……… || R2V6

The Road to V6 continues. And as I stated in a previous post: It’s probably going to be a long road. Well, no, actually I hope to send a V6 this summer, and possibly even a V7. And maybe even a V8. And while we’re at it let’s just throw in The Method V12, my lifetime bouldering accomplishment goal. The Method, if you’re not familiar, is located at The Apron Boulders in Squamish, BC. It involves a face/slab climb up to an undercling and then some tricky moves on slopers to get to the top. It’s a coveted problem, mostly just because of how cool it looks. It’s not some thuggy one mover where you’re cranking on a roof and then throwing a heel 15 feet above your head. It’s a combination of delicate and powerful, sharp and smooth, yin and yang, day and night, good and evil.

I’m having my second serving of collagen this morning. That’s right, in an effort to mitigate soft tissue injuries, I’m back on the collagen. My poison picked this time is by Ancient Nutrition and is formulated for joint mobility. It’s got several types of collagen, including one only found in eggshell membrane. I’ve been taking it for a few days now, and I must say I….don’t feel a huge difference. But I might feel some difference. And it’s only been a few days. (Ed’s note: I’ve climbed the last two days [yesterday was a baby sesh, albeit], and I don’t feel THAT sore. Would that have been possible without the collagen? Do I have tendonitis in 57% of all of my tendons?)

I need to go to Whole Foods and get a matcha bar.

The plan is to climb tomorrow in Gold Bar/Index, though I’m not sure exactly where. I’m done (at least for right now) saying, “OK, I’m gonna go here and I’m gonna give it everything I have on X boulder.” Instead I’m back in “intuition mode,” where I drive out to Gold Bar and MAYBE walk up to the Clear Cut Boulders. Or maybe I do something on the Warm-Up Boulder. Or maybe I try something on the Five-Star Boulder. Or maybe I go all the way to Index and go the River Boulders, or the Zelda Boulders, etc etc. No real plan, really, just a guy with two tri-panel crashpads and a pair of Miuras. Though I think, I THINK, that I need to start trying to haul both pads up to the Clear Cut boulders. It’s only an extra 15 pounds, and the amount of protection it provides is ridiculous. When you’ve only got one pad you’re limited on the boulders you can really try hard on. Not that I ever try hard.

But let’s say I DID try hard on a couple boulders tomorrow. Just for fun. These boulders might be:

Cabin Stabbin’ V4

Serenity Now V4+

Road to Zion V5

Sobriosity V6

Ryan’s Problem (Climax Control) V6

The Engineer V-whatever

I don’t really see myself trying too hard on any boulders other than these. The most probably are Cabin Stabbin’ and Serenity Now, and the least probable is either Road to Zion or The Engineer, since I have it in my head that any fall from up top on The Engineer results in catastrophe.

But whatever.

For NOW, I’m going to drive over to my parents’ house to pick up the queen bed frame so I can get ready for my move to Blaine!

Oh yeah and my friend Matt and I are probably driving to Alaska on Sunday.

…….

– Wetz

 

 

I Flashed a Pink || R2V6

I thought yesterday’s cup of tea was an anomaly, that I was off caffeine for good. But today, as if in a trance, I found myself putting the kettle on, pulling the teabag out of the box, putting it in the cup, waiting for the familiar gurgle (or ALMOST gurgle since I never let the water boil), and then pouring the steaming hot liquid onto the tea leaves  — and even glancing at my clock to see what time it was so I don’t let it steep too long!

This could easily snowball into my caffeine consumption from before, basically going from grocery store to grocery, cafe to cafe, all day buying caffeinated products.

And I don’t want that to happen.

WE don’t want that to happen.

You’re probably wondering about the title of this post.

“Ha, good one Mark. Nice clickbait,” you may have said.

But no, yesterday at SEATTLE BOULDERING PROJECT POPLAR, I actually flashed a pink. This means that I established on the starting holds and then maneuvered my way up to the boulder to the top, where I delicately placed both hands on the finishing hold, held them for the requisite time, and then delicately climbed back down.

I am not a liar.

Here’s the thing, though: I didn’t get THAT much satisfaction from it. I didn’t put any work into it. I didn’t suss out the beta a bunch beforehand. I didn’t look at the moves. I just got on it and climbed, and it happened to be exactly my style (aka a stemmy problems where you basically don’t need arms) and then a few seconds later found myself at the top. Sure, I was STOKED, I mean obviously — but it didn’t give me the satisfaction that a black I’d been working on for the past half hour before and wasn’t sure if I was gonna get gave me. Because you see the black I actually had to work for, whereas the pink was a proverbial stem in the park/bouldering gym.

