R2V2P5: Beam Me Up (session 1)

I accidentally typed “R2V2,” which would stand for Road to V2, which is NOT the name of this series (it’s Road to V7), but considering the events of the past week much more fitting. Ladies and boys, I still haven’t sent V2 outdoors. But I’ve figured out which boulder it’s going to be: Beam Me Up, located in the Rubik’s Cube cluster of the Reiter foothills boulders.


OK this isn’t a picture of the boulder. It’s just a sick picture Barold took on our first ever mission to the Reiter Foothills. Minutes after this picture was taken we spotted the elusive “Five Star Warm-Up Boulder,” where both of us got shut down by a slopey V3.

Here’s the actual boulder:

OK this isn’t really the boulder either. It’s me sitting next to it with my sock on my hand after getting shut down by it. I couldn’t do the second move. But now I think I’ve got it figured out: Move the legs to the side to get them out of the way, hug my body in closer to the wall, reach up blind to the first left handhold. Before I think I had my body too far away from the wall. Also, I need to just practice this second move till I get it, since it’s essentially the “crux” (can V2’s have cruxes?). Once you get your left hand up to the good crack you can bump it up further and then pull yourself up onto the ledge you had your hands on to start. And it’s pretty much smooth sailing from there. You’ve sent your first V2 and can move on to your first V3, aka Summer Solstice:

Look at this beautiful block. I never thought I’d have to project V3 but this is totally going to be a project for me. The first part is just moving from the fabulous first hold to the sloper. Then it’s traversing the sloper and getting to the fabulous jug on the right side of the photo. And then it’s just a couple more good holds to the top. Last time the problems were I was tired from failing on Beam Me Up, it was raining, and I didn’t put the crash pad right where it needed to be for me to just collapse onto it from the slopers. But I know I’ll make progress when I go back. Summer Solstice, I’m coming for you. How sick would it be to send Summer Solstice on or before the summer solstice? That would be a good step on the road to V7.

In other words I have TWO days off next week in addition to have Monday off for Memorial Day. So where am I going? I don’t actually know. I’ll probably try to go back to the Reiter Foothills to climb Beam Me up, and if it’s too wet keep going to Leavenworth, in which case my first V2 plans would have to radically change. Nothing highball please; I’m a huge wuss.

I’ve never been more excited to send V2. This is what I love about bouldering aka being 36 and starting bouldering. Sending V2 for me is going to be huge. I’m going to be so stoked. It’s going to be like sending V10 for most people. And then sending V3 aka Summer Solstice aka hopefully some boulder in Bend on my way down to Cali in June? Even better.

Progression is what’s so exciting. Progression. Getting stronger (even though before COVID I was way stronger but whatever).

Anyway, just wanted to give you an update on what’s going on in these down days. Dreaming of granodiorite and perfect holds.

The Road to V7, Part 4: Run for the (Foot)Hills

There is a little bouldering area just outside of Gold Bar, WA, called the “Reiter Foothills.” You probably haven’t heard of it unless you’re into riding dirt-bikes/being from Monroe. The thing about this area is the following: A few years back some people discovered that there were big-ass boulders there, and that “problems” could be found on these boulders, and that these “problems” could even be rated on the quote unquote “V scale,” and that using this scale people from all over the world (but mostly the Seattle area) could come to enjoy the grand outdoors and test their climbing mettle.

Which is exactly what my friend Barold and I did on Friday.

Some sources compare Beam Me Up to pitch 15 on the Dawn Wall.

Barold and I drove separate cars to the Reiter Foothills. We stopped at the Safeway in Monroe to stock up on provisions/people watch. I love people watching in places like Monroe because, though it’s just 40 minutes out of Seattle, the culture is completely different there. This is huntin’ culture, goddamnit. This is, “Hey baby, why don’t we go down to the that Mexican restaurant later and get a couple margaritas and some of those fajitas,” type culture. These people are real “salt of the earth” types, whatever that means. I think it mostly means they have less of a problem with eating multiple meals a week at McDonald’s and with xenophobia.

But I’m not here to judge, damnit! Who would I be to judge? I’m here to get my hands in some granodiorite holds. I’m here to get exercising while having the time of my life. I’m here to see some new blocks. I’m here to send V2, damnit.

