Hellfire Burns #2 || Road to V5

So, my blog gets about 200 views per month. Which is unsettling, because I probably look at it upwards of 100 times per month. So does that mean this blog, which I devote aorta and soul to, is only getting about three views a day?

I’ll take it.

Because hey, you never know, it could be enriching the lives of three people. Or making them laugh. Or making them think. Or making them want to boulder.

Speaking of which, I thought we could talk about bouldering today, since I rarely devote time to this subject. Specifically, we could talk about yesterday’s session in Leavenworth, specifically at Barney’s Rubble, specifically centered around such boudlers as The Hesitator V2 and Alfalfa or Spanky V5.

But actually I don’t want to talk about bouldering JUST YET. I’m not quite there yet this morning. I’m still drinking my tea. I haven’t had any carbs yet so maybe that’s why I feel a bit drained. Plus I always feel a bit down the day after a good climbing session. The days I don’t climb often seem a bit…empty. Yes, this is troubling. No, I haven’t taken any concrete steps toward solving this problem.

Slash is bee pollen considered refined sugar?

Slash.

OK, pull yourself together, Mark.

Maybe I need to watch a YouTube video real quick.

God I burnt the absolute BEJEEZUS out of my tongue this morning at MIRO tea shop in Ballard. I got a large yerba mate and it steeped for like five minutes then I was walking outside with it and I’m like Oh it’s probably had plenty of time to cool off I’m just gonna… And then JESUS it hurt and now I just had some chips and salsa and salsa is not something you wanna eat on a burnt tongue slash I’m watching THIS video:

And you should probably be watching it too.

Obviously I’ve seen this video before.

Obviously.

But sometimes it’s good to revisit.

Watching this video actually reminds me a lot of my attempts on Schist Cave Right V5 in Leavenworth yesterday. I mean, both climbs are roof/cave climbs. Both climbs are either at my limit or beyond. Both climbs involve chalk and climbing shoes and holds. And both climbs I’d love to put down some day. So they have a lot in common. The biggest different is actually probably the rock composition.

OK, NOW we can talk about yesterday’s sesh.

So, Adi and Pablo and Wyatt and the crew were all out in Leavenworth yesterday for a mix of bouldering and trad and top roping, and it was a capital occasion. I got there after everyone, since some of the people went out on Friday to party and the rest early Saturday morning from Seattle. I, on the other hand, was on Bainbridge, so my departure got delayed by the ferry. However, I did make it out there after traversing Snoqualmie Pass and then Blewett Pass and at some point on the journey I started drinking a Runa and started basically shaking and trembling with anticipation of getting out there. When I got there people were JUST getting back from Forestland, a session I heard basically nothing about. It’s not clear to me whether they actually climbed there, since no climbs were mentioned. The words I most heard were “chillin'” and “heat.” However, then we all headed down to Barney’s Rubble, and that’s where the real climbing began.

Pablo, who seems to be growing stronger by the nanosecond, started working on Ouchies V6. This is an interesting climb, because it has zero stars in the guidebook and yet has become one of the most popular climbs in the area. It’s also kind of funny because I don’t think the name really applies anymore. After years and years of getting climbed, the holds aren’t nearly as sharp as they once probably were (just judging from caressing them myself and also from Sendage, though to be fair I haven’t tried the boulder yet). It’s also got a perfectly flat landing, and it’s probably on the easy end of V6. All these factors have made it quite the popular rig, and one I’m stoked to try some time soon.

While Pablo gave Ouchies a few hellfire burns I started suiting up to warm up on some of Barney’s Rubble’s easier blocs, aka The Rail V0, a perfect warm-up bloc to climb up, hang from, down climb, traverse on, etc etc. However, since the caffeine was starting to kick I was feeling restless, and somehow got convinced/wanted to try The Hesitator V2. I love slab, so I thorougly enjoyed the climbing up to the dish before the “leap,” especially one sequence that involved a foot crossover and trusting a small edge. I also enjoyed mantling into the dish, as that felt somewhat tenuous. Now, let it be known that just prior to this someone had told me that tall people could grab the lip from a good edge below where most people have to smear. And that it was easy. And that the lip was a jug. So I felt pretty good about going for it, and indeed, after looking down to make sure the pad was in the right place and testing the foot out a bit, that’s what I did.

