Gaze of the Grasshopper Pt. 1 || R2V6

Four hundred and fourteen dollars of pending charges on my new Air Canada credit card.

A cup of black tea, the water still quite hot.

A rainy, chilly day.

But good weather in the forecast.

At least good for climbing.

I have acupuncture today, and I’m excited. My back, all things considered, is actually feeling quite good. I’ve been eating decent, taking turmeric pills, doing a shit ton of yoga, and also doing my physical therapy somewhat regularly.

Yesterday we went to Leavenworth.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And even though I didn’t send anything, I felt MUCH better than the the session at Mad Meadows the other day. Like, much better. Like, I actually felt kinda good. Like, I actually almost felt like a person. Like, I got shut down by Alfalfa or Spanky V5 but made a bit of progress on it. Like, Fountainblues V0 felt really hard for me. Like, I flashed my first ever V3, but it was bitter sweet cuz it was a terrible, terrible problem (Unknown V3 at Forestlands, #63 in the guidebook), that probably shouldn’t have been V3. But I’ll take it. It’s not on Mountain Project, so there’s no one to dispute it.

After Forestlands and Alfalfa or Spanky (God I love that first move) we went to the Beach Forest area and I wanted to try The Savage Act V5 and The Terrible V7, but my body was feeling kinda gnar. But then on the walk back I crossed Highway Dos and checked out the Gaze of the Grasshopper boulder, which features the eponymous V4 that Harlow Huber calls V2/3. WHATVER the grade is, it’s an epic boulder and has three or four good-looking lines ranging from V3 to V6. And actually I hope Gaze of the Grasshopper is soft, because on both Mountain Project and Sendage it’s a V4 (V4- on MP) which means if/when I do send it I can claim another V4. Which would be nice, cuz I feel like I haven’t sent anything hard lately.

Oh, climbing. How one day you can feel so bad and the next day so good.

Or vice versa.

In completely unrelated news (though actually very related), my move to Blaine has gotten delayed till June 2nd. This means I won’t be ALMOST Canadian till June, which is actually good cuz Squamish doesn’t really start getting dry till June. It’s also good cuz May is an AMAZING month in Leavenworth, and I wanna do at least 2-3 more trips there this month and ideally camp in my car a bit and send hella V4’s and maybe even some 5’s and…….

and……

and….

and….

…..maybe even a 6?

Is that too much to ask?

Is that demanding?

I’ve started strength training again, aka dead lifts and L-sits and pushups. And bench with free weights. I love deadlifts. I use a kettle ball to do them, and just pick it up and put it down again. It’s primal and simple and awesome. My diet has been decent lately, not great but decent, and, and I’ve learned that I NEED to rest at least two days after a hard climbing sesh. Preferably three. Or four. I think once my body gets used to climbing again I’ll be able to get away with no more than two days rest and maybe even one day’s rest and OCCASIONALLY two days in a row, but damn, your body needs to get used to climbing outside. Like, you need calluses, and you need to be used to pulling. And somehow pulling outside is very different from pulling in the gym.

Tesla. La Croix. Cortado.

God I just want to send V6.

Aka V5.

Aka V4.

Aka Gaze of the Grasshopper.

I Need a Proj: R2V6

I need a proj.

Like, a proper proj.

I need the kind of proj where you go back time after time and obsess about the moves and learn the moves perfectly and start obsessing over micro beta — like, what if I turned my thumb over slightly there? Or, what if I brought my left foot in slightly here?

The kind of proj where you make incremental progress, that’s perfectly at your limit — or actually perfectly just beyond your limit, that forces you to become a better climber so you can reach that limit.

The kind of proj you want to just sit next to and breathe in the air.

That’s the kind of proj I’m looking for.

Because it’s been too long. That’s the way it was with U2 V3, that’s the way it was with Toto V4, and Dirty Dancing V4 and even Zelda Rails V4. But I haven’t had a project like that in awhile, and I’m desperate for one.

So here are a few I’m thinking could be some candidates, just based on the amount of moves they have or watching people try them on YouTube or in real life or how aesthetically striking they are:

Slingblade V6, Leavenworth

Dope line that’s not super long and can either involve a huck to a rail or some tricky bicycle/outside flag beta that lets you crimp your way to the rail, and then after that a somewhat tenuous topout.

Slice of Cake Right Variation V7, Leavenworth

I love underclings, and this one starts off with a sick undercling. Plus the top must be about V3, since the problem was V3 before the big flake broke, creating the undercling. Or did that flake have lots of bomb footholds that made it V3? I don’t know. Either way, the problem looks sick.