If you read my last post you know that on this trip I fully expected to send V2. You might say I took it for granted. I even had the perfect V2 scoped out, “Beam Me Up,” located in the Rubik’s Cube cluster. I had even watched videos on how to do this boulder. I had beta. It was a (insert expletive) V2. That’s mostly the reason I fully expected to send it. I climbed V5 at the gym once, right? So V2 outdoors should be a walk in the dog park.

But I didn’t send it. In fact, I didn’t even really come all that close, in that I couldn’t even do the start.

The start of Beam Me Up is a table-sized jug that you could serve dinner for six on. The problem is it’s a sit start, and since I’m kind of tall I had to splay my feet out wide. The other problem is that the holds after the start are good but not that good. I mean, to Daniel Woods and Jimmy Webb these holds would be veritable craters that you could camp in, let alone fix your hands on. But to me they were the razorest-thin crimps. So I got my right hand up to the first little crimpy rail, and then..had no idea what to do with the left. I would just kind of collapse onto my pad like someone kicking a deflated soccer ball. I tried multiple times, and Barold even pulled up a video — SO I HAD THE BETA RIGHT THERE — and still couldn’t do it. Too weak, too slow. It was a rude awakening. It was how I might imagine it to be to fall off your bed into a Finnish lake in winter.

The only upside? I flashed the V1 next to it, “Scotty.” Woooooooooooooooooo….

L’Hotel du Chemin.

After this it started to rain, so Barold and I made our way to other boulders to check them out. I tried Summer Solstice (V3) and failed even harder. We went to climb a V0 crack and the only other people out at the boulders that day were already there. Then, after sort of bushwacking, we happened upon a beautiful V2 called “The Container.” This one was actually fun. We could actually do some of the moves. And it didn’t even matter that it was raining, because it was slightly overhanging and the holds were roughly the texture of Harrison Ford’s voice in “The Fugitive.” So at this boulder we felt a little better about ourselves. Granted, we couldn’t top out, because sending V2 just wasn’t in the cards for us, but we still had fun. Barold took some vids and pioneered the beta. I took my shirt off. The rain continued. And at some point it was time to call it quits, not so much because of the rain because both of us (or at least I) were completely wasted. Time to head back to the cars. The V2 Bombers would have to wait for their day in the sun.



R2V7 #3: This Weekend’s Dream Session

I’m scheming on my next bouldering session, which could actually happen as early as tomorrow. Picture this: You get in your car after work. You drive to the ferry. You get on the ferry. You ride the ferry with the windows slightly cracked, the breeze in your rapidly-greying hair. You get off the ferry and drive an hour and a half to everyone’s favorite Washington town, Gold Bar. You drive a little past Gold Bar into the Reiter Foothills. And then you boulder your ass off.

If I don’t go tomorrow, I’ll definitely go Saturday morning, since that’s the only time it’s supposed to be dry. Or I’ll finally go to the Jefferson Lake boulders on the Olympic side, which might be opening on Saturday after some recent closures due to wildfires. Or I might not go bouldering at all. I might just sit at home and mope around and watch YouTube videos.

If I DO go bouldering, here is the desired (see: dream) outcome, step by step:

  1. Show up to the Reiter Foothills. The sun is almost setting and it’s glorious. I feel good, healthy. My friend Barold is with me. We quickly find the Rubik’s Cube boulders and within minutes both send Beam Me Up (V2). I’m stoked because it’s my first ever V2 outdoors and I feel like something special might happen this evening.

2. We look around and find more fun problems to climb, mostly in the V0-V2 range. We climb a V3 and are super stoked and decide to just say screw it and head for something in the project category, aka Water (V6).

Here we try to do it a bit on our own at first but after making zero advancements decide to watch the above video for some beta. Even with this beta we’re still not super close. We retreat to our cars to chill as the darkness sets completely and we go to bed.

3. We wake up in the morning, warm up some more, and then head BACK to water. This time we’re actually doing the moves, and it looks like it might even go. What??? V6??? Out of nowhere on throw-away burns we both send it. Ten minutes later it starts raining and out of the forest, lost on a hike, walks the love of my life. We start dating medium to long term. We get married in Mexico and sail around the world for 10 years. We have a baby and name him something only pronounceable in Malay.

