Hella Sardines | R2V4 #18

Hella sardines.

I did something deviant yesterday. I bought a ticket to…..MEXICO????? ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? ARE YOU GOING TO MEXICO, BRO???? YOU’RE NOT GOING TO MEXICO….

But yes, I’m going to Mexico. On August 15th. A day before my birthday. For 11 days. And everyone’s invited. Slash no one’s invited. Slash Barold might come but that’s about it. There’s a good chance I’ll be alone on my 37th birthday, though I hope I’m not ACTUALLY alone, i.e. I meet people in San Pancho, where I hope to stay.

You’re not God, dude…

Now, before everyone starts going insane and shaming me for traveling during a pandemic, at least do your research.

A couple points:

1) Alaska Airlines is taking HELLA precautions to make sure flying is safe. With their HEPA filters their air quality is comparable to what’s found in hospitals. Masks are, obviously, mandatory. You must sign a health agreement before flying. The list goes on.

2) I’m not going to Puerto Vallarta to club, guys (well, I’m not really going to Puerto Vallarta anyway but the surrounding areas). I’m not going to stand in enclosed spaces around a bunch of other people. In fact, other than in my hotel room, I don’t plan on ever being inside, ever. And I’m not going to be around a bunch of people because I don’t KNOW a bunch of people there. I know less than I do here. So I’ll mostly be on my own. Surfing, on my own, and driving around. Which is actually kinda sad. And kinda awesome.

3) I plan on getting tested when I get back. If It’s free, I’m going to do everything I can to get tested when I get back so I can put those around me at ease. And I will definitely not hang around my parents until I either a) get the results of the test or b) a suitable amount of time has passed.

Why on earth am I justifying myself to you?

Maybe I’ll delete that. Or maybe I’ll just leave it.

I’m doing a bit of the quote unquote INTERMITTENT FASTING today, aka I ate my last food at 10pm last night which means today I’m not allowed to eat till 2pm. I bought HELLA SARDINES yesterday when I was at Safeway, aka hella smoked fish and shellfish, aka smoked baby clams, smoked scallops, LIGHTLY smoked sardines, and smoked oysters. They were all on clearance for some reason, which I patently don’t understand considering 98% of people go to Safeway to buy little tins of smoked seafood.

I MIGHT climb tomorrow, because I’m probably not climbing on Thursday, and Friday Dan and I leave on our backpacking trip to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Who knows. I gotta say, I am a bit hungry right now. Two and a half hours till I can eat. What am I gonna have. Chipotle? Hella sardines? A salad from Evergreens? I mean, I gotta have something KINDA healthy. Like, I can’t break my fast with pizza. Not that that’s even THAT unhealthy. But I mean the whole reason I’m doing this is to get healthier. Get leaner. Improve healing. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc.

OK, I think that’s everything. There’s almost literally nothing I could tell you that would be novel. Update on the state of my fingers: They’re doing fucking great. Update on my shoulder: Slow going but slowly healing. Update on the state of my mind: Fasting is fucking awesome.

 

Rolling in the Deep (aka Dirt) | R@V$ #17

Don’t have much to report today. Sitting in my boat. Woke up at 7:58am. Cloudy outside today. Drinking my matcha bacopa lion’s mane organic “Brain Booster.” Waiting for the Chelsea v. Arsenal game which starts at 9:30am and…..blogging.

Blogging hard.

Real hard.

Does anyone blog anymore?

So remember how I was “injured” and I was going to have to, like, “stop climbing” or “take a break?” Yeah, fuck that. I think I’m just gonna keep going. Yesterday I climbed at the gym with Barold and didn’t push it hard and made sure to take my time getting ready and warming up and didn’t try anything crimpy and, most importantly, DIDN’T TRY TO SHOW OFF (99% of the time I hurt myself it’s either “showing off” or doing something differently because I know or think someone is watching which is fucking ridiculous), and I had a wonderful session. Such a good time. Flashed a really fun purple. FLASHED A BLUE, which I’d never done before, and granted it was EXACTLY my style, aka stemmy, aka leggy, aka I guarantee some people who have never climbed before in their lives could flash it, but still, I was elated. Also granted I got the beta, or the start of the beta, from some RANDOM HERO who I watched try the boulder a couple times, so it was a flash, not on sight, but still. And ALSO, Barold for the win because when I was stuck on the “crux” Barold said, “Why don’t you put both feet on there?” there being a huge Dr. Seuss hold elephant nose thing and he ACTUALLY meant put both my feet on the volume but I thought he meant put both feet on the hold so that’s what I did and then I was able to just crouch down and lift up both hands to place them on the finishing hold.

