On the 30th anniversary of his ascent of Agincourt, the first 8c in France, Ben Moon embarks on a trip down memory lane to once again visit the place that played such an important role in the history of sport climbing.
Ben first visited Buoux in 1984 with his good friend Jerry Moffatt and fell in love with the place immediately. In the late 80s and early 90s, the South of France and particularly Buoux was the place to be and most of the best climbers in the world were to be found in the area. Climbers such as Patrick Edlinger, Antoine and Marc Le Menestrel, Didier Raboutou, Wolfgang Gullich, Lynn Hill, Catherine Destivelle, Jean-Baptiste Tribout, Stefan Glowacz and Jim Kahn. They were all there and they came to test themselves on the hardest routes of the day.
After that first visit in 1984, Ben returned every year for the next 5 years and over time worked his way through all of the hardest routes. This culminated in 1988 with early repeats of the big three 8b+ routes: La Rage de Vivre; Le Minimum; and Le Spectre du Sur-Mutant. After this, Ben turned his attention to an unclimbed project on the steep wall left of the Mission ledge. Over a number of sessions at the end of 1988, he worked out a sequence and in January 1989 managed to redpoint the route which he named Agincourt after a famous battle between the French and English. The route seemed a step up from all the other routes Ben had climbed so he graded it 8c - the first route of that grade in France.
In 2014, Ben revisited his classic Lower Pen Trwyn route Statement of Youth, 30 years after having made the first ascent as a 17-year-old in 1984. See the video here:
You can see more of Ben and the gang in Statement of Youth when it is released on Friday 17th May. The 1980's saw climbing standards rise exponentially. At the start of the decade, 7b+ was cutting edge, but by the end of the '80s, 9a was the new world standard. By the end of the decade, the sport had changed beyond recognition and a paradigm was set for future generations.