Four Days of Rest || Road to V5

Part 1

I haven’t climbed in four days. My body has been resting for four days. What do four days of rest look like? Not much different than one day. My hip flexors still hurt. My fingers are still swollen. But something’s gotting be working, right?

Wrong.

Well, no, probably right.

I’m at my bro’s house. Today is the last full day of pet sitting. Tomorrow I do my pet sitting and plant watering duties and then I head back to the great world of Seattle. Ahhh…..city of dreams. City of….overpriced supermarkets. City of overpriced everything. But still the city I call home for now. Well, the city I will always call “home” until I live somewhere else for an extended period of time. But Seattle will always feel a bit like home.

You might be wondering what climbing plans I have for when I get back to the Seattle area. Because here’s the thing: I do have climbing plans, and possibly for as early as tomorrow. You see, tomorrow it’s supposed to “rain” in Gold Bar. There’s supposed to be “precipitation” which could make the boulders “wet” (see: juicy). But there’s also a chance it “won’t rain.” There’s a chance it will “hold off.” The forecast is calling for rain MAYBE starting around 4pm. Which means I’d have all morning to boulder. If I got up and got after it. Which I’m not sure I’ll do. But we’ll see.

If I DO go to Gold Bar I’d like to hike up to the Clearcut Boulders. I’d like to re-send some of my favorites, like Regatta de Blanc V0, BMOC V2, and Magic School Bus V2. I’d also like to work on some of my projects, like Cabin Stabbin’ V4, The Container V2 (I’m embarrassed to call this a project but I still haven’t sent it so there you go), Midnight Lichen V4 and Stinking Slopers V5. Depending on how I’m feeling it would also be great to get on some new blocs: Johnny Cash V3, Silver Slippers V4, Metroid Prime V6, Obesity V7, Water V6, for example.

This is a slightly embarrassing thing to admit, but I still haven’t broken the 10 V-point barrier outside. I.e., I haven’t sent boulder problems totaling at least 10 V-points in one day. Why should I be embarrassed about this? Because I feel like it’s almost a laughably low goal. I feel like it should’ve happened by now. And when I think about it, it COULD’VE happened by now. I could go out tomorrow and climb all the easiest V2’s I know and ones I’ve done many times, like the two V2’s on the Leggo My Ego boulder, Offa My Cloud, BMOC and Eight Bit Slab in Gold Bar, and that would be it. That would be 10 V-points right there, and it would be simple. But it would also feel a little meaningless just truly going for v-points. I’m more excited for when it happens naturally, when I look back on the climbs I’ve done one day and think, Damn, I just got 15 v-points. Or when I send a single boulder problem that gets me half way or most of the way there. That’s when I’ll really be excited. But to go out and re-send a bunch of problems just for one measly goal. Sounds pretty great.

Slash I think I need tea right now. Or some other form of caffeine. Slash this house feels cold. Why am I not out enjoying the sun right now.

Slash I think I’m going to go get a matcha latte.

Part 2

I went and got my matcha latte. Today is the one month anniversary of my newfound sobriety, so I’m celebrating. I got a matcha latte and some chili. And now I’m back at my bro’s house, writing this blog and contemplating how to spend my afternoon. I got a few books on yoga from the library. I still need to do Day 8 of the Yoga with Adriene 30 Days of Yoga series I’m doing, and my body currently feels too sore to do yoga. Why does my body feel sore all the time now? This is distressing. What should I be doing about it? Presumably, yoga.

God I just want to climb.

And climb V5.

 

 

 

 

 

Day is for Resting

It’s so quiet at my brother’s house where I’m pet sitting. I’d forgotten it could be this quiet. No sound of the road. I can’t hear the wind outside because the windows are probably somewhat soundproof. There’s no humming of a washing machine or a dishwasher or even the refrigerator. I hear a crack every now and again and also some kind of very low whooshing sound that might be the hum of the universe. And of course I hear my fingers typing. But that’s it. Other than that, the silence is deafening.

