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Dave Graham

Dave Graham, also known as “The Wizard”, is without a doubt living up to his nickname being of the world’s strongest and most influential climbers in modern history. Dave has unquestionably earned a place in the Rock Climbing Hall of Fame with over a thousand hard redpoint climbs and hundreds of first ascents. During his 20 years of climbing, he managed to complete the majority of the world’s hardest climbs, from sport climbs like Ali Hulk (extension) 9b to monster boulders like Celestine 8C+.


United States

Date Of Birth



Sport Climbing/Bouldering

Hardest Sport


Hardest Boulder


Hardest Trad


Dave Graham

Ascent Log

ClimbTypeSuggested GradeDate of AscentNotes
Ali Hulk (extension total sit start)Sport Route9a+/b29th Sep 20205th ascent of Ali Hulk Extension. Instagram Post, Gripped Magazine and Video
BiographieSport Route9a+30th Jul 20074th ascent. Video and Planet Mountain
La Rambla ExtensionSport Route9a+Mar 2019Dave climbs one of his hardest routes. Instagram Post
Coup de GraceSport Route9a/+31st Oct 2005FA. UKC Article
The FlySport Route/Boulder9a/V147th Apr 2000FA. Dave led the route with only two bolts for protection. If climbed as a boulder, it’s graded a V14. Climbing Magazine
Action DirecteSport Route9a21st May 2001Fourth ascent. Planet Mountain
Thor’s HammerSport Route9a5th Oct 2015Rock & Ice Magazine
ChocholocoSport Route9a14th Oct 2009
AbyssSport Route9a3rd Oct 2009
KryptoniteSport Route9a14th Sep 2008
Bunda De ForaSport Route9a6th Sep 2007
Ali-Hulk (de pie)Sport Route9a27th Jun 2007
EsclatamastersSport Route9a8th Mar 2007
A MuerteSport Route9a7th Dec 2006
Bain de SangSport Route9a13th Apr 2005
PsychedelicSport Route9a18th Nov 2001
CelestiteBoulderV16/8C+28th Mar 2023FA at the age of 41! One of his hardest boulders to date. Instagram Post
EuclaseBoulderV16/8C+20th Apr 2022FA. Instagram Post
Creature from the Black LagoonBoulderV16/8C+Oct 2016Second ascent. Gripped Magazine
Hypnotized MindsBoulderV16/8C+Oct 2019Video and Instagram Post
Fuck the SystemBoulderV16/8C+25th Jun 2022Instagram Post
The Story of Two WorldsBoulderV15/8C9th Jan 2005SOTW became the new standard for V15 bouldering after Dreamtime was downgraded.
From Dirt Grows the FlowersBoulderV15/8C7th Mar 2005
The Bridge of AshesBoulderV15/8C8th Mar 2013Video
Foundations EdgeBoulderV15/8C15th Oct 2013Instagram Post and Climbing Narc
TopazBoulderV15/8C12th Oct 2016Instagram Post
Black Eagle AssisBoulderV15/8CAug 2018Facebook Post
CassimBoulderV15/8C2nd Nov 2022Instagram Post
Warrior UpBoulderV15/8C4th Sep 2010
White NoiseBoulderV15/8C7th Oct 2012
Paint it BlackBoulderV15/8C28th Apr 2012
Spray of LightBoulderV15/8C28th Jul 2015
RoadkillBoulderV15/8C6th Dec 2021Instagram Post and Video
PrimitivoBoulderV15/8C12th Feb 2022Instagram Post
4-LowBoulderV15/8C28th Feb 2022Second ascent. Instagram Post
La RusticaBoulderV15/8C2nd Apr 2022Instagram Post
Peace CorpsBoulderV15/8C14th Apr 2023Instagram Post
The Wheel of LifeBoulder8C/9a8th June 20126th ascent. UKC Article
Big PawBoulderV15/8C27th Nov 2008FA.

Kit Bag

Climbing Career

Learning the Ropes & Competition

Born in the flatlands of Maine, USA, Dave discovered rock climbing at the age of 16 years old. He was introduced to the sport by a friend from his skiing team and became instantly hooked. It took him only four years to become one of the strongest climbers in the States, having already climbed around two dozen hard routes ranging from 8b+ to 9a.

Not really into competition climbing, Graham’s IFSC record features a single attempt at participating in the International Event in L’Argentiere in France in 2001, where he came out in 15th place out of 74 participants.

Dave Graham climber bouldering
Dave bouldering in Fontainebleau ©Stéphan Denys

His outdoor stats on boulders and sport climbs tell a very different story. With such a long list of accomplishments, we can roughly say that his first recorded hard climb and FA was China Beach (8c), and his first hard boulder was Nothin’ But Sunshine (8B), both in 2000.

Overall, Dave has climbed around 500 sport routes graded 8a and 9a/+ with over 140 of them being onsighted. He has also climbed over 700 boulders between V11/8A and V16/8C+ with around 40 of them being flashed.

In terms of his most recent accomplishments, Dave appears to have returned to his first love, bouldering. In 2023, he FAd Celestine V16/8C+ and solved the Peace Corps V15/8C boulder problem, both in Switzerland.

Established Routes

Not only has Dave climbed some of the hardest sport and boulder problems in the world, he also has a keen eye for establishing new routes. He has been instrumental in pushing the boundaries of the sport and key figure in the climbing community. Among his many contributions, four routes stand out as particularly significant: Alphane, Off the Wagon, Big Paw, and Story of Two Worlds. Dave is a huge fan of the climbing in Switzerland as many of the routes he’s established are there. It’s safe to say that Dave has made Switzerland synonymous with cutting-edge bouldering.