4. Drive back to Seattle.

So that’s hope I hope it will go if I go bouldering this weekend.

More to come soon!



The Road to V7 (#2)

“Start matched on a half-pad crescent shaped edge, paste your left foot on a glass smear as well as the right, pull on and do a left hand move to a quarter-pad, rounded, slick crimp. Bite down hard on this hold and move your right foot high and right onto a decent edge, then isolate the left arm and come right hand into the shark’s tooth. This hold is so cool yet loco! How you grab this hold determines if you do the next move or not. For me, I place my ring finger on the left side of the spike and middle finger on the right side (the hold size is less than a quarter-pad and bites like no other). I then load my two fingers and wrap my thumb around the side of the tooth. When you get this, you make a fist with the wall and can feel the edge cut through a couple layers of skin, which is what holds you onto the wall. I then bring my left foot high on this knob right below the starting hold and explode to the left hand mini-pinch. This hold is slick, quarter-pad, and has an OK thumb catch, which makes it positive. It is hard to have the right accuracy to get this hold perfect. Now you are in the stand of Rastaman Vibration (V12). From here you switch your right foot onto the knob and place your left foot on a smear out left. You eye up the final half pad, rounded crimp and jump to it. Your feet go nearly horizontal while your fingers are squeezing these two holds. Once controlled, you do the remaining 30-foot slab to the top of the boulder.”

– Daniel Woods describing Lucid Dreaming (V15)

The Road to V7 (part 1)

Yesterday I went on a bouldering mission on the Olympic Peninsula. This was by far my most successful boulder exploration mission so far. I found 5-10 legitimately climbable boulders, which was basically 5-10 more than I’d ever found before. They were all close to the Hamma Hamma river, the turnoff for which is a bit past the town of Brinnon. This is where the Lena Lake trailhead is, to give you a bit of reference.

Today though I’m here to talk about this summer’s goal: climbing V7. This is a massive goal, considering I just started climbing this last winter and also because the hardest thing I’ve ever climbed indoors is V4. Most people would probably read that last sentence and assume there’s no way I could send V7 by the end of this summer. And they may very well be right. Indeed, the hardest thing I’ve climbed outdoors is about V1. So clearly I have a ways to go. But what could be more fun than giving yourself a challenge that might just be impossible? Something that would be so cool to do, however improbable. For me it will be all about: climbing a shit ton, getting stronger, developing better technique, having fun, and finding the perfect boulder for me. Preferably something with a dyno. If the moons align, I might just pull it off.

The first thing I’m doing for “training” is 1) eating better, and 2) my first mini “workout.” I say “workout” because it’s only two exercises: 1) hanging from a 2×6 in my parents’ garage, and 2) doing leg lifts while hanging from a cherry tree branch in their front yard. Hopefully my hangboard from Seattle Bouldering Project will come soon. Then I can keep hanging, but while practicing a variety of holds. And the most important thing of all, of course, will be just climbing. Which is a bit difficult when you work 9-5 and all the gyms are closed.

But that’s also a really shitty excuse. There are always things to climb and always ways to train. Just eating better is a form of training. I was eating pretty well before this whole lockdown thing. But since I’ve been at my parents’ house I’ve ballooned up, mostly because I’ve been exercising less, and eating more and worse. Lots of cookies. Even pop. Ice cream, all that crap. People say to me sometimes, “You should just enjoy it. It’s all in your head. Just enjoy life.”

My answer is “no” (despite the fact that some of those were statements).

No, no, no.

I’m not going to eat the cookies or the ice cream. I’m not going to drink the pop. I’m going to get strong as fuck so I can send V7. Eating cookies does not help me along that road. It makes me feel like shit. Yes, it’s ok in moderation, but I don’t do moderation. I can’t eat just one Milano cookie. I have to have like five. So yeah: No.

Anyway, short term goal: Climb V2 next time I climb outdoors. Then climb V3. Then start projecting some V5’s. Then start THINKING about V7. Maybe go to some V7’s in the area and just look at them. Touch the rock. Feel the holds. Maybe try some of the moves. Why the hell not?

Because I’m going to do it. Unless I get laid off tomorrow and just sail to South America and kind of forget about bouldering and start surfing again, I’m going to do it.

And even if I don’t it will still be pretty awesome to try.