Dave Graham - Pro Blog 15

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Today I stepped outside my shanty place — my fort — or my resting grounds if you will, and felt the urge to reach out to the world again. Today is most certainly special and I have been waiting for a long to make sure the time was right. From the moment I awoke, I knew there would have to be this relay, this transmission, but in all cases, this batch of words will be sent to the real world, straight from my new home, The Island. I have not lost my mind, neither have I become adjacent and old, grown a beard, found a four-leafed clover, nearly died, or gone sane.

Simply put, it brings me great joy to leave this imaginary place I have been enjoying and tell you all a little bit about my recent life experiences and discoveries. This new spot I have goin’ on here has been quite relaxing, and as not many people have discovered it yet there is a nice solitary feeling. I am not the only one here, I have brought some others, but to this day it remains pristine and un-littered upon. Fresh? Yes. A great place to hang out, think, and chill with friends, my fort here is cool, even though it doesn’t look like a shack, building, a big house or even a structure in the classic sense.

A secret of mine for a bit longer, no one will know what my place looks like until I tell them. It’s like my own secret password. It does little good to try and define things here, as you know, its not really real. So, after you have all learned this, I hope no one has lost me, because it’s not going to get very much easier to follow. Step by step, information will be delivered to you, in between odd side notes and fiction of course, so patience is a virtue in this situation.

To get some facts straight for people who may be new, I am a climber (rock), my name is Dave or David, whatever you like better, and I am alive and well in an apartment on Earth here in Verbier, Switzerland. Even though things feel mellow for the moment (I am drinking too much tea as I have a cold for the first time in 5 months) and I just rented two new movies from the wonderful Movie Box, life has been quite fast paced. Many things have happened, many dreams have been dreamt, but everything pales in comparison to the discovery of The Island (not the boulder problem, the mind state.) As it is the most impressive discovery ever by someone from Maine, and most likely will be the only true thing I will be proud of when I'm dead. I have been having a hard time not thinking too much about the topic, or getting myself in trouble by actually opening my mouth, and talking too much about the topic.

DG on the first ascent of the The Island. Photo by Stephan Denys. Download a 2000 px version of this image.

DG on the first ascent of the The Island. Photo by Stephan Denys. Download a 2000 px version of this image.

The Island! Back to a more traditional form of describing reality, I have been all over hell and back when it comes to traveling, done a fare share of fine rock climbing movements over stone, and made ski descents and ascents on 4000m peaks with helicopters and avalanche beacons and snow, and crevasse and sun. For the record, when I say hell, don’t get me wrong, its just an expression, I’m not trying to say bad things about the places I have been, but who knows, maybe I am. Still following me?

The first details of my travels I would like to share begin shortly after the writing of Blog 14. I will say in advance, the escape from the Wal-Mart dominated lands of Arkansas was challenging and intense and not one member of the team seemed entirely confident. Island natives Chad Greedy and Cooper Roberts, were my company, and we very excited to make a move on the greener pastures of the planet. It all began the day of our attempted break out from Horseshoe Canyon Ranch and the transmission casing of my car being mysteriously destroyed. The loss of freedom quickly rendered us depressed and slowed my thinking. The Mafioso mechanics informed us we would be waiting life out in the countryside until next Tuesday. They laughed about how unfortunate the situation was for us, and how this “golden” part was actually really normal, but in their country, it wasn’t easily available. We saw stars while feeling dizzy for the whole day, and completed a passage of silence to show the gods we were not pleased with their cruel acts of violence towards the car.

Chad and Olive. Photo by Stephan Denys.

Chad and Olive. Photo by Stephan Denys.

Chad made several attempts to communicate with a Hawk, but it seemed drained of energy. Unable to call our savior, always willing to whisk us away from danger on his feathered back. we pondered our futures. Coop became nervous and walked in circles sweating, while I started speaking double time, and breathing infrequently. Chad wandered off far into the forest and beckoned some one fetch him; things were not OK. With Chad's failure to act as conduit to higher powers, we noted a sensation. We marked this time in space and thus agreed on an ensemble to step it up a notch, releasing lots of frustrated and energy and in turn feeling safe and refurbished. Without some local connection, we were fucked, and we could see this fact in each other’s eyes.

Somehow, and someway Island native Blake Stricklandmenton found us. If he hadn’t taken us under his wing that fine Sunday, we would not be here today, but lost in dark forests haunted by meth addicts and littered with fur-cat traps. As he rescued us, and provided us a temporary home, we felt he had saved our lives, and elected a member of the team to ask him his price. Coop sealed the deal, using Chad's gypsy tears to calm his already unstable vibration. and returned our world to balance by paying him back the thirty two dollars he priced on our three heads. Like a sword slashing through air, in one quick whoosh, we were in a whole new boat. We were transported to the center of town, and led into the play-zone, for college kids, and we started to mingle.