Here are some of the hardest routes he’s established in Switzerland.

Alphane (V17)

Alphane is a testament to Graham’s vision and perseverance. He first spotted this line in the early 2000s but abandoned it, as V15 was then the hardest established grade. The idea of a V17 seemed almost unfathomable at the time. Instead, he FAd Alphane Moon (V11). It wasn’t until April 2022 when Shawn Raboutou made the first ascent of Alphane.

Shawn Raboutou climbing Alphane
Shawn Raboutou making his ascent of Alphane (V17) ©MattyHong

Off the Wagon (V16)

Off the Wagon is another iconic route established by Graham in Switzerland. Known for its technical difficulty and aesthetic appeal, this problem has attracted climbers from around the world. 

Big Paw (V15)

Big Paw is a classic example of Graham’s ability to find and develop new lines. Located in Chironico, Switzerland, this boulder problem is renowned for its powerful moves and intricate sequences. Graham’s establishment of Big Paw added to Switzerland’s reputation as a hub for elite bouldering.

Story of Two Worlds (V15)

The Story of Two Worlds marked a significant moment in bouldering history. After Fred Nicole’s Dreamtime was downgraded, Graham’s ascent of Story of Two Worlds set a new benchmark for the V15 grade.

The Story of Two Worlds V15

Notable Ascents


In the summer of 2007, exactly seven years after Chris Sharma’s FA, David Graham managed to send the now-classic 9a+, Biographie/Realisation climb in Ceuse.

After spending some time with Sharma in Spain, Graham finally got to tick Biographie off the list, successfully sticking the 60 moves for this climb.

This wasn’t Dave’s first encounter with the route; in 2001, he assisted Sharma by belaying him throughout the entire process. Graham has been trying the route on and off since Sharma’s ascent, according to Josh Lowell in a news thread in UK Climbing.

Dave’s Climb was the fourth ascent of the route, prior to him, Biographie had been climbed by Sylvain Millet and Pataxi Usobiaga.

Ali Hulk (extension total sit start)

In 2020, Dave brought a new perspective to the constantly changing climb of Ali Hulk, transforming it into the Total Sit Start Extension. He managed this by adding an extra 15 moves to the already 35-move hard boulder entry into Ali Hulk Sit Extension (9a). Graham’s clever move transformed the Ali Hulk Cave route into his first 9b redpoint, earning him a well-deserved spot in the 9b climbers club.

Dave on Ali Hulk Extension

In 2020, Dave brought a fresh perspective to Ali Hulk’s ever-changing climb, transforming it into the Total Sit Start Extension. He accomplished this by adding 15 moves to Ali Hulk Sit Extension’s already 35-move hard boulder entry (9a). Graham’s astute maneuver turned the Ali Hulk Cave route into his first 9b redpoint, earning him a well-deserved spot in the 9b climbers club.

Dave spent the majority of his 2020 summer in Rodellar’s Ali Hulk Cave, where he made his second ascent of the Fin de Ali Extension Sit Start (9a+) variant before claiming his 9b.

Aside from the complexity of Graham’s route, the send proved especially difficult due to the high humidity and extreme heat.

UK Climbing published an excerpt from Dave’s Instagram account, in which he described the battle with this boss Hulk. 

“I somehow kept doing “one more move” (the mantra) until I made it through the Extension portion. This is where I got nervous. It was time not to punt. I hung in the last shitty rest rapidly shaking either arm preparing for the past section of real resistance, and launched. Move by move I executed my beta, completely focused, only until the last move of the route. I rocked over my foot, locked off, assuming I would pitch, reached for the last jug, and BOOM. Summit. I couldn’t believe what happened, still can’t. One of my most memorable and rewarding ascents in my life.”

Truly an amazing climb, and Dave’s creativity in finding new ways to approach “old” routes never ceases to amaze.


In 2023, Dave Graham, aged 41, still rocks the climbing world, having finished one of the hardest boulder problems in his career, Celestine 8c+/V16, in Valle Bavona, Switzerland.

Dave’s first encounter with the hardest boulder problems in the world started back in the year 2000, having flashed C’Etait Demain (8a).

Dave Graham Climbing Celestine V16
Dave climbing one of his hardest boulders at the age of 41 (photo from Dave IG)

While talking to about the process, Graham said that he “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”.

Later in the interview, he stated that “the fight” took him three sessions to piece together the entire route and that he always doubts his abilities when confronted with such difficult boulders, but he was very proud of his ability to succeed and the climb was “majestic.”

Naturally, the question of how climbing feels after more than two decades as a pro arose.

Graham stated that he feels stronger, healthier, and has a better attitude toward climbing now that he has practiced more patience.

Never get pissed, it is not wise!!! I am feeling strong!! – That could literally be one of my favorite quotes in climbing now.

Video Library


Born and raised in Jiu Valley, Romania, I am a true mountain enthusiast, absorbing knowledge from each sport the area offers. Snowboarder in the winter and a hiker and climber in the summer, I love spending my days up in the Carpathians. I have had a passion for writing ever since I laid my hands on my first keyboard, and I always have a curiosity for gear and great stories. I split my time between various jobs and hobbies, including being a full-time psychologist, repairing skis in the winter, and working with kids at my local gym whenever I have time.

Jernej Kruder
Magnus Midtbø

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