16th and Oak

I’m sitting here on 16th and Oak in Vancouver, BC, muttering to myself in Spanish and English. I’m taking an interpreter test on the 28th in Yakima, and I thought it prudent to study. I used to do medical interpreting a lot, but it’s been a few years. I’m rusty. For example, I always forget how to say “exhale” and “inhale.” I mean, yeah, the words “exhalar” and “inhalar” exist in Spanish, but I’m not sure the layperson uses them, and as an interpreter it’s not enough to know a word that technically works; you need to know the word people actually use.

Two coffees was definitely too much this morning. I woke up after sleeping nine hours and tried to mobilize to get ready to go to Vancouver. I’ve had a bit of a sinus thing going on lately, and have felt a bit off. It’s getting better though; the sore throat is gone. I hit the road and drove into Blaine, where I filled out the ArriveCan stuff in the Cost Cutter parking lot, because there’s free WiFi there. And then I got in the border line, which was only supposed to be 20 minutes. Turned out to be more like an hour. When I finally got up to the lady at the booth, she asked me how working for Booking.com was. I wanted to say, “Um, well, I haven’t actually done work for them in two months. They suck. They keep telling us there’s going to be work, and then there never is.”

But instead, because I didn’t want her to realize I was basically unemployed, I said something about how it was “great at first, but the veneer of working for what I thought was a cool company quickly wore off.” Then I said something about a job interview I had on Monday that I was excited about.

After crossing the border my first stop was Tim Horton’s in Delta, where I got a large coffee with two creams. Traffic wasn’t terrible, as was to be expected for a random Saturday morning. Yes, traffic at the border was bad, but it was also somewhat heartening to see more people crossing it. Almost all WA plates heading north, and almost all BC plates heading south. Again, probably pretty normal for a Saturday morning.

Upon entering Vancouver I thought about what to do until I meet my friend Nomi at 230pm and she gives me instructions to take care of her devil cat Penny I’ve taken care of several times in the past. Penny and I actually get along quite well once we get used to each other. I lock myself in my room at night and she’s not permitted to enter. In the morning, like the little shit she is, she scratches the door to try to get me to come out. Ostensibly to feed her. And sometimes she gets a bit aggressive with demanding attention, which is annoying. The key is to wear jeans. I might have to buy jeans.

Since I had a couple hours to kill I stopped at the cafe, where I currently am, at 16th and Oak. I’ve just had my second coffee of the day, and my neurons are sizzling like batter freshly-poored on a wafflemaker. After this I’ll probably head to the MEC near Science World, so I can look at their climbing shoes and climbing guidebooks and almost definitely not buy anything. I climbed at VITAL Climbing in Bellingham yesterday, and so probably won’t climb until Monday, when it’s supposed to be dry in Van and somewhat dry in Squamish. And then it’s supposed to be dry again on Thursday, making for a perfect two days of rest. I kind of wrenched my should yesterday in Bellingham on a moderate sit start problem. I’d never been to a gym with more sit starts. It was kind of awesome/how things are outside.

The Bellingham climbing gym was small, but the setting was awesome. Was it as awesome as SBP? No, because nowhere is as awesome as SBP. But, a couple aspects of it were actually better!!! The fact that they had sit starts, for example, which SBP almost never has. The fact that they had more problems that resembled outdoor problems, which SBP doesn’t really have. Would I rather climb at VITAL for the rest of my life than SBP? Not in a million years. But at least it had a couple good things going for it.

And now it’s time to head downtown, and see what this cloudy Vancouver day holds in store. When way too caffeinated the best thing you can do is move, so that’s what I’m going to do now.

– Wetzler

Have I Cracked the Code? || R2V6 #1

So, I’ve decided to start giving these Road to V6 posts numbers, because I’ve decided to take this goal seriously. So even though there have been a lot of previous R2V6 posts, today’s, as you can see, is labelled #1. How many posts from here on out will there be in the R2V6 series? Probably quite a few. Time will tell.

ANYWAY, I climbed yesterday, 6/1/2022, and the previous session was four days before that, on 5/28/2022. The 5/28 session was at the Weiner Lake Boulders in Alaska. I didn’t really send much, just some warm-up stuff and then worked on a V3 traverse and a cool V3 slightly overhanging juggy face climb. But here’s the deal about that session and yesterday’s: I felt pretty damn good. For yesterday’s I might even say I felt amazing.

Of course, even after the first sesh I was thinking, Why did I feel good today? What was different about today’s session? And more importantly: How can I replicate and optimize it?