Elephunk 8b.

Elephunk 8b.

FSU, and the Hogs were everywhere, and lots of Greek symbols kept me feeling like I was on vacation in Kalymnos (That’s in Greece by the way). Time melted, and days didn't exist as we lived the week out, drinking too much “beeehrrrr” (the local's word for beer). In hindsight, the only thing we learned to love and praise was the Island. Beeeehrrrr and college seemed odd, and we were onto to something new. Through our many shared sessions of ramblings and rantings, we became more confused about life in general, and less confused about the Island its incredible properties. We reached no real conclusion about what was happening in a real or littoral sense, but we were most certainly stuck on the Island, and we rejoiced. Was it a bad thing or not? We weren’t sure!?

There was a flash, a phone call, a mad dash for the Volkswagen garage and finally, we could escape. After 15 hours of driving to Boulder, I prepared myself for my next travel mentally. Rehearsal is key, so I mimed out the experiences in my seat with hands and feet. Avoiding my precognitive instincts, I left life was a fair game, and didn't cheat, because I'm a gentleman. First step, off to the airport in Utah, second step, off to other airports all over the world in other countries. It seemed typical, I noted, but battled inside because of unknown ideals for minutes upon minutes. I wanted to stay because it felt like things would be much easier that way, and sometimes easy is nice. If I chose not to board said planes go to said airports, then things could be sweet, I could get a tan, go to the local pool and hit on girls. All Day! Why change my zones of timing? Why speak anything other then English? Why do anything or go anywhere for that matter!? I cursed, something to the effect of "damn-it!"

Then out of the blue or grey if you will, I had a flash inside my mind. Maybe I saw a camera flash or something stupid, but I couldn't help but feel entirely enlightened. I would go, as I always go, and since I have the Island now, how could things be anything but easy! I thought of my fort, and got psyched. By the simple logic that if you want to accomplish anything in your life, especially climb hard, you have to fly somewhere and go places. I made up my mind, and enacted the real version of my rehearsals the following sunset after going to the Mac store and being perplexed.

Elephunk 8b.

Elephunk 8b.

The drive to SLC through snow and rain was less then cool, and I almost died, but it led me to my flight destined for Geneva. Thank the gods again I have good friends in Salt Lake who are kind with me, because otherwise, I may have not lived through the leg of travel. I could leave my car with my homeboy Isaac, stay at the home of another person named Dave (always cool) and go on my merry (ha!) way. Its been eight years I am doing this now, traveling I mean, and obviously after the last trips within America, I was not feeling rested or motivated, but in shape. Naturally, as the journey began it seemed cool, I was chanting my mantra Chad taught me to be cool, look nice, be a G, and for good reason, as it saved my ass in when I learned that all my next five flights where delayed by at least 5 hours, and I was now flying to Russia (not!). This brought me to airports I never thought I'd see, and I tried to take pleasure meandering through planes, and airports littered with Chaos and debris from the human race.

As always, I wondered if it was possibly me who was influencing the situation so poorly, a telepathic transmission of bad luck on all things I encounter? No. I realized that probably wasn’t possible, and ordered myself a cafe latte in Frankfurt, Germany, which made me sick. Starbucks of course, and it cost 9 bucks. Lesson learned. Wisdom gained. Great success. Nothing sci-fi happened as I arrived at my final destination (a center for international politics by the way), which was extremely disappointing. I would have loved to have landed in Geneva and a Longolier-esque/ Twenty Eight Weeks Later/Mist scenario could have ensued but, no. Nothing for Dave, no crazy shit, just people looking freaky, all moving in herds and generating lots of noise that felt like a compromise.

I thought about the Island, got my bags from the giant moving wheels, and threw them directly on the ground as I always do when I get them back from the cargo Mafia. Locating my chalkbag, I chalked up out of habit, got my special black phone out for Europe, and was satisfied everything seemed in order. People were staring at me as always, but since "I just don't give a fuck", to quote one of my favorite songs, it was cool. Enough dilly-dallying I decided, and I was off. Moving forward and forever onward I picked up all my shit and put it on a cart, simultaneously marking my 36th hour of transition. I passed border controls with flying colors, won a stamp and touristic human rights. Then discovered my rental car. All systems were go; I spoke French again, and oddly after my 8 month sabbatical from the language, I could swear I knew more words, and spoke even more French.

