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Dave Graham
Interview 1  2
The Fantstic Four

“I can’t travel much, but there are entire crags in America which are overgraded by as much as a grade. Here at Fontainebleau I’ve received the confirmation that the grades I give, at least the boulders, correspond with those in Europe. There are many bouldering areas in America which are graded correctly, there are less errors than on the routes.

Before stating that “The Fly” is 9a I hesitated a lot and then I decided. It’s the only route which really cost me a lot, it’s definitely harder than all the rest that I have done. In the beginning when I first saw the line I thought that it was impossible . Then I started working it and everybody told me to stop wasting my time, but I knew I was capable of climbing it. It’s bouldery, about 18m long and at the end of it you have to get established above the roof. I also trained for one of the clips since it’s quite high and if you fall you can hurt yourself on the boulders below. When I tried the route I simply couldn’t fail.”

The Future

“I think that one will be able to climb 9b routes and 8c/8c+ boulder problems. It’s easier to find hard lines on routes - there are many projects that are feasible and many existing routes that can be extended to become a grade harder. Unfortunately the majority of hard routes are chipped or drilled. I’ve never chipped a hold. But I’ve repeated hard chipped routes and I think that this type of climbing is much less interesting than a natural line. One could perhaps climb past the hard section using a different method, but the person who freed the route didn’t even notice...

It’s different in bouldering , I think no hold chipping is universally accepted, even if unfortunately there are some sad exceptions. The problem with hard lines is finding them. I tried a boulder that might be 8c and another that could be 8c+ but I don’t know if I’ll be able to climb them. The hardest thing I’ve done until now is 8b+ with my “Nothing but Sunshine”. I repeated “The Mandala” quickly and I reckon it’s 8b - it is one of the nicest boulders that I’ve ever repeated.”

Pick -n-mix

“When I try something they tell me to rest more between one attempt and the next. But I don’t care, I like climbing and want to climb as I like to. Who cares if I feel wasted in the evening! Anyway, this hardly ever happens.

My favourite websites are those like Napster, where I can download music for free. I like rap and punk, even if America is infected by popunk bands that make me sick. I used to play the guitar in a punk band but now I don’t get round to it because I’m always out and about.

Here in Europe I can go into a bar and order a beer, but in the States the laws are really repressive and you can’t drink alcohol until you’re 21 and never on the street. I got drunk here - it was interesting because it was the first time, but it’s not something that I’ll get into. But at least I could try. What I don’t like is that one can smoke in bars and restaurants. I tried smoking but I didn’t like it. But after a day’s climbing at Fontainebleau we always finished off at the “Glasgow” - the people were really friendly and we made loads of friends.”

Dave Graham at Fontainebleau
(Photos by Roberto Fioravanti)

Dave Graham, bouldering at Fontainebleau

Dave Graham, bouldering at Fontainebleau

Dave Graham, bouldering at Fontainebleau
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