Old master Dave Graham succeeds in first ascent of Celestite (8C +)

He's not getting any younger, but seems to be getting stronger. Bouldering pioneer Dave Graham opens another mega boulder in Val Bavona: Celestite (8C +). The breakthrough came on the very day that Chris Sharma opened his new King Line in Siurana.

Dave Graham has been one of the big names in climbing for several decades. Nothing has changed in this respect to this day – on the contrary. The enthusiasm and meticulousness with which he discovers, projects and climbs new high-end boulders is unparalleled. At the end of March this year he is in Val Bavona, which he now knows as well as the back of his hand, managed another difficult first ascent: Celestial (8C+).

New techniques, new ideas

With the first ascent of this technical line on a polished overhang, Dave Graham was able to check off his main goal of this year's season in Val Bavona on March 28th. "The project is obvious and has been tried before," says the American bouldering professional. What was new, however, was his approach.

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«I tried to look at the structures of this boulder from a different perspective and thanks to knee clamps, a technique that I have steadily improved over the years, I had and tried out many ideas.»

Dave Graham

During the first sessions, it was daunting to find functional sequences of movements. "The kicks were terrible and not trustworthy." In addition, there was the slow style of the movements, which differed significantly from previous climbing.

Faster than expected

Nonetheless, the beta that Dave "the Wizard" Graham developed for himself resulted in tangible progress. Pretty quickly he started connecting the first section (an intense 8A+ boulder) to the second section (an 8B+ boulder).

«I approached this boulder with zero expectations, even though I really wanted to do it. But the climbing style required patience, balance and a sharp focus."

Dave Graham

After three sessions right from the start, in which he got a little further each time, Dave Graham experienced what he describes as a “magical moment”. After a crazy fight, he suddenly found himself at the top. This relatively quick ascent made him question his suggested rating for Celestite (8C+). "Could I climb something of this caliber that fast?"

"If it had taken me ten more days to make mistakes, I wouldn't have any qualms, but I often doubt my strengths and abilities. Comparing Celestite to all the lines I've climbed, unless I missed a crucial lighter beta, my guess seems right."

Dave Graham

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Credits: Cover picture Rainer Eder

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