Today is day two of what will be at least four — possibly five — rest days. My tendons and muscles are so happy to get a rest. I woke up this morning with my fingers completely swollen. I wondered: How long would it take to stop waking up with swollen fingers? Obviously diet has some influence in this. My diet lately has been….not great. With proper diet I bet I could stop waking up with swollen fingeres in about a week. Without proper diet I think it would take at least twice as long. Which reminds me…I’m thinking of fasting tomorrow. I say “thinking” because that’s all I usually do with fasting lately. I think about it. The last time I fasted for any significant period of time (i.e. 24 hours or more) was right around the summer solstice. So, late June. Which means it’s been at least two months since a proper fast. I’m due. My digestive system is screaming for a break.

In other news, I went climbing the other day at SBP with my friend and former physical therapist. He’s a much stronger climber than me. Not so much grade wise, but more in just technique and overall competency. He’s one of those people that climbs and you’re like, “OK, that guy climbs.” Some people get on a route and they can sort of do it just because they’re strong. And other people get on a route and you’re like, “Damn, that guy/girl knows what they’re doing.” You can just tell. They’re smooth. Even if they’re straining they go confidently between holds. They read problems well. They’re efficient. And this is exactly how my friend/former physical therapist is. Efficient, smooth, skilled.

I learn a lot climbing with people like that.

That session was Friday evening. It’s now Sunday. I won’t climb again until Thursday at the earliest. Temps are looking PERFECT for Thursday. Thursday evening could be a super sesh, though the whole day looks great. Though shit, I just checked the forecast for Gold Bar and now it’s saying a 30% chance of rain! Oh well, these things are never really accurate more than 48 hours out. Could always go to Leavenworth. Could always go to Mad Meadows, since I STILL HAVEN’T BEEN THERE. And for some reason I’ve been thinking about Dirty Dancing V4 lately. After my essentially religious experience on this problem, I’ve been thinking about how much I liked it and how much I’d like to repeat it. It really is a perfect boulder problem for my level right now. The holds are JUST good enough. Just bad enough. Just perfect enough. Just dishy enough. And also I want to try the V2 across from it again, Slam Dunk, and also the V5 next to that, Buried Alive, and maybe — maybe? — try the first moves of Lion’s Den V8. I mean, why not. I can heel hook. I can do compression (maybe). I can sit start.

Other problems to try:

Schist Cave Right V5

Footless Traverse V5

Weather Report V3 (got close last time!)

Shaniqua V5 (this thing looks rad and I wanna see just how high this start is cuz people are talking about how you need to stack like 40 pads)

Yosemite Highball V4 (couldn’t do the first move last time)

Alfafa vs Spanky V5

And don’t worry, a bunch of easier ones too.

Also, I’d love to go back to Gold Bar sometime soon. I haven’t hiked up to the Clearcut Boulders in a lukewarm minute. I have so many projects up there. And so many boulders I’d like to repeat. Basically I wish I could climb all day every day from now until the end of Septmber. And who knows, maybe once my tendons adjust I’ll be able to do that. But regardless of how your body hangs in, it’s hard to keep up stoke for that long. One thing I’ve learned: taking breaks is the best way to get back stoke. After a break your body is raring to go and your mind is raring to go, too. You’ve had time to reflect. You’ve had time to absorb good technique and hopefully ditch old patterns.

God it’s still so quiet in here. What am I going to do. I think I’m gonna go up to the high school and kick a soccer ball around a bit. I think I’m gonna eat some beets. And chug some whater. And maybe watch the rest of a 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow film I got into just before I came here. Sunday, lazy Sunday.

Crossing the Border to Canada // First Session in Squamish

I’m at my sister’s house in Ballard. I just got back from Canada yesterday. Crossing the border was actually easier going IN to Canada, because I crossed through Lynden and there was no line. The guy asked me almost no questions. He asked to see my negative COVID test and maybe what I was doing in Canada. He didn’t ask me what I did for work, which made me happy because I would’ve felt like I was lying when I said “interpreter.” When I DO work, I usually work as an interpreter or a teacher. This is what I “do” for work. The only thing is I’m not “doing” it right now. Because I’m a semi professional boulderer, minus the professional, minus the semi.

ANYWAY, FIRST SESSION IN SQUAMISH!!!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!!!! V0’s!!!!!! Failing on a crimpy V2!!!!!!!! Climbing a terrifying highball V1 that felt like V5!!!!!!

