Tuesday, September 4, 2012



It was only a few weeks ago, when my mother went into a monograming place to get my name embroidered onto my US team jacket. By chance the woman mentioned that her son used to climb. She talked about his true love for the sport. My mom naturally asked the woman her son’s name to see if I might know him, since Dallas has a relatively small climbing community. The woman explained that her son had died almost 10 years ago. Shocked, my mother said she was sorry to hear that and left the store. She went home and told me the story. She really felt that she had an obligation to somehow give back to this sweet woman who we knew little about. I agreed with her, and I was willing to do anything to help. She courageously went back to the store with the intention of finding a way to help this lady. My Mom offered for the opportunity to meet me. She took a moment to compose herself and said that she would love to. She then continued by say that her son’s birthday was the next day and that my mother could not have came at a better time. My Mom called me the next day while I was in Rifle to share the news. I was taken back by the story, and was extremely excited to meet Leigh. I took some time in the last few days to find a way that I could make the greatest impact on Leigh and her family. I eventually decided that it would be my privilege to climb in her sons honor in the upcoming World’s in Singapore. I brought my jersey and first carabineer to the lunch that we set up. I gave her the jersey so she could monogram her son’s initials on it. I gave the carabineer because she exclaimed to my mother that she bought many for her son and he collected them. Leigh was truly a pleasure to meet and talk to. She is one of the sweetest and genuine people I have ever met. She showed me picture of her son, Houston. It was quite an emotional thing for both of us. Houston really seemed to love the sport of climbing. He would spend hours in their local climbing store just looking at gear. He never fully got to truly enjoy his sport due to an early death. Never the less, he had a passion that still lingers. I said my goodbye to Leigh as we left. I have now kept in touch with her as well as I can. I’m now always trying to remember that my climbing has a much greater purpose that surpasses myself. She is quite the texter by using phrases such as “I will be tickled pink” and characters such as “:o)”. I honestly have never been so motivated or driven to compete. Houston was a great kid that never had a full life of climbing. I only wish that I can climb in a way that fully represents his passion. I am so blessed to be here in Singapore and be able to pursue my passion of climbing. I am truly honored to have Houston’s initials on my sleeve. I am having trouble putting into words how much this means to me. I can only hope that my actions in Singapore will fully honor Houston in the way that he should be remembered. This is for Houston, Leigh, and the rest of their family.


Give more than you take

Leigh and I

The jersey

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Final National's

My final nationals
            I would not call the lead up to this year’s Nationals pretty or easy going. With two knee surgeries, college, and continuing tendon problems, it was tough to stay motivated and in shape. Actually a few months ago, I was debating giving up rope climbing due to injuries and just the increasing responsibility of growing up. That quickly changed when competitions started again. Divisionals surely reminded me how much enjoyment came out of competitions. Even though competing is not always the most respected thing in the climbing community, it is what I grew up on in flat Texas. It gets my blood boiling and it really is a great motivator to my climbing career. After 10 years of competing, I was ready to fight for a championship in my final youth nationals. With limited training before the summer, I decided to go to Atlanta to train at the Stone Summit gym for a week. It was a successful trip filled with laughs, adventures, and tons of climbing. You can read all about it and see pictures on our trip blog at dirtysouthclimbers.blogspot.com. I then spent some time with my amazing physical therapist (my Aunt), which really helped my tendons. After the training and therapy, I felt about as ready as I could be.
Addison, Tiffany, Elizabeth, Dalan, and Me
Dalan found an outfit for me...
I not only had a spectacular time climbing at nationals, but also spent a lot of time with my extended family. We all went to a big firework show, where I was lucky enough to take my younger cousins around to the bounce houses and other activities they had.  I even got to play golf with my father and my grandfather after my climbs on Thursday and Friday. It was nice to have a more relaxed trip, rather than sitting in the gym all day. The first two days of climbing were pretty easy and quick. I got in, warmed up, flashed the route, then went and played golf. On Saturday, we actually had to go into isolation early in the morning and wait to go through a running order. I realized how old I was while sitting in the chair about to go out and climb. Surrounded by kids at least 5 years younger than me, I ended up talking to a 10 year old girl named Stella. I told her it was about 10 years ago when I sat in that chair for the first time. She was a very sweet girl that listened to me reminisce about the olden days of USA Climbing. I wished her good luck and headed out to my climb. I felt strong and in control on the climb, but towards the top my right hand slipped off a hold as I was moving.  I was frustrated, but that stuff happens in climbing and I could not be too mad at myself. I was just lucky enough to get into finals. I thought now there would be a slim chance of winning, since I did do poorly in semis, but I kept myself still excited for finals.
My Family
My cousin Presley and I
Final’s was a very interesting day. It started with my final walk into a nationals isolation, which I will not miss. Then spent the next hour warming up for an extensive 80 foot route. I did not exactly feel great in isolation. I really was not used to climbing for 4 days, let alone in a competition. Despite my doubts of feeling well or my chances on winning, I went to the wall with determination. I get in a zone that I truly cannot explain. I tend to climb a lot better, instead of cracking under the immense pressure. I put it all out there and I climbed very well. All 9 minutes of the climb was spent fighting for the top. Pretty satisfied with my climb, I went and greeted my family and friends. I am extremely grateful to have so many supporters. As the competition went on, climbers kept falling below my high point. It was one of the hardest things to watch your friends climb and want them to fall below you. That is an awkward feeling.  The last climber came up and my heart really started to race.  Alex Fritz had looked the best so far and we have competed neck and next over the past few years. He fell a few holds below me, and I went into a state of disbelief. After all these years, I had finally won US Nationals. I gave my Dad a huge hug as I thanked him. With all of the adrenaline, I even had enough strength to pick him up. The hugs and congrats kept coming from everyone and I don’t think I stopped smiling the rest of the day.  When the awards rolled around, I could not believe I had won and it was my final Nationals. Standing on top of the podium felt a lot better than all those years on the sides of first. I received my medal from my good friend and supporter, Bruce Mitchell. After that, I was honored by USA Climbing as one of the few climbers to compete in all of the categories. I really could not have thought of a better way finish with USA Climbing. Even though it was a great Nationals, it was hard to say goodbye. This has been my life for the past 10 years. I could not imagine a better way to spend my childhood. I might have shed a tear or a few on my final day in Atlanta. I guess that means it meant something to me.
Finals route

