UKC

8C+ First Ascent for Dave Graham

© Dave Graham

Dave Graham has made the first ascent of Celestite, 8C+, in Val Bavona, Switzerland.

The ascent, which he described as his 'main objective' for this season in Val Bavona, is his fifth at the grade, after having been at the top-end of the bouldering world for the best part of twenty-five years. 

Whilst Dave only shared the news yesterday, he made the ascent back in March, on the very same day that fellow 41-year-old (at the time) Chris Sharma made his own ascent of a hard project in Sleeping Lion (9b+).

Expanding upon the ascent on social media, Dave said:

'On March 28 I climbed my main objective of the season in Bavona, a brilliant technical masterpiece on a river polished overhang, attacking a subtle feature trending diagonally out a beautiful wall'.

'The project was obvious, and had been tried before, but with a frontal approach, yet with my new perspective of such features and the possibility to find solutions with kneebars, a technique I've improved a lot in my climbing, I had a ton of new ideas, especially to approach the climb upside down'.

'In the initial sessions finding a functional sequence was daunting, the feet were terrible and extremely hard to trust, and the slow-motion style of movement was so diverse from all the other climbs I had tried. Somehow, I began making rapid progress. The beta I discovered worked really well for me, and rather quickly I was trying to link the two main sections on their own'.

'Confused about its breakdown, I saw the climb as a tense 8a+ directly into an even more tense 8b+, but not less. After working on the dodgy landing, a set of logs bridging over a pond, and cleaning the highball outro, I started making tries from the start'.

Dave's first 8C+ boulder was a repeat of Daniel Woods' 'Creature from the Black Lagoon' in Colorado, back in 2016  © Cameron Maier/Bearcam media
Dave's first 8C+ boulder was a repeat of Daniel Woods' 'Creature from the Black Lagoon' in Colorado, back in 2016

'I approached this problem with zero expectations every session as I really wanted it, but the style of climbing required patience, balance, and a laser sharp focus, hard things to bundle all together; there was no just "trying hard"'.

'After three sessions trying to progress from the start, always making it a move farther, in a magical moment, after a crazy fight, I found myself standing at the top'.

'Astonished to have not drawn out the process, a habit of mine, my first thought was to question its difficulty. Could I climb something of this level that quickly? If it had taken another ten days of making mistakes, I'd have zero hesitation with the proposal, yet, I often doubt my strengths and abilities'.

'If compare it to all the lines I've climbed, it [8C+] seems like where it belongs, unless I missed some crucial easier beta. I'm very proud of my climbing on this one, it's majestic, climbs beautifully, and is an amazing addition to the valley'.

Whilst Celestite's grade of 8C+ is just a single grade beneath the world's hardest boulders, Dave has said that a 'right exit' to the boulder is possible, adding 'a huge highball prow' at '~8b' difficulty. He has stated that this extension will be his main goal for the winter. 

Could the extension of Celestite be the world's next 9A boulder?


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Dave Graham has been a top boulderer and sport climber for nearly two decades. He has made the first ascents of a huge number of cutting edge boulder problems including The Story of Two Worlds, Big Paw and...

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