Even though this was sort of supposed to be a climbing trip, I only climbed once. This is because my body is disintegrating. I’m not resting enough. I’m not taking enough breaks. I’m due to take about a week off climbing (or more), and until I do that I’m probably not going to make any progress and possibly make backward progress. Yesterday I went to SBP Poplar with Barold Doug, the Crush from Down Under (down under being south Seattle), and DIDN’T CLIMB ANYTHING HARDER THAN A PURPLE. I REPEAT: I DIDN’T CLIMB ANYTHING HARDER THAN A PURPLE. I mean, I didn’t really attempt anything harder than a purple, and I still had a blast and became a better climber, but it just goes to show when you’re 38 (oh yes, I had a birthday recently) you need lots of rest, and your tendons need a TON of time to adjust to climbing. I’ve been climbing about a year and half now. My finger tendons are still adjusting to climbing. I assume this process will take at least another couple years (slash never end), at which point I’ll basically be geriatric. I’ll be the only senior citizen at Bishop super psyched on V2’s. Which is fine. I’m completely down with that. As long as you’re stoked, nothing else matters.

We climbed a V1 called Hot Tamale at the Clean Boulders in Squamish after warming up on a couple V0’s. Hot Tamale is a cool line that sort of traverses/climbs a rail from right to left. The start is slightly tricky. But after a couple tries the start became super easy, which is always a great feeling. All of us sent it, and then we moved on to Bear Trap V2, which (almost) shut us all down. The start to Bear Trap involves a sideways facing foot that allows you to cinch your body close to the wall and windmill (bear trap) your right hand over to a TERRIBLE crimp. Charlie skipped this crimp and went for the hella tall guy beta that involved going directly to the sidepull thing. I was SORT OF able to do this, but it made me really stretched out. After a couple goes Charlie got it, and I was stoked because one of us had sent it and I could now stop trying it and feel better about myself. Then we went back to the welcome area, which was crowded as balls, but one line had no people on it at all: Kung Fu Fighter V4 (a V5 on Sendage). This line is incredible. It involes starting in a nice little corner, working your way up to a slab, and then somehow traversing to an arete as footholds become fewer and further between. I tried it a few times, getting to the crux, and then a guy who lived in Squamish started trying it with me, and stoke levels were high. We had about five pads. His French Canadian friend started trying it too, and at this point stoke levels were basically in the stratosphere. The problem: My body felt gnarly. I needed to stop. So mostly I just watched/spotted/fist bumped. And then eventually I got out there, it was already almost 3pm, traffic was gnarly AF getting back to Vancouver, but I was also in a state of relative bliss. I hadn’t eaten anything all day. All I’d had was a coffee with honey, and I don’t drink coffee. So I stopped at the Whole Foods in West Van, possibly my favorite Whole Foods on the planet. I got a burrito bowl and a GT’S Adaptogenic Tea and a slice of banana bread and sat out in the courtyard eating it and reveling in the day and the fact that I was in Canada. And I then I went back into town.

I plan on going back to Squamish in September for subsequent sessions, but I’d like to give my body a good rest first (at least a week) so I can climb a little more aggressively and attempt harder problems. Having only climbed in one area, I’m still not sure exactly what Squamish is like. So far it felt a bit like Gold Bar, albeit with an even higher concentration of quality problems. Kung Fu Fighter frankly blew my mind. That is now on my lifetime tick list. I’d also really like to try Tyler’s Dihedral V3, Phat Slab V5, and at least LOOK at Black Slabbeth V7. I have no idea what a V7 slab looks like, but I’d like to find out.

That’s about all for today. There’s an annoying dog barking outside and I’m about to drink some tea and take my sister’s dog for her second walk. Tomorrow morning is essentially the last day I could climb outside for awhile, but I don’t know if I’ll do it. If I do, I’ll probably go back to the Index River Boulders. Maybe I’ll do Chinook V3 again, maybe I’ll try Finger Crack V3, The Jewel V3, and who knows what else. Or maybe I’ll finally get back on my old Project, Serenity Now V4+. The Sky (Valley)’s the limit.

A Session at Egg Rock in Leavenworth

Yesterday I went to Leavenworth.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Mark hasn’t been to Leavenworth in a long time. What’s wrong with him?