Anyway, other than that I don’t have much to report, but I’m going to keep talking for a bit anyway, as I’m wont to do.

What else could I talk about.

It’s sunny here today in Seattle, so that’s nice.

I just shaved my beard and so feel like a spring hen.

After this I think I’m gonna go to Whole Foods and get a matcha bar, and then MAYBE run the Howe stair climb.

I really wish I had some honey for this black tea.

I literally check the status of my Nexus application every day. It’s so dumb. It could be another two months before they process it, and yet I check every day.

Slash am I going to Pembina, North Dakota?

I do actually want to do a bit of traveling this summer. Here are the destinations I’d like to visit, in order of how badly I’d like to visit them:

  1. Alaska — I’m yearning to go back. Haven’t been back in a long time.
  2. Quebec — I’m yearning to go back. And to boulder in Les Laurentides. And talk to monolingual French speakers.
  3. Sweden — I mean, how awesome would it be to spend midsummer in Scandinavia jumping over a fire with some kind of crown of woven sweetgrass braided into your hair?
  4. German/Europe — I kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinda wanna go to Europe. But, like, not that bad. So I probably won’t. Not too high on the list. So freaking far.

And then of course there’s Squamish. I hope to spend a LOT of time in Squamish this year. Like, a decent amount. Like, a little bit. Like, I hope to get up there at least a couple times.

My reading material last night as I lay in bed was the Squamish Bouldering guidebook, by Marc Bourdon. It’s not exactly Dostoyevsky, but it it moves me in the same way and drives me to contemplate life. There are so many quality problems there I want to get on, and I’m convinced in the next couple weeks the weather’s gonna turn and it’s gonna be scorching hot in Leavy and even too hot in Gold Bar and everyone’s gonna flock to Squamish and I’m gonna be there, happy as a damn razor clam, alternating between sleeping in my car/tent and commuting back to my cottage on the border in Blaine. It’s going to be wonderful, and I hope to see you there. We’ll climb V0’s — we’ll climb V2’s! Hell, we may even climb a V5. And by V5 I of course mean V6, since that’s the title of this series (for now!). In fact, I already have figured out the V6 we’re going to climb. It’s called Lounge Act, and it’s in the Easy Chair area. And I better see you there. And you better try it with me. And then afterward we’ll go celebrate with a cup of tea.

– Wetz

Results Back From the MRI || R2V6

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, waking up on the boat. Putting the kettle on for the first cup of tea in…almost a week??????????

That’s right, I’ve been off caffeine completely for almost a week, and I’m about to have a cup of black tea. Why, you ask? Why would I go back to caffeine when my life is so great off it? Well, I love tea. And also: I have like six tea bags that are going to get stale if I just leave them sitting in the box on my boat. Also: I love caffeine. Also: I love tea. Also: it’s raining.

I’m actually PAYING ATTENTION to the steep time this morning, something I never do. It’s 8:04am, which means the tea has another minute. And the funny part is everything I’m typing right now you probably won’t even read, because I’ve discovered it takes me a little bit to get into the “writing mode,” and the stuff I write at the beginning is usually me getting into the mode and usually gets axed. But who knows, maybe this’ll make the cut.

Let’s talk about CLIMBING, since that’s ostensibly what this series (Road to V6) is about. Or actually let’s not talk about climbing quite yet. Let’s talk about my day. It’s currently raining as I type these words sitting on the boat. It’s supposed to rain most of today and then ease off sometime in the evening, and tomorrow’s supposed to be nice. Thank god. Tomorrow is even supposed to be somewhat dry in Gold Bar, and I thought about going to the Camp Serene boulder to finally hopefully put down Serenity Now V4+, but if I climb today that won’t happen. Because I’m thinking of doing a gym session today. I’m thinking about it. Only if my friend Jessa can climb, and if not, well, actually I’ll still probably go.

Ok I’m gonna grab the cup of tea and take my first sip of caffeine in almost a week.

Stand by.

I’m a little worried the tannins are going to make me nauseous. Maybe I should get something in my stomach.

Chia seeds?

Two raw, shiitake mushrooms, that’s what I’ve settled on.

OK, here goes.

Oh man, the first sip was anticlimactic. I still had some shiitake residue in my mouth and that interfered with the taste of the tea. Plus I have lemon in the tea and that interferes with the taste, too. Basically, it all got messed up. I was expecting that to be much more satisfying.

Dang it.

We’ll have to talk about something else.

OK, that sip was better.

