Dave Graham is highly regarded as one of the top rock climbers to have come out of the US in the last ten years. Born in 1981 and originating from Maine, New England he started climbing in 1997 at the age of 16. Within a year he had climbed the US grade of 5.14a (F8b+) and it was quite obvious that his lean and gangly frame was well suited to the sport of climbing.
Early days were spent developing the crags of Rumney, New Hampshire with his friends Joe Kinder and Luke Parady. First ascents of China Beach F8c, Jaws F8c+, Livin' Astro F8c+ and The Fly F9a were all established by Graham and all within three years of taking up the sport.
Since 2000 Dave has lived life as a professional rock climber and has travelled extensively throughout the US and Europe. His self-proclaimed “gypsy” lifestyle has enabled him to make his mark in sport climbing and bouldering across the world.
Highlights with a rope include a repeat of Action Directe F9a in 2001, the first ascent of Bah Bah Black Sheep F8c+ at Ceuse in 2002, the first ascent of Coup De Grace F9a+ in 2005 and a repeat of Sharma's Realization F9a+ at Ceuse in 2007. This year despite injury problems he managed the first ascent of Girl Talk F8c+ in Rifle, Colorado as well as the fourth ascent of Tommy Caldwell's route, Kryptonitev
F9a at The Fortress near Rifle.
However, it is bouldering that Graham professes to enjoy the most and here his list of first ascents and repeats is even more impressive. The first ascent of Spectre V13 in 2001, a repeat of Dreamtime Font 8B+ in 2002, New Base Line Font 8B+ in 2003 and then first ascents of From Dirt Grows The Flowers and The Story Of Two Worlds (both Font 8C) in 2005- the latter which Dave heralded as the new benchmark for Font 8C. More recently he established the amazing looking prow of The Island, Font 8C in Fontainebleau. Interestingly he puts his success down, not to brutal strength but to ice hockey. Apparently, “it's all in the hips!”
With such a list of impressive ascents and an obvious and unrelenting enthusiasm for climbing and life in general, I was keen to a gain further insight into the mind of this 26 year-old man from Maine.
Filmmaker Dave Gill of SteepMedia and myself caught up with Dave for an interview before his stunningly fresh lecture in Ambleside, organised by the town's specialist retailer, Lakes Climber and event organiser Heason Events.