Zelda Rails Right V5 (a video minus the first two moves)

Hi friends,

Here’s a video of me sending Zelda Rails Right the other day, minus the first two moves. Since it’s missing the first two moves I’m not gonna post it on YouTube but did want to post it here for all the faithful Where’s Wetzler viewers. It was a momentous day and I hope there are many more V5’s and V6’s and beyond to come.

– Wetzler

Thanks to Matt for the vid:

Road to V5 #3: The Last Chapter

Friends, I feel a bit strange today. I’m not sure what it is. It might be the two days of intense physical exertion I just had, or the pound of french fries I had after yesterday’s physical exertion. Either way, I feel out of it.

But anywayyyyyyyyy, I sent V5 outside the other day.

Here’s what happened:

My friend Matt and I went to the Zelda Boulders, hoping they’d be dry. The entire Skykomish Valley was socked in but JUST before we got to Index things cleared up, and Index was gloriously sunny. Right after we parked another car pulled up, driven by a guy named Jeff who was stoked and talked to us and turned out to be a crusher. We all hiked up to the boulders together, me carrying a big pad and a little pad, the most paddage I’ve ever had on my back. There’s no better way to warm up than hauling a bunch of shit on your back up a hill.

After warming up on Open Book Corner and Roof Crack, Matt made quick work of Zelda Rails V4, using the out left beta. He wasn’t super stoked on the problem. Basically moving out left quickly kind of ruins the problem, and it also makes NOT moving out left more contrived. I gave Zelda Rails one decent burn, but then we started focusing on right variation. Matt started getting close, and that inspired Jeff to put his climbing shoes on, and he pretty quickly figured out the absolute perfect beta for it and sent it easily. After he’d done so, Matt did it, too. Or maybe Matt did it first. Honestly I don’t really remember. Either way, having Jeff and Matt figure out the perfect beta, and then making some micro adjustments for it to suit me better, was huge. After trying starting with a heel up for the first move, I went back to a toe, and then finally settled on sort of a side toe scum, which proved to be best.

On one of the attempts it felt so solid, but I made a half-assed effort at the final lunge and scraped a bunch of skin off my right hand on the way down. Then it seemed like I was making negative progress, and I wanted to give up, not only because I was making negative progress but because I was in that red zone where you’re pushing things and tired and can easily get injured. But then Matt explained that sometimes you made negative progress and that doesn’t GUARANTEE you won’t make forward progress again. And then Jeff came back, and basically told me to just sit down and do it. So that’s what I did, without a ton of rest since the previous attempt. They were talking me through the entire thing, basically rooting me on and reassuring me, and it definitely helped that Jeff said, “Just look at it and go,” right before I lunged for the lip. I wasn’t really paying attention to him, but his words definitely spurred me on. And I latched the lip and that was it.

And here’s where the BEST part comes in. After sending the problem I thought I’d just sent a really cool V4 (the movement on this thing is incredible and also a new V4 would still be huge for me). But THEN, on the drive back, Matt checked Mountain Project, where it’s listed as a V5, and somehow it’s also listed as a V5 on Sendage. Honestly, I don’t really see it. It’s definitely not harder than Zelda Rails V4, but whatever, I will absolutely take it. Your first of any grade is probably going to be soft, anyway, and upon finding out I’d just sent V5 I was elated. More than anything, it was just one of the boulders with the most satisfying movement of any I’ve sent. It’s got a slight overhang, compression, slopers, heel hooks and crimps.

So that’s it. It took me over a year to go from V4 to V5, and hopefully there are more V5’s to come in the future. And V6’s. And if I really get my act together, maybe, this summer, a V7?


Road to Zion || Road to V5 #2


Cracking a beer on the boat.

Tonight’s beer is the So What IPA from E9 Brewing out of Tacoma, a “West coast style IPA,” whatever that means.

It’s good to be here with you guys to talk a little about life and a lot about bouldering.

Yesterday was the super sesh. I and about seven others made the trek up to the Clear Cut Boulders, aka the Reiter Foothills Boulders, aka the Gold Bar Boulders. We had more pads than we could use, even on Road to Zion V5, an epic traverse that will put any group’s pad numbers to the test. We started out at Warm-up Slab V0, which you already know is one of my favorite boulders of all time, one of the first boulders I ever climbed outside, and also the boulder I’ve definitely climbed the most in my life. What would be second? Hmmmm. I’ve climbed Bricklayer V0 in Leavenworth a bunch. I’ve definitely climbed Regatta de Blanc V0 and BMOC in Gold Bar a bunch. Magic School Bus V2. It’s probably Regatta de Blanc V0, one of the most popular boulders in Gold Bar and one I initially had more fondness for but now, for whatever reason, don’t like as much. I mean, it’s still kinda cool. It’s got a heel hook. But like. I don’t know.