Ah! Yes! I remember what this blog was supposed to be about in the first place. It’s supposed to be about the MRI I had the other day, and how the results supposedly came back “normal.” In case I didn’t mention it I had an MRI of my low back the other day, and was waiting to hear back about the results. When I found out yesterday they were “normal” I was a bit confused, mostly because I’d like to go over the results and look at the images with someone who knows what they’re talking about rather than just get a seemingly auto-generated message in my MyChart. But also, what if the MRI results ARE normal? What does that mean? Well, it could mean that the back pain I’ve been “having” is actually all in my head.

One theory I have this:

I damage a disk (or something) back in September of 2021. 

I experience the symptoms of that acute injury until a surf trip in November, by the end of which the symptoms are basically gone. 

I come back to WA and start climbing again, and the symptoms “come back.”

Except they don’t come back, because the bulging disc is actually better, but my body has LEARNED pain patterns and associates pain with climbing and falling in bouldering and assumes that these things should still hurt. 

It becomes a completely psychosomatic ailment. 

Terrible theory?

Possibly. But that’s currently my best theory so far.

Runner up theories: 1) There’s a hairline fracture that would take a specialist to detect and not just my primary care doctor who may be the only person who’s seen the results. 2) There’s another more obscure problem (like something wrong with a facet joint) that requires a specialist to detect. 3) I don’t actually have a spine.

This last theory is in beta testing, and will tested today in the form of a pink with an undercling start at SEATTLE BOULDERING PROJECT and also maybe this one blue where you can break the beta and dyno. If I don’t send either of these boulders or at least make crazy good progress, we might have to assume number three is true.

Though of course spineless doesn’t refer to physical prowess but rather to moral character, and in the department of the latter I consider myself adequate.

Anyway.

Did you see this video of Yves Gravelle?

No, you didn’t, you sinner.

Canadian French is so often maligned, and it’s so awesome. Screw “Metropolitan” French. I’ll take Quebecois French any day of the month.

He also has almost no accent in English, which makes it so much radder that they did that video in French.

Time for a spring bouldering trip to Les Laurentides?

Mais la la.

Fait que…

OK, it’s looking like I’m going to gym climb today. And maybe work out a bit. Why the hell not.

And maybe I’ll actually post this blog post, even though I talk about very little. And then in a couple hours come back and edit the shit out of it. Or take it down.

Party.

– Wetz

 

It’s Going To Be a Long, Long Time || R2V6

Friends! I have great news! No, it’s not climbing-related news. In climbing-related news I have terribles news: yesterday’s session in Leavenworth sucked ass. But I’ll get to that later. First with the good news.

Today is DAY FOUR OF NO CAFFEINE.

Yes, you read that correctly. Four days. No caffeine.

Well, ok, a TINY bit of caffeine, because I’ve had some chocolate and chocolate has caffeine, but no REAL caffeine, like no tea or coffee. Or matcha. Or yerba mate.

God, I want some caffeine.

(and also I guess three days no caffeine since today is day four).

Anyway, since your insistence on knowing about yesterday’s climbing sesh in Leavy is basically pathologic, I’ll tell you.

Yesterday, Becky and Nick (two new friends) and I went to Leavenworth and didn’t climb shit. No, seriously, we didn’t climb shit. Like, none of us topped out a single boulder problem. We warmed up in the rain on Schisthead in the Swiftwater area, and then went across the highway to try such sandbagged V3’s as Lead Pants and Sitting Bull. None of us sent anything.

Then, we went to Footless Traverse, and that was a bit more fun, though none of us sent that, either. Nick had already done it awhile ago after projecting it a bit, and Becky made good progress. I made….progress? I guess you could call doing what I did progress. I definitely touched the rock, that much is true. I think I did what you call a “crimp.” I might have even done what you call a “heel” hjook” (sp?), but I’m not sure. The crux for me by far was taking off my puffy and sitting down and putting on my climbing shoes and then trying the rig in front of 20 climbers who were varying degrees exponentially stronger than me. Most of them were there trying V10’s and V7’s. Like, cool, assholes, we know you’re strong, but take it easy, ok? Like, we know you can like keep body tension and all that shit and you can crank on 1/8th pad crimps. But, like, ok?

After trying Footless Becky and Nick hit the road and I made my way to Gaze of the Grasshopper, a wicked Squamish-style (supposedly — I’ve literally been to Squamish 1.5 times) V4 with a terrible landing. I almost pulled onto it, and then moved to a V3 down the boulder which was much more my style (see: easier). But this V3 also had a terrible landing, and a thrutchy topout, so I decided to leave it till next time I’m there, which will probably be some time in 2030.

In 120 years, no one who’s currently on this earth will still be here.

