Adventures at the Zelda Boulders // Road to V5

For the post “Misadventures at the Zelda boulders”, one of my first outdoor bouldering missions, click here. 

Yesterday my friend Adi and I left Seattle at 8am with the plan to go to the Morpheus Boulders in the East Miller River Valley to sample some tasty blocs (see: blocs). After the obligatory stop at Whole Foods Totem Lake we were on the road, pooch in tow, braving the asphalt of Highway 2 and the Skykomish Valley. (Since I know you love hearing about what I buy at Whole Foods, I got: 1 Health Aid RecoveryAid, a Hop Tea, a matcha bar, and a sandwich. Aka some caffeine and some sustenance. Oh, and I also got an Epic Chicken Sriracha bar for some extra protein.) With Adi’s expedient driving and fairly new Ford we arrived quickly at the boulders, where, lo and behold! despite tons of cars in the parking lot (read: six) there was no one on the Car Door Boulder, aka the fun warm-up boulder, aka home of the best V0 (V1 in the guidebook) in the whole valley: Car Door Traverse. After a warm-up of jumping jacks and hooting and hollering we both quickly dispatched Dee Dee V0 and also the legendary Car Door Traverse, whose smooth granite rails we caressed with zeal.

After Car Door we headed across the path and down to the river to the also legendary Lines of Latitude V3. The river was plenty low. All deadfall had been cleared. But the boulder was also kind of……somehow…..

……

……

….wet.

I’m assuming dew?

I wanted to try the V1 “Climbing North” before trying Lines of Latitude, but it was a bit wet and scary. The top out looked particularly mossy and scary. Also the holds on the lip were not great. It’s funny, because Car Door Traverse is a V1 in the guidebook and essentially the easiest problem in the multiverse, and Climbing North, just a hop skip and a twisted ankle away, is ALSO a V1, but infinitely harder. Pablo Zuleta, what was your logic on this? Also, now that I’ve got you here, where ON EARTH do you start the V2 “Hump Day” on the Car Door Boulder. There are multiple underclings. Multiple right-facing side pulls. Is it the good underling all the way on the left?????? K, thanks.

I did send Climbing North after a few tries, and the top out was terrifying. Luckily, as soon as this was over, and after a couple failed attempts on Lines of Latitude, we got the hell out of there.

I mean like completely out of there, out of the East Miller River Valley, back to the Skykomish Valley, where after a quick lunch by the river in Index, we went to………..

….The Zelda Boulders!

It was a wonderful day in the Zelda Boulders. Light filtered through the evergreens, the smell of organic peat moss wafted about. There was one other party at the boulders, two guys and a girl, and also some lone wolf who from what I could tell climbed up one boulder, inspected the top of it for several minutes, and then left entirely. What he was up to I do not know. Adi and I were trying the arete next to Zelda Dyno V4, and then we moved to a slab that’s not in the guidebook but is on Mountain Project. I gotta say: What a fun slab. The holds were scoopy and dishy and smeary. It was a V0. Only the holds were scrubbed. Good heighth. Basically a super fun, not too hard slab.

After the slab I tried roof crack V3 for a bit and got completely shut down. Then we stemmed for a sec in the Open Book Corner, and then we made friends with the party who we’d seen coming in, the two guys and a girl. And they were rad. They were crushers. And super nice. And full of helpful beta. They were trying Zelda Rails Right V5, and I wanted to give Zelda Rails V4 a few burns since it’s a project of mine. I was feeling a bit shy but they welcome us over and I started giving it goes with the heel up beta but then they advised me to maybe try the toe on beta and showed me the EXACT PERFECT PLACE to grab the second rail with my right hand to keep my body in close to the wall. With this new microbeta I was able to get to the left hand intermediate slimper easily, and go for the bump to the good crimp below the lip.

I was ecstatic. This was huge progress for me, because this is the crux. Once you get to the good hold below (or sort of on) the lip it’s all easy from there. Reposition your feet. Send. I didn’t send yesterday but am actually confident it’ll go next time I’m there. The start with the toe on feels super secure, and grabbing the better part of the rail before the bump made a massive difference. Plus, these people were just a joy to climb with. The two dudes had already sent the V5 and the girl, Melissa, was trying it and making good progress. It was awesome to watch her body positioning as she prepared to go for the crux. It’s always awesome to watch competent climbers.