After Warm-up Slab we went to the Tetris Boulder for a bit, the sun beating down on us, the inversion visible on the Skykomish Valley floor below. It felt like some of the hardmen were getting antsy to try something hard, even if they weren’t vocalizing it, so we then went up to Road to Zion V5, aka everyone’s favorite epic maneating lionheart granodiorite fantasy blitzkrieg traverse. Pretty much everything about his boulder is epic. The size of it. The cleanliness of the face. The fact that you’re not dragging your ass but doing most of the moves at head height. The fact that it goes on forever and might end up in Narnia. The fact that the top out is spicy af and you can’t really pad it and by the time you get there you’re pumped and crying for help and the only person to spot you is screaming “everything you! got come on!” in your ear and the rock is kind of wet and mossy and you don’t know where the holds are.

At least, that’s what I imagine it’s like. I didn’t send it.

But I watched Wyatt, Matt and Brad all flash it, and it was inspiring. Heel hooks. Toe hooks. Hip opening. Crimps. Jugs. Lunges. Big moves. It was great. I got a little frustrated because I want to be able to do more moves, and because the heel hooks weren’t as comfortable for me as they were for other people, but it’s a great boulder to learn on, too. It’s great practice for getting your core close to the wall. For weighting your feet. For keeping your arms straight. For doing every trick in the book to not get pumped. And I can’t wait to go back.

Well, I can wait a bit.

IN OTHER NEWS! My beer is almost done. I’m climbing outside with Matt either Wednesday or Thursday. We’re either going to the Index River Boulders or the Zelda Boulders or the Five Star Boulder or the Camp Serene Boulder or we’re just saying fuck it and chartering a plane to Red Rocks. Though I guess we wouldn’t have to charter, we could just fly Alaska. In other OTHER news, work still hasn’t picked up, but I’ve started working on the novel again in earnest, doing about 1,000 words a day. I’m 68,000 words (about 225 pages) in, some of which I hope is useable. I hope the book is actually readable. I’m going to have to re-write some or all of the beginning, and I still don’t know how it’s going to end. But when do we ever know how anything is going to end? Not knowing how things are going to end, in fact not knowing how any given day is going to end, is what makes life exciting, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Road to V5 Revamp

The weather forecast for Seattle is incredible. I don’t need to go anywhere. The sun today is setting at almost 5:00pm. In a few days it will set at 5:00pm, and then the days get longer faster and faster, and before you know it it’s setting at 6pm and then daylight savings kicks in and it sets after 7pm and then we’re home free. Spring. Spring is around the corner. The forecast for Gold Bar is incredible, too. Has bouldering season already started? Probably not; this is just a preview. Gold Bar is not usually dry this time of year. And even when it is “dry” the dew from overnight takes a long time to dry, so you can go up there when it hasn’t rained in several days and things can still be wet. But we’re going up there on Saturday, at least I’m going up there on Saturday, to commune with the stone. I’m going to try to convince my friend Wyatt to try some V6’s, and I’m going to convince myself to try some V6’s. Namely Metroid Prime.

I wanted to go climbing today but my body is feeling a bit gnar. My left shoulder feels gnar, my left achilles feels gnar, my left elbow feels gnar. Is it a coincidence that it’s all on the left side of my body, since I’m left dominant? I’ve broken my left leg, my left elbow — but I’ve also broken my right wrist. I think I need to embark on a program of full-body strength training, so if I do go to the climbing gym today I’ll focus on strength training, too. I’ll do core. I’ll do bench. I may even do squats.

The real question I have with climbing right now is: Should I start pushing for grades again? Should I make it a big priority in my life to finally climb V5 and also probably V6, since for some reason I feel like V6 is basically in the same realm of possiblity as V5? And I think the answer is yes. I’m going to a concert on the 25th with my parents, but then after that I’m “free.” I mean, I’m “free” all the time, but after the 25th I don’t have to be in Seattle at all until possibly the end of February when I possibly take care of my sister’s dog.

I believe deep in my sternum that if I made a concerted push for V5 right now I’d get it. If I focused on certain V5’s that I’ve been projecting or look possible, like the following:


Alfalfa or Spanky

Schist Cave Right



Blood Knuckle

Bar Fly (V6)



Gold Bar/ the Sky Valley:

Miller Light

Piano Man



Stinking Slopers

Metroid Prime (V6)

Ryan’s Problem (V6)


Swank Stretch

Lounge Act (V6)

If I really put my mind to the task of V5, aka really put my mind to it, and put my BODY to it too, which means eating well and taking care of myself, I know I can do it.