AMAZING!!!!!!!

Amazing.

Amazing?

Yesterday was actually pretty wonderful. After climbing Barold and I WASHED OFF THE FUCKING SUBARU. It was so fucking disgusting. It had bird shit all over it. I hadn’t washed it in literally several months, and because I essentially live in the wild aka a marine environment there was bird shit all over it and it looked like an anchor that’s been sitting on the bottom of the ocean gathering barnacles and waiting for a its chance to star in a Johnny Depp movie. Barold used the pressure washer while I used the brush. Months and months and months and months and fucking months of grime just dripping off. So satisfying. ESPECIALLY SATISFYING BECAUSE I have a date on Sunday and I kind of need to impress, though impress and ’97 Subaru have never been used in the same sentence before, except MAYBE one time in 1997 (and probably not even then). That being said, and I know this is a tangent, I fucking love that car. I love being able to sleep in it. I love that it has four wheel drive. And I love that it’s not a fucking Prius or some stupid car people buy who pretend to care about the environment even though THE NEW FUCKING CAR THEY BOUGHT is just another thing brought into the world, and required strip-mining to manufacture it. And then those same stupid people produce way more emissions in just about every other way, flying all over the place, consuming consuming consuming, consuming more than they need. Living in a house way bigger than they need. Filling their huge-ass recycling bin with plastic every two days, BUT OH, IT’S OK BECAUSE WE’RE RECYCLING. Um, actually it’s not ok. You’re wrecking the planet. Like, wrecking it. Like, stop consuming so much.

An.

Y.

Way.

I’ll chill now.

(I blog).

So yeah, climbed yesterday, and going climbing tonight with another friend, this time out in Gold Bar, and literally my only goal is to send Warm-Up Slab V0 as smoothly and as “fun-ly” as possible and get it on camera, and also send Regatta de Blanc V0 from as LOW A START AS POSSIBLE, aka no pad, aka lying on the dirt, aka rolling in the deep, aka Adele, aka weight loss. AND MAYBE, MAYBE I’ll try a new problem. Like maybe I’ll go look at Fern Crack V3 and if if doesn’t look too crimpy for the right hand I’ll jump on it. But we’ll see. Or maybe I’ll try to send some other random V0’s.

That is all for now. Twenty eight minutes until this soccer game starts. Time to maybe meditate for a second and maybe do some stretching.

It’s AUGUST!!!!

Hellfire Burns (and Climbing Everyday) | R2V4 #16

If someone had a gun to my head today and said, “Send V4 or I’m gonna pull the trigger,” what would I do? Honestly, I don’t know if I would get in my car right now and go right to Serenity Now V4. I don’t know if that has the best sending potential. I DEFINITELY wouldn’t go to Zelda Dyno V4, since you gotta be able to rag on some decently small crimps for that one, and I don’t want to do that right now. I’d need something that I sort of have the beta on, and that’s sort of my style. Maybe The Enigma V4, at the River Boulders? Maybe Dropping the Chicken V4 up at the Devil’s Club Forest Boulders, though last time I wasn’t really even coming close to getting the first move? Maybe Fridge Center V4, though the high today in Leavenworth is supposed to be…..dear jesus…104?

Anyway, just some fun morning thoughts. I guess in the end I would realistically drive straight to Serenity Now V4, mess around on the slab a bit, maybe climb up the downclimb to warm up, and then give it a few balls-to-the-wall burns.  Like, hellfire burns. Like, scream burns. Like, pretend-you-don’t-have-a-pad burns. Like, actually take your pad away to make falling less of an option? burns. Or something like that. The question is, would the dude (I’m assuming it’s a dude) with the gun ride shotgun with me to the boulder, holding the gun to my head the whole way? Would he drive his own car? Would that car be something vaguely pathetic, like a newish Mustang? Would he be the kind of guy who wears a leather coat? And why would he care so much about me sending V4? Why wouldn’t he want to just support my progression as a climber? Or maybe he WOULD be supporting my progression as a boulderer, just in ways beyond my comprehension.

