Graham takes the relay from Natalija Gros


Tuesday, 7 March


Relay interview Natalija Gros vs. David Graham


The story of two worlds, 8C in Cresciano


Figaru-four on Story of two worlds, 8C


Can you see the hold?


Coup de Grace, 9a+


Kind of defined muscle structure


David seems to be using only friction...

randy puro.jpg
David Graham takes the relay from Natalija Gros (who got it from Martina Cufar)

I haven't had a chance to meet David Graham in person, I only know of him from few climbing videos where he showed an outstanding climbing performance and proved his name, talent and reputation. When watching these videos I perceived him (of course I might be mistaken) as a guy who is a bit shy or pulled-back at first, but can really open up to you once you get to know him. His style, charisma and sense of humor are the reasons why I decided to interview him. With this interview I wanted to not only brush on his climbing career (which I believe it is already known to most of the climbing community) but I also tried to (to some extent) focus on other aspects of his life (not necessarily climbing related), with a view to present David to the audience not only as a great climber but also as an interesting individual.

1. Let's start with a 'warm-up' question: When did you start climbing and why? What drove you to it?
I started climbing when i was 14, which means around April of 96. I was always into going outside and cruising around, mostly skiing or mountain biking or trying to play hockey on ponds, and when a friend of mine finally started climbing, I had an easy chance to start. I was really intrigued.

2. Do you have any brothers or sisters? Do they also climb?
I have one brother who is 20, who climbs a bit, and one half sister who is 7. She could be good, if she starts!

3. Do you often go on climbing trips to Europe and if so, which are your favorite spots?
Over the past 6 years I have spent the majority of my time living and traveling in Europe. I have spots all over which I love to visit! I love the Millau area in South France, Ticino, Fontainbleau, and I really enjoy exploring. I think typically I am finding at least 1 or 2 new "favorite" spots a year!

4. Have you ever been to Slovenia? We have some good climbing places here (also two 9a's if I am not mistaken).
I haven't been yet, but I will certainly be there someday!

5. As already mentioned, I have never met you in person, among others meaning also that I have never seen you on any of the  international competitions. What is your take on competing? Do you compete at all and will you ever compete in the World cups or World Championships?
I have been so intrigued by the realm of outdoor climbing, that I haven't even began to explore the competition world. The concept seems interesting, however, my ambitions, which are oriented around discovering beautiful new places and projects, don't coincide what-so-ever. Someday I would love to focus on climbing well in a comp, but at the moment, i am too intrigued with the depth of rock itself, i have so much more to learn, and so many more areas to explore!

6. Which climber was (or maybe still is) a role model for you as a kid? Which of the climbing legends (there are so many) would you put on the pedestal, why?
I was always inspired by people like Chris Sharma, and Fred Nicole. I really looked up to people who did first ascents and put up things in lots of different styles. The stuff those two put up, and continue to put up, are always in very different styles, and always very futuristic. Realization, and Dreamtime, were huge inspirations! They both tend to have a good eye for putting up really beautiful things, boulder or route, and always in a progressive style. Its hard to put people on pedestals, as I am sure they would appreciate being looked at as interesting individuals more than anything, but I would say they have an enor-mous amount of artistic vision, which I think is the most inspriring thing of all.

7. I know that you are an all-around climber: good on boulders as well as on hard routes. Which are the things that inspire you the most from both disciplines?
Well, that's a tough one. I love everything about climbing! It's hard to differentiate between climbing on a cliff, and climbing on boulders, as it is all climbing to me sometimes. I love the insane battles which ensue from routes, short and long routes alike, I tend to fight a lot more when tied in. Boulders are amazing because they are so accessible, and much more personal. I like being in Boulders, I can run around, explore, and do a lot by myself which can't be done at the cliff. However, the size, and grandeur of a cliff  is always so captivating. I think what I love truly is rock itself. I love the formations, the structure, and the colors. I love turning around corners and finding amazing things, or walking forever towards a wall, and the excitement that grows as you begin to discern all the lines and features. I could go on and on...

