Graham climbs new 8C

Posted on 12. Mar, 2013 by in News

A few days ago Dave Graham once again made the FA of the hardest problem at Elkland, aka The Nicky’s Boulders, aka The Billiards in Estes Park. The Bridge of Ashes V15 is the newest addition in a long line of well documented hard problems that now exist in Colorado. Well done. Dave spent a number of days on the slightly overhanging compression rig, and comments this on his 8a scorecard:

(The Bridge of Ashes is) One of the most challenging projects I have ever completed. I found and cleaned this line over a year ago, and have been trying intermittently ever since. Once I found the right method and realized the boulder was actually climbable, I thought it would be just about having the right skin and conditions. I thought it was in the bag. Oh how I was wrong!

The problem proved itself to be much more difficult than I thought, and the skin situation was heinous. Each session ended in utter destruction, and there were always cuts to heal. After about 10 days in the last three weeks, battling freak cold spells, snowstorms, and heat waves, and maybe another 15 days spread over the last year, this felt really good to finally take down. Unlike many hard boulders, it did not feel easy when I finally did it. It felt desperate in fact! Im looking forward to the next projects and to finishing the video for you all, soon to be up at

Here are a couple nice photos and some more words about the problem for now! STOKED!!!!!

Interestingly enough, in regards to Dave’s comment about his skin, a number of climbers have commented on the quality of the line, as the rock tends to be rough at Elkland, with one Facebook commenter going so far as to suggest:

The worst v15 was climbed today. We talk a lot about contributions to our sport. Today was a low point for all of us.

Do professional athletes have an obligation to do things that inspire everyone? Are they not paid to do what they deem right, and to try what projects they please? Is there any merit in questioning the quality of this boulder problem?

Dave’s efforts in finding and cleaning these incredibly difficult lines is something I’ve often admired and it has been a source of motivation for me. His perpetual psyche for hunting down and discovering new and difficult rock climbing is to be commended. I actually have lost count how many times he has told me about some new boulders he’s found or cleaned and sure enough I’m there a few days later making the second ascent of some problem I walked by for years. Afrika Bambaataa V12, Want Egg V10, The Elegant Universe Sit V11, Dead Racoon V11, not to mention countless others I can’t do. The list goes on and on. For me Elkland is an amazing thing to have. Perhaps some find it unmotivating, and having been to Switzerland, Font, and South Africa I can appreciate good rock quality. But I think Dave should do whatever he wants, and he’s put a lot of time and effort into this climb and it’s great that he’s climbed it.

To make matters even more interesting Daniel Woods made the second ascent yesterday in a day. No word yet on his assessment of the line (either it’s quality or difficulty), but his recent failure on Lucid Dreaming (albeit a ridiculously short trip) suggests it maybe easier. Only time, and some honest opinions, will tell.

16 Responses to “Graham climbs new 8C”

  1. Justin

    12. Mar, 2013

    I really liked reading about this problem. The rock there looks and sounds basically identical to the rock at my favorite area, so it was cool to read that a world class climber like Dave Graham struggles with the same things when trying to push their grade on it. I think that type of rock is extremely condition dependent, and I actually think the challenge of overcoming that deepens the experience. All in all, just a cool read. Cant wait to see the video! Psyched!

  2. […] according to this picture posted by Bearcam Media on Instagram.  No word yet on the grade, but the last two lines of this post on B3Bouldering sound about right to […]

  3. Matt

    12. Mar, 2013

    Or maybe LD really is V16 and Paul caved to internet pressure.

  4. Dan

    12. Mar, 2013

    Saying that a problem sucks because the rock is sharp is about as stupid saying that a problem sucks because it’s hard, or because it’s scary. Grow up and realize that not everyone shares the same opinions and motivations as you.