Is this the lion’s mane talking?

For the time being I’m going to do one of two things: Not write posts for awhile, until I can start climbing again. OR, ALTERNATIVELY, write posts every damn day. Because since I’m not working right now I have more time to write, and I kind of like starting the morning in this way. I get up, I prepare myself a cup of matcha bacopa lion’s mane sludge, and I pull out the laptop. I think about bouldering even if I’m not really trying to. I think about going climbing that day even though I definitely shouldn’t. Or maybe I should climb everyday. Maybe I should legitimately figure out a way to basically be climbing everyday. Like, put myself on a schedule where I’m climbing two days on, one day off, and it doesn’t matter how hard I send, it doesn’t matter how long I climb or what I climb, I just have to get out there. Though that’s a lot of driving. And I JUST froze my gym membership. Not that I really feel like climbing in a gym right now anyway. But if I DID do that, and my body were to adjust, then I’d get really damn strong, really damn quick. I’d be sending a message to my body that says, “Hey, dickweed, we’re going to be doing this (almost) everyday. So get used to it. Maybe help me out with those tendon flexors a bit? Thanks.” But instead the message I’m sending to my body right now is, “Ohhhh, are you hurt? Are you feeling bad? I’m so sorry. Take a week off. Take two. Wouldn’t want to overdo it….”

No, the answer is: overdo it. Be a gladiator. Be a warrior. Send V4.

Bogged Down in the Mire | R2V-enlightentment

Yours truly preparing for lift-off on Hueco Man V0, one of two V0’s in the Western Washington Bouldering guidebook’s Top 100. Pictures of Barold crushing to come.

I may have to take a break from bouldering. Yes, you read that correctly. Yes, I’m still planning on bouldering tomorrow (see: hiking), and yes, this is something that would injure me to my very soul (and not just my finger pulleys). The thing is: My right hand is dying. It feels kinda dead. Yesterday I was trying to crank the first move on Mr. Smooth V7 (Aka River Arete Aka V-Bizarre), and I felt something in my right index finger just kinda…pull. Like a pully? Did I fuck up my pulley?

Maybe.

And so Barold and I stopped bouldering. Not so much actually because I had possibly just injured myself, but because it was getting hot as balls at the Skykomish River Boulders and we were kind of over the whole scene, aka we had both sent Hueco Man V0, which involves a fun, frictiony first move and a rather unsettling top out, and we’d also sent an Unknown V1 that was super fun, and we’d also made significant progress on an Unknown V3 that really needs to be named because it’s a tremendous problem (is it a tremendous problem?), involving a beautiful sloping ledge and a kind of mantle/lock off thing to a gaston just below the lip that brought us unexpected amounts of joy despite our lack of sendage.

And then we went back up to the van, which was, kind of, sort of, completely, stuck. Like, the right rear wheel was just spinning. And we couldn’t move forward because a tree was blocking us. So what did we do? We smoked a rollie and chilled. And then what did we do? Well, I started stressing slightly because I had an engagement later that evening at 7:30pm at an historic Volunteer Park, and I was a bit concerned I was gonna miss that. I also started stressing a bit because I figured we might have to call Bubba’s Towing Service (name approximate) and that he would charge us an arm and a clavicle to yank the Sprinter out of the mire. I was also worried that I might use the word “mire” and that Bubba might think I was calling him a name and try to get physical (in which case I could surely outrun him).

But none of this happened. Because we did the best thing you can EVER DO WHEN CONFRONTING A DIFFICULT DECISION (caps Bubba’s):

We took a walk.

Yes, friends, it was a beautiful summer’s day, and Barold and I took a summer stroll through the forest toward Index, where Barold flagged down a passing and cyclist and demanded, “What ho, are you a local(e)?”

To which the local replied: “Yes. Why do you ask?”

To which I responded: “Kind sir, our chariot has become bogged down in the mire. We try to reverse but one of the wheels (aspirated “h”) just spins. Might you have a shovel?”

To which he responded: “Dude, hell yes I have a shovel. Let me just grab it for you real quick.”

Which he did.