Since bouldering and route climbing are both done on the medium of rock, my attraction for the two is very similar. Its hard to split climbing, which feels so natural to say, in to sport climbing and bouldering. I love going climbing all the time, and that's why I go to a route one day, and the next day visit some boulders.

8. What about tread routes, mountain climbing and alpinism? Does that also interest you or do you, when browsing through the climbing magazines, usually skip the articles covering these topics?
I am really intrigued by the bigger rock formations. For years I have been traveling and seeing such amazing walls, which be little sport walls and boulders in so many ways. I feel like I'm honing my talent so to speak, practicing where its safe and accessible. One day, when the boredom hits me like a brick wall, I will be off, hiking to the base of one of the hundreds of incredible rock formations I have seen or heard about, to begin some real adventures. I can't wait for the day when that clicks, I have always wanted to be a big wall climber, and someday, when I have had my share of the smaller stones, I am on it. I read about that stuff all the time!

9. Congratulations for Coup de Grace (9a+) that you sent in  November 2005. Please describe in brief the route, especially the crux section, your overall experience in it and how was working on it? Did you celebrate the ascent?
Coup de Grace! That's my favorite route I have ever done. It's very unique, since it's on a boulder. The line is amazing, a steep line out the overhanging side of a massive bloc in a green valley. The route overhangs an ancient riverbed, so its very cozy, nice smooth rocks, open space, river, field, everything nice all at once! I found the route in May 05, exploring a new valley, and I was walking down the river, when all of the sudden, it was there. I guessed there wouldn't be any holds, but as I walked underneath it, I noticed that, yeah, there's holds! Big deal, since all the other big boulders are practically blank. I bolted on a miserable rainy day, and began trying it as soon as it was dry! I think I worked it for maybe 6 or 7 days, until I hurt my finger while climbing on it. That was devastating, since I was just about to go to Ceuse to try Realization, but hell, I couldn't do that after the injury. So I waited out the summer, and then began trying it again in the Fall. The moves are so friction dependent that I had to work out all new sequences, which were less powerful at least then the methods I was using in the spring. That's when the project came to life!

The route starts with a very powerful section on strange, oddly directed holds, maybe 8B bouldering. In seven moves, big ones, you climb a super steep section of about 6 meters, and then you climb direct into a very strange dihedral. It's very difficult to grade that section, as it is super technical and odd; but it is maybe 8A in itself. After this you have a rest, which is hard to take advantage of, since it's quite steep. However, you have no other choice as you are going into a final roof. This section is where the resistance really kicks in. It may be 8A/+, but given the fact that it consists of 15 drawn-out, technical roof moves it's a pain in the ass; all strecthed out on slopey rails. Lots of compression and bicycles for the feet, it caps the route off quite nice. After this you have a crazy little slab and arete, which is a bit scary, and rather strange, but no big deal.

My experience on that route was very deep, I worked on it in many different conditions, and the weather never helped me once. It was intense, as it was the one thing I wanted to do before I left the country, and I was so very happy to actually realize it! A huge step for me, I was psyched and I most certainly celebrated for about a week!!! I don't know really how hard it is, as I was the only one who tried it! We will see, hopefully it stays the same, and no one does anything horrible to it...It's most certainly the hardest route I have ever done, and considering all the routes I have accomplished in the last years, it seemed a serious standard above. 9a+? Its the most amazing piece of rock I have ever found, and its pretty damn majestic!

10. How do you prepare mentally for such a hard route? Do you have any special 'recipes' or tips that you might want to share with us?
Hmmmmm. Well, I cant really articulate how I prepare, as I am not sure myself. Somehow I would say: Find the rhythm! If you can harness rhythm in your mind and body, synchronize your physical self completely with your mind, then you are on the right path. Being in the right mental space takes a while, and sometimes it just happens. The mind is very subtle, and I find positive energy is one of the most important components. Balance, motivation and the right feeling in the I said, it's hard to articulate "flow" but its key.

