Keith Sharples, the well known Peak climber and photographer (keithsharplesphotography.com), has just redpointed the Austrian Oak, an 8b sport climb at Malham Cove in North Yorkshire first climbed by John Dunne in 1988. Whilst some may think that hard sport climbing is a young climbers pursuit, Keith is 50 years old and his ascent follows the 8a redpoints of New Age Traveller by the evergreen 59 year olds, Al Austin and Rab Carrington.
Keith started climbing in Lancashire way back in 1973 with a hawser-laid rope, ex-MOD karabiners and a copy of Bonnington's I Chose to Climb in hand. He followed a traditional climbing apprenticeship; the Alps, Font, the classics in the Peak and Wales and was soon leading E5, including Right Wall E5 and Lord Of The Flies E6 in the early 80's. He embraced sport climbing and did many first ascents in Cheedale upto 8a+ and made fast repeats of Out of my Tree and Rattle and Hump, both 8a, at Raven Tor, both in about two hours each on separate nights. At age 42, he redpointed John Hart's route, 42 on the Cheedale Cornice, his first 8b and was two moves off doing Mecca 8b+, at Raven Tor, 5 years ago. All this whilst working full-time and populating the world with girls.
If you want to follow the exploits of Keith and others you can read eye witness reports by the roving reporter and self-proclaimed world's greatest climber, Rock Hardman. Check his latest reports here.
Ben Moon (41), is familiar to most climbers as a hard core sport climber and boulderer. He has been at the forefront of climbing in the world ever since his first ascent of Statement of Youth, 8a, at Lower Pen Trwyn in North Wales in 1984. His Hubble at Raven Tor was the world's first 8c+ and his bouldering has always been at the highest levels, well before bouldering got popular. Recently he put up Voyager a V14 or Font 8b+ at Burbage in the Peak.
Like Keith Sharples, Ben also had a traditional beginning.
"My family, and friends of my parents, who also had children, used to go on walking holidays in the Lakes. The father of the other family did a bit of climbing and on one of our holidays took us climbing. I was 7 at the time. I wouldn't say I was inspired I just did it and really enjoyed it. I can still remember the excitedment of that first climb and I was well and truly hooked."
As you may have read here at UKClimbing.com, Ben recently returned to his roots when, with his brother Rob and friends, they made a fine traverse of Scotland's Cuillin Ridge.
Ben said at his blog, (Moonblog)
"As it turned out it was probably the hardest thing I have ever done! It just seemed endless and although the final summit of Sgurr nan Gillean is pretty much in view all the time it never seems to get any closer."
Ben's grandfather had done the Cuillin Ridge back in 1933.