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Evolution 8c+ by Ben Moon

© Nick Brown - UKC

80s legend Ben Moon (aged 50-something) has ticked Jerry Moffat's Evolution 8c+ at Raven Tor. Stu Littlefair and Pete Dawson also repeated the line the previous week. Ben has experienced a resurgence of sorts in his climbing in recent years. In June 2015, he ticked his second 9a with an ascent of Rainshadow 9a at Malham Cove, 25 years after his first of the grade - Hubble at Raven Tor.

Super psyched to final redpoint this really hard Jerry Moffatt test piece from the 90s at my local crag Ravens Tor. Only gets 8c+ but I don't think there is a grade difference between this route and Rainshadow 9a. It's a classic Ravens Tor route, only 10m long but basically sustained bouldering all the way. Probably hard Font 8a into hard route 8b with no rests and a heartbreak dyno to finish. It's a great end to the year for me which has been one of the best of the past 35 years climbing. Racked up another 15 days on Northern Lights and although I didn't quite make it came very close. Northern Lights is another level to routes like Evolution or Rainshadow and I'm sure one day will be recognised as 9a+. I feel in great shape for my age and looking forward to renewing my battle with this route again next year. Still learning about climbing and training even after all these years and most importantly still enjoying myself. Didn't get a video of the whole ascent today but got the important bit! #trainhardclimbharder #climbing #redpointing

A post shared by Moon climbing (@moonclimbing) on

Ben has been trying Evolution on and off since Jerry's ascent in 1995. He told UKC:

'I have always considered it a bit of a bogey route. I think I had a day on it just after Jerry did it and did from the break to the top, which is about route 8b. Then I had a concerted effort in the autumn of 2013 and fell off the last move 3 times in one day before blowing my knee out on a heel and toe move on the crux.

Ben had not tried it seriously since 2013 until this autumn. Having climbed Hajj 8c three weeks ago, Ben set his sights on Evolution as the logical next step. He commented:

'I was pretty pleased about Hajj since it has not had loads of ascents and is considerably harder than The Mecca Extension which gets the same grade.'

Jerry Moffatt on Evolution in 1995  © Jerry Moffatt Col.
Jerry Moffatt on Evolution in 1995
© Jerry Moffatt Col.

Evolution's crux moves to the break are around Font 8A in difficulty, and the following section involves 8b climbing with no rests. The line is a classic Tor route with sustained bouldering on vicious crimps and is a real test of finger strength. Ben explained:

'I've always found the crux section really hard but managed to do this on my 2nd session this autumn, which was a big confidence booster and I started redpointing very quickly. Saturday was my 5th day this autumn but I've probably had near 20 over the years! I was at the Tor the other day when Pete Dawson did it which was great to see.'

Comparing Evolution and Rainshadow, Ben and Pete came to a consensus. 'We both agree that there probably isn't a full grade difference between Evolution and Rainshadow. Maybe Evolution is hard 8c+ and Rainshadow easy 9a.'

Ben Moon on Northern Lights (9a) at Kilnsey  © stp
Ben Moon on Northern Lights (9a) at Kilnsey
© stp, Jul 2015
Now the season is almost over, Ben will be back in the gym training for Northern Lights 9a at Kilnsey next year. He commented:

'I spent most of this spring and early summer trying Northern Lights again and racked up another 15 days on that route taking my total over all seasons to pushing 100! Although I got closer than ever to Northern Lights it didn't quite happen for me. I really think Northern Lights is in a different league grade wise to all these other routes and I reckon one day will be considered 9a+.'

Ben added:

'By the way, I was at the Tor the other day with Alex Megos who was working Mutation. I told him I thought there was no way Mutation was 9a and he agreed, so I think we can take it that the BMC guidebook is already wrong and Mutation is 9a+! Nice one Steve.'

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Ben Moon

One of the most influential climbers of all time. Ben Moon has been an active climber since the early 1980s and played a key role in developing sport climbing and bouldering. His notable ascents include:


Ben's Athlete Page 10 posts 6 videos

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26 Nov, 2018

"Ben has been trying Evolution on and off since Jerry's ascent in 1995."


That's dedication for you. Inspiring.

26 Nov, 2018

A great effort by Pete and Ben. Stu Littlefair also climbed Evolution a few weeks back

26 Nov, 2018

F*ck me the man is a machine!

26 Nov, 2018

"so I think we can take it that the BMC guidebook is already wrong and Mutation is 9a+!"

Or maybe just call it a Peak 9a.

26 Nov, 2018

No, let's leave that sort of parochialism back in the 90's.

Amazing effort by Ben, so inspiring especially the continued efforts on Northen lights

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