In the fall of 2013, Dave Graham had a huge breakthrough on his multi-year project, Hypnotized Minds, a V16 established by Daniel Woods. Graham had finally sent the easier stand start variation. “I’ve been trying to do the stand start to that boulder for so long,” he says in a video of him climbing it. A send of the full problem seemed imminent.
But it wasn’t; not even close. Over the next six years, as reliable as the seasons changing, Dave Graham was seen a couple times a year out at the Veritas Boulder, off Bear Lake Road, near Estes Park, Colorado, working on Hypnotized Minds. Scenes of Graham sweeping snow off the boulder, or shoveling snow away from the base, or scooping cupfuls of water out of puddles on the top were commonplace, as Graham threw himself at his nemesis rig. For some reason, he just couldn’t finish it off.
[Also Read Feature: Dave Graham – Looking Backwards]
Finally, yesterday, Graham, now 37, broke the spell and climbed Hypnotized Minds. His is the third ascent. While he has not yet commented about it, American climber and Graham’s close friend Isabelle Faus shared the news on Instagram. Faus captioned a photo of Graham silhouetted against a pale blue sky while climbing the problem, “[Dave Graham] SENDING HYPNOTIZED MINDS ! awesome to watch him climb up this boulder knowing the dedication and effort he’s put into it. The first time I climbed with him and chad [Greedy] was at Veritas in 2011. I also saw him fall on the ending a few years ago. Cool to see it unfold. The determination paid off! Very inspiring ! Super psyched for you dave, very proud.”
Daniel Woods made the first ascent of Hypnotized Minds in October 2010. He originally called it V15, but by 2016 had revised the grade to V16.
On an 8a.nu post about the need for elite boulderers to start suggesting the V16 grade more frequently, Daniel Woods chimed in in the comments, “Just to clarify I have upgraded Hypno to 8C+… When I first established it in 2010 I did not have as much experience as I do now with Boulder grades. Hypno went relatively fast for me (8-10 days) spread across spring and fall season, so I assumed it was 8C.”
Woods continued, “Hypno is the epitome of my style in climbing and still took a bit to figure out. Last week I repeated it from 3 moves in (first couple moves are not hard) and felt like it was still harder than anything I’ve climbed so far in that style. Dave [Graham] and Paul [Robinson are psyched on it and have told me they think it feels 8C+ as well. The boulder is 30 seconds from the road and has gone 6 years without a repeat though Dave and Paul are close.”
Daniel Woods making the First Ascent of Hypnotized Minds in 2010
Hypnotized Minds went unrepeated for nearly six years, until Russian climber Rustam Gelmanov topped it out in just three sessions. Commenting on the swiftness with which he finished the problem, Gelmanov wrote on Facebook, “This route was not extremely difficult for me. It fit me very well and it’s what I like. In reality I [could] not say how difficult it is.”
Graham has been at the cutting edge of sport climbing and bouldering for going on 20 years. He made the first ascent of The Fly, a short and bouldery 5.14d at Rumney, New Hampshire, in 2000, when he was 18 years old. He went on to send sport routes such as Action Directe (5.14d), Frankenjura, Germany; Biographie (5.15a), Céüse, France; and just this spring La Rambla (5.15a), Siurana, Spain.
But Graham’s greatest impact has been in the realm of hard bouldering, making first ascents of the classic problems The Island (V14), Fontainebleau, France; The Story of Two Worlds (V15), Cresciano, Switzerland; and From Dirt Grows the Flowers (V15), Chronico, Switzerland; and many others.
Graham climbed his first V16 three years ago in October 2016, when he did Creature from the Black Lagoon, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
Dave Graham projecting Hypnotized Minds back in 2013
Rustam Gelmanov making the second ascent of Hypnotized Minds in 2016