Todo lo que yo sufrí | R2V4 #7

Friends. Lovers. I’ve missed you so much. I feel like we’ve been apart for quite some time now. I feel like you never want to hang out anymore. I feel like every time I say, “Babe, lets go project some sick blocs. You know you’ve been thinking about the beta for The Doja V7 (direct variation).” And she’s like, “No, I don’t want to go bouldering with you. All you talk about are ‘blocs’ and ‘micro-beta.’ Right hand up to the crimp, wedging it into the wedge. Left hand up to the tic and then mini bump up to the fin? Give me a break. Plus, what’s the hardest you’ve crushed outside, babe? Go on: Tell me: What’s the hardest you’ve crushed outside?”

You turn your eyes downward, ashamed.

“I’ve almost sent a V4…”

She spits on your feet and farts in your direction. Then the two of you get up and make brownies.

ANYWAY.

Yes, I went climbing yesterday. Yes, I know I wasn’t supposed to. My carbon emissions are off the charts. Two days in a driving ALL THE WAY up to the mountains, and ALL THE WAY BACK. Two days in a row hiking six miles roundtrip just to project some sic (sic) blocs (sic). And I mean, it’s been worth it. OBVIOUSLY it’s been worth it. Sent Beam Me Up V2. Yesterday sent another V2 called Moonlight Mile in the Que Luna boulders. Sent a V0 called Offa’ My Cloud. Sent another V0 down at the Index River Boulders called Hueco Man. Calluses are building up. Elbow feels pretty good. I feel like I’m on the ROAD TO V7. Like, I’m not just sitting by the side of the road watching men go by in their horse-drawn carriages, women in their Victorian era hats and frilly dresses. I’m actually on this road with the rest of them. I’m driving one of the damn carriages! Hell, I might even be one of the horses. I might even be one of the Victorian-era hats. I might even by a rock on the road that people stub their toes on. Either way I’m on the road — I’m not just a bystander. I’m not just standing by. Rather, I’m passing by. I’m a passerby amongst other passersby.

Todo lo que yo viví.

Todo lo que yo sufrí.

And today is a quote unquote down day. I’m going to try to not climb today. Give my fingers a rest. Too much crimping. I can’t remember the last time I woke up without swollen fingers. I should probably go back to the keto diet, but I don’t want to. I really like carbs. Plus when I was doing keto I ate so many animal products. Too many animal products. I feel better about eating corn chips than I do sausages. I feel better about fasting than I do sausages.

Ya no queda nada.

Aqui estoy sentado en mi velero, viendo como la toalla se mece en la brisa. Oigo el canto de un pájaro. Bueno, no tanto un canto ya que es un cuervo. Pienso en tomarme otro té. O en comer algo. Me pregunto que si en este mero momento preferiría estar en México. O en Chile. O en Europa. Pero ahorita no se puede ir a Europa si sos gringo. Sí se puede ir a México. México ha cerrado sus fronteras terrestres pero no las aéreas. Así que todavía se puede ir en avión.

 

Fly Like an Egret | R2V4 #6

Waking up on my boat, indigestion, listening to the rain outside, watching the rain drip down the plexiglass. Takes me so long to get out of bed. Boat smells like farts from eating a pound of cherries last night after “dinner,” aka a spicy falafel wrap from Trader Joe’s. Trying to SORT OF fast this morning, aka you’re always fasting when you wake up, aka breakfast, aka I wish I could just instantly be teleported to Leavenworth right now so I could climb. Where would I climb? Honestly, I just want to repeat Fountainblues V0 over and over and over, savoring the silky slopers (they are somehow soft even though they’re made of granite), savoring each move, never topping out, just practicing the new foot beta I learned which makes the problem so much easier. I would argue though, and I would argue vehemently, that if you start on the bottom sloper on the arete that there’s still no WAY this problem is a V0. More like a V1. But then again my Loser Beta from before was making the problem so much harder. Now that I have the Crusher Beta the problem is so much easier. Crusher Beta. Loser Beta. Fountainblues.