Before we start discussing some data on the sessions, please note that I basically hadn’t felt that great climbing since about January 2022. I felt like I had plateau’d or was even making backwards progress. It was quite distressing. So to climb and actually feel pretty good for these last two sessions has been a breath of fresh air. It’s no fun to feel weak, tired and on the verge of injury basically every time you go out climbing.

THE DATA

1st Sesh: Weiner Lake Boulders, Alaska (5/28/2022)

Rest days before sesh: 2

Sleep before the sesh: Decent.

Diet in days leading up to sesh: Not great, but somewhat intermittent fasting

Diet morning of sesh: Coffee with cream in the morning from a cafe in Girdwood, nothing else but water, then some collagen powder right before the sesh

Warm-up: Decent. Basically went with the flow of the sesh. Hung from some rock. Tried some easy warm-ups. Worked the fun part of the traverse V3.

Crux of the sesh: Worked a V3 that I got really close on. Fun problem. Tried pretty hard. Shoulder felt OK. Elbow felt OK. Most importantly felt like I COULD try pretty hard.

Notes/conclusions: Two rest days before the sesh probably had a pretty big influence. No carbs or big meal weighing me down before sesh could’ve had a decent influence. How did the coffee in the morning influence the sesh/did it?

2nd Sesh: SBP Fremont (6/1/2022)

Rest days before sesh: 3 (!)

Sleep before sesh: NOT THAT GREAT (maybe about six hours)

Diet in days leading up to sesh: Decent, some intermittent fasting

Diet morning of sesh: Koia cold brew protein shake, tea with collagen/protein powder, PCC hot bar chicken and vegetables around 12pm (so pretty low net carb leading up to sesh)

Warm-up: Decent. Did some scapula pull-ups, then some scap engage core (basically keep arms straight and start to pull into a front lever [for an example of a warm-up I want to try to follow, check this amazing Hannah Morris video with coach Belinda Fuller). Climbed yellows and reds and greens to warm up, made half-assed attempt to focus on things like straight arms, downclimbed, did a decent amount of volume.

Crux of the sesh: Tried a black on the slightly overhanging well that felt like a pretty hard black. Gave it a good flash go with semi-terrible beta. Then rested standing and walking around and brushing (not just lying on the mat with my elbows back), thought about the beta, then two goes later sent it. Felt thuggy and proud. Probably could’ve optimized beta better and engaged shoulders better was still super psyched.

Notes/conclusions: Three rest days before sesh amazing. Another point in favor of minimal carbs before sesh but YES on protein. Had coffee morning of sesh, still not sure how this influences things. Shoulder felt decent. Didn’t feel like I was tiptoeing around injury nearly as much. Tried pretty damn hard on the black/hardest I’d tried in awhile. Felt so good to try hard and actually send something. Quit immediately after sending black.

MOVING FORWARD

If you’re still reading this I commend you. You must be pretty obsessed with bouldering/really bored.

My takeaways so far are the following:

  1. Rest days are absolutely paramount. Right now I need a minimum of two rest days between sessions.
  2. Low carb with protein the morning of climbing could be helping quite a bit.
  3. Intermittent fasting could be helping quite a bit.
  4. Need to continue to prioritize technique/proper form while climbing.
  5. Party.

That’s all for now. The next sesh will hopefully be Saturday, after two days of rest, and hopefully outside.

Weather permitting.

– MW

 

 

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

Which is Better: SBP Poplar or SBP Fremont?

Note: For the original review of SBP Fremont, click here.

I have consulted with the rock gods and they have provided me with the answer to the question posed in the title of this post: Which is better: Seattle Bouldering Project Poplar or Seattle Bouldering Project Fremont? You might think this would be subjective and that there could be no definitive answer. But as I found out after talking to the rock gods for several hours over a sour yesterday at Fremont Brewing, especially the god of granodiorite, you’d be wrong.

Let’s start with a few comparisons that are objectively objective:

  1. Size

SBP Poplar is much bigger than SBP Fremont Main. However, if you add Upper Walls to SBP Fremont (and for the purposes of this post we do), SBP Poplar is still bigger, but not THAT MUCH bigger.

Advantage: Poplar

2. Training facilities

Poplar has way more hangboards, two spray walls, a fitness room, a way bigger gym, and two treadwalls.

Fremont has nice moon/kilter boards, a smaller gym, and that’s about it.

Advantage: Poplar

3. Age

Fremont is, obviously, much newer.

Advantage: Fremont

……………………………………………………………………………………….

So far the advantage seems to be going to Poplar. Now let’s move onto things that are slightly more subjective.