And it was glorious.

All the stars.

A good way to start the session.

AKA Pablo also sent ouchies, his first V6!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (all the exclamation points).

Fuck Snow Lakes?

Next we went down to where people top rope/trad climb at Barney’s Rubble. Aka we went cragging, and I loved it because I did all the things I love about cragging, aka sitting on a crashpad and snacking and talking while other people climbed. At no point did I have to put on a harness or a helmet, and at no point did I have to tie in. All of the fun without any of the hassle. HOWEVER, I still did want to do some climbing, so after he tried a 10a Pablo and I went down to Alfalfa or Spanky V5, a dihedral problem that we’d looked at in May last time we were there. Except this time we actually gave it a few burns. And you know what? We sort of figured out the beta. AKA we figured out none of the beta, aka we DID figure out the beta up to the crux, but couldn’t figure out how to actually haul our carcesses into the dihedral, which is the crux. Still, it was great to get on this bloc, since it’s a primo bloc. And it was great to start projecting V5! It definitely didn’t feel too much out of my wheelhouse, and I’m stoked to go back and try it more, especially now that I’ve re-watched a few more videos.

At the end the day everyone else went to Mad Meadows and I went to Schist Cave Right V5 in the Swiftwater Area because that was my main goal for getting out there. I started off by flashing Bam V2, and found it underwhelming. I didn’t even find it WHELMING. I just sort of found it meh. Then I went to Schist Cave right and started trying the first moves and by the end of the session could go from the beginning to where you place the knee bar, but didn’t actually place the knee bar well a) because I’ve never done a knee bar before and b) because I was wearing shorts. However, I was satisfied with my progress on this bloc. And I was satisfied to have done a bit of roof climbing.

Climbing days always go too fast, and yesterday was no different. One minute you’re projecting gorgeous blocs with your friends, the next minute you’re back on your boat in Seattle drinking yerba mate and (almost) crying.

Maybe I need to move to Leavenworth.

 

Time to Project V5?

Ladies and gentlemen. Friends. What a beautiful day here in Seattle. What a gorgeous, mild, special fall day. Except it isn’t quite fall yet. What a beautiful, sultry, clear late summer day. A great day to be alive. A great day to drink caffeine. A great day to ride the ferry from Bainbridge Island ALL the way to Seattle, to disembark, to walk up 1st Avenue, to find your car parked on 9th and Republican in Lower Queen Anne, to drive that car to Whole Foods, to get a Hop Tea, to drink it, to be merry.

In short: Day.

(OK asshole just because you’re talking on your phone doesn’t mean you get to take off your mask).

Tomorrow I am PROBABLY going climbing at the Sasquatch Boulders. If I do go, I have several goals: 1) Send Where the Wild Things Go. 2) Send Goosebumps V2. 3) Check out Sun Sail V3. And 4) Check out The Network V5, Dreamscape V7, and Yin Yang V7. Because it’s time to start projecting harder blocs. It’s time to OFFICIALLY start projecting a V5, which means I need to first FIND that V5, which means I need to go to a bunch of different V5’s and caress the starting holds and look at the line and think, Do I see myself climbing this? I’ve now sent three V4’s, and thus think it appropriate to start projecting a V5 or harder. It’s all about finding problems that inspire you. The sight of them can inspire you, or the movement can inspire you. Or even just the grade can inspire you. But it’s hard to get psyched about something — to get obsessed with something — if it doesn’t inspire you.

Slash.

Is the ferry arriving?

Why yes, turns out it is:

Well, that means it’s time for me to skedaddle. It means it’s time for me to take a long walk. It means it’s time for me to get some caffeine (Whole Foods on Westlake or Whole Foods in Interbay??????). Or do I just go to REI right now and try on climbing shoes for the fourth time?