I could of course GET IN MY CAR and drive to Leavenworth, aka the modern day version of teleporting, a trip that on horseback would’ve taken a week and now takes 2.5 hours, but I’m not going to do this. Unless I carpool with someone or unless I’m DEFINITELY camping there tonight, it seems wasteful. Drive all the way out there just so I can NOT send Briefs V3, get an iced coffee, and then drive all the way back? See? Wasteful. So wasteful. It makes way more sense just mope around on my boat and watch bouldering videos, like this one I was just watching from Colorado:

That arpeggio is definitely V4. At least. Probably more like V6.

OK, sorry, now for an ACTUAL bouldering video:

I actually have an ENTIRE BLOG dedicated to Pulisic. Hold up a sec, let me find the link: https://www.straightouttahershey.com/

As you can see, it’s been a while since I updated this blog. Not that I’m not obsessed with Christian Pulisic anymore, or anything Christian, really. Watching the Sheffield United vs. Chelsea game yesterday was one of the highlights of July so far, even though they lost and and even though Christian played terribly (touches were just a bit off).

But BACK TO BOULDERING. BACK TO THE ROAD TO V4.

Despite whinging a bit, I’m actually very well established on the road to V4. I feel good about it. My diet is decent. I’ve already started projecting some V4’s, most notably Serenity Now V4 at the Camp Serene boulder. Yesterday I hung out there for a few burns on my way back from the Index River Boulders, and the session went really well. It has to be one of the most fun climbs that exists, and I’ve only done the first half. I can’t imagine what stringing it all together must be like. I can’t imagine what wrapping my hippo paw around that brick at the top is going to feel like, and then reaching for the dorsal fin, and then topping out like an egret and just flying away, flying off the boulder, out over the Skykomish Valley, and beyond, beyond.

First Moves on a V7??? | R2V4 #5

I haven’t written in awhile. I think this is because I got laid off/quit and have been going a bit buck wild as a result. By buck wild I of course meaning eating a bit more sugar than normal. Sleeping in till 8am. That kind of buck wild. I’m not suddenly snorting amphetamines, though part of me wants to. Seattle is so boring. Is it boring? Am I boring?

It’s raining outside and my car windows are cracked. This is because this morning it didn’t seem like rain could be in the forecast for the next 14 years. I went bouldering this morning! How is that possible? I woke up at 5:30am and was on the road by 6:06am. By 8:30 my hands were touching the beautiful granite features of Magic School Bus V2, which I sent within a few tries. I found the tall man beta first, which turned the problem into a V0/1, and then sent it with the intended beta, and apart from a spicy topout, it still felt a bit soft for a V2. If I can send a V2 within a few tries it either means A) It’s soft, B) I’m hard, or C) The Red Sox are going to win the World Series.

And now having bouldered this morning AND having watched the Chelsea game this afternoon, what else is there to do? Go to sleep so I can wake up and boulder again? Do I have anything else to live for?

Let me at least tell you about the rest of the session.

So, right before sending Magic School Bus I sent an Unknown V0 which also had a spicy topout and the whereabouts of my pad were somewhat unknown. I mean, I sort of glanced down and was pretty sure it was under me, but I was also pretty sure I wasn’t going to fall.

After these two boulders I headed up to Beam Me Up V2, which I FINALLY DID THE FIRST MOVES ON FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER A FEW DAYS AGO. OMG. But I didn’t top out. Because I got to the second half of the boulder and was kind of pumped/panting and didn’t know the beta. So today, after failing on Mr. Brightside V1 for a few tries, I went back down to Beam Me Up and was able to do the first few moves after the first few tries and, after not topping out AGAIN, thought to myself, Why is it that every time I try to read Catch-22 I give up after 50 pages? I also thought, I better learn the top part. And so I did. And it was easy. And then I gave it a send burn and sent it. And it was somewhat glorious. A long time coming. And then I got the hell out of there.

I was going to hang out in the Bricklayer area of the clearcut boulders but it was insanely crowded. Like, gym crowded. Like, Mariners Game crowded. Like, parade crowded. Like, Montlake at rush area crowded. Like, Pagliacci when they’re having a special crowded. So I headed back to the car and down to the Boulder Drop Boulders, located just a hop skip and a faceplant from the town of Index, where my goal was to A) look at Mr. Smooth V7, B) touch Mr. Smooth V7, and C) maybe even try the first move of Mr. Smooth V7. All three of which I did. And here’s the thing: I ALMOST DID THE FIRST MOVE OF MR SMOOTH V6000. Like, I think I might be able to send this boulder in the next 20 or so tries. And by 20 I mean 19. And by 19 I mean 21.