And it’s not that there’s anything wrong with me. It’s just that Leavenworth in summer is hot, and it’s also far away. If you boulder you know that hot temperatures are the enemy of sending. Your hands get sweaty, and there’s less friction. So THAT’S why I haven’t been going to Leavenworth lately. Also, when I go to Leavy I like to stay in a hotel in Wenatchee, and for whatever reason they’ve been REALLY expensive lately. Like, prohibitively expensive. So that’s another reason. And three hours each way is too far to drive in one day. I know the drive takes most people less time, but I drive like a grandma, so it takes me about three hours. I will not apologize.

But yesterday I DID go to Leavenworth and it was glorious. I went to Egg Rock aka I Heart Jerry Garcia aka Musashi aka the cluster of boulders just beyond The Sword boulders aka almost the furthest cluster of boulders down The Icicle in the guidebook. I went here for two reasons: 1) Usually it gets colder as you go up The Icicle, and 2) I figured it would be quiet. Because I don’t like climbing with people. Or rather, sometimes I like climbing with people, but yesterday I definitely didn’t feel like it. Which is why I STILL haven’t been to Mad Meadows. My biggest nightmare is going there on a hot day with six thousand people blasting speakers and talking loudly and stirring up a bunch of dust with their crash pads. Better to stay solitary.

I started off climbing Funiculi Funicula VB which was, as the guidebook stated, quite basic. The mantle was a TINY bit hard, mostly because when you mantle you have to support most of your body weight, and since I’ve started eating whatever I want I weigh as much as a small wildebeest. But it was still a good, easy, fun warm-up. In case you go there by yourself this is probably also the easiest downclimb. So keep that in mind.

After FF VB I went over to China Cat V2, a slab! God, how I love slab. I mean, I don’t love slab, I just love climbing something that requires mostly legs. My legs are strong. My arms and fingers not so much. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Uh, duh, Mark, everyone has strong legs compared to their arms. But having grown up playing soccer and generally just running all over the place, my legs might even be inordinately strong, whereas before climbing (and surfing) I basically never did anything with my arms. So maybe that’s why I like slab climbing. I think I also kind of like it because people love to talk about how they hate slab. It’s cool to say things like, “Man, I’m so bad at slab,” or “Man, I hate slab.” Just once I’d like to hear someone say, “I LOVE SLAB.” Until that person comes along I will simply say it myself.

China Cat is a V2 that has pretty terrible feet after the initial good dish. You’re basically smearing, or standing on very small edges. Which is great practice. It took me at least five tries to get to the top, and when I did it was anything graceful. I basically lunged for the lip, took all the weight off my feet, and thrutched over the top. So at some point I’d like to go back and do it over and do it more gracefully. But yesterday once was enough, because I really wanted to get to the next problem, which was….

Estimated Prophet V1.

This thing is a lowball with perfect staircase edges. It’s a sit start. I thought it might be kind of hard. It wasn’t. It was insanely easy. I mean, as a taller climber I did have to spider my legs off to the side a bit on the sit to get them out of the way, but all the holds are bomber and well, you basically just stand up and you’re at the top. So, maybe not the most fun I’ll ever have climbing something eight feet tall, like the guidebook says, but still fun, and still a great warm-up.

After Estimated Prophet I went back to the Jerry Garcia/China Cat boulders so I could try Weather Report V3. On this problem you start crouched with your left hand on a fin and your right hand on a good sidepull (the good sidepull is the higher of the two sidepulls). You then smear your feet and “lunge” to a good rounded hold above. I tried this with just smearing at first, but it seemed hard. Then I spotted a left heel hook, and got much closer. However, the rounded hold lay tantalizingly out of reach, and in retrospect I will either have to lunge a bit to get it even with the heel hook, or try different smear beta, or maybe even try a left foot smear (or on a small edge) with a right toehook. Either way, I was super stoked to find the left heel hook and make some progress, even though I didn’t send the boulder. I’m bummed if I don’t send a V2 first session, but not with a V3. However, I DID get bummed when I watched a bunch of people doing it on YouTube this morning, mostly because A) I know I’m as strong or stronger than some of the people in the videos, and B) it took the mystique of figuring out the beta on my own away from me. Lately I’ve been into figuring out the beta myself, instead of watching YouTube videos. There’s something IMMENSELY satisfying about “solving” a boulder problem yourself. And it’s still satisfying when you climb it after getting beta from videos, but you definitely feel a bit like you cheated. Or something.

Aka I bought barley milk this morning and it’s disgusting.

Aka I woke up at 6am and couldn’t get back to sleep.