Fare thee well, friends! We shall talk soon.

 

Surfing La Push Slash Why Does My Back Hurt

Friends. Lovers. Times are tough right now in Wetzlerlandia. I hurt my back last Wednesday and I still don’t know how bad it is. I was just jumping down from a route at the climbing gym, just using my legs to break my fall, and I felt something kind shift or get tweaked in my back and it’s felt gnarly ever since. Surfing a lot yesterday and the day before might not have helped. It might have helped, but it also might not have helped. That remains to be seen. Either way it feels stiff and gnarly right now and makes me sad.

But.

Anyway.

Hi.

My succulents are sitting in the cockpit. I just did some child’s pose and cat cow. Smoked SO many cigarettes (rollies) over the past two days, so now my body is detoxing. I need to axe cigs completely, but it’s kind of a ritual with the friends I smoke them with and so I’ve been hesitant to completely axe them. But, like, they’re gnarly. Not good. They don’t make my body feel good. They don’t make me feel good. The only thing they DO do is make my cognition as sharp as a tack. But I’m not ready to sacrifice my soft tissue for that.

Do you follow?

You don’t follow.

You’re not even paying attention.

How dare you.

It’s a beautiful sunny day here. Please stand by while I check the Gold Bar forecast.

….

OK the HIGH tomorrow in Gold Bar, WA is supposed to be 80. Which means I could go bouldering in the morning. Which I won’t do because my back feels gnarly. HOWEVER! The highs for like the ENTIRE week after that are only around 70 degrees. Aka perfect bouldering attempts. Aka will I ever go back to Canada? Aka I need to talk to my physical therapist today about my back. Aka I’m drinking matcha right now and it tastes disgusting. Aka I just bought four packs of sardines. Aka bee pollen. Aka turmeric pills.

OK. Time to concentrate.

Honestly that might be it for today.

I guess I could talk about the surf trip.

El Cazador and I went to the Olympic Peninsula on Sunday, surfed near PA on Sunday morning and then La Push Sunday evening. It was my first time surfing in a couple months and only my SECOND TIME SURFING since my knee injury though lately I never think about my knee my knee is great it’s my damn hip flexors now and MY MOTHEREFFING BACK GOD WHY DOES MY BACK HURT SLASH.

The waves at La Push yesterday were, in one single word, primo. Well, they were “good,” but the sun was out and they were fun and playful and it felt pretty darn good to be back in the water. I only surfed one sesh cuz I wanted to take care of the BOD, but El Cazador surfed two cuz he’s a beast. Then we slow-rolled out of there and made the late 8:10 ferry back to Seattle and I didn’t get home till like 10:10pm. I was tired. I still took the time to rinse my westuit and shower and get all the gnarliness off me. So many things went well from the expedition, namely the WEATHER. Sun in La Push?????????????? Almost never happens. Mist in La Push? Happens all the time. But so much sun that your face gets charred? Um, yeah, pretty rad.

Now I’m back on the boat as I alluded to earlier, drinking matcha and stuffing my maw with bee pollen. I want more caffeine. But I’m not going back to Whole Foods. But I want more caffeine.

Slash.

My Supple Bod (and other thoughts)

OK, Where’s Wetzler blog post, take two. The first take did not feel good. I haven’t been super confident in my writing lately, but I also haven’t cared that much, either. As long as the goal is MOSTLY to have fun writing, and only secondarily to make it good, this blog is sustainable. But if the goal is ANYTHING ELSE — readership, views, to write “effective” articles — then I can’t do it for very long. I burn out. Let’s face it: I’m going to blog from now until the end of time. Even if I’m never “successful.” I’ve accepted this. Blogging for me is like going on your morning run is for you, or doing your morning yoga, or whatever the hell it is you sickos do in the morning.

That out of the way, I’d like to talk about a few things today, in no particular order (though in this exact order): my body, climbing shoes, my sesh yesterday, the possible sesh tomorrow, and whatever else comes to mind.

First things first: my sweet, supple, 38 year old bod. This is, contrary to popular belief, the only body I got, and probably the only body I’ll ever have. For most of my life I haven’t really focused on “treating my body right,” whatever that entails. Ironically (or perhaps just logically), you don’t really think about treating your body right until things start to go wrong. And boy, have things started to go wrong lately. Basically since I started bouldering things have started to go wrong. Right now the following body parts hurt: my wrist (particularly frustrating since I can’t pinpoint the cause), my fingers (especially my right middle), and my back (Oxford comma woo woo). My back I think I’ve got figured out: I’ve been doing yoga every day lately, and the up dog followed by falling from great heights to my feet at the bouldering gym (coupled with old back ailments, of course) is I think what’s caused it. The finger is pretty easy: I first hurt it pulling as hard as I could laying back on either Mr Smooth V7 or River Slab V3 at the Index River Boulders where I felt a sort of “giving” sensation. Ever since then I haven’t been able to close it all the way and it’s just felt kinda gnarly. But as long as I don’t push it too hard it doesn’t really give me too many problems. Lastly, there’s my wrist. It’s hurt for a few days now. Certain movements and rotations are particularly dastardly. And I have no idea what caused it. Could it have been the golf from the other day? Possibly. Is it getting better? Doesn’t seeem to be. Frowny face.

Luckily, I have some strategies for getting my sensuous, nearly-middle-aged-man-bod back on track:

  1. Diet

That whole attitude I had in Europe like, “Oh, I can eat whatever I want and it actually doesn’t make that big a difference”? Yeah, that was wrong. Turns out it makes a MASSIVE difference, it just took a while for the bad diet to catch up with me. After a month I felt like garbage. Now I still try to listen to what my body wants, but I nudge it in a healthier direction. I try to cut down on wheat and grains in general, since that seems to help. I try to do a little bit of intermittent fasting.

2. Yoga

I think the yoga is a good thing. Just have to take it easy on the back and in general. But yeah, I think it’s a good thing.

3. Climb less

This is a tough one, but instead of going one day on one day off I think I might need to mostly go one day on two days off, with the OCCASIONAL one day one day off. This translates to climbing about 3 times a week, which honestly is kind of a bummer. But I want to be able to try hard. And after going balls to the formica the other day at Index, for example, sending my third ever V4, I was barely able to climb yesterday after one day of rest. So yeah, might neeed to rethink the strategy. Especially since that’s what Ashima Shiraishi does.

OK, now let’s talk about climbing shoes. Last post I talked about how I went to REI to try on climbing shoes since A) La Sportiva shoes are 25% off there and B) my Miuras are just about done. I REALLY want the Solutions to be the right shoe for me, mostly so I can be like Nalle Hukkataival and possibly speak Finnish, but I just don’t think they are. But I’ve also never really thought the Miuras were, even though they were a great second shoe. After more puzzling and more research, I’ve decided I’m going to go BACK to REI today to try on the Theories and the Otakis. And let me just say the following: I think the Otakis are going to be it. Why? well, they basically have the same heel as the Solutions, but apparently they don’t ride up as high and ravage the achilles tendon. This is critical. Also, apparently they edge like a slightly damp dream, which is good for me since most of the stuff I climb is vertical. As much as I would LOVE to be a Solutions guy, I don’t know if I can hack the heel. So maybe I’ll be an Otaki guy. Hopefully today I find out.

Slash my wrist is hurting just typing this please God help me.

Um, what else were we going to talk about. Oh yeah: sesh yesterday: terrible. I got shut down by a purple. I felt weak.

Sesh tomorrow: might go rope climbing with my friend Wyatt. Basically, lead some easy stuff and maybe just learn the — not even gonna say it — better.

Lastly, whatever else comes to mind. I’ve just had two matcha lattes. My back hurts. It’s cold in the apartment where I am. I think I might just go to REI right this minute instead of waiting around any longer. And oh yeah! The USMNT plays El Salvador tonight in the first World Cup 2022 qualifier. Are you going to watch? Because you’re not a real American if you don’t.

Hope you all have a wonderful day and send something beautiful.

Sincerely,

Mark Thomas Wetzler

Trying on Climbing Shoes and My Third V4

So much to talk about tonight. So. Much. To talk. About. First of all: What is this insane pain in my wrist? Ever since playing golf the other day it feels like my wrist is half broken. Like, when I do certain movements it reminds me of when I broke my scaphoid. It’s a terrible feeling. And I have no idea what it is.

Next order of business: I’m drinking an “Organic Sparkling Yerba Mate Beverage” from Trader Joe’s right now, with “Hibiscus & Citrus Flavors.” Sixty milligrams of caffeine. I know, a little dangerous to be drinking at 8pm, but then I’m a wildman. I’m hoping to fast 16 hours from whenever I stop eating tonight till tomorrow afternoon. My hopes are high, since I was able to complete my 24 hour fast last week. I feel like I can do anything now, at least when it comes to not consuming food.

I WENT TO REI TO TRY ON CLIMBING SHOES TODAY. Yes, you read that correctly: I went to REI to try on climbing shoes this evening. Just a couple hours ago. The takeaways? The Solutions feel so damn good but they ravage my achilles tendon. I think I MIGHT be able to pull them off if only wear them for a little bit at first until they’re broken in. Maybe. Or maybe not. I LOVED the sock-like feel they have, and I loved the toe box. I noticed a massive difference between size 44 and 43.5, though. I was swimming in the 44’s and edging felt terrible, and the 43.5’s were a little too snug but edged like a dream. And also ravaged my achilles.

I also tried on the Skwama’s and didn’t like them.

And didn’t try on the Theories.

Honesly, I just wanna get the Solutions, but I’m worried about my achilles. I will lose sleep over this.

Aka mate.

Fuck I have to do yoga today still and I really don’t want to. I think it’s something like 17 minutes of hatha yoga. I don’t know what hatha yoga is. I think it’s all the yoga we’ve been doing. Today is day 14. Fourteen days straight of yoga. I feel good and can’t stop now. Slash my wrist feels terrible.

OK, so I guess we should talk about the elephant in the room. The big, beautiful, chalk-covered elephant. Yesterday was a bit of a landmark day for me climbing-wise in that I sent my third ever V4 outdoors. If you recall, my first V4 outside was Toto in Leavenworth in December of 2020, followed by Dirty Dancing (also in Leavenworth) in May of 2021, and yesterday, during my fourth session on the problem, I sent Zelda Rails V4 at the infamous Zelda Boulders in Index, Washington. Conditions were perfect. It was somehow dry. It was cold and somewhat windy. It was actually quite similar to the conditions in which I sent Dirty Dancing, though for Dirty Dancing it was even colder and windier and earlier in the morning and I was completely jacked out of my mind on an americano from everyone and their great aunt’s favorite cafe in Leavenworth: Argonaut. I’ll probably dedicate an entire post to the experience in a few days down the road but let me just say that this was the closest I’ve ever walked the line on a boulder between falling off and staying on. And when I topped out I experienced something similar to what I experienced with Dirty Dancing, i.e. overwhelming emotions and the desire to just sit in the fetal position and tremble. It also taught me a TON about projecting boulders, and hopefully I internalize it aka actually learn it. But again, I’ll probably go into this more in depth down the road a bit. Or maybe not. But probably.

As for tonight, I have to do this damn yoga. And I have my heater on. Jesus, I have my heater on. It’s getting colder. But what am I complaining about? That means fall climbing season is just getting started. And I have so many plans for fall climbing season. I want to project, amongst others, the following boulders: Obesity V7, Alfalfa or Spanky V5, Chubby Fairy V4, Twisted Tree V4, Pentaphobia V5, Piano Man V5, Miller Light V5, Diamond Engagement V6, and so, so, so, so (so) many others.

But for now it’s time to a little bit more and then stop eating. And do this damn yoga.