I was fairly in a state of bliss after this session. We took the long way back along Reiter Road, checking out the INSANE amounts of cars at the Index Town Walls parking and also the Clearcut Boulders parking. I’d never seen so many cars. How there were so few people at the Zelda Boulders I don’t know. But I felt fortunate. Also, it was such a gorgeous day. A great day to be out with a friend, making more friends, climbing gorgeous blocs and making progress.

And now if you’ll excuse me I have to go make a matcha latte.

 

 

A Terrifying V0 and A Trip to Canada???

Yesterday I woke up around 6am and got straight in my car and drove to the River Boulders in Index. The high temperature was supposed to be 95, so I knew early morning would be the only time to climb. I got to the boulders at about 8am after the obligatory stop at Safeway in Monroe where I bought two Bobo’s Otmeal Bars, a gallon of water, toilet paper and a venti earl grey with a little bit of heavy cream from Starbucks. This is exactly how I order it: a venti earl grey with a little bit of heavy cream. It’s key to say it in this manner so you don’t get a bucket of hot, steamed cream as happened to me in Starbucks in Vegas on the way to my first rope climbing experience in Red Rocks. It’s also imperative to say HEAVY cream instead of WHIPPING CREAM, even though they’re the same thing. If you say WHIPPING CREAM they might give you whipped cream, as has also happened to me. Mmmmmmmmm, bergamot with….whipped cream.

I warmed up on Unnamed V1, around the arete from Finger Crack V3. As the guidebook says, this does have fantastic movement for a relatively short, easy boulder problem. It’s got a lieback and a gaston and all sorts of ledges. The landing is semi-terrible so you don’t really wanna fall from the top even with a pad right under you. I warmed up by just hanging from the ledges a bit and climbing it twice, and then I tromped over to Unnamed Warmup V0, the one where you step off the adjacent boulder to start the climb.

This problem, Unnamed Warmup V0, is somewhat terrifying. You step off a boulder a few feet off the ground so that as soon as you start climbing you already feel pretty high. Also, you basically can’t fall till you get to the lip, since you might fall on the boulder you started on. I’d tried this on one, maybe two previous sessions. Last time I tried it it was just too scary. But this time I got my right foot up on a small edge and also used a high right crimp before going to the lip. I felt pretty insecure the whole time. Afterward I just kind of sat there, stoked that I’d done it, reflecting on how scary it was. I’m not exactly rushing back to do it again.

Then I made my way to the meat of the session, the Leggo boulder. Goal: send the two V2’s, hopefully send Chinook V3, and work Sigmund Freud V4, Gimme Back My ID V5, and Leggo My Ego V6. It sort of worked out. I sent the two V2’s easily. I sent Chinook V3, my first V3 in a long time, after much beta tweaking and puzzling and resting, which was really satisfying. What a cool problem. Slopers. A high right foot. Some weight distribution. Beautiful. How this problem escaped the guidebook’s creators is a bit mistifying. Maybe it just looked too easy.

As for the harder problems, I got completely shut down. I still couldn’t pull off the ground for either Sigmund Freud or Gimme Back My ID, and I made negative progress on Leggo My Ego. The techy section at the start is beyond me. I don’t think it’s cuz I’m not strong enough; I think my beta is screwed. At the same time I don’t really wanna watch videos to figure it out; I wanna figure it out on my own.

So that was the outdoor session. Then, in the EVENING, I went to SBP Fremont with the crew and fell in love with a problem. I think I fell in love on multiple levels, with multiple objects of affection, but the strongest feelings were for a heel-hooky black on the arete upstairs. Seriously, I’ve never seen a problem so good for practicing heel hooks. You could throw like four or five throughout the problem if you felt so inclined.

Tomorrow I’m going to CANADA. I repeat: CANADA. I just got my COVID test. I’m gonna  be catsitting from Saturday to Tuesday in Vancouver and hope to make two little trips up to Squamish. Dip my toes, as they say. See what Squamish is all about. Hopefully send a bunch of V0-V2’s and maybe even a V3 or V4. Maybe even a V14.