After Mr Smooth I went to the Camp Serene Boulder, where I got closer on Serenity Now V4 than I have ever gotten.

So it was a good day! But now what do I do?

Let’s Talk About Crimping | R2V4 #4

Let’s talk about Machine Gun Funk V2. Let’s talk about crimping. Let’s talk about being unemployed. Let’s talk about finally sending a problem you’ve been working on for weeks. Let’s talk about avocados. Let’s talk about the EU ban on travelers from the United States. Let’s talk about the Dominican Republic. Let’s talk about fireworks. Let’s talk about ethanol-free gasoline.

Let’s talk about Leavenworth.

After a very successful Tuesday mish in Leavenworth, I headed back up the Icicle after work on Wednesday to check out the 420 Boulders. Mostly I wanted to try 420 Slab, a supposed highball bloc that in the guidebook looks picturesque. I expected to be able to send it pretty easily, but I expected it to be scary at the top. Neither of these were very true. The bottom turned out to be the hard part, and the holds at the top were pretty juggy. The bottom was so hard for me that after the first few attempts I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to send. But then I sort of figured it out: Go slow. Then there’s a beautiful jug about halfway up, and once you get to that your feet can cut loose and swing all over the place but it doesn’t really matter because both hands are matched on a granite dreamboat. From there it does get kind of high, but the holds are pretty good. If it was the other way around, if the hard holds were at the top, it would be a scary boulder. In the end one of the scariest parts ended up being the down climb, aka jump. I hadn’t scouted the down climb before sessioning it. For a bit I felt like a cat caught up a tree waiting for the fire department to get there. But then I sort of wiggled my down and made a bit of a jump to solid ground. Ankles intact. Stoked.

Then I headed to the Sword Boulders to have another go at I Heart Jugs V2. I had sessioned it on two previous occasions and not gotten that close. Watching some beta on YouTube I felt like I was doing it wrong, but the guy whose beta I was watching was pretty short, so I wasn’t sure if I could do it his way. There was a left-facing sidepull around the arrete I had to kind of lunge to, and that was the crux. Once you get that the climb lives up to its name, plenty of jugs. I taped part of my right index finger that was getting cut on the shark fin about halfway up, and that gave me some confidence. I also learned some microbeta for the shark fin: Grab it with two fingers on the sidepull, two fingers on the ledge. Cover all your bases. After that it was all footwork, and I could get the sidepull. And then it was just topping out feeling a little pumped.

Pumped is what I was. I felt great after sending a beautiful V1 slab and another non-slab V2, also one of Leavenworth’s classics. There is still so much more to climb at the Sword Boulders: Briefs V3, The Classic V2, and of course, once you start getting gnarly, The Hourglass V7. The Hourglass looks like a fun but intimidating climb. I tried the first moves on the slab just to see what it was like, but felt a little short of pads having to use most of my pad to cover the small boulder on the ground to the left that you DEFINITELY don’t want to fall on. They were half-assed attempts. But since no one was around I had to get on it. Had to see what I’m up against.

And now I’m out at Coeur d’Alene lake, enjoying some down days, gearing up for what is probably going to be another Leavy sesh starting Sunday evening. Probably camp there Sunday night. Things are getting hot in Leavenworth. It’s almost full on Gold Bar season, but Monday and Tuesday are looking rainy in Gold Bar. I’ve thought about driving down to Bend, but…is it worth it? Aren’t there a lot of hippies in Bend? Will someone force me to try to surf the river wave? Will I be handcuffed outside on a deck at a micro-brew brewery forced to drink Pale Ales? Will people make me wear Carhartts? Better to just go back to Leavenworth.

What boulders do I want to try next time I’m there?

The Rib V4

Sunny and Steep V2

The Real Thing V4

And any other V1 to V3 that looks fun.

But for now it’s time to enjoy the lake. Get some sun. Try not to get too fat before Sunday. No guarantees, though.

