Yesterday a tsunami blasted Raven Tor in the Peak District. I refer, not to something generated by the weather, but to top American climber, Mr David Graham who is currently in the UK as part of his European lecture tour. On one of the soggiest days so far this autumn, Dave Graham blew into the Tor on a wave of optimism, enthusiasm and commitment that was truly awesome. He’d done his homework too. He knew the names of the routes and the climbers who had done them and what’s more he wanted to touch stone. He wanted to look through Hubble (F8c+), he wanted to evolve with Evolution (F8c) and mutate on Mutations (F9a). He wasn’t keen to book in for the mid-life crisis on Mecca (F8b+) though – he wanted to on-sight that one! And how wicked would that be? Being a boulderer he also came with a wish-list of blocs to try. He knew about Ben’s Roof (Font 7c+), was keen for some Keen Roof (Font 8b) action or some Fat Lip (Font 8a+/8b) traversing.


But where to start? Obvious really; Sardine! Seeped in history, chalk and rubber, in rough equal proportions, Fawcett’s enduring test-piece got Dave’s juices flowing and shocked his system back into action after several days on the road/lecture tour. Next up was Ben’s Roof which has been the scene of some considerable effort of late. Ben’s Roof is no push-over but at Font 7c+ neither is it anywhere remotely close to Graham’s red-line. He fondled the holds, mimicked moves and sequences then, with his beta-tank full, chalked up and set off. The full fury of the storm lasted maybe a minute or so and, despite getting a fair number of moves ‘wrong’ - Snor aficionados are sticklers for tradition, Dave prompted flashed said roof. Proof positive of why he frequently returns top marks on his scorecard. Not many have done that - nice one Dave!


Hubble was next despite the onslaught of bad weather from the west. Zippy (aka Mark Pretty), the font of all Raven Tor knowledge, had already declared conditions as officially bad, so trying such a route in such conditions was surely a fool’s errand? Sporting a bespoke knee-pad, a Riffle special according to Graham, he navigated around wet footholds, slippy sloppers and soggy undercuts. All in a day’s work it seemed! Having nailed most of the moves in two brief sessions it was over for the day and in the gathering gloom he left for Sheffield leaving those of us who were trying to squeeze a bit more out of the day a little dazed.


Graham’s was a whirl-wind visit in pants conditions. He was a man psyched and keen for action – clearly not a drive-by American as one of his fellow country-men turned out to be a decade or so ago! So at a time when most US-centric news is bitter, if not toxic, Dave Graham might well turn out to be the perfect antidote, at least for us climbers anyway. It was, in short, a pleasure and a privilege to see, talk and photograph the man. He has plenty to say about climbing too, he says it with conviction and needs very little encouragement either. He’s a climber at the top of the game who has pretty much been there, seen it and sent it! But rather than spilling the beans, I’ll stay no more and leave the talking to him. Perhaps if you ask him he’ll tell you how Hubble stacks up against Action Direct; perhaps he’ll tell you what motivates him and how he approaches his climbing around the globe. Perhaps he’ll tell you that our very own Steve McClure has an awesome reputation amongst those in the know, or that the weather in Spain can suck too! Whatever he tells you, he’ll be engaging for sure. Catch one of his lectures and you’ll see what I mean!


Dave is captured working on Hubble in less than idea conditions.