Gateway 8C+ for Martin Keller

© Vladek Zumr

Martin Keller has made an ascent of Gateway (f8B+)/8C+, on the Dreamtime boulder in  Cresciano, Ticino, Switzerland. 

Whilst the boulder was graded 8B+ when it was first established by Jimmy Webb in 2019, the 'crux hold' has since broken, leading Keller to propose a grade of 8C+.

Forty-five year old Keller is well known for his persistence with hard projects. In 2020, he climbed Dreamtime (f8B+)/8C after almost eighteen years of projecting the boulder, whilst he put thirteen years into the first ascent of Highlander 8C at the Sustenpass in Switzerland, and more than one hundred and fifty sessions into his FA of Ninja Skills SDS 8C/8C+, also in Ticino.

Gateway was no different, with Keller putting in three years and more than one hundred and fifty attempts on the boulder, eventually making his ascent after a full day of work at 2am.

Keller's proposal of 8C+ for the post-break Gateway makes it his hardest ascent to date. 

Sharing news of the ascent on instagram, Keller said:

'Still feeling my legs shake before the final slab on that one… The best and hardest boulder I could ever climb. Very grateful for that one!'

'It's not easy to find your "perfect project". Beautiful line, amazing and hard moves at your personal limit in your style, very powerful, but also super delicate sequences at the same time! Full package on that one!'

'It was another epic journey over 3 years and 150+ sessions to get from not being able to do the single hard crux-moves, to coming very close to send, to breaking (a few times) the crux-hold at the end, to not being sure if it still would go, to having to rebuild the landing after a tree took all the landing out, to fall[ing] on the last hard move a year before the send, to finally link[ing] all twenty+ hard moves on the last night of the season before summer hit - and not slipping off the final mantle and slab at 2am on a solo after work session (after a full day of work) - an epic end to an epic journey for sure'.

Writing about how he managed to achieve his hardest ascent to date shortly before his forty-sixth birthday, Keller put it down to 'hard but smart work, and consistency, and trust in the process!'

'The key was to have an effective and efficient game-plan (training that works!) as there was not much time to waste when working as a teacher and running my coaching business. Keep going out there, don't listen to the naysayers, and don't forget to enjoy the journey'.

A short documentary about the ascent is in the works, in the meantime, you can watch Webb's First Ascent of the original boulder below:

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