ANYWAY, that was the session yesterday at Egg Rock in Leavenworth. Great bouldering area, lots of rad moderates, and already a project or two in the making. Can’t wait to get back.

 

To Sell or to Sail?

Friends! The Euro Trip is over. I am now back on my boat. I must say: I’m not entirely thrilled to be back on my boat. I mean, yes it’s beautiful. Yes, it’s peaceful. But I’m getting really sick of living on this 27 foot piece of fiberglass. Something needs to change, and something needs to change relatively soon. Which is why this fall I’m either going to A) Sell the boat (frowny face), B) Sail the boat south (if the boat’s in Mexico living on it suddenly seems way more attractive), or C) Leave the boat in Seattle, spend the winter OFF the boat and traveling (basically living in Latin America), and then in spring come back to the boat and finally sail it south. The moral of the story is this: Keep the boat and sail it south (now or in spring), or sell it. These are the two options.

This topic segues perfectly into shorter term plans. Regardless of what I do with the boat, what am I going to be doing for the next few months? Well, at first I thought about getting a job. But then I thought, No, that’s kind of lame. I don’t want to do that right now. The thing is, I’m much too excited about my fall and winter plans to get a job right now. When I think about living in an apartment in Seattle this winter and working some kind of “normal” job, even if it is a cool job like interpreting, I want to drown myself in Hood Canal. Seriously, I got an email from a hiring manager the other day about an interpreting job in High Point, Seattle (a neighborhood basically in West Seattle that would take 40+ minutes to commute to from where I live near the locks), and it felt like a death sentence. But then I think about the plans I had before I decided I needed to “get a job.” Sailing to the San Juans. Going to Canada to chill in Vancouver and boulder in Squamish and maybe hang out on Vancouver Island for a bit. Then possibly sailing south, and if not doing a shit ton of bouldering. Either way doing a shit ton of bouldering. In October going to Cabo for a wedding, then Mexico City, then possibly Bogota, and then definitely Chile. And that gets me excited. That I actually look forward to. And maybe it’s just me putting off “real life,” but at this point I don’t really care. I’ve put off “real life” for so long that I won’t be living “real life.” I’ll live my life. Other people can live “real life.”

I do, however, plan to take the Foreign Service Officer Test in October. Because I’m mildly interested in being a diplomat. And because last time I almost passed it.

And I also want to possibly take the legal interpreting exam, but it’s unclear whether that will be offered this year, due to the pan-de-mic.

If/when I HAVE to get a job I don’t really want, I’ll do it. I’ll do it with gusto. Every time in my life I’ve needed to work, like actually needed to, I’ve done it. But right now I don’t have to. So I’m going to do the things I actually want to. Because life is really short. And only getting shorter.

ANYWAY, it’s good to be in Seattle right now, for the most part. I’ve been climbing a ton, and my body is somehow hanging in there. I’ve been working on Leggo My Ego V6 at the Index River Boulders, but mostly I’ve been climbing in the gym. I’ve been stoked on gym climbing lately. It’s so social. It’s so easy (logistically). And it’s also so easy to work on your weaknesses. Granted, climbing outside is still cooler. There’s nothing like being alone in the middle of the forest standing before a hunk of gleaming granodiorite grandeur, puzzling out how to get to the top, but for whatever reason lately I haven’t felt like getting in my car and driving an hour and a half just to fail. I can get (basically) the same feeling of movement at the gym, which is a 10 minute drive. And at the gym I can watch other people climb, aka crushers, and I can meet people. I can still have projects. I can still get super excited about certain climbs. And it’s just so….easy.

That said, holy shit Leavenworth this fall is going to be fun.

Anyway, that’s more or less an update on what I’ve been up to since I’ve been back in Seattle and what I’m thinking for the next few months. The trip to Europe was (fairly) great. The flight back was atrocious. Twelve plus hours of ACTUAL flight time on a budget airline with a guy behind me who treated my seatback like his personal punching bag. At least I had an aisle seat. And the seat next to me was empty. When I sat in my middle seat and saw two empty seats by the window I immediately asked a flight attendent if I could move there if no one came. And no one did come. So when they said “boarding complete” I pounced on the empty row like a cobra on a naked mole rat. But the flight was still awful.

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week. It’s great to be in touch.

– Wetzler