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Film: Famous Moonraker in 1967 and 50 Years Later

Moonraker is a 70-metre classic U.K. route established on Aug. 6, 1967, by at Littlejohn and Peter Biven on The Old Redoubt.

The film below is journey back through time to when the crag was still unknown territory. The climbing life of a young Littlejohn comes full circle as he climbs the route exactly 50 years to the hour later, with Peter’s granddaughter. Anna Biven experiences her first time on a sea-cliff as she follows in her incredible grandfather’s footsteps.

Littlejohn on Moonraker Photo Biven collection

“Probably the best HVS in the country; giving steep and exposed climbing on a magnificent and inescapable line,” reads the guidebook description. It speaks volumes and Ken Wilson’s inclusion of the route in Hard Rock firmly cemented classic status among British climbers. But what of the first ascent?

“I knew that it had been climbed by Peter Biven and Pat Littlejohn and that Pat had been very young and also that it had been climbed on-sight,” said filmmaker James Mann. “Beyond these details, I was somewhat in the dark.”

Mann interviewed Littlejohn last year and discussed the first ascent. “I sat transfixed as Pat jumped back in time to his school holidays of 1967 and recalled the excitement of the route, the influence upon him of members of the Exeter Climbing Club and his feelings about Pete.

“At the end of this, Pat mentioned that he was really keen to climb Moonraker again on the fifth of August; the fiftieth. A discussion about a possible film project ensued.”

Anna and Pat 50 years later

Legendary photographer John Cleare said that there were many images of Biven from the cliff and that Mann would be allowed to use them in the film.

“Pat contacted Peter’s 16-year-old granddaughter, Anna and asked if she was keen,” said Mann. “She agreed and exactly 50 years to the hour after the first ascent, a Biven/Littlejohn team traversed down once more into The Great Cave.”

“I should mention also that this was Anna’s first time on a sea-cliff and only her second time trad climbing.”

Mann has have been involved in climbing and mountaineering for most of his life. Photography has always been a passion and since a serious injury in 2015, has taken a more prominent place in his climbing life.

“I am currently working on a climbing history of Devon and Cornwall, so to combine this kind of story with film-making is a fantastic.”

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