Whoa, whoa! Sorry. Didn’t mean to get deep or philosophical on you.

In 60 years, we’ll all be dust. 

OK seriously, sorry.

It’s just, well, I’m struggling with this whole “getting old” process, and so find myself invaded by thoughts like these. Today at Whole Foods I almost bought some matcha latte collagen powder. I know in my pancreas of pancreases that collagen powder does nothing and the literature is conflicting, but I’m still desperate for anything that will make my body feel normal again. I just want to be able to run and jump and deke and pull on tiny gastons. Is that too much to ask? I just want to be able to play soccer and play basketball and surf and skateboard and crank on quarter-pad shark’s tooth crimps.

But apparently that’s way too much to ask.

The bouldering gods say, “No, we would prefer you to be in love with a sport that destroys your body and you basically can’t do. Yes, we have spoken, and this is what we’d prefer.”

I’m so desperate that I bought fenugreek at Whole Foods today.

Fenugreek is for lactating mothers.

But I remember the title of some study about mixing fenugreek with turmeric to combat inflammation.

THE BAD KIND OF INFLAMMATION.

I am a lactating mother.

….poor bioavailability….

Anyway, that’s all to report for now, friends! I hope you have a great day! I’m going to get acupuncture and hope that cures all my ailments. And not have caffeine. But also maybe have caffeine.

 

 

The Case for Not Trying Hard: R2V6

Your ego’s writing checks your body can’t cash. –Stinger

It’s hard to watch a bouldering video on YouTube and not hear people telling other people to try hard.

Come on. Right here. All the tension in the world. Try hard, Jimmy. TRY HARD.

But I’m here today to make a case for the opposite. I’m here to make a case for NOT trying hard.

You see because trying hard is good some of the time. Or actually very little of the time. But most of the time trying hard is not good. It’s actually counterproductive, and it’s the quickest way to injury, especially if you’re a climber in your late 30’s who hasn’t been climbing that long and whose body is crumbling.

I would say that trying hard is appropriate maybe 2% of the time.

A bunch of situations where trying hard is NOT appropriate: 

  • When you’re warming up
  • When you’re cooling down
  • When you’re warmed up but still not ready to pull hard
  • When you’ve been climbing too many days in a row or too frequently
  • When you can feel a body part starting to get aggravated
  • When you should actually step back and just puzzle out the beta better instead of trying to power your way through the problem

Let’s start with this last one, since other than not getting injured, it’s das beste argument for not trying hard. Let’s say you’re working on an orange at Seattle Bouldering project (V0-V3 outside grade depending on the problem) and you’re finding that a certain move is really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really–just really.

And maybe your buddy who’s standing there watching says, “Come on, Mark, try hard.”

And maybe you walk up to your buddy and punch it in the face because trying hard is EXACTLY what you don’t need to do. What do you need to do? You need to figure out a better way to do the sequence, since you’re obviously doing it wrong. You need to figure out better footwork. You need to figure out a better hand sequence. You need to figure out better footwork. And you need to figure out better footwork.

You could probably just try hard and send the problem. If you tried hard enough. But would you learn anything? Well, yes, actually you would. You’d ingrain a terrible habit that when the going gets tough you just need to try harder, when actually you need to be smarter. If you’re trying a problem you know is under your limit and encountering stopper moves, it’s not because you’re not strong enough, it’s because you’re doing it wrong. So step back. Try something else. Try the move in isolation using a different approach. Watch other people do the problem.

But for Vishna’s sake, don’t just try harder.

Look, I know it’s fun to go out there and just flow, and not get all cerebral about the problems. And there’s definitely a space for that. Sometimes you just gotta get on the wall, crush some greens, crush some purples, flail on some blacks. Sometimes when you’re climbing outside it’s good just to let your fingers touch the granodiorite without getting all analytical. Let your body figure it out. Then maybe if you fail step back and think, Hmmmmm, what should I cook for dinner tonight.

And like I said, there’s definitely a time and place for this kind of climbing. In fact, I would say that if you’re not sponsored by Asana putting up videos with shitty rap sountracks then this is most fo the climbing you should be doing. You should be focusing on having fun.

But inevitably you’ll encounter problems you can’t just flow your way through, and this is when you need to step back and take a two step approach:

  1. Figure out the problem
  2. Try hard

You cannot have number two without number one. You CAN have number one without number two.

What does that mean?

It means that sometimes after number one you won’t even need number two.

Because when you figure out the correct sequence sometimes you don’t even NEED to try hard.

OK I’m bored of writing this post. I’m going to leave you with a music video.

Have a great day. Or don’t. Whatever.

— Wetz