Ascent 1 of Highlander by Martin Keller

Date of Ascent:

June 03, 2016

Suggested Grade:



8C soft. 400+ sessions over 13 years of projecting


finally. after 13 years. peace in my heart
the video-still above shows the moment i was living for the last thirteen years. getting this finish-jug for the first ascent of the "highlander" was the dream i was chasing since my very first day up there at sustenpass.


First ascent of Highlander, ~8C, after 13 years by Martin Keller
As is so often the case when someone has worked something for such a long time, Martin has a hard time finding it meaningful to attach a simple number to his creation, but needless to say it is, for him, the hardest problem he has ever climbed. This says a lot as he has repeated and put up problems as hard as ~8C.


Q&A: Martin Keller, 39, Sends 13-Year Project Highlander (8C V15)
Martin Keller, 39, devoted thirteen years of his life to single a boulder. Despite various setbacks—a hamstring avulsion, a torn meniscus, chronic bad weather—Keller finally claimed Highlander’s first ascent. He suggested 8C (V15) for the grade.


For me it’s my hardest boulder for sure. I was not able to complete the highlander when I climbed all the other harder boulders I did in the past years. So for me it’s in the 8C-area… – (“soft” – (because I am so strong) to swing with the mainstream these days). But then I was sooooo close again and again over the years. And it’s not really my style. So I am sure others will find this easier. May there is better beta (I will write another blog about this). And others will find it hard(er). Everybody has his own perception of difficulty. And that is totally ok. Grade-discussions about “norming” a grade for “everybody” therefore normally are pointless. You just cannot (literally) force somebody else to how hard a route/boulder has to feel for him/her. And if you climb a bit longer you may see one day that there is a lot more to enjoy in climbing then pointless discussions (in the internet) about grades. And honestly I don’t really care. Climbing outdoors for me is not about others in the sense of competition. I don’t want to be stronger then mister or miss xxx. That is not the reason why I went up to Sustenpass for thirteen years.