Satisfied, all I had do to at that point was fill the cat up with gas and drive, I felt tired. I rolled a cigarette, hoped in the car, smoked it and felt sick as death. Life is a mysterious thing. After driving to my destination, having some nice Swiss cafe, I slept, awoke, and started to regroup for a day or two in the Valais. As some of the coolest friends I have in the world live here, it was a blast, and I made my jet lag feel pathetic and weak. It couldn't touch me. I charged up on good vibes, and prepared for the next leg of my itinerary. The drive was swift. Seven hours and I was there.

Narcotic 8b. Photo by Stephan Denys.

Narcotic 8b. Photo by Stephan Denys.

Back in France.Going to Fontainebleau was exciting, and I climbed and climbed and climbed, for two whole days, but when it started to rain, I felt like bailing out and going to the Island. Over time, stranded in cafes and shitty bars to wait out the storms, I spoke more and more with the Ile-de-France natives. It became more and more obvious, they were hostile, and hated us like a cat hates a bird, and wants to catch it and kill it. By now, Chad and I had rejoined forces. He was transported by plane as well, and seemed confused by the sounds made by the people, French; and was quiet and somber.

While it rained, we talked about the Island, our off and on spiritual journey, and discussed our options. Vowing to step it up a notch, again, and to stay calm around the crazy unfriendly viscous local folk, we climbed in the rare moments we were given. I tried ascending many hard problems, but was hindered by a common condition I apparently had acquired in Arkansas, and underestimated as a severe disability. A pulley in your finger apparently holds your tendon tight to your finger, tight like a glove, and is impossible to fix from the outside, i.e. no simple magic or sorcery can resolve the lack of power. Extremely powerful techniques as crimping, are off limits, and that’s lame because its quite hard to find boulder problems anywhere in the world which are difficult without left hand crimps. This was hand I was dealt, and I would play it.

Out of the game I was when it came to closed handgrips, I reorganized my list of goals, and climbed only compression. Only squeezing, lessening the pressure on my malfunctioning inner-finger, circuits, enabled climbing to be a go, so I snatched up and settled into my trench, preparing for the long war. Beyond all, we became more and more bummed no one was nice to us. Our five friends were great, they liked us and were kind, but seeing them was rare, and we were left to the "wolfs" as we dubbed them. We not only didn’t care about much but the Island, but we became depressed by the complete absence of women in our lives. We felt like total losers. The energy was bad outside the Forest, so it was hard to just hang out there. Way too many male and female prostitutes hang out near the parking lots we used to park in for climbing, so waiting out the rain was never an option and we were disgusted that the police did nothing.

Since there are over two billion asshole-cops in France, we got more bummed, and tried not to think in general, because as idealists we risked having extreme meltdowns. We became even more discouraged, and the staggeringly cold looks we got all day every day from the French natives was withering. Deafening were their French words, “CA VA CHEF??? TU VEUX MA PHOTO!” passers would yell at us, we stared at the ground in fear, and shed our gypsy tears like children. We didn't like being called "boss", and even more so it sucked they thought we wanted their photo. They should've wanted our photo, cuz' we're fuckin' famous! That’s my word. We decided this was bullshit, climbed our projects on the only good day of weather in the last week and left, with middle fingers upheld. We felt O.G. because we climbed our boulders, and left at the key moment, but were severely phased, desperate for a re-up on happiness.

Side notes like "Wait till I ever see one of those bastards somewhere outside their little castle of hell ever again. Ha! I will be cold, and unfriendly and pretend not to understand their stupid French English when they talk!" ensued, and we released lots of pent up thoughts on the drive. Pay back would be impossible. We were changed Men. Ile-de-France means Island of France ironically, and as I put two and two together, I've got to get this out there. The Island is much friendlier, and easier for foreigners and non-locals. Your nationality or race is of no importance, and the breeze is sweet and the girls are pretty. The return here to Valais was immaculate. Immediately upon arriving, we felt stronger, and our friends were way too kind. The energy was great, and we each grew three inches taller. The colors of our eyes shifted from grey back to their natural tones, and glowed in the dark like cats. Chad dyed his hair blond, as some kind of an artistic non-punk-rock-like statement, and now three people thought he was Ben Moon from 96, back from the past.

Heli-Ski-Dave-Graham-375_9095

Our friends Yves, Sacha and Kuba are like mythical creatures, immortal men. Very strong, tall, talented and skilled in all arts. They invited us to a special mountain oasis and taught us special new skills. We were taken by helicopter to the Petit Combat, and forced to follow their lead as an ancient rite of passage, weaving though crevasses, starting small avalanche, and marking the fresh snow with snake like lines, intended as a gift to the great Hawk. We were on top of the world for the first time in our lives, and awed by the grandeur and prowess of Grand Combat, and other massive snowy rocky, icy mountains.