That’s all for now. Hope you all are having a wonderful day.

Books, Bouldering, Beverages

I’m not watching any videos today. No climbing videos, no bouldering videos, no Saturday Night Live videos, no videos about how the universe works or how the world works or how dating works or how the human body works. Most days I spend an inordinate amount of time watching videos. Probably several hours each day. And it’s not that I necessarily want to be more productive, it’s just that watching so many videos, scrolling and scrolling trying to find the next dopamine hit, makes me feel kinda bad.

Slash, I went climbing yesterday, and it was glorious.

I went with Barry and Adi, and we climbed first at Upper Walls and then made our way over to Fremont Main, where we didn’t climb. The reason we didn’t climb at Fremont Main was because it was crowded as balls and getting food/beer sounded like a better idea. I remarked as we left Fremont Main that it felt like we had just climbed there, too. The feeling was the same, exiting out into the night air, backpack full of climbing stuff on, chattering away. And I’m glad we didn’t climb at Fremont Main, because after Saturday’s sesh at SBP Poplar my body was absolutely wrecked. Today is a hard rest day. Tomorrow will either be a rest day or an outside day but the high for tomorrow in Index, where I’d like to go to work Leggo My Ego V6, my current mega-proj, is 89 degrees Fahrenheit. Which means it’s supposed to be 78 by 11am. NOT EXACTLY SEND TEMPS (aka send temps).

In other news, I had a matcha bar this morning, a green hop tea, and now I’m having a Four Sigmatic matcha latte with lion’s mane (20mg caffeine, in case you were wondering [do I wish it had more caffeine? probably. I think like 30 or 40mg would be more appropriate, in this case. but hey, beggars can’t be systems engineers]). Also in other news, I’m currently reading the books Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari, and In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust. I got the Proust book the other day at Elliott Bay Books. I got Sapiens from the Bainbridge library, and I think it might be due quite soon. The annoying thing about Sapiens is it’s sort of like a graphic, glossy-page version, which means it ways (sic) about six kilos. When I’m tired af after a climbing session and I want something to put me to sleep there’s no better book than Sapiens; the only problem is it weighs a ton. Fourth world problems.

In still other news, I had collagen yesterday. And sort of cleaned the boat. And hung out with my friend Pat. And had some mate (it really annoys me when brands spell mate “maté.” like, I know why they’re doing it, they want to differentiate between the English word “mate,” as in “friend,” but it still annoys the shit out of me.) I also went for a run yesterday, at Queen Anne Bowl, and it was kind of amazing except I also think it kind of strained my left hip flexor. I’ve had problems with my hip flexor ever since I hurt it in May thrutching on the V5 dyno that is Alcove Right in Leavenworth. It’s been healing — slowly but surely — and yesterday was the first time I tried to run on it for any considerable distance.

Slash.

The seagulls are cawing outside my boat. I’ve just finished the matcha latte. I have no more caffeine on the boat. I do have some chia pudding, which I will most likely consume presently. Current plan: head north to BC on FRIDAY. Will I actually do this? Seriously, will I actually do this??? I have no idea. The only thing I do know is I want to get the hell up there before they close the border again. Because numbers are on the rise, as they say, numbers are always on the rise, and we have so many variants going around we can’t even keep track of them (aka like one variant, aka the delta variant). So who knows when I’ll actually get up to Canada. Who knows when I’ll get back to Leavenworth. I proposed to a friend that we go to Leavy on Friday and boulder in the 104 degree heat, but she mentioned something about heat stroke. I mentioned something about jumping in the Wenatchee River. She mentioned something about cryptocurrency and treasury bonds and how her mother used to wait tables in Illinois and we promptly reached an impasse. For some reason the whole interaction reminded me of the one time I went to Nashville, sharing the elevator with a guy who was on his way to a Garth Brooks concert, or on his way home from a Garth Brooks concert, or possibly just wearing cowboy boots. For some reason I found the guy tremendously wholesome because he had on cowboy boots and because of his accent and because he was in town for a Garth Brooks concert and staying at the Best Western or whatever the hell it was. But for all I know he beats his wife and emotionally abuses his children. Why should I have assumed he was a wholesome guy?