Black Slabbath V7, Squamish

Oh wait, this one’s in the rockfall closure area under the Grand Wall. Bummer.

Sobriosity V6, Kombucha V7, Five Star Arete V6, Gold Bar

I’m lumping these three together because I think I could do them all (with some projecting of course) and because they’re all on the 5-Star Boulder in Gold Bar, and they’re all majestic problems. Like, the kind of problems where you look at them and get goose pimples a bit. Like, the kind of problems where you look at them and get gooseBUMPS a bit. Like, the kind of problem (Kombucha) where you look at it and your left shoulder hurts just contemplating the first move.

The Engineer V7, Index

Not putting the V9 guidebook grade in here, because I’ve heard it’s about V6 physically. The thing about projecting this one is….are you gonna project it and take a bunch of falls from way up high? Because that doesn’t sound very fun. But are you gonna project it on top rope? Maybe. I don’t know the answer to these questions. All I know is it’s one of the sickest blocs in Washington and it’s on my lifetime tick list and I need to get on it soon.

Other candidates: Water V6 (Gold Bar), World’s Best V7 (Gold Bar), The Doja V7 (Gold Bar), Road to Zion V5 (Gold Bar), Mosserati V7 (Skykomish), Metroid Prime V6 (Gold Bar), and probably some in Leavenworth, too (and hopefully in Squamish!!!)

Right now my proj is to rest. I climbed in Leavy yesteryore and got absolutely THRASHED. Consolations from the sesh: gonna have some bomb callus buildup in a few days; sent a new V3; re-sent my first V3 (U2) for the first time; and still had some fun despite feeling hecka weak and getting thrashed. This project will see me resting AT LEAST two days, but ideally three. Because I just read an interview with Katie Lamb who recently sent The Penrose Step V14, Washington’s hardest bloc, and she said she often rests FIVE days when she’s projecting something.

We should all be more like Katie.

Slash I am not a volume climber.

Update: Road to V6

Well, friends, it’s been a long time since I’ve written on here, and an even longer time since I’ve posted in the Road to V-whatever series, which is now the Road to V6 ever since I sent Zelda Rails Right V5 way back when, a problem that is somehow V5 on both Mountain Project AND Sendage despite being significantly easier than many V4’s (in my opinion) Why haven’t I been writing? you ask. Or maybe you don’t ask. But let’s say you DO ask, in which case I’ll tell you: I haven’t been writing because I haven’t really felt like it. It’s that simple. But this morning I kind of DO feel like it, and it turns out I’ve been climbing quite a bit lately, so I thought a “Road to…” post might be appropriate.

Basically, here’s the deal: I recently took a month off from climbing to travel to Mexico and South America, and that month did me a lot of good, not only in terms of letting my body recuperate but also in terms of getting rid of some mental baggage that had been building up for me with climbing. For lack of a better term, I was sort of in a rut. I wasn’t listening to my body. I THOUGHT I was eating well but looking back I think I was basically just starving myself. And as far as climbing goes I was getting into all kinds of mental ruts involving progression and grades and WHY I was climbing and all that stuff. It sort of wasn’t even that fun for me anymore. I mean, yes, it was fun, but I didn’t feel that free. I felt like I had to climb a “certain way” and that “certain way” was the only way to get better. I thought I had to focus on my footwork, that I had to focus on keeping my hips close to the wall, that I had to get better at climbing static, etc etc etc etc etc etc ad infinitum.

And here’s the thing: All those things are true. I DO need to get better at climbing static, at keeping my hips into the wall, and all that crap. But obsessing over that stuff and getting down on myself for it was not only holding me back — it was also keeping me from having fun and developing the things I’m really good at, i.e. dynamic climbing and intuitive movement. Now, when it comes to dynamic climbing, that’s pretty straightforward, because I like dynamic movement and come from an athletic background. But the intuitive movement part is a bit more nuanced. Intuitive movement is a strength of mine IN GENERAL, but it’s not necessarily a strength of mine in climbing. The movement that will help you get past someone in soccer or scramble up a talus field or quickly load the dishwasher is a good kind of thing to be able to do intuitively, but the problem is sometimes in climbing the best movement is NOT intuitive. Or, as I was discussing with my friend Matt the other day, sometimes ONE non-intuitive movement will then lead to a much easier sequence down the road. For example, it might felt really natural to go for the crimp with your left hand, but if you could just figure out how to grab it with your RIGHT hand then all the subsequent moves would be much easier. And so, knowing that this was true, I was becoming TOO cerebral with my climbing, as opposed to just getting on the wall and seeing what would happen. You have to find the middle path, not only in movement but with all things. So when I came back from South America I was just climbing, not overthinking it, and the result was I was having tons of fun and actually climbing pretty well. And now as time goes on I’m trying to incorporate thinking, but also not thinking too much. Thinking is especially good for when you’re tired, and also for sussing out a climb. Most of the time you can look at a climb and decide whether it’s possible for you or not. Other times you need to just turn off your brain and pull on.