11. What is your next goal? Maybe trying a 9b?
Of course! I hope I can find something a step above! We shall see what it is, but I am ready!!! I just have to find it...

12. In the Dosage videos that I have seen you always looked very positive and full of energy. Do you also have days when you are 'down and out' and not feeling motivated for climbing and if so, what do you do to overcome that?
Hell yeah! I don't do well overcoming that. It's very difficult to stay positive and balanced when things you don't expect happen. For instance, I just fell off the last move of the heinous crimping nightmare Terremer, three times in a row, feeling super strong. On the last go, on the last move, my finger blasted off this tiny crimper, and I ripped my entire finger-tip-callous off. I was
totally screwed for the last week and a half, and the temperature went up by about 25 degrees F. I feel totally un-syncronized now, out of the flow and it's so insanely hot, I have a hard time seeing the positive side of the situation. I think this is the type of situation you learn a lot about yourself and how to overcome that "down and out" sensation. I believe it has to do with internal energy forces, and the most important thing is to somehow balance your mindstate, rationalize what you may consider as a "loss," and find a new, updated, satisfying approach to the current situation. Mind over matter's what matters? I suppose, its just hard not be hypocritical about it sometimes...

13. Do you also practice any other sport or do you have a hobby?
I love to go ski, but i rarely go. Reading, exploring places, traveling, people, cooking, talking, thinking...

14. I see that you are from Maine, USA. Do you like living there or would you rather live somewhere else? What do you do in winter where it is all covered with snow?
I haven't lived there for 6 years now. I had a hard time living there when I did, but I can see all the positive things I learned from my experiences growing up buried in snow. I love it there, in a way, and I am so happy not to be there sometimes, its crazy. My family lives there, so I am always really happy to be there when I return. Its a beautiful place and the restaurants kick ass. Maine!

15. I see from your date of birth that you are a Scorpio. Do you believe in horoscopes, karma and other stuff like that?
Yes, I do believe in energetic stuff like that...I am probably a typical Scorpio-rooster, people could say. It would be hard to delve into right now, but, the world is full of all kinds of energy, it's just open to interpretation.

Who do you call or go to when you really have to put something off your chest?
Go look for boulders. Brush something. Build a landing, or bolt.

17. I apologize in advance if being too personal and you don't have to answer this but anyways: have you ever been really in love and  are you seeing anybody at the moment? Have you ever been dumped by a girl?
I am in love with my girlfriend who I have been seeing for over 3 years now! She's rad, and we have had an amazing time cruising around all over the world!

18. Where do you go when fell like partying? Do you (occasionally, of course) drink? If so, what is your favorite liquor or other alcohol-based drink?
Tequilla!! Nice wine!

19. Which was the last movie that you went to see to the movie theatre? What is your typical Friday night like?
Every nights a friday night, and I never know what to expect. At the "house of Doom" where I currently reside here in Hueco, one never knows what to expect. Huge party, or people sleeping at 10. You never know in this crazy world what might happen. I haven't been to a theatre for ages, but currently I am watching the Evangalion japanamation series. Go figure...

20. OK, let's finish off with some easy  questions. Favorite show on TV?
Uhhh, I don't watch TV enough, so I don't know the current shows, but I like the Simpsons, and South park for satire. For pure idiocy and an accurate repesentaion of my generation of American culture, I watch MTV with a look of appalation and disgust, and anything Sci-fi ( I guess that includes MTV)

21. Favorite book?
A Scanner Darkly, by Phillip K. Dick
22. McDonald's or carefully selected nutrition?
23. Hottest celebrity?
Hmmmmm, Penelope Cruz
24. Any last messages or shout-outs to all the fans at the
Everybody keep it real, keep on developing this beautiful new culture we are a part of, and respect yourselves, each other and
the rock! FUERZAAAAAAAAA!!!!!
25. Who do you want to interview and why?
Joe Kinder! He is my one of my brethren, and has a really inspiring style in which he accomplishes everything he's doing!

Well David, thank you very much for your time and hope to see you maybe someday in person!
Natalija Gros

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