Also on the walk to get the shovel, an idea occurred to Barold: Why don’t we jack up the offending tyre, put a bunch of rocks under it, no, essentially build a MOTHERF@!KING ROAD under it, and then let the tyre down and try to reverse then. Because you see the problem was that the tyre wasn’t able to gain purchase on anything, since the car was (mildly) high-centred. And so we were pretty confident that using the jack technique, and also shoveling the dirt out from behind the right front wheel (another quagmire altogether), we would be successful.

Back at the vehicle, Barold went to work jacking and I went to work shoveling. I was a modern-day laborer, getting by by the sweat of my back. I took the mound behind the front right tire and quickly reduced it to a….smaller mound. Meanwhile, Barold built what was essentially a cobblestone I-90 under the rear right tire, and we were able to give it a go. And guess what? It worked (though actually on the second attempt).

Fist bumps and even a high five abounded. The day was successful, in a type 2 sort of way.

But back to my “injury.” I believe my injury is at least partly mental, though I do believe my body is screaming for an extended break. Which is why, friends, after tomorrow’s hiking and very moderate sesh (I’ll maybe climb the Warm-Up Slab just for fun), I plan to take a week-plus off from bouldering. Yes, again you have a read correctly. A week plus. I need to start healing. I need to get back to where I was, both physically and mentally, before I went off the rails a couple weeks ago and overdid it and derailed myself both physically and mentally. I need to get my brain and body out of the mire.

Purity | R2V∞

I feel like some of the purity from my “early” bouldering days has been lost. I’m not sure why this is. I feel like the golden days of my bouldering were a couple months ago when I was making rapid progression, gaining muscle and finger strength, bolstering my head game outside, and making little trips to Gold Bar and Leavenworth whenever I could that were all the more special because I couldn’t do them that often.

Fast forward to now, when I could literally boulder every day if my body permitted it (which is of course exactly what happened the week before last). I’ve hit a sort of plateau at about V2 despite still constantly watching bouldering videos on YouTube, constantly thinking about bouldering, and still climbing quite a bit. Honestly, the best thing I could probably do for myself would be do take two weeks off. And I’ll do something similar to that soon if my right hand doesn’t figure itself out. If I continue to have finger problems on a my right hand over the next couple weeks, I’ll get out of dodge, maybe sail up to the San Juans, maybe fly down to Mexico, and take some time off. After all, bouldering is supposed to be like piano for me. Pure, only for myself. When I start stressing about grades or whether or not I’m making progress, when I start getting injured and trying to push through those injuries, some of that purity is sacrificed.

But I also think of it this way: This was bound to happen. I couldn’t continue my meteoric progression. At the rate I was going, easily from V0 to V1 to V2 and then getting a couple V3’s and starting to project V4’s it looked like bouldering V7 by the end of the summer was entirely possible, if not reasonable. But this isn’t how it works. Especially when you’re almost 37 and you’ve been bouldering for last than a year. You’re going to push it too hard. You’re going to get injured. And if you do it from an egoic place in which the only thing that matters is proving something or doing a certain grade, you’re fucked. I need to go back to Fountainblues V0 in Leavenworth and just do it over and over, savoring the slopers. I need to get back to the micro side of bouldering, the way a hold feels when you grab it. Giving each hold the love and attention it deserves, not just focusing on sends or progression. And I also have to think of it this way. I was going to have to deal with setbacks eventually, better to do it now and figure out what I’m made of. Figure out how badly I want this. Figure out if I’m capable of continuing “pure” bouldering, bouldering just for myself, for no one else, and not because it means anything, but rather expressly because it doesn’t.  Realize that the Road to V7 is not actually a road, and the destination is not actually V7. The road is actually an entire universe of valleys and forests and rivers and lakes, meadows, pitfalls, rain, sunshine, clouds. And the destination is not actually V7 but rather the feeling of my fingers touching granite, the feeling of moving perfectly from one hold to the next, the feeling of, just for an instant, my brain turning off. I haven’t forgotten what the purity is, even if I’ve momentarily lost touch with it.

First Sesh at the Sasquatch Boulders??? | R2Vi don’t even care anymore

First off, an injury update: Elbow? Doing freaking great. Shoulder? Not terrible. I was PRETTY worried about it yesterday, but it weathered the rather mild sesh and should be ready to party on Wednesday when Barold and I head back to the mountains. Middle finger on right hand? Ugh. Not doing great. In fact the first three fingers on my right hand aren’t doing great. I may have to start just using my thumb and pinky. 