  5. ronnance

    12. Mar, 2013

    After a recent chat with a friend (who like me spends a fair amount of time finding, cleaning, maybe sending, naming, and grading problems), I somewhat jokingly suggested we both start using John Gill’s B-grading system. While this would be slightly silly for our moderately difficult FA’s, it dawned on me that Gill’s B3 category would make a nice additional grade for high end projects that have been sent. One can already find lists of unrepeated hard problems, but the B3 moniker also means that the line has been attempted by several of the strongest and remains unrepeated. I also think the homage to John Gill would be really cool. With the current issue of V16 and/or V15 FA’s being downgraded after subsequent sends, the additional B3 tag would add allure to certain problems. Just a thought. I realize this comment doesn’t exactly fit with the strand, but I wanted to share it anyway. Maybe ClimbingNarc, b3, or DPM could compile a list of B3’s.

  6. PBC

    13. Mar, 2013

    “Do professional athletes have an obligation to do things that inspire everyone? Are they not paid to do what they deem right, and to try what projects they please? Is there any merit in questioning the quality of this boulder problem?”

    There are some really cool, really inspiring, really hard lines out there. There are also really cool, pretty easy lines. Then there are really hard, but otherwise unimpressive lines. I think that’s a lot of the reason Ondra’s Terranova didn’t get much press – by his own admission is not particularly awesome, just really hard. It’s also go the advantage of not being in a high traffic place where anybody can walk by and pass judgement on it on the weekend. I won’t speak to Dave’s latest – I can’t climb half that hard and I’m a good thousand miles from being able to even fondle the holds. The community will have to decide if its cool, hard, both, neither.

  7. Nietzsche

    13. Mar, 2013

    Daniel’s 8a comment. Of particular mention, he calls it the 2nd hardest boulder in CO (after I’m guessing Hypnotized Minds).

    “Such a sick new addition to Elkland. One of my favorite problems that I have climbed. Dave has done it yet again with establishing anotha stunna. I was lucky enough to have freak conditions. There was a very cold, dry wind blowing….snow flurries… and just the right amount of moisture to stick perfectly to the grips. Though it went in a session, this boulder is hard. It is powerful, finicky, and requires precision. The rock will eat your tips very quickly. A true CO test piece, and for me the 2nd hardest problem in the state. We are island.”

  8. Ben

    13. Mar, 2013

    It sucks that other people have different opinions on rock climbs sometimes. i think we can learn and grow as a community when we all agree that short powerful sharp tacky lines are the best ones.

  9. SB

    13. Mar, 2013

    I agree with Dan. By that standard, the Buttermilks are a damn choss pile.

  10. hayden

    13. Mar, 2013

    the buttermilks are a damn choss pile

  11. Dan

    13. Mar, 2013

    The Buttermilks are a pretty good analogy. Some people don’t like climbing there because of the sharp and brittle rock, others love it because of the amazing lines and beautiful setting. There’s nothing wrong with having your own opinion. Forcing your opinion on others and saying that they should/shouldn’t be climbing there is idiotic.

  12. Joaq

    13. Mar, 2013


    This would be a solid starting place for making a list of b3 problems:

  13. colin

    14. Mar, 2013

    Eh…everyone has their own opinion as to what makes a good route or boulder problem. Sometimes an uninspiring boulder has great moves and you get absorbed in the pure physical challenge of climbing the stupid thing. If “the community” thinks it’s a sharp lowball turd with no redeeming value, the community can simply not climb on it.

    I haven’t seen the thing, BTW.

  14. Lol...

    18. Mar, 2013

    Right on Colin. It seems as if the community here (i.e. the folks who can climb this line) have dubbed this to be a very worthy rock climbing challenge, not a sharp lowball turd with no redeeming value. Does the “real” community hold a different opinion?

  15. tom

    19. Mar, 2013

    A man climbed a piece of rock, other people may also want to climb this piece of rock, it hasn’t got anything to do with obligations as neither the rock nor anyone else was changed or harmed in the process.

  16. Mike Rathke

    22. Mar, 2013

    Once the beta is unlocked a problem becomes a lot easier…

    Its like walking up to a boulder problem like The Suicide Machine V9/10 at Oak Park (FA James Emerson)…

    All of the foot holds are surrounded by growing wet moss so
    Hopefully you know how to swing between the hand holds, or you know the cross foot beta going into the crux. Bearing down on the crimper with your left foot toe hooked into a legally blind hole surrounded by dark green moss deep under a roof is just not going to happen easily for someone that is even a V15 climber unless they have the beta.

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