 

I Heart Wenatchee | R2V4 #3

Ahhhhhhhhhhh just waking up. Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes. What a beautiful day in……WENATCHEE????

That’s right friends: I’m in Wenatchee. Aka Nuevo México aka La Colonia Moctezuma aka Metro Insurgentes aka oye ‘mano vente pa’ acá por dónde has andado????

I love Wenatchee. Why do I love Wenatchee? Because it’s not Leavenworth. Why do I not love Leavenworth? Because it’s touristy. Simple as that. I mean, I like BOULDERING in Leavenworth, I get excited when I GET to Leavenworth. When I say, “I’m going to Leavenworth” I’m generally stoked out of my cranium, but I don’t like HANGING OUT in Leavenworth. I would rather hang out in Wenatchee.

But like, Mark, why would you get a hotel in Wenatchee? Why wouldn’t you just camp in Leavenworth.

Because I camp every other day of my life. I live on a 27-foot boat. Aka camping. Aka the opportunity to sleep in a real bed is just too much for me to pass up.

Anyway, here I am in Wenatchee. It’s my third to last day of work. I’m drinking a Guayaki 15 calorie and about to pack up and head into Leavenworth to work the rest of the day from the parking lot before going bouldering at 12pm when I get off. Yesterday’s bouldering session was GLORIOUS. Why was it glorious? Because I sent my second ever non-slab V2, because I sent a V0+ very easily and a V1+ fairly easily, and because it was just good to get out and rough up my fingers a bit on the rock. The V2 in question was Machine Gun Funk, one of Leavenworth’s best, and requires a big move from jug up to an incut crimp ledge. Then, if you have good technique, you maneuver your feet to support yourself so that getting your right hand up is fairly easy (since your left hand is starting to strain at this point). But since I have TERRIBLE technique, I basically just muscled my way through. Like, I saw a guy with a bunch of tats do it and he made it look so easy. I made it look like a cow going into labor. Aka not easy.

The weather was nice Leavenworth, a little humid feeling but cool and windy. Today should be similar. Another great thing about yesterday was exploring a new area. I had never bouldered on the Machine Gun boulder, named so for all the climbs right next to each other that you can knock down as if with a machine gun (apparently). Today I think I will explore another new area, possibly The Carnival Boulders, possibly The Pretty Boulders. Possibly both. Possibly neither. Possibly just….stay in Wenatchee?

Oye, Marquitos!

Ups? | R2V4 #2

R2V4 is so far NOT having the gangbusters start that R2V3 did. This is because, well, bouldering progress is not always linear. I found that out the fun way yesterday. My sister’s dog and I went on a mission to find the Devil’s Club Forest Boulders in the East Miller River Valley (EMRV), and were stymied, partly because Ginger is not the talus crawler she once was, and partly because I…forgot the guidebook. Yes, you read that correctly. I committed an egregious mental gaffe. I picked up the guidebook, thinking, Gee, can’t forget THIS, and then promptly forgot it.

Blast.

It’s drizzling today — MISTING — and I have a snus in because ostensibly it will make me think better. What am I thinking about? Not bouldering V4. I’m actually thinking about — and this is quite specific — the following: whether or not there are anchorages near the city of Squamish, BC. So I guess I’m SORT OF thinking about bouldering. Indirectly. Because obviously Squamish is one of the best towns for bouldering in the world, and I would be going there because I want to boulder, and also because I’m ruminating on a pretty big sailing trip starting this fall, and Squamish would be a rad first destination to boulder and chill and maybe meet the love of my life.

Yesterday was actually a massive step back in bouldering. I couldn’t even get to the lip on Zelda Dyno V4, I couldn’t even come remotely close to starting two different V5’s (Miller Lite of the EMRV and Face Crack of the Zelda Boulders), the only thing I really climbed was the V0 or V1 arrete next to Zelda Dyno, and I just felt…generally…weak. I felt slow. I felt fat. I felt sluggish. I felt becalmed. I felt lethargic. This COULD have been because I hadn’t eaten anything all day, and because my diet the day before was awful. But I think it’s actually just my first mini plateau. There are going to be plateaus on the illustrious, yellow-bricked, gold-paved, like-approaching-the-mythical-city of-Tenochtitlan, Road to V7. Some plateaus will last longer than others. Some plateaus will be mental, some will be because you just don’t feel like climbing that much, and some will be because instead of eating healthy you’re microwaving mini-pizzas (!) and drinking non-alcoholic beer.