And now, without further ado, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boyz and Gurlz, the SASQUATCH BOULDERS:

OK, OK, so these aren’t the Sasquatch Boulders. In fact, that’s me standing there with my crash pad and waterproof backpack on, getting ready to ford the north fork of the Skykomish River AFTER a sending spree at the Sasquatch Boulders. And by “sending spree” I mean a bunch of V0’s and one V1. And one V2 that should definitely be a V1 (Cougar Crack).

Speaking of sending sprees, here’s me on Giraffe V1. Look at that sidepull. Look at that calf flexion. Look at the moss covering everything but the holds. Barold and I both flashed this problem before heading to Goosebumps V2, which neither of us sent but both got kinda close on. It required a high left foot and trusting a small chip which in retrospect was actually really good, but I’m still learning how to trust small holds on slab, and still learning how the more you weight a chip on a slab the more secure it actually becomes. But more weight also equals scarier when your foot pops off. But LESS weight = your foot is definitely popping off. Anyway.

After Goosebumps we headed to Cougar Crack V2, both flashed it with minimal difficulty and then tried to figure out how anyone could ever think it’s V2. It reminded me a bit of Clef Crack V0 in Gold Bar, though Clef Crack is significantly harder. But maybe I’m missing something here. Maybe it was just a style of climbing that suited us perfectly. Or maybe we’re just bad at every other kind of V2.

Our last stop of the day was Where the Wild Things Go V2, located in the heart of the Sasquatch Boulders near such classics as Mr. Hollow Head V4 and around the corner from The Network V5. I hadn’t wanted to try WTWTG initially because it didn’t look that fun and also looked like it might hurt my shoulder. But it was fun as f$%k. It was great. IT was the first “roof climb” that either of use had ever done outdoors (even though it’s more of a traverse). Lots of heelhooking. Barold even threw in a DOUBLE heel hook. And though again we didn’t send this boulder either we could basically do all of the moves and just need to go back and link them together.

When we DO go back, I want to try the following: Mr. Hollow Head V4, Hollow Head Arete V5, Sun Sail V3, send Goosebumps V2, and maybe even get weird on something like Solaris V6.

Right now, though, I’m still focused on recovery more than anything. And braving the 90 degree Seattle heat. And drinking lots of matcha.

Bonus video:

 

Getting Healthy Again | R2V4 #12

“Due to a lack of gadgetry, the act of bouldering is climbing movement in its most refined state.” – John Gill in Stone Crusade: A Historical Guide to Bouldering in America by John Sherman

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A DOCTOR OR MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. The following are techniques I have experimented/am experimenting with. Consult a medical professional before following the advice in this blog post.

When it comes to bouldering, I have been a LOT more proactive about my injuries than with other sports. Injury #1: Medial epicondylitis, aka Golfer’s Elbow, aka pain on the outside of your elbow that got so bad a few times I climbed that my arm felt dead for up to an hour after climbing. Recipe? Stop climbing for so long, self-massage, and, the most important, ECCENTRIC-EFFING-STRENGTHENING. Eccentric strengthening (in my experience) is the best thing you can do for any overuse injury, and I’ve had a lot of overuse injuries. Self massage is also good. Rest is good but if you rest forever and just go back to doing the same thing, you will re-injure it. So you also have to learn for techniques to participate in your sport without injuring yourself.

My latest malady, aka the one I’m dealing with right now, is (I’m pretty sure) an aggravation of the teres minor, a narrow shoulder muscle that makes up part of the rotator cuff. I’ve aggravated this muscle by the constant reaching required for climbing, and not reaching correctly, aka not activating my shoulders properly. And now I’m paying the ultimate price, uncertain about my climbing future for the coming weeks and months and, most importantly, uncertain whether I’ll be able to go climbing this Sunday.

But! Knowledge is power. And after scouring the internet and YouTube I’ve found TWO YouTube videos that I think are going to be the key to overcoming this injury, coupled of course with REST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (no more back to back days until I get this shit figured out. In fact, a MINIMUM of two rest days between all climbing sessions and never pushing it once I start to feel pain):

1)

As you can see, this first video is about the subscapularis release for shoulder pain. Is the subscapularis my problem? Not really sure, but whatever tender muscle I’m touching when I do this, it feels painful but great at the same time. Self-massage is real. Self-massage using a natural ant-inflammatory ointment is even realer. Come to think of it, anything with an ointment (or a balm) is about as real as it gets.