So why don’t I just do it?

Meanwhile, I’ve been unmotivated with work lately. It’s hard to be motivated when work is barely trickling in. Maybe it is time to get out. And by “get out” I just mean get out mentally. I don’t even have to leave the boat. But I can devote myself in mind and soul and flexor tendon to climbing these certain bouldering grades. I can structure my entire life around it, even though it’s selfish and makes no sense. I love that it makes no sense. If it made sense it wouldn’t be beautiful. The fact that it doesn’t make sense is what threatens to elevate it to the level of art, since art makes no sense. But I hate when people call things like skateboarding or surfing “art.” I don’t really care when people call them sports. Sports are vulgar and common and beautiful. Sports are for the everyman, whereas art is for the elite. And surfing and skateboarding and bouldering should be for the everyman, the everywoman, the everyperson, and not just for the elite.

I need to climb V5.

Fishin’ for Pinks

I just can’t do it. I can’t work today. I’m drinking black tea and it’s sunny (sort of) outside and I just had some sardines. I can hear the mallards quacking outside. I feel like maybe it’s mating season, or coming up on mating season, because they seem pretty agitated. But mating season probably isn’t till spring.

The thing is they still haven’t paid me at work, and it’s starting to affect my motivation. I know they’re going to pay me. I know this. At some point, I’ll get paid. But the fact that they still haven’t paid me, that I haven’t seen a dime get transferred into my bank account since I started this job in May, is starting to mess with my head. Why write a bunch of descriptions and exert myself mentally if they’re not even getting their shit together and paying me? It makes me feel a bit not valued.



I almost sent a pink at SEATTLE BOULDERING PROJECT FREMONT yesterday.

Here was the (almost) send burn:

I chalked up and did the self talk and arousal stuff (not in the sexual way, you perv; “arousal” is also means just being on high alert, ready for bursts of physical exertion). The self talk is not something I make myself do. It’s just something I notice I do when I’m about to go for close to 100% exertion. I basically walk around, making sure my hands are properly chalked, muttering to myself things like, “Come on, Mark, right here. Everything. Everything you got.”

Basically the things you hear people say in YouTube bouldering videos. And this only happens when I’m trying something at my limit. For a V1 outside or a purple inside at SEATTLE BOULDERING PROJECT FREMONT????? I don’t wander around saying these things to myself.

Anyway, back to the attempt. I did self talk and got properly aroused, and then walked over to the arete. I grabbed the (pretty) good pinch with my right hand, the (decent) pinch with my left, and put my left heel up on the volume around the arete, careful to give it room so when I rocked up my foot could lie flat on the volume. I pulled on. I grabbed the first left hand crimp and readjusted a BUNCH, because I didn’t get it even remotely good on the first snatch. Finally I got it good and started to rock up. I felt my quads and my hips and all other parts of my legs and trunk engage. I felt my weight transfer onto my left foot, and then, when in a pistol squat, brought my right hand over to where my left hand had started. I then tried to reposition my left foot — just a bit — to make it straighter on to the wall and thus easier to stand up.

And then I slowly stood up.

Now, here I was just standing on the volume. Hard part over. Now came the scary part of using a shitty sloper/undercling thing and standing up on a good-but-not-good-when-your-back-is-fucked-and-you-can’t-fall foothold. I didn’t have my chalk with me, and I didn’t want to ask anyone to hand it to me. I couldn’t trust the left foot. My hands were getting progressively sweatier. I couldn’t calm down and just go for it. There was also a random lurker girl standing at the bottom and I was afraid I was going to fall on her. So I stood there for a bit, experimenting with the sloper/undercling, and then gave up.

Still, really close.

I actually got to SEATTLE BOULDERING PROJECT FREMONT!!!!! about an hour before I started climbing. At first I was watching people climb (no one did the pink), and then I was just reading my book. It was raining and shitty and dark outside, so why be on my boat hating life when I could be in a vibrant gym with comfortable spaces surrounded by my favorite activity in the world. Even if it smells ever-so-slightly of BO. And even if you might be breathing in a little chalk. Then I thought, Well, I’ve got nothing else to do, so I might as well climb. I warmed up on the elliptical until my heart rate was about 125. Then I hung for a bit. Then I did some easy routes.

And then I climbed.