Niky Ceria has bouldered at a world-class level for several years, although he cares less about the arbitrary number attached to the rock and more about aesthetics, movement and history. UK readers will remember Niky as the man who made the 2nd ascent of Ben Moon's Voyager Low Start in 2015. His affinity with climbing in the UK began much earlier during his childhood when he idolised a picture of Andy Earl on Cypher. He has made several trips since then, returning for the 'quiet and peaceful' British moors, the sense of community found in climbing walls and the attitude towards rock and nature.
Cypher! ✔ - 1 foothold for the entire sequence (smear) - 5 hand moves total - 12 attempts to send it (8 first session - 4 second session) - 10 days to prepare the skin - Countless hours/days visualizing the kick move (move in the picture) - 14 years dreaming about this line 📷 @ciaoandreacossu @adidasterrex @fiveten_official @frictionlabs @flathold
In 2010 at age 16, Niky came on a trip to the UK and one of the few things he knew about was Voyager. The problem had only seen a handful of repeats at the time and the low start was far away from a second ascent. One afternoon, Niky went to look at the 'legendary' problem and after 15 minutes found himself past the crux and onto the 'easier' section:
'Totally unaware of the beta, I missed the last move by hitting the slopey part of the rail rather than the proper jug. It would have been a very nice climb for me at that time. I gave it other goes and I worked it for two more sessions, but I couldn't reach that point anymore.'
Niky wanted to come back and try it as soon as possible, although struggled to find anyone who wanted to return to the UK with him. It wasn't until 2015 that he returned and on the only dry day of the trip went back to Burbage. He dispatched the stand in a couple of attempts and proceeded to check out the lower moves:
'Fortunately, I linked it on my first go from the start. During the sending go I split my tip very badly and it rained for all the rest of the trip. I was very lucky and I had nice skin. It's a day I will hardly forget.
'As far as I could experience, the Gritstone is brutally technical and extremely skin dependent, so every problem is challenging: you need to manage a lot of factors at the same time as having a proper skin, prove your technique, being in a good shape and gambling with the bizarre British weather.'
Despite the weather, Niky keeps returning to the UK and on a recent trip had several other classics in mind. The climb at the front of his mind was another Ben Moon problem: Cypher.
'Many years ago, a famous Italian clothing brand released a poster. It showed a dark grey arête in a stunning place, the sky was dark and gloomy in the background and the climber was waving his leg in the air. I loved that photo, the setting where the boulder was and the position of the climber. I attached it on my wardrobe just near my bed. Years later, I found out that the climber was Andy Earl and the boulder was Cypher at Slipstones.'
In late March and throughout April, Niky worked his way through some of his dream problems, meticulously looking after his skin and endlessly visualising moves. Cypher took him 12 attempts over 2 sessions, after 14 years of dreaming about the line.
Niky went on to tick High Fidelity at Caley and Rhythm at Flasby Fell: 'High fidelity is probably the best climbing (in terms of moves) I have done in this trip. I really liked a couple of problems I did in Brimham, 'Ancient' and 'Tender Homecoming'. Those are amazing problems considering how they look and the pureness of the line, even if the rock isn't perfect.'
High Fidelity at Caley Roadside. Another dream of my teens! Tall, proud and beautiful! And with an amazing climb! FA @stevedunning1 - 2003 I saw the videos of this line countless of times during the years and I have always thought that the undercut-move would have been too weird for me. Fortunately I was wrong and I immediately had some good feelings when I started trying it. I found out it was more a matter of body position, rather than a wrist-strength move. The other aspect I was worry about was the height. It was a pleasure and a huge help to have Dan (@highballproductions) with me during the sending day. Thanks mate to be part of this ascent! @ciaoandreacossu with some pictures from an atypical angle! @adidasterrex @fiveten_official @frictionlabs @flathold
After steadily working his way through some of the best 8Bs in the country, there's still a huge amount of climbing waiting for Niky. High on his list are Ben Bransby's Lanny Bassham at Rylstone, Peak classics such as Careless Torque, The Ace and Samson and visiting some different areas: 'I would like to visit St Bees in general and then would love to make a trip to Northumberland to check all the beautiful things that Dan (Varian) has put up. Last but not least, I would like to do Milk-it at the School.'
It's more than the climbing that keeps Niky coming back to the UK and certainly more than the weather: 'The settings are often incredible. I love the British moors and I like to see how the community takes care of the rock and the nature. I found it fascinating seeing climbers walking on a very remarkable path, leaving all the rest untouched and undisturbed.
'I also came to UK to climb at the gym. The climbing scene in Sheffield is unique. It's great to know that somewhere in the world the climbing gym is still a place to escape real life and to meet climbers who train for rock climbing. We don't have this attitude in Italy anymore (and probably also in the rest of Europe) so this is another reason why I like UK. And honestly, I don't mind sitting in a pub and getting bored on the rainy days.'
A great trip to UK is over and it was an amazing experience. It's probably the trip where I have learnt the most about bouldering and about being a climber. The management of every climbing moment in the Yorkshire was exetrmely delicate. It deals with patience, precision and discipline. It's a kind of bouldering style that I have always wanted to learn, and I partly did it in the past, but I was never able to improve it as I wished. Saving skin, thinking narrowly about what to do and also resting for a huge amount of time isn't easy when you really want to climb everything you look at. And I have often failed on this point. During this trip, I kept the right approach for every single day. Not only it paid off very well, but it also made me bit wiser than when I left for UK! Can't wait to see what the next trip upthere will bring! @ciaoandreacossu with the picture on the beautiful Slipstones path. It is a very beaten trace that everybody follows in order to preserve the thick moor around. @adidasterrex @fiveten_official @frictionlabs @flathold