But, like, I also gotta live my life.

Aka as of not this Monday but the next I will be unemployed. Funemployed? You know when people make jokes that are KIND of funny but you’ve heard them so many times they more suggest a simple mind? Funemployed is kind of like that. Beware anyone who says “funemployed.” They could be a sadist.

The V4’s that are most likely to go first, hopefully sometime in the next few weeks? Month?:

Fridge Center V4

Zelda Dyno V4

Toto V4

The Real Thing V4

Serenity Now V4

God, please let me climb one of these soon. The thing is: I am patently NOT a V4 climber. I am not a V3 climber. I am not a V2 climber. I’m like a V1 climber. On a good day. On a terrible day I’m probably more like a V0 climber. V-basic climber? No, I’m a little better than that. I’m still not a crimp master. I still struggle with slopers. My foot placement is terrible. Sit starts make me want to throw a tantrum. There are so many ways I could improve my climbing. But, and here’s the thing, and this time it’s an unavoidable thing, the kind of thing that can’t be avoided, the kind of thing that, some might say, is “essential”: It takes time. It takes a lot of climbing. It takes paying your dues, even though — and let me be 14,000% clear about this — paying your dues does not have to be unfun. Paying your dues is the awesome part. Sitting at the bottom of a boulder, looking up at it, looking up at the sky, thinking, How am I going to climb this? And then one day you do climb it. And it’s glorious. Ups? Downs? Paying dues? It’s all part of the process, I suppose.

 

Ups and Downs | R2V4 #1

Look at it. Look how it glistens in the sun. Look at how much cooler the “4” looks at the end of R2V4 than the “3” looked at the end of R2V3. Yes, friends, we have moved onto a new chapter: V4.

Of course, this isn’t the only bouldering milestone I look forward to in the near future, nor even the only milestone I look forward to grade-wise. I’ve still only climbed ONE V3 outside at this point. I’ve only climbed ONE V2 that wasn’t a slab. So there are tons more grade milestones to achieve that don’t even involve climbing V4. Flash V2, for instance. Climb a bunch more V3’s. Flash a V3. Flash a V16. Move to Finland. Get a tattoo of a spider on my abdomen. Get a tattoo of an eye…on my neck. Get a horrible almost bowl cut mushroom thing. Get ripped as fuck. Start sport climbing. Wait a minute, no on that last one. Never start sport climbing. Sport climbing is lame.

Why is sport climbing lame? Because you have a rope…

Why is bouldering rad? Because you don’t have a rope…

I mean, that’s pretty much it, isn’t it? Sure sport climbing is probably thrilling. But, like, you’re strapped into a harness. That goes around your upper inner thighs and fits all snug. Probably causes your boxers to roll up. And then you have bolts drilled into the rock? Um, cool, that sounds totally natural. Let’s go up on that beautiful granite face and just start drilling shit into it. Awesome. Good idea. Sport climbing is totally rad.

Anyway. I actually did go climbing today. Sort of. I took my sister’s dog up to the boulders, and I tried the sit start on a V3 for like a half hour, sort of learned how to do the first move — maybe? — and then went to Serenity Now V4 where I definitely made some advances. I was able to get my left fingers into the little slot thing and actually hold the position, just hold it there, and prepare to move my right hand somewhere to stabilize myself so I could stand up. After that you’re ESSENTIALLY at the top, except that the top is still (or at least feels) several hundred yards away. What a beautiful dihedral though, right? Have you ever seen a more perfect dihedral?

Dihedral?

I would like to go climbing tomorrow. I would like to go WITH someone. This will not happen. Unfortunately.

What’s happening right now? I’m drinking black tea. And thinking about bouldering. And also thinking about not bouldering. I’m also thinking about taking my sister’s dog for a walk. And about watching Border Town. Honestly I probably won’t go outdoor, real bouldering again until Sunday evening at the earliest. Which is a bit of a bummer. But in the grand scheme of things matters not a whit.

Not a whit.