4. Setting

Advanced climbers seem to be able to appreciate the differences in setting between the two locations. I, being an ignoramus who’s only climbed for 2+ years, do not. To me they seem pretty much the same. The only blue I’ve ever flashed was at Fremont, and the only pink I’ve ever sent was at Fremont, but I also climb at Fremont quite a bit more since it’s closer to where I live. I generally like the volumes and walls better at Fremont because they seem newer, but that could just be mostly in my head.

Advantage: Push

5. Vibes

OK, so this is a tough one, but it’s also the most important one. Which location has better vibes? By “vibes” I mean ambience, environment, mood, feeling. Which one are you more likely to go to and come out saying, “Damn, the people were rad there tonight. People were crushing and everyone was so nice and I think that one girl even looked at my butt.” Again, the purists would say SBP Poplar, because the purists live in south Seattle and are jaded. But after consulting the gods over our second sour at Fremont Brewing, the goddess of schist, a cute little number named Trina who loves crimpy face problems and hates kneebars, provided the definitive answer: SBP Fremont (and actually Upper Walls).

Advantage: Fremont 

6. Staff

Again, a tough one. I have more experience with the SBP Fremont staff and I’m inclined to say they’re nicer there, but it’s not like they’re “not nice” or “not professional” at either of the locations. That said, I used to go to Poplar all the time before Covid, and in all have had way more solid interactions with the staff at SBP Fremont. So I’m going to go out on a wiry sapling’s branch and say it:

Advantage: Fremont

7. Crowds

This one could probably be put in the subjective category if I talked to the people at SBP. I’m sure they could tell me in two seconds which one gets more traffic, though I’m not sure they could tell me which gets more traffic relative to size. I’ve been to both at times (read: weeknights) when they feel like an absolute Covid factory, and I’ve been to both when they feel like ghost towns (read: weekdays). The main areas of both gyms I would say are equally crowded on a weeknight, while the lesser-known areas (the northwest room at Poplar and Upper Walls in Fremont) aren’t so bad. So…..

Advantage: Push (except when it’s Seattle Pacific night at Fremont, in which case, run for your life)

8. Location

Obviously Fremont is easier to get to for me, but I think most would agree Fremont is just a much nicer location in general. It’s close to restaurants, cafes, Gas Works, and in a nice residential neighborhood. Poplar is close to I-5 and a homeless encampment where I saw a lady the other day blocking the road and intimidating a small dog. Not a great scene. Fremont you can walk out of and go to Fremont Brewing or the Pacific Inn and grab a beer with your friends, Poplar you can walk out of and go to a…Shell station.

Advantage: Fremont

9. Miscellaneous

What kind of things could you include in a “miscellaneous” category. Well, I haven’t really talked about facilities so far. Poplar, for example, has WAY more storage for your stuff. Fremont basically has none. People end up just strewing their shit on the ground like it’s a yard sale. Poplar also has a sauna, though to be fair the men’s locker room usually smells like a dirty gym sock. Poplar also has more chilling areas, more places to lurk and watch people climb, though the mezzanine section upstairs at Fremont is quite nice. One thing I will say about Poplar: they sell guidebooks, and some obscure ones at that, like the Okanagan Bouldering Guidebook. So…advantage?

Advantage: Poplar

There you have it, folks. In a close but not that close race, Seattle Bouldering Project Fremont wins the competition in the illustrious “Who’s Better?” challenge. This isn’t to say that SBP Poplar isn’t worth visiting, of course. Both are fabulous climbing gyms, something that becomes apparent as soon as you climb anywhere else. And the vibes are great at both too, generally, and something your attitude greatly influences and a subject on which the bouldering gods (except for Trina) were curiously unable to comment. Either way, get out there and rip some pinks. Or oranges. Or whites. Or just sit in the mezzanine and watch other people crush.

– Wetz

Bend to Seattle Driving Directions

I leave the LOGE, everyone’s favorite hipster motel, at around 8:00am. I’ve now been fasting for over 60 hours. At 72 hours, I can break the fast. I’ve put a lot of thought into what I’ll break my fast with. So far the frontrunner is grass-fed bougie yogurt by Alexandra, which I plan to purchase at Whole Foods on the way to my boat. Other candidates include bone broth, sardines and a coconut smoothie.

The girl at the reception gives me coffee despite saying that it’s only for guests “who’d been promised it.”

I was promised no such thing, I tell her, but she gives it to me for free anyway.

