A Year of Bouldering Progression

Chapter 1: Gym Climbing

I’m still trying to figure out when I went bouldering for the first time. Well, the VERY first time was sometime in maybe 2017 or 2018 when my friend’s friend Marc was visiting Bainbridge from Luxembourg and they took me to the gym on Bainbridge and I was literally fully pumped within 10 minutes (maybe less) and didn’t have a very pleasant experience. That was the FIRST time. But that didn’t start it. I wasn’t like, “Holy shit what is this new activity I must practice it all the time.”

Then at some point I took an Intro to Bouldering class at Vertical World in Seattle. This was (I think) sometime in late November of 2019. I think it was late November because with the intro class they gave you two weeks of free membership but I didn’t use it at all because I immediately went to Vietnam and also didn’t really….want to.

OMG ok here we go I found it. I’m looking through old emails and there it is:

So. I did this class. Was kind of intimidated. Not super stoked. And it’s unclear to me whether or not my friend Hunter took me BEFORE or after I’d done this class. Because that was the critical moment, when my friend Hunter took me to Seattle Bouldering Project. That’s when I might’ve done some reds and maybe even some greens and FOR WHATEVER REASON…became super stoked on bouldering. Because then after he took me I started going on my own. And it’s all history after that.

Chapter 2: Outdoor Climbing

VB-V3

From January to March (aka when the lockdown started) I climbed VERY REGULARLY at the gym. Just before lockdown I was basically climbing at the gym every day, mostly at Upper Walls in Fremont but also at SBP Poplar.

Then lockdown hit.

And I stopped climbing and moved to India.

Aka I took my climbing outdoors.

In March of 2020 I went climbing outdoors for the first time. In April I got Pablo Zuleta’s Western Washington Bouldering guidebook, and that also changed everything. I went to the Morpheus Boulders in the West Miller River Valley and sent my first “real” outdoor boulder problem: Car Door Traverse V0 on the famous Car Door Boulder.

(The first ever blog post I did about bouldering: https://whereswetzler.com/misadventures-of-a-novice-boulderer-part-1/)

The first thing bouldering outside taught me is that bouldering outside is WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY harder than bouldering in a gym. At least grade-wise. And landing-wise. And conditions-wise. And holds-wise. And pretty much everything else-wise. Bouldering outside you’re falling on a four-inch thick pad that’s (in my case) 4X6 feet and often times uneven. Bouldering inside you’re falling on a perfect pad that’s probably two feet thick and never uneven. Bouldering inside the holds are always dry and they never break and the holds are usually pretty damn good. Bouldering outside the holds are sometimes wet or slippery or covered in crap and usually much crimpier they are than indoors (depending on where you’re bouldering, of course).

Basically, they’re two different disciplines. And both rewarding, though let’s be honest, bouldering outside is the real deal, and bouldering inside is (albeit super super a;sldfjads;lkfjadl;k fun) training.

Or something.

In May of 2020 I sent my first V1 outdoors and got fully owned by a V2 (Beam Me Up) that I’d been looking at forever in the guidebook.

A couple weeks later I sent my first V2 outdoors (Eight Bit Slab, Gold Bar, WA).

And then in late June I sent my first V3 outdoors after projecting U2 in Leavenworth for a couple months.

The Road to V4

It would be a LONNNNNNNNNNG time before I sent V4 after sending V3. Like, many moons. Like, about six moons, to be exact. In the meantime I sent a bunch more V3’s, a bunch more V2’s, and I took my first every bouldering road trip, to Bishop, California!!!!!!!! Which was incredible. What an eye-opening experience. What amazing blocs. What amazing movement. What amazing, juggy holds (at the Happies). What cold camping!!!!!!! I almost froze to death!!! Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh but it was glorious and I can’t wait to get back. I didn’t send V4 there but whatever. I had a wonderful time. I got a bit stronger. Met some cool people.

Then, in December of 2020, I finally sent my first V4. I had been working on several V4’s: Serenity Now, Toto, Fridge Center, and Dirty Dancing. But Toto was the first to go, probably because it’s one of the easiest, and also since it’s slightly overhanging and under a tree it stays dry pretty much all winter. I climbed it just a couple days before Christmas, and I was ecstactic:

Injury

And then, on New Year’s Eve 2020, I got injured. I was bouldering at Goat Rock State Beach in Sonoma County, California with Carolyn and tore my LCL and probably damaged my meniscus due to a heel hook gone bad. I won’t go into details. I’m currently on the mend. In fact I’m getting better every day and I’m stoked and starting to feel really good again and I’m gym climbing and so I’ll just segue into the next segment…..