2)

It’s HARD AF to find videos on the internet with eccentric exercises for the teres minor. Why? Because most of the clowns on the internet have eccentric motion in their videos, but also concentric motion too! In my experience, if you have an overuse injury THE LAST THING YOU WANT TO DO IS MORE UNNECESSARY, CONCENTRIC MOTION. In case you’re wondering what eccentric vs concentric means here’s a perfect example: When you do a push-up, the part where you’re pushing yourself UP is the concentric motion. The part where you’re lowering yourself DOWN is the eccentric motion. With eccentric strengthening the only thing you want to do (according to the experts I’ve read) is the eccentric motion. So when doing a pushup you would use your knees and elbows or whatever you want to get back to the starting position after slowly lowering yourself down, and then lower yourself down again. And unfortunately, almost all of the videos I found on YouTube that claimed to be eccentric strengthening for the rotator cuff or teres minor ALSO INCLUDE THE CONCENTRIC MOTION. Are these people insane? Except, of course, for the video above, which only focuses on the eccentric motion. Brilliant. I’m going to try it right now. Report to come soon.

I had WAY too much caffeine today. Like, way too much. But now I’ve had a nap and feel more or less normal again. I’m going to try these exercises out, do a little more self-massage and then maybe go out grocery shopping/for yet another walk. Maybe I’ll even meditate. Maybe I’ll go to Trader Joe’s and get snacks and veg the night away. Because that’s therapy, too.

– Wetz

How to Not Boulder | R2V4 #11

What if I told the most important thing about bouldering was….not bouldering?

What if I told you that?

What if I came to your house in the middle of the night, broke in, started preparing a bowl of cereal with milk in your kitchen and then, when you came down, irate and holding a firearm, I told you, “Hear me, Grasshopper: The way to crushing V10 is to…not climb at all.”

Because this is exactly what I’ve learned ever since I “quit” my job just over two weeks ago. That if you want to crush, if you want to send gnarly blocs, if you want to mangle overhanging walls with tiny crimpy pseudo-holds, what you really need to do is train properly. And, as my new Czech friend Ales explained to me yesterday, thus sparking a sort of apostrophe (see: Hook) on my part, “Rest is an important part of training.”

I think the reason it resonated with me so much is because he employed the word “training.” I like the idea of training, because I like the idea of being an athlete. I’m an athlete. I’m a 36-year-old man-athlete. I have a low resting heart-rate. I’ve done long bike rides and walked across countries. I’ve played just about every sport there is. But now it’s time to start treating myself like an athlete. Eating properly. Training properly. Bouldering properly. Sending properly. RESTING PROPERLY.

Because yesterday I sent nothing at all.

Nothing new, at least.

Last week I climbed 6 OUT OF 7 DAYS, and it almost destroyed me. My shoulder began to fail. About half the knuckles on my hands started to fail. I was literally (figuratively) falling apart. I was not making progress. I was making reverse progress, and not in a good way (though actually totally in a good way because progress can NEVER be in reverse if you have the right attitude. Because what has all this REVERSE PROGRESS DONE? WHAT HAS IT DONE? It’s led me to this amazing realization that if I want to get stronger and send harder that I need to incorporate forced rest days into my training routine. There, I said it: training routine. There, I said it again: training routine. And one last time, I said it again: metacarpophalangeal).

So yeah, I don’t even really want to talk about yesterday’s sesh too much. Ales and I walked up to the clearcut boulders, he sent Cabin Stabbin’ V4 after a few tries. I couldn’t even get close. We walked up to Summer Solstice V3. He flashed it. I barely made progress at all. We went to Bricklayer V2 and I shit my pants at the bottom and didn’t even try it. We went to Midnight Lichen V4, which he flashed, I SORT OF made a tiny bit of progress on, and then he projected Stinkin’ Slopers V5 and eventually sent it in amazing fashion (one of those slopers on that boulder is built out of marshmallows and probably tastes like it. If you’ve been there you know which one I’m talking about).

