben Moon’s company “Moonclimbing” today. Whether Ben was inspired by the legendary Campus Board in his construction, thought up by Wolfgang Güllich (that Güllich again!), specifically to practise for the difficult first ascents in the Frankenjura cannot be proven, but can be suspected – after all the author of these lines personally saw Ben on Güllich’s Campus Board …
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