Aka chia pudding.

Yesterday I meditated twice.

I need new climbing shoes.

I wish I had more matcha.

Or mate.

Or maté.

The best book ever written is called On Man and God, by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It’s 61 pages long and was published in 1961 by the Peter Pauper Press. It is currently one of my most prized possessions despite not being my possession. Why does the title Reading Lolita in Tehran make me want to punch myself? Or the title Waiting for Snow in Havana? Why can’t you just name your book something not cute? My dad just handed me a copy of the book The Intelligent Asset Allocator. Now there’s a book title, if I’ve ever seen one. The only way it could be better is if it were The Girl Who Allocated Assets, or something like that. Then  it could be sold all over town.

Waiting for Assets in Bolivia.

Now we’re talking.

 

 

Toe Hooks and Happiness

I’m sitting on the  boat drinking a FocusAid. I just got back from Whole Foods Greenlake where I got a hop tea, eggs and sausage, and then after sitting in my car chatting with a friend on WhatsApp went BACK into Whole Foods and got the FocusAid and an Urbn Remedy matcha bar. Why all the decadence? Well, when you don’t drink you can justify just about any amount of dietary decadence. And today marks two weeks of my newfound sobriety. I fell off the wagon a bit there in July. I don’t regret it. It was a good run. It was fun to experiment with alcohol again and have some drinks with friends, but it also served to remind me why I don’t drink. Getting back on the wagon felt like returning to an old friend. I value my health and my body and I want to be my best self. For the forseeable future, alcohol has no place in my life.

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

How’s everyone feeling today?

I climbed at SBP Poplar yesterday with the crew, and it was wonderful. My body is completely wrecked. By the end of the session I was bleeding from my hand, my knee, my left ankle, and had bashed my right hip against a volume on my way down from a slab. Wonderful. When I got back to the boat I was talking to a friend about the sesh and said, almost without thinking about it, “I’m so happy.”

Which got me thinking: How often when we’re happy do we actually know we’re happy? So many times in my life I haven’t realized I was happy until I look back on the given time period and think, “Wow, that was so great.” Take when I worked in Alaska as a housekeeper, for example. It was one of the greatest summers of my life. But I didn’t think every day, “Wow, I’m so happy.” I was too busy laughing and playing ping pong. Only when the summer was over did I look back and think, “Holy shit, that was pretty much perfect.”

Hindsight also has the strange (but welcome) effect of diminishing the bad times. It’s not like every moment of that summer was perfect. But I also don’t think happiness consists of every moment being perfect. In fact, I think a lot of happiness has to do with Type 2 Fun (the kind of fun that’s only really fun retrospect).  The other time I worked in Alaska (as a lodge helper/fishing guide) also perfectly illustrated this. I spent half of those three weeks wanting to quit. It was hard work. Our boss was a despot. But now I look back on it almost as a formative experience. It was like being in the military. Getting up early, getting yelled at a lot, and from time to time handling firearms. I wouldn’t trade those three weeks for anything in the world.

Anyway, back to the SBP sesh. It started off real slow. Since I’d climbed the day before, my arm and finger strength felt low. The motivation was there — at the beginning I was basically prancing around and yelling — but my body was not quite on the same level as my psych. After really warming up, though, I started to climb a bit better. I sent one new black, which is always a plus in a session. Sent some oranges. Some purples. Didn’t really try any blues. There was a black that had a TOE HOOK to start out, and I desperately wanted to crank on it, but toe hooking requires a bit of hip flexoring, and my hip flexor still isn’t 100%.

Today I’m going to go to REI and look at climbing shoes cuz I noticed yesterday that the Miuras got their first microscopic hole in the toe. This hole will grow until they’re unclimbable. I estimate they have two to three more sessions left in them. Which sucks since they were just starting to get really worn it. Maybe I should’ve had them resoled. Where do you resole shoes in Seattle? The top shoes I’m looking at right now are the La Sportiva Solutions, Evolv Shamans, Scarpa Instincts, and the TC Pros for slab climbing. Or maybe just the TC Pros for all-around climbing? Or maybe just say screw it and get the 5.10 Moccasins and never look back?