So today is a FORCED REST DAY. I mean, not stagnation. Just not climbing. Plenty of other stuff.

Which reminds me: I need to go buy some mate…..

Metacarpophalangeal | R2V4 #10

Waking up on the boat drinking mate. Isn’t that pretty much exactly how I started the last post? I feel a bit like I’m in some sort of purgatory waiting for the next climbing session, but like I’m also TERRIFIED for the next climbing session because of the state of my fingers, see: finger. The swelling has finally gone down in my hands to where I pretty much wake up with no swelling, except that I still can’t close the middle finger on my right hand and there is definite pain in the MCP (metacarpophalangeal) joint, aka the joint closest to the finger tip. This is distressing. Is it a stress fracture? Partial tendon or ligament tear? Micro tears? Strain? I obviously have no idea. All I know is that there is pain. One thing that is GREAT is that now I’ve at least figured out where the pain is, since I’d previously thought the pain was actually in my index finger. Which caused me to leave my index finger out every time I had to crimp, locking off my MIDDLE finger a la Tommy Caldwell, and this is probably what actually led to the injury in the first place. I thought my index finger was messed up, so I start using my middle finger instead. And now my middle is effed. And I’m not sure what to do. I’m not going to STOP climbing. That would just be ridiculous. I have to figure out ways to still climb and let this heal while still pushing down the illustrious, silky, Mesopotamian, mate-laden, ROAD TO V7.

The most distressing thing is that I’m legit kinda scared to go climbing tomorrow. Scared of the pain, scared of hurting myself even more, and also scared of getting up there and not being able to send at all because one tiny little joint on ONE of my fingers is messed up. There’s gotta be a way around this. I will find a way around this. The only thing I know for sure is that just NOT CLIMBING would be the worst decision possible (or possibly a great decision).

Plan: rest one more day (today). Do some hanging/core training today, see how it feels (no crimping involved, obviously). Tomorrow, when I climb, do not do a single closed crimp. Not a single one. Not even if I’m about to send V7 and the only thing between me and the lip is a tiny little chip that’s just begging for the tip of my middle finger. Nope. Stay away. No right hand closed crimping. Maybe a half. Certainly open. And try to leave that middle finger out of it. Here’s the deal about bones: they get stronger when they’re put under stress. Unless the stress is too much, in which case they break. I have broken fingers in the past and it wasn’t a big deal. I broke one of my fingers in high school and didn’t even know it until I broke it again. Rest if you HAVE to. Sometimes rest can be the best decision. But if you rest and then go right back to doing the same exact thing that was hurting you, you’ll likely just hurt yourself again. But if you keep going in a MODIFIED way, then you can climb forever, and send V7, and everyone will love you. But if you quit climbing no one will love you.

Should I splint it???

This Road to V4 is dragging on, isn’t it? Maybe tomorrow I’ll just send The Enigma V4 at the Index River Boulders and be DONE WITH IT. Move on to V5! Start projecting Piano Man V5 at the Morpheus Boulders! Or maybe I’ll just send Mr. Smooth V7 tomorrow and be done with it completely! Although I was thinking: Ideally I should send at least three V7’s to really be able to claim the grade. One crimpy V7, one slopery V7, and one wildcard V7. Because sending one V7 might just mean that you found the EXACT boulder suited to your style, and on a perfect day you were able to send. But you still can’t send V5. And you’re an overall V2 climber. Or something.

I feel like I wanna talk about other stuff in my life, not just about bouldering. So what can I talk about? Well, the weather has been gorgeous in Seattle lately. I’ve been swimming everyday. The climbing gym is also open, though this week I haven’t gone at all due to wanting to become un-injured. The blackberries are starting to get ripe. I have coconut meat in my fridge. I’ve been drinking a TON of yerba mate. I’m going backpacking with my friend Dan in August for a few days and also hope to sail up to the San Juan’s at some point.

One thing I would LOVE to do is come up with some sort of detailed plan for the next few months of my life. So I’ll try a rough esquema right here:

1) This week: don’t climb more than twice (once outdoors and once indoors). Try not to get more injured (but also try to send V4).

2) Next week: Try to climb three times (twice outdoors and once indoors)? Continue to be mindful of fingers on right hand.

