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Video: The Vision of Dave Graham, Extreme Rock Climbing’s Mad Ambassador

By Andrew Kornylak, The Blind Monkey

As part of our new feature climbing film A FINE LINE, co-director Josh Fowler and I spent a week shooting with some of the best boulderers in the world—Daniel Woods, Jimmy Webb, Dave Graham, and others—in Castle Rocks, Idaho as they tried a landmark climb called Warpath. The nearly 30-move route was established by James Litz in 2007, and was unrepeated. It was thought to be V14 or V15, a grade that would put it among the hardest established boulder problems ever done.

Woods eventually repeated Warpath after a couple day's work, grading it V14. Nonstop blizzards moved into southern Idaho after that, and after a few days of doing absolutely nothing, thoughts turned to exploring the untapped climbing potential in the endless boulders near Castle Rock.

Originally our film was to be called Warpath, and it was centered around the second ascent of this route. But once the weather went bad, the real story came out. A repeat of a world-class problem like Warpath may be rare, but finding new climbing opportunities today is almost less likely. It takes just as much—if not more—effort and single-minded focus.

Dave Graham is one climber who takes that focus to the limit. In the last decade he has single-handedly established some of the most important high-end climbing areas around the world and is known as sort of a mad ambassador of extreme climbing. Our time with Graham in Idaho inspired us to focus on the more intangible aspects of climbing at the top levels: this passionate quest for the elusive "perfect problem".

In this excerpt from the film, which is partially narrated by climber and writer Peter Beal, a cabin-bound Graham wakes from recurring dreams about "Libya, wandering the plains with friends, and sick new boulders." It's The Vision of Dave Graham:

You can see more about A FINE LINE here, including reviews and the trailer: