A Swanky Day at 49th Parallel in Vancouver

It snowed probably 8-10 inches last night in Vancouver. I’m at 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters, at least that’s what I think it’s called, I’m not sure if they actually roast their own beans. It’s sunny outside and white. Snow is sliding off the awnings. There’s a Dairy Queen about 50 yards to my right. I’m going to be here until Sunday, and then it’s  back to Seattle. Back to the boat? Oh god, I don’t know if I can do it. All the beautiful people. There’s a shadow hanging over me.

I’m not sure what to do today. Yesterday I went to Squamish and tried to climb Easy in An Easy Chair, a V4 that’s supposedly one of the most popular problems in Squamish. I did not send it. I did not even come close. I could sort of do the first move, though I couldn’t even get to the part where you put your left heel up on the starting hold. I didn’t try Swank Stretch V5, even though it was more or less dry and that’s the problem I’d come there for. I didn’t try Lounge Act V6, the one behind it. I dind’t try any problem other than Easy Chair, and on that problem I pretty much immediately strained my right middle finger, felt my elbow start hurting, and by the end of the session felt like I’d aggravated my left hip flexor. It’s a curious thing, getting older and witnessing your body fail. After the session I went to Nesters in Squamish and got some zero sugar added beef jerky and a yerba mate. And then I drove back to Vancouver, getting tailgated very little on the way. There was traffic getting onto the Lion’s Gate Bridge and on the bridge itself and going through Stanley Park and downtown. And then when I got back I watched about six hours of The Handmaid’s Tale. And got an oat milk latte around 9pm at Aperture Coffee, which probably wasn’t great for me getting to sleep later. As I was falling asleep I had that thing happen to me where you doze off and then think you’re falling and wake yourself up with a jerk, but this time instead of falling I was walking on a trail and a grizzly bear bounded out of the brush to attack me. It was terrifying, so much worse than falling.

Should I get another coffee? No, terrible idea.

Should I get a donut? Ha.

What could I do today?

It’s 10:16. I’ve been ‘fasting’ for just over 13 hours. I say ‘fasting’ because I had a little cream in my coffee, which probably broke the fast. So now it’s a dirty fast. I don’t want to go back to N’s to watch THMT. I could walk down to Whole Foods. I could drive to the store in Port Moody that has the Turkish delight. I could go to Indigo and look at the books, though bleh. Oh, wonderful, there’s also a store in Hamilton, Ontario that has the particular brand of Turkish delight I need to buy.

I could go over to my car and brush the snow off. So it’s ready to drive if I need it. I could shave. I could cook some kind of really healthy breakfast. What I’ll probalby end up doing is walking. Oh, I could go to Whole Foods and get a smoothie. Why not. That sounds fun.

K I need to leave here.

Chai Latte

I was going to go Leavenworth today, but then a friend sent out a message proposing a Poplar mish and so now I’m going there instead. I just went to the dentist, where I got absolutely wrecked, and so now I’m self-medicating with a chai latte with hemp milk at Victrola. I’m not really working today. I still haven’t gotten paid, and so motivation is waning. I’ve seen the invoices for my work. It’s not clear whether it’s an error on their end or on my bank’s end, but the bottom line is I still haven’t been paid yet. So screw working for now. I’ll stick to blogging.

My mouth is still numb and my tooth is so damn sensitive. I can’t imagine eating solid foods right now. The dentist said to stick to soft foods for a week, but then said when eating harder foods to just use the right side of my mouth. Which is what I’ve been doing anyway, since anything else is insanely painful. I could leave right now and go get a cleaning at the same place, but I don’t think it’s in the cards. Too much pain for one day. I don’t need a dental student poking around my teeth for several hours.

I wish I could just drink like a gallon of chai latte. A big-ass chai.

But seriously $7.50 for a chai latte (after tip)?????? That’s insane. I’m not ok with that, and yet I am ok with that because I keep coming back here. But I’m going to complain about it.

It’s sunny, or it was sunny, so I might go over to Volunteer Park. I’d love to get a sandwich right now, or some real food, but I’m terrified to eat it. Maybe I’ll go home and drink a bunch of mate on my boat and freak out. Maybe I’ll go home and watch the highlights from the Chelsea — Zenit game. Maybe I’ll go home and watch bouldering videos. Mabye I’ll go home and jump in the water. Maybe I’ll go home and clean my boat. Maybe I’ll finally buy my ticket for Mexico City. Maybe I’ll sell all my ethereum. Maybe I’ll get a latte here. Maybe I’ll go to PCC and get that vitamin D I was looking at. Maybe I’ll go to Whole Foods and take advantage of my Amazon Prime membership. Oh damn it just got sunny again. I should probably go outside.

It was sunny for a second, and now it’s cloudy again. My chai latte is gone. As long as I don’t do anything at all with my mouth, it doesn’t hurt. It’d be nice to go to Volunteer Park and do at least four laps. Say hello to the squirrels. Maybe just sit in the sun by the Asian Art Museum, taking in the vitamin D. I guess I could check QFC for vitamin D. Oh wait, that QFC doesn’t exist anymore. What projects do I have at SBP Poplar right now? The cave orange. The black arete with the shitty right hand hold. The awful downstairs orange. The ledgy orange. The leg-swinging purple. The lunge-y orange. Why do I have no blue projects? I need to try some pinks tonight. Need to.

Chelsea tied 3-3.

The Duck Pond (and other thoughts)

Five days ago since I wrote the last post, and I’ve made a couple attempts to write posts since then. The problem is usually I start too late in the day, and for me to be even remotely successful at writing blog posts I have to start in the morning. Take now, for example. It’s 1:53pm. I just boiled water for mate. I’m sitting at my computer. Things are quiet and I feel a bit tired. I don’t have much to talk about. After this paragraph whatever enthusiasm I’d garnered will probably peter out, and I’ll be left just staring at a computer screen, wondering if I should go in the next room and watch YouTube videos. I know it sounds a bit depressing. It sort of is. But in November in the Puget Sound region when you should be working and can’t climb, there’s not much else to do.

I did got to Victoria this weekend. Victoria, British Columbia, to be exact. There I stayed in the James Bay Inn and saw some old friends, wandered around the city a bit, and went to the local bouldering gym. Probably my favorite part of the trip — apart from seeing friends — was hanging out around the duck ponds in Beacon Hill Park. I love watching ducks interact with each other. I often watch them by my boat where I live in Seattle. I love the seriousness with which they go about their tasks. Life is a serious thing to them. Predators are a serious threat. Finding a mate is not a trifling matter. Conversely, in our species, life is a serious matter. Getting a job is serious. Finding a mate is serious. We do all of these things as if they have some kind of inherent meaning.

When I was in the park I couldn’t help but think about Eckhart Tolle, and how after his supposed enlightment he spent a couple years sitting on park benches. It made me think about how the contents of our brains are probably generated by the stimuli that goes into them, and if you were to sit on a park bench for a couple years, contemplating the ducks, your life would probably be as serene and carefree as the scene is when you stop to watch it for two minutes. However, when you start exposing yourself to the ‘real’ world, to busy streets and deadlines and people yelling at each other, the contents of your brain start to resemble that. I’m not saying we should all go sit on park benches for the next couple years, but I am saying a couple of us should. Maybe I should step up and take the plunge. Maybe you should. Some of us have the responsibility to be the keepers of a tranquility that the rest of us will never know.

Taking the ferry back to Port Angeles, the Olympics were bathed in celestial light. On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of seeing my therapist in person. I’ve been talking to her for a year, and I’d still never met her in person, mostly because she’s far away. I wondered how doing a session in person would be different from doing a video session. And it turns out it was different. It was more intense. I somehow felt inhibited by being around a real, actual person, instead of just a face on a screen. However, when we started getting into the nitty gritty, I also felt the intensity of the atmosphere, the intensity of her words, so much more than if I were sitting at home on my boat by myself. In fact, throughout the rest of the day, I felt lighter, empowered, in a way that I’ve felt after few sessions with her.

Maybe it’s finally time to sell my boat.

And now I’m going to try to work. I say try because this week it’s felt like an immense struggle. All I’m doing today is writing two blurbs. That’s it. Two blurbs. And yet it feels like I’m trying to move mountains. I’m compensating with mate. I’m trying to get my diet right. Figure out how to have more energy. But it’s a slow process. You can’t give up, and basically since July I’ve given up on trying to be healthy, thinking it didn’t matter that much. And now I feel worse than I’ve ever felt in my life, body health wise. So I’m going to claw myself out of this hole, one intermittent fast at a time, one 24-hour fast at a time, one less carb at a time, one more cup of mate at a time.

 

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.