The top Southern Rock Finishers. Grace, Delaney, Shane, and I

This is just a few of the people that have supported, inspired, and loved me through this process. I truly am grateful for them, and could not have done it without them.

My Parents: Brad and Shelley Graham
They have invested more time and money than ever imaginable. I am really in debt to you guys. I will always remember hugging you, Dad, after this years win.
My Brothers: Garrett and Jack
We have traveled as a family to most of my big competitions and I love my brothers for their continuous support. My brother Garrett steals my old USA team jackets and wears them around thinking he’s pretty cool.

Kim Puccio
Matt Dendy
Shannon and Laura Smith
Vince Grimes
Josh Haynes

Families and friends that have been there for me:
The Hadley’s
The Mitchell’s
The Sutton’s
The Butcher’s
The McKeehan’s
The Romero’s
The Milburn’s
The Bernal’s
The Horne’s
The Linder’s
The Robertson’s
The Luttrell’s
The Yate’s
Roy Mahan
Nancy and Todd Markum
Amy and Robert Reid
Jennifer and Bryan Beeson
Debbie Gardner
Mr. Kim (Andrew’s Dad who always seems to belay me at Nationals)
Stuart and Darsi Graham
Randy and Lori Mahan
The USA Climbing family

My Parents

Thank you for all the support and love.


 These next few pictures are just a few from my USA Climbing career
San Francisco National's with the Butcher's

First Competition


Ecuador with the Sutton's

Hueco Tanks

First National's

Ceuse with the US Team

France with Kate Carr

Wearing PrAna and Petzl always

10 years old





Salt Lake City National's

Nathan Hadley and I

Checking out the route in France

First World's

Texas kids in Australia


Team Southern Rock

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Welcome to Colorado

Since I am climbing so much with my move to Ft. Collins, I have decided to do more frequent updates on weekend trips and competitions. Here is a summary of a recent trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.

The first weekend of the school year I went to Rocky Mountain National Park with Adam Kaiser, Ethan Shaw, and Stephen Small. These guys are pretty much whom I spend all of my weekends climbing.  We are all DFW natives that longed to get out of the Texas climbing gyms and out on to the real rock. For a lack of better words, I will call them the crew.

            We set out as soon as we all get done with class. We all were ecstatic to finally get out on some Colorado granite. We spent the first day at the Emerald Lake area. I nearly died as I attempted to adapt to the elevation and thin Colorado air. We all warmed up doing the Classic V5, The Kind. Adam, who is a sophomore, showed us how to really climb Colorado Granite when he sent Belsars Roof V9. We then all headed over to the next climb, Whispers of Wisdom V10/11. This was the most aesthetically pleasing lines I had ever seen. We worked it for a few hours coming up a little short, because of a soaked top out. We ended the day by unsuccessfully attempting Real Large V9 in the dark.

