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Niccolò Ceria making the first ascent of Ziqqurat 8C at Gaby in Valle d’Aosta, Italy
Photo by Rudy Ceria

Niccolò Ceria frees Ziqqurat 8C at Gaby in Valle d'Aosta

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On 07/12/2015 at Gaby in Valle d'Aosta, Italy, Niccolò Ceria made the first ascent of Ziqqurat, a boulder problem he suggests may be 8C.

Two days ago Niccolò Ceria made the most of his great shape to send his biggest project of the year, namely a perfectly horizontal roof on one of the many granite boulders strewn at Gaby in Valle del Lys, in Italy’s Valle d’Aosta. In many respects the problem resembles the famous Riverbed testiere at Averstal (Magic Wood), with holds traced onto the lip leading to an arête described as being "technical and spicy". Ceria needed just 9 days in total and, after having sorted out the landing a few days ago, he sent the 20 moves on Monday to create his Ziqqurat. The climber from Biella has put forward the grade 8C which, if confirmed, makes it one of the hardest around.


Niccolò talk us quickly through this problem

The boulder is beautiful, apart from a little flaw: the rock isn’t totally compact on the first part, but where the holds are located it’s solid. The shape is really impressive, it is a large boulder and perfectly flat. It seems cut shear, with only the small crimps and the arête at the end which allows for it to be climbed.

What are the moves like?
There are twenty in total. It starts off with a first section, not too difficult, of 10 moves that then lead to two crux moves at the end of the roof. My successe rate was really low on these and I only managed to stick them twice, once in April and the second time two days ago. After this there’s the technical sequence which I was sure I’d reach exhausted and with cold hands.

That "spicy" arête?
Yes, after the two crux moves the next moves aren’t too difficult but they’re certainly intricate I’d say, with some heelhooks that lead to the problem’s standstart, a 7B aerie that requires careful footwork and balance. My hands were cold but luckily not frozen and I managed to launch my way up the last hard move.

You’ve put forward the grade 8C. Your second, right?
If we consider The Big Island at Fontainebleau V15, then yes, this is my second.

You sent the problem on Monday
Yes. Conditions were good and the days beforehand I tried to get good skin and become a bit more flexible seeing that I hadn’t done any stretching for over a month. Then the perfect day finally came and I made the send. For months I’d been thinking about the problem every day, now I’m overjoyed.

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