Also, THE CANADIAN BORDER OFFICIALLY OPENS TONIGHT AT 12:01AM. Holy shit. It’s been so long since I’ve been to Canada. I love Canada. I want to live in BC. I want to live in BC and stroll the waterfront in Vancouver and go to the beaches and make little trips up to Squamish and Whistler and, hell, maybe even boulder in the Kootenays. However, I can’t pull the trigger on going up to Canada quite yet, because I might have dogsitting obligations down here first. And I’m not sure whether I’d drive or take my boat up there. Either way, I’m stoked.

And now it’s time to enjoy the sun.

 

 

Cruise Control || Bouldering Technique

Good morning friends, lovers. How is everyone doing this morning? If you’re like me you’re sitting on your boat, your laptop in front of you, thinking about where to get your first caffeine of the morning. I’m probably going to go to Metropolitan Market to get my latest caffeine obsession, Phocus. Seventy five miligrams of caffeine from green tea, added L-theanine, nothing else. Well, maybe some flavoring. But no sweeteners, nothing weird. So far I haven’t seen it anywhere other than Met Market, and it’s only $1.99, which makes it cheaper than just about any coffee beverage you’re going to buy, and also cheaper than most energy drinks.

Plus it doesn’t make you feel insane.

Aka it makes you feel focused and calm and ready to do stuff like clean your boat, and organize it, which was what I did the other day.

Yesterday was my SECOND LESSON AT VERTICAL WORLD. FINALLY. JESUS. The head instructor, Andy, who is amazing, (probably) has a lot on his plate, so scheduling has been a bit difficult. But yesterday I had my first class with him, and it was great. It was amazing to work with someone who not only crushes at climbing but crushes at teaching. Because, after all, it doesn’t matter how hard you can climb as a teacher if you can’t impart any of that skill and wisdom onto your students.

God I wanna go to Europe this summer.

We started WARMING UP ON AN OVERHANG, which normally I would never do. Why would I never do it? Because I don’t like overhang, because I’m “bad” at it, and because I’d always assumed you shouldn’t warm up on overhang since it’s hard on your arms. But like, you obvioulsy don’t climb hard boulders when warming up on overhanging. You climb the easy stuff. And in that way it’s kind of like just hanging, except you’re also focusing on technique, and technique when your mind and body are completely fresh.

So we did that for a bit, focusing on creating momentum and leading with my hips, not my arms!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We also focused on getting my hips closer to the wall, since I’d been pretty square EVEN WHEN I THOUGHT I WAS BRINGING MY HIPS INTO THE WALL. Basically we focused on this one V1 that had one “kind of hard move,” and did it over and over leading with the hips and getting momentum and also getting the feet set up correctly and then the move felt super easy. Bomb, right? Yes.

After that we went to a V4 that was more my style, aka vert aka started with a traverse aka was more compy. The cool thing about Vertical World that I’ve noticed so far with the bouldering is…..well, I don’t know how to describe it. I feel like the boulders there are more deceptively difficult, and this V4 was no exception. I tried it and flailed on the bottom, then watched Andy do it and was able to get to the crux, and then after discussing the crux with Andy was able to DO the first move of the crux, aka bomb. I didn’t send the boulder, but I learned a lot from it, and felt like I could send it if I was a little more fresh.

The biggest thing I’ve learned since starting to focus more on technique: You’re not going to get better instantly, and it’s still going to be a shit ton of work. John Kettle has a line about “cruising your projects” in his book Rock Climbing Technique, so I basically thought once I started taking lessons and doing exercises from Kettle’s book I would instantly cruise my projects. I thought I’d be cruising V4’s and projecting V6’s and 7’s. Not the case. Not the case at all. And that’s because I haven’t put in the work yet. Once I DO put in the work, who knows. Maybe there will be some element of cruising.

So that’s basically it for now. What a gorgeous day here. I MIGHT climb tomorrow. Might. Might. Might. But we’ll see. Have to listen to the body. Have to go get my Phocus tea.

– Wetzler