I’m now on the road, making my way through Bend to Highway 97, drinking said coffee. There isn’t much traffic.  A little bit heading north to Redmond, but that soon peters out. After Madras and a stop to refuel at the Plateau Travel Plaza, a place I’ll now go to for all my gasoline needs since they allow self-service in Oregon (!), it peters out completely. It’s just me and the open road and a Subaru who seems hellbent on passing me. Heckbent. I pull over to check some boulders, but realize their access is blocked by a gate because they’re on private land. How many amazing boulder problems will never get climbed because they’re owned by some guy named Cleatus in Central Oregon who’d rather shoot you full of buckshot than let you climb his fantasy blocs? Probably not that many, actually. But some.

I like transitions when driving. I imagine we all do. Which is why it pleases me when the ponderosa pines and the sage brush give way to evergreens as we climb into the foothills of Mount Hood. Then it’s all evergreens, and it’s wet, and pretty soon it’s snowing. A black BMW is tailgating me and eventually passes me in a lane covered with slush and pebbles, their tires slinging slush at the Subee. I flip them off. Damn right I flip them off. Why not? They’re driving like an asshole, and I want them to know it.

In Sandy, Oregon, I stop at Safeway hoping they’ll have the FitAid Zero recovery drink, which has only five calories and I’ve decided is OK for my fast, but they don’t. In fact, they don’t stock any FitAid products. Instead I buy some kind of Evian drink with zinc and magnesium, and also some Smart Water, and go out in the parking lot and sit in my car. In about a half hour I’ll be in Washington. As far as any weather goes, the hardest part of the trip is behind me. But the only interesting part of the trip is also behind me, too. Driving the I-5 corridor up from Portland to Seattle is about the most boring drive on the planet, especially when you’ve done it many times. To top it off, the Subee doesn’t do well at high speeds. She hates them. The Subee was happy back when the speed limit was 55, because then she could go 59 and feel like a badass. But she doesn’t like I-5. Going 67 feels SORT OF OK, but anything above that and she gets nervous. Couple that with the fact that I feel a bit delirious from the fast and the coffee and I’m not exactly looking forward to the second half of the trip. But c’est la vie, or asi es la vida, or so ist das Leben or however you’d like to say it. For now the only thing that matters is that I’m sitting in a parking lot in Sandy, Oregon, and life is pretty good. I’m in the process of doing my longest fast ever. My body feels supremely not inflamed, though it must be said that the recent back exercises I’ve started doing have me feeling a bit weird. But whatever.

I stop at a rest stop somewhere on the I-5 corridor about a half hour north of Portland to do a little walking around and possibly my back exercises. There’s a dude with an old Subaru with a bunch of shit in it and a cardboard sign that says something like, “Homeless. Anything helps,” and I think, Dude, you’re not homeless. You have a car. I do a couple laps around the rest stop. Rest stops are such a weird environment. Everyone is transiting. No one really talks to each other.  Most people don’t stay for more than a few minutes. I guess the truckers stay for a long time sometimes. The truckers sleep. The truckers sit in their trucks watching YouTube videos. The truckers sit in their trucks reading Proust.

My body starts feeling gnarly right around Centralia. My back feels gnarly. I need to get out of this fucking car. I love the Subee but mother of god get me out of here. In about four hours I can finally eat, but I have a sudden urge to do some climbing on the way home, and also to hang out with someone. I want to see what it’s like to hang out with someone after not having eaten for three days. I call Matt and ask him if he wants to climb at SBP. He says he’s there “working” and just come get him when I get there. When I get there we sit and talk about climbing and his living situation for a bit, and then we make our way downstairs to do some easy climbs. My body feels gnarly, but it also feels kinda good. I feel kinda free. I don’t feel strong, exactly, but I feel kinda free. I have abs. There’s nothing like starving yourself for a few days to get abs. I can’t wait to get home and pee on a keto strip to see just how deeply I’m in ketosis. Thing’s gonna be purple AF. I climb fairly easy, not trying anything harder than a purple, and down climbing rather than falling. And when things get too hard I bail and down climb, rather than push myself to where I might take a fall. My back will thank me. My back is thanking me.

Finally, after a stop at Whole Foods on the way home from climbing, it’s time to eat. I do my back exercises one more time and then it’s 5:33pm and now I can do whatever I want. The world’s my oyster, and it’s shucked and sitting right in front of me with lemon and a nice mignonette. Except in my case the oyster is a vat of premium yogurt, which I tuck into. Or at least try to tuck into. It doesn’t taste that good. It’s disappointing. And my body is actually screaming for something else, so I reach for the sardines.