            The next day was an eventful day. We hiked up to lower chaos to see snow for the first time in 6 months. The area was absolutely beautiful and so were the lines. I first sent Potato Chip V7. It was a very impressive crimp line. It took a little longer than I expected, but the climb was completely worth it.  The next climb was Deep Puddle Dynamics V9. We worked the climb for a little while, but we soon realized that we were pretty tired already. Ethan decided to jump into the lake. He then proceeded to talk us into jumping in also. The water was absolutely freezing compared to the bathtub warm Texas lakes. As we hiked out, I broke a camera lens, my pad buckle ripped off, I strained my bad knee, and hit my leg on a rock causing a deep wound in my shin. All of this misfortune was influenced by the unexpected hailstorm. After the hike Stephen noticed the gash on my shin. We went to the ranger station to wipe it up and see how bad the cut really was. The rangers gave me a hello kitty band-aid as their contribution. A little baffled, we grabbed some paper towels and noticed I really needed stitches.

            I was never more excited to be in a hospital. The warm building, dry clothes, blanket, shower, and women who really cared for me, it was more like a spa day. After settling my mom and girlfriend down on the phone, I left the hospital with 4 stitches. After all the misfortune and really not climbing that well, I was optimistic and just laughed at the whole fiasco. Despite a few bumps, the trip was really fun and it truly gave me a taste of the real Colorado climbing.

Whispers of Wisdom


Adam on Tommy's Arete V9

Stephen on Potato Chip V7


Deep Puddle Dynamics V9

Captain Shaw



Friday, August 12, 2011


            Seven weeks ago in mid June, I tore my meniscus. Just prior to this injury, I had taken 2 weeks off to help my nagging, sore forearm tendons heal. I came back with fresh tendons, but that was quickly forgotten when I made a simple high step. I was climbing a route when I made a high step with my left foot, then heard a pop as I pushed off. I really did not think much of it. My joints pop all the time. It was not until I tried to stand up when I realized that something was wrong. I iced the knee and headed home. The next day I head to my orthopedic to see what was really wrong. I was told then it was most likely a torn meniscus. They also said that it most likely would be a tear that could be cut out, and I would be back in 3 weeks. Yet they also gave a worst case scenario of 12 weeks if they needed to repair it. He did the  MRI and I patiently waited for the results. The results came back an hour later, and unfortunately it was the worst case scenario.
            I really was optimistic about the situation, so the devastation hit me pretty hard. Nationals gone. World Championships gone. Six weeks in Europe gone. Youth Worlds gone. It sure was a lot to lose, but my optimism came back quickly. I looked at it as just another bump in the road. Sometimes hardships happen, and you really cannot do much about it. The surgery went well the next day. I really did not remember much of it since I was knocked out as soon as I got to the hospital. The next few days were spent between my bed, the bathroom, and the couch. I had an allergic reaction to the Dura Prep that they used to clean my leg before the surgery, and I broke out all over my leg. The allergic reaction really was the hardest thing about this whole predicament. The reaction lasted a grueling 2 weeks. Since then, the rehab has been somewhat easy going. I got off my crutches 3 weeks after the surgery. That is also the time that I really started my rehab. I began to swim, bike, walk, and do physical therapy. Luckily my aunt helped me come up with a therapy routine. I even began to climb one footed. Now,  seven weeks later I am walking without a brace and am cleared to climb tentatively with both feet. My orthopedic said my rehab is way ahead of schedule, and he seemed to be very impressed. We discussed if I could climb in the Youth World Championships in late August. He cleared me to go, but he said I would not be 100% and the intense training and competition would really endanger my knee. At the moment I am leaning towards not going. I really do not want to take another step back, and with that in mind, going to Austria really would not be in my best interest. Most of all, I would also  miss my first week of college at Colorado Sate.
            I really have gotten the opportunity to experience things that I would have missed out on. I got to spend more time with the people closest to me. I have been blessed to have many supporters through this time from my girlfriend and my family and friends. I have gotten to help at a foster home, spend time with family and friends, and I even rescued at stray kitten with my mother. The time spent at home has really been a blessing.
I am very optimistic about climbing for the end of 2011 and 2012. I always seem to come back from injuries stronger than ever. I also will have a copious amount of climbing and motivation as I move to Colorado. I really want to enjoy outdoor climbing.  Living in North Texas, the outdoor climbing opportunities are not plentiful, but I'm moving to Colorado primarily for an education. I intend on pursuing my higher education with devotion. I am majoring in business with concentrations in finance and marketing. Like I said earlier, my knee is just another bump in the road, and I am moving quickly over the bump with great anticipation and optimism towards what lies ahead.

These are some pictures of me as I was going through the rehab process.

Photos by Claire Edwards