Some say they are the Old Ones, creatures sleeping now, but who once walked the earth, singing and being merry, living and basking in glory as rulers of the planet. We were skeptical, but we tried to be open in the mind and heart, and we passed on. Living through our skiing adventure, our friends BASE-jumped to celebrate, and we went on to the festivities of climbing, eating, partying, dancing, talking, smoking, and sleeping. In our new city we were okay. Calm returned to our hearts, and so positive we were about the life, I could see the Island and my fort interlaced with the fabric of normal reality. Feeling reborn, we then cruised the entire country of Switzerland in our private car, and went to Magic Wood to meet some old friends.

I spent way too much money on normal things like gas and food on the drive, but we were only trying to have fun so guilt waned quickly. It was great thing we met up with the two French compressors JuJu Nadiras, and Antoine Vandeputte, the young dun Daniel Woods, and Chris Webb-Parsons! All the way from the other side of the planet! Strong our contingent was, we celebrated the camping spirit by beer and lamplight. Yes I have gained a couple pounds of muscle, worked out a new project which is quite hard, received a silver hair (I here its a kiss from an angel), and found a new bottle of gypsy’s tears in the cold river. As I sign out on the story telling I have to say one thing.

Hopefully you can all hear me, or hear yourselves reading my words, inside your heads. I expect this, and further, have a request that you don’t say these words out loud, or even try to explain them to others as this piece is solely to be read aloud in your own minds. I know it's bullshit, I agree, but this new Mac word-processor I just downloaded which is letting me express my feelings and my madness to you all for free came with a ten page list of rules, one of these being that you aren’t aloud to share this information. It's protected by Apple, and they will come for you, I think, as they now have this new touch pad stuff and get your damn fingerprints. I clicked "agree" at the bottom of the contract of agreements, but I think its bullshit for the record, it's just like how you can’t burn songs you bought on I tunes to a CD! Lame.

In Other News: I have seen the Darjeeling limited over 15 times and I love it. Especially the line where Owen Wilson says “look at these assholes” one brother replies “that things gonna flip” Que raft flip, kids fall in water, the third brother says, “go" and they burst into action. Great scene. Amazing film, and compared to the other movies I saw: Invasion, I am Legend, Thirty days of Night, and Children of Men, it was refreshingly not too apocalyptic, even though I love that shit. I have had many dreams about waves, and big water, also amazing cities I have never seen and I have to say I am impressed. What does it all mean? Foreign planets? Interstellar travel? Who knows...

From Flag to Font by Chad Greedy

Courtesy of Hardclimbs.com

Download a mix from Dj Scallywag, they're free, and they're amazing! I really like his style, check his website. Google it and get psyched.

Try saying ZAZA when you finish your project, Klem Loskot started it all a long time ago, and it’s a worthy thing to do on occasion. Chad's bringing it back.

Adam Ondra is revolutionizing rock climbing standards, so have some respect, and be inspired!!!

Ratatat is a great group to listen to as well, check out the hip hop remixes they did which I give two thumbs up.

Closed boulder-problem-projects are the stupidest thing I have ever heard of in my life. I have been dealing with this for eight years here in Europe and I think its beyond illogical, and stifling for the progression and development of our precious bouldering areas. People closing projects for themselves, that someone else brushed, should ask themselves! WTF.

Like Bernd Zangrel, you should think about it all if you are a Pro climber. Sharing makes the world go round; we aren't in a competition here. I am all for climbers like Daniel Woods sending a couple of long time-CLOSED PROJECTS- and starting the revolution!!!

Knee pads are fine to use, so don’t let anyone tell you it's stupid or unethical. I am a firm believer they are part of the Future, and do no one harm, just protect the precious skin on top of your knee.

If you are Homeless, try the Island out. It's for people like you and me, anyone can come. Who needs a home when you’ve got one all the time! Its not a place, but a state of mind, so remember the motto, "Its not where you are going, its where you are from." Welcome to gypsy’s, nomads, and anyone else who wants to come, there is lots of room as its and imaginary, non-physical destination. Great times.

Check it out. Hardclimbs.com, it will have some updates with font movies, and look forward to MVM as always. Check out the report on the Island, the 8c boulder in font, it’s like an excerpt from this rant right here.

I would like to thanks my sponsors, 5.10, Petzl and Beal, because I am not sure if I have ever remembered to do that yet in a blog! I love you guys, you make me whole! That’s it, I’m out, wait till the next rant, and see what you think! SHIKKKADANGGGG