All that said, let’s talk about the session in Leavenworth last weekend, in which I sent a new V3, got shut down by the top out of a new V4….

(to be continued next post)

 

Time to Fast || R2V6 #3

For some reason I never posted this. But I kinda like it. So here it is:

OK OK OK OK. I’ll talk about the session at Smith Rock yesterday. I don’t want to talk about it because it involves rope climbing, but I’ll talk about it anyway.

Basically what happened was this: a crew of five of us went down to Redmond, Oregon ostensibly to climb at Smith. The first day though people went skiing. Adi and I didn’t ski but rather hung out with her friend who lives in Bend and played with her dogs. Which was the correct decision. I haven’t skied in 22 years, and so I need to plot my return to glory carefully. Also it would’ve cost $150. So yeah, not skiing was the right decision.

Then YESTERDAY we went to Smith. But first we stopped at Junction Coffee in Redmond. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend this place. The coffee is delicious. The décor is tasteful. And when we were there they had soothing French music playing. I got an oat milk latte and it was sublime. If I wasn’t fasting today I might go back there. Though probably not because I’m sure Bend has great coffee too. Does Bend have good coffee? I have no idea.

The main thing you need to know about Smith Rock is that it’s BEAUTIFUL. Beautiful in an, “Oh my god this place is idyllic I wonder what it looked like before the influence of humans there were probably animals and shit way.” Beautiful in a, “Damn this kind of like a mini Yosemite” way. Beautiful in like a, “God I hate rope climbing literally the only thing you do is bake at the bottom of the cliff and yell at each other” way.  It must be said though that my body was not feeling in tip top shape, so I didn’t try any remotely hard climbs. Had I tried harder climbs, had I LED, I might’ve been more stoked on the climbing. But my body just didn’t feel good, hence the reason I’m fasting right now.

OK so that was Smith. Then afterward I went to the Meadow Camp Boulders for the first time and tried to climb Centrifuge V2 and Zithromax V2. I got shut down on both. I think they’re both fairly stout V2’s. Zithromax seemed kinda sick. I figured out some beta for the start and could probably huck to a good hold up on the arete but wanted to do it static. The landing was not good. I had one tri-panel pad that was basically folded in half on a rock. I’m debating going back there tomorrow for round two, and I’ll probably hike there today from the LOGE, where I’m staying, to check out the rest of the area. The best thing to do on a rest day is check out new blocs.

ANYWAY, as I mentioned before I’m also fasting. The goal for this fast is 72 hours, which is a big goal. I just passed the 16 hour mark, which is actually no small feat. Fasting is all about mindset. If you have it in your head you’re DEFINITELY GOING TO FAST UNTIL YOU WITHER, you’ll fast for a long time. But if you think, Ohhhhh, I’ll just see how it goes. Maybe I’ll do 24 hours, maybe I’ll do 36, then you’ll probably do 16 and go straight to Chipotle and drown yourself in a burrito (which is actually what I did yesterday for my last meal and it was delicious).

So yeah, the goal for the rest of the time in Bend is to fast. The plan right now is to stay till Wednesday morning, still fasting, and then drive back to Seattle, still fasting, and then break the fast at 17:33 on Wednesday. If this happens, it will be my longest fast ever by a day. Mostly I’m stoked right now to get to the 20 hour mark, because that’s apparently when a lot of detoxing happens. I got some detox tea yesterday from Safeway and so far today am actually DOING things. One trap you can fall into when fasting is just laying around all day watching the minutes tick by.

But anyway. Bouldering. Tomorrow. Tomorrow maybe I’ll go to Bar Fly V6, or maybe Blood Knuckle V5, or maybe I’ll just say screw it and go back to Zithromax and throw myself at it and not send it and start crying.

 

Which is Better: SBP Poplar or SBP Fremont?

Note: For the original review of SBP Fremont, click here.

I have consulted with the rock gods and they have provided me with the answer to the question posed in the title of this post: Which is better: Seattle Bouldering Project Poplar or Seattle Bouldering Project Fremont? You might think this would be subjective and that there could be no definitive answer. But as I found out after talking to the rock gods for several hours over a sour yesterday at Fremont Brewing, especially the god of granodiorite, you’d be wrong.

