The Hubble route in the Peak District was recently repeated by Buster Martin and rated a 9a. He joins in by upgrading the opinion of previous repeaters. It is becoming more and more important that Hubble is the first 9a route in the world.

The discussion flares up again as to whether not Action Directe im Frankenjura, rather Hubble im Peak District, must be called the first 9a climbing route in the world. The recent inspection of the British route by Buster Martin gives reason to ask this question again. He posted a video called “World's First 9a”. Let's start from the beginning to find the answer to this question.

90s: It all happens in quick succession

In the late 80s and early 90s, some strong climbers pushed the limits of what was possible at short intervals. In 1987 the German Wolfgang Güllich climbed the world's first 8c route with Wall Street. In 1990 the British succeeded Ben Moon the first ascent of Hubble in Raven gate (Peak District). He cautiously gave 8c + as a rating.

In 1990, 8c was the highest grade there was. It would have been arrogant to give Hubble a 9a. It was very brave to rate the route with 8c +.

Ben Moon

Again, it only took a year before the limit of the possible was pushed up in the German Franconian Jura. The Frankenjura local Wolfgang Güllich Action Directe climbed red point and gave a rating of 8c + / 9a. Action Directe was the most difficult route in the world to date.

Ben Moon on the first ascent of Hubble in the Peak District. (Image archive Ben Moon)
Ben Moon on the first ascent of Hubble in the Peak District. (Image archive Ben Moon)

Both routes will be upgraded

Over time, Hubble and Action Directe have been repeated several times - and upgraded. While Action Directe manifested 9a as a level of difficulty fairly early, the situation around Hubble was less clear. In recent years, however, the number of votes that Hubble rated 9a increased.

The most famous candidate is Adam Ondra. He first tried Hubble in 2010 after a competition and couldn't make a single move. A year later, the Czech returned and was more successful in Hubble, but he was denied the red dot.

Hubble is guaranteed to be no easier than Action Directe.

Adam Ondra

The same opinions as Adam Ondra are also the successful repeaters of Hubble, William B.osi, Peter Dawson, Matthew Wright and now Buster Martin.

Alexander Megos climbed Hubble in the Peak District and Action Directe in the Franconian Jura. (Image EpicTV)
Alexander Megos climbed Hubble in the Peak District and Action Directe in the Franconian Jura. (Image EpicTV)

One of the people who also climbed Hubble is the German Alex megos. However, he only vaguely commented on the degree and did not confirm Hubble as a 9a. For Ben Moon, Hubble's first ascent, it is clear why.

Alex Megos probably doesn't want to say that Hubble is 9a, because otherwise Wolfgang Güllich's Action Directe would no longer be the first 9a route in his home region of Frankenjura.

Ben Moon
Ben Moon in an interview about the Hubble rating. (Image Andrew MacFarlane)
Ben Moon in an interview about the Hubble rating. (Image Andrew MacFarlane)

The fact is: Hubble has now been committed by nine people and rated 9a several times. The evaluation of a climbing route or a bouldering problem is always subjective and not always trivial.

Usually the first ascent makes an initial suggestion for the assessment. Repeaters then confirm this grade or suggest an adjustment.

The difficulty of a route is confirmed when several hikers were able to agree on a grade, or the route was rated several times with the same grade.

In the case of Hubble, from today's perspective, we must speak of a 9a route. Correctly, therefore, the title “First 9a in the world” should be transferred from Action Directe to Hubble.

Buster Martin inspecting Hubble

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Seb Bouin on the first 8c in France: Agincourt

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Credits: Cover picture