3) August: Boulder my ass off, go backpacking, go on a sailing trip to the San Juan’s, surf a little bit, eat really really really healthy.

4) Late August early September: Start prepping for the long voyage. Buy dinghy, Garmin InReach, solar setup, and fix the jib.

5) Late September: Leave south.

Something is still lacking. I can’t figure out what it is. Meditation, maybe. Yoga. Quality time with Quality people. I’m not exactly sure what’s lacking, but I plan on figuring it out.

Hella Seaweed | R2V4 #9

Chillin’ on the boat, drinking mate and listening to Polo & Pan. Just got back from Oregon/Westport yesterday and went straight to the climbing gym, where Barold and I projected a couple blacks and blues and sent a couple oranges at Seattle Bouldering Project. I was stoked because I flashed two oranges, which I’d never done before. Now, just to dispel any doubts: from my experience the problems set in the Northwest Room of SBP are not any easier than the problems anywhere else. The black we were trying yesterday felt as hard as any of the blacks anywhere else, i.e. we couldn’t do them but we could sort of get close. I could do a few of the moves on one of the blues, which has been consistent with my experience anywhere else in the gym. Where did this rumor come from that the Northwest Room is somehow easier or for “different body types?” Can someone please not enlighten me?

Now, one thing I’m going to be candid about here because I’ve always been candid with you guys and I feel like that’s the kind of relationship we’ve developed: My right hand feels fucked. Like, it’s sort of become a claw more than a hand. I can’t fully close it. I definitely can’t close the right middle finger. The second joint of my right middle finger is noticeably bigger than the one on the the left. Couple this with the on-point calluses currently on all my fingertips, and it feels a bit like I have “climbing appendages” more than hands. Which is kind of rad.

Also, I have a three-point plan for attacking this latest finger malady: 1) Eat hella seaweed, 2) Use the anti-inflammatory cream I have, 3) switch to open-handed crimps. All of these are easy to do and implemented properly could potentially yield sweeping dividends. Especially the seaweed. There’s something about eating seaweed that just makes you feel kind cool.

The other thing I’m going to do is rest. Sort of. I’m at least not going to climb “today,” aka today, and I might not even climb tomorrow since the high in Gold Bar is in the mid 80’s and the high in Leavenworth is probably in the mid 200’s. But I will have to climb sort of soon. Ideally I would not climb for the next two days, but I know that’s not going to happen. Also, in my experience the following is often true: If your body is acting up from overuse, sometimes the best thing you can do is keep going. Whenever I go on surf trips with my friend El Cazador we always surf at least twice a day and at the beginning my left shoulder is always hanging on by a thread but I just try not to push it TOO hard and my body always ends up adjusting. Like, when stressed, your body adjusts. And movement is almost always a good thing. So with my right hand right now rather than STOP CLIMBING COMPLETELY like a Donald I’m just going to take a few strategic breaks and also modify certain behaviors. Keep sessions short and sweet. Avoid crimping with my right hand when possible, and when not possible employ open-handed crimps. Search out slopers like a bloodhound. Make sure to keep moving even if I’m not climbing. Etc etc?

I feel like I’ve been on the Road to V4 for a long time now. But this is what’s going to happen. I have a FEELING that there we might be a quick jump between V4 and V5, or V5 and V6, but other than that I feel like each V-grade from now on is going to be a bit of a saga unto itself. The Road to V7 is not paved with gold. It’s more paved with swollen fingers and frustration and wondering why your’e not getting better despite the fact that you climb almost everyday. But you are getting better. You just don’t realize it. Yesterday for instance I did something I’ve seen people do in videos that I’d never done. I threw a heel hook on a hold where my hand already was so I could then move my hand. So sick. This is the kind of movement that you only learn by watching people way better than you, and it made the climb so much easier, and just made me feel really cool.

Also: the new pic from the homepage is from Cannon Beach, where Barold and I hit up a bloc we found on Mountain Project. The line in question is a V3 called Spare Change we weren’t able to send but should go next time we’re back with a pad and better beta. Sick line and thanks to whoever put it up. We started on the right, shelf-like undercling rather than the smaller one on the face. No idea if that was “right” but it was definitely more fun and allowed for more climbing.

Now it’s time to watch Chelsea play in the FA Cup, aka Christian Pulisic, aka Cha Boi!