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July 14, 2016 | David Kortje

Remember that PE teacher you had in middle school?  The one who made you run wind sprints ‘because it would make you a better person’ And remember how you hated him?  It wasn't like you volunteered for his class.  It was cast upon you: an enslavement by the establishment that dictated a level of activity from you because they had initially demanded that you sit still in a desk for eight hours per day. And to carry out such a sentence, some ex high-school jock who had been unable to find work due to repeated concussions, had been hired to whip your puny pre-pubescent bodies into shape. ‘I’m gonna make you a mini-me!’ Ya, you had every right to hate him. I totally get it.

I feel the same way about Ben Moon. Now, to be fair, Ben is not some has-been high school jock.  He is the real deal, a climbing pioneer if you will.  He helped lead the way in the world of sport climbing during the late 80s and 90s in the United Kingdom. Sure, he was crazy strong in his youth, getting the FA on Hubble when he was 24 years old, the hardest sport climb of that day (grade has settled at 5.14d).  But that wasn’t the end. At age 40 he got the FA on the boulder problem Voyager-Low Start (V14) and then just last year, at age 49, he sent Rainshadow, another 5.14d! Not a has-been, at 50 years old now, Ben is still a full-fledged bad ass.

However, he has one very annoying trait in common with our PE teacher. He isn’t content with his own awesomeness. Ben wants the rest of us to climb hard too.  

And so he created Moon Climbing and what is called the MoonBoard. The MoonBoard is an 8’x12’ plywood structure angled 40 degrees, set with holds that Mr. Moon created himself. Its sole purpose is ‘to whip your puny pre-pubescent body into shape.’

I have called the MoonBoard (I’ve used one off and on for the last 6 years), the most ego deflating, moral crushing, bubble bursting, apparatus that I have ever climbed on. To make matters worse, Moon Climbing seriously sandbags their grades (ie: their V5s feel like V7s or higher). Progress is made not in sending problems, but in making it an inch closer to the next move. Climbing training guru Steve Maisch commented that what makes the MoonBoard so perfect it that you cannot cheat your way up it. And that’s why I hate it . . . and it’s creator, Ben Moon.

And . . . that’s why I love it. Because it exposes my weaknesses and forces me to work on them. Because it teaches me to pay attention to the little things. And because it makes me smile when I finally figure out the next move.  

That is, after all, what I want from a training tool, isn’t it? Not something that makes me feel good about myself so I can have another browny at dinner, but something that really pushes me to my limit, that makes me cry (seriously, I just had some chalk in my eyes), and that lets me know that I had to earn it. 

I met Ben Moon this past year at the Climbing Wall Association Summit. I told him that I hated him. He didn’t seem to concerned.  He told me I could just use extra feet until I became a better climber.  

I hated him even more . . . then I purchase his full set of holds. 

Stop by Bliss Bouldering and Climbing Complex and try a few moves on our MoonBoard. It’s upstairs in our training room and it’s calling your name.  You, on the other hand, will be calling Ben Moon a whole menagerie of names :o  

Train Hard, Climb Harder, Follow Your Bliss,


PS: To find problems, you will need to download the Moon Climbing App.  Instructions are next to our MoonBoard


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