Let’s start with a few comparisons that are objectively objective:

  1. Size

SBP Poplar is much bigger than SBP Fremont Main. However, if you add Upper Walls to SBP Fremont (and for the purposes of this post we do), SBP Poplar is still bigger, but not THAT MUCH bigger.

Advantage: Poplar

2. Training facilities

Poplar has way more hangboards, two spray walls, a fitness room, a way bigger gym, and two treadwalls.

Fremont has nice moon/kilter boards, a smaller gym, and that’s about it.

Advantage: Poplar

3. Age

Fremont is, obviously, much newer.

Advantage: Fremont

……………………………………………………………………………………….

So far the advantage seems to be going to Poplar. Now let’s move onto things that are slightly more subjective.

4. Setting

Advanced climbers seem to be able to appreciate the differences in setting between the two locations. I, being an ignoramus who’s only climbed for 2+ years, do not. To me they seem pretty much the same. The only blue I’ve ever flashed was at Fremont, and the only pink I’ve ever sent was at Fremont, but I also climb at Fremont quite a bit more since it’s closer to where I live. I generally like the volumes and walls better at Fremont because they seem newer, but that could just be mostly in my head.

Advantage: Push

5. Vibes

OK, so this is a tough one, but it’s also the most important one. Which location has better vibes? By “vibes” I mean ambience, environment, mood, feeling. Which one are you more likely to go to and come out saying, “Damn, the people were rad there tonight. People were crushing and everyone was so nice and I think that one girl even looked at my butt.” Again, the purists would say SBP Poplar, because the purists live in south Seattle and are jaded. But after consulting the gods over our second sour at Fremont Brewing, the goddess of schist, a cute little number named Trina who loves crimpy face problems and hates kneebars, provided the definitive answer: SBP Fremont (and actually Upper Walls).

Advantage: Fremont 

6. Staff

Again, a tough one. I have more experience with the SBP Fremont staff and I’m inclined to say they’re nicer there, but it’s not like they’re “not nice” or “not professional” at either of the locations. That said, I used to go to Poplar all the time before Covid, and in all have had way more solid interactions with the staff at SBP Fremont. So I’m going to go out on a wiry sapling’s branch and say it:

Advantage: Fremont

7. Crowds

This one could probably be put in the subjective category if I talked to the people at SBP. I’m sure they could tell me in two seconds which one gets more traffic, though I’m not sure they could tell me which gets more traffic relative to size. I’ve been to both at times (read: weeknights) when they feel like an absolute Covid factory, and I’ve been to both when they feel like ghost towns (read: weekdays). The main areas of both gyms I would say are equally crowded on a weeknight, while the lesser-known areas (the northwest room at Poplar and Upper Walls in Fremont) aren’t so bad. So…..

Advantage: Push (except when it’s Seattle Pacific night at Fremont, in which case, run for your life)

8. Location

Obviously Fremont is easier to get to for me, but I think most would agree Fremont is just a much nicer location in general. It’s close to restaurants, cafes, Gas Works, and in a nice residential neighborhood. Poplar is close to I-5 and a homeless encampment where I saw a lady the other day blocking the road and intimidating a small dog. Not a great scene. Fremont you can walk out of and go to Fremont Brewing or the Pacific Inn and grab a beer with your friends, Poplar you can walk out of and go to a…Shell station.

Advantage: Fremont

9. Miscellaneous

What kind of things could you include in a “miscellaneous” category. Well, I haven’t really talked about facilities so far. Poplar, for example, has WAY more storage for your stuff. Fremont basically has none. People end up just strewing their shit on the ground like it’s a yard sale. Poplar also has a sauna, though to be fair the men’s locker room usually smells like a dirty gym sock. Poplar also has more chilling areas, more places to lurk and watch people climb, though the mezzanine section upstairs at Fremont is quite nice. One thing I will say about Poplar: they sell guidebooks, and some obscure ones at that, like the Okanagan Bouldering Guidebook. So…advantage?

Advantage: Poplar

There you have it, folks. In a close but not that close race, Seattle Bouldering Project Fremont wins the competition in the illustrious “Who’s Better?” challenge. This isn’t to say that SBP Poplar isn’t worth visiting, of course. Both are fabulous climbing gyms, something that becomes apparent as soon as you climb anywhere else. And the vibes are great at both too, generally, and something your attitude greatly influences and a subject on which the bouldering gods (except for Trina) were curiously unable to comment. Either way, get out there and rip some pinks. Or oranges. Or whites. Or just sit in the mezzanine and watch other people crush.

– Wetz