Chapter 3: Recovery and Beyond

As I said, I’m on the mend, and more stoked every day. I’ve found a lot of silver linings in this injury. For one thing it’s just made me more cognizant of the fact that you CAN get injured bouldering if you’re not paying attention, if you’re careless. Also, you can get injured even if you are these things. In fact, if you boulder for long enough, you’re likely to get injured. But what happens when you get injured? Do you bounce back? Do you learn from it? I hope to do both of these things and more. Recently I started climbing in the gym again, and I’m starting to feel good. My body is adjusting, but more importantly I’m becoming more mentally comfortable. I’m doing physical therapy, I’m trying to eat well, and I’m even injecting experimental peptides into my knee. All in the name of….bouldering? Progression? Purpose? V8?

I hope to continue to feel better, I hope to continue to heal, and I hope to keep climbing in the gym and at SOME point, maybe in April, maybe in May, start climbing outdoors again. I will only say this once, right here: My goal by the end of the fall season is to send V8 outdoors. I know it’s insane. But I also know I can do it. It would be incredible, and of course even if I don’t do it it will be incredible just to progress at bouldering and continue to have it be an integral part of my life. Because that’s what it is. Bouldering has now become an integral part of my life, and I’m thrilled about it. I’m thrilled to try new blocs, get stronger, have fun, and meet new people. And also to connect on some very fundamental level with movement, nature, and presence. Because that’s what it’s all about, right?

 

Dreamcatcher (#3)

There is a beverage that is the stuff lucid dreams are made of. It’s called GT’s Dreamcatcher and there’s a cold bottle of it currently resting against the skin of my palm. Using my hand-like appendage, I bring the bottle to my lips and drink of these life-giving waters, these waters infused with such things as beta glucan and alpha gpc and organic coffee from the coffee berry. If you were walking deep in the Amazon, or possibly in the Sierra Madre, and came across a stream bubbling with such waters, you would stoop, not unlike a deer fawn, and drink from them. And then would stand up again and exclaim, “Ahhhhh, tastes like beta glucan.”

For the record, I have no idea what beta glucan does. Maybe something with the muscles. Either way I just got a good dose of it.

Yes, friends, welcome to my morning routine, or rather the morning routine I wish I had. I don’t usually drink GT’s Dreamcatcher, the grocery department’s finest wellness water, because, well, it’s kind of expensive. It’s also cold and here in Seattle it’s quickly becoming fall, so much so that when I woke up this morning I almost immediately threw on sweatpants, but of course dodged this impulse at the last second in favor of trousers that would make me look less like a vagrant.

Why am I talking like an asshole?

It must be the beta glucan.

Anywah, GT’s Dreamcatcher. Whole Foods Interbay. Morning routine. Like I said, Dreamcatcher is my favorite of the so-called wellness waters, and for one very specific reason, though to explain that reason I’ll have to take you back to my days as a young sprite living in Minnesota and attending elementary school.

I must’ve been about eight at the time. It was dark, probably about 7pm, and I was skating in circles on the ice rink behind the elementary school in Chanhassen, where I spent the second six years of my life. I went round and round on my little hockey skates, smiling, exhaling icicles, looking up at the stars, and eventually got tired and decided that after one more loop I’d go into the warming hut that was next to the ice rink. As I approached the warming hut, blades thudding softly on the rubber mats leading up to the door, I heard some laughing inside. When I opened the door a man said, “For 10 dollars each I’ll give you whatever you want.” My friend Jenny and I looked at each other. “Claro,” we both said, and what had begun as an ill-fated hitchhiking trip had now become us eating lobster on a bar next to a beach in Cuba at a fancy all-inclusive resort. After lunch we went to the pool at the resort where we met some Brits who got drinks for us at the bar and then eventually when we felt brazen enough we got them ourselves.

You see what I’m talking about?

Dreamcatcher. On sale now at Whole Foods, $2.50 a bottle.

Anyway, I don’t think I’m going to San Diego. Sorry to change gears, but I felt it pertinent to mention that since I talked about it in yesterday’s post. I just can’t justify going. Why go there when everything I need and want is right here? People never talk about how much air travel pollutes. It’s like it’s some necessary evil. And granted sometimes it sort of is. But I don’t need to go to San Diego. I’d mostly be going because I’m bored. Which means I’d just be straight polluting, and I don’t know if I’m ok with that. It’s like how I have stock in Shake Shack (NYSE: SHAK). On the one hand I believe in this company, but on the other hand think of all the meat consumption. Am I ok with the massive amounts of meat processed for a fast food restaurant? When you’re a shareholder you’re essentially a part owner. So I guess I am ok with it. For now.

But I’m not ok with the San Diego trip.

I have now woken up from my GT’s dream and am drinking a yerba mate. My breakfast consisted almost entirely of meat. I am nothing if not hypocritical.

It’s going to be a beautiful day.

-W

Several Seconds too Late (#1)

I’m in Ballard. I didn’t ask to be in Ballard, and yet I’m forever finding myself there. That’s what happens when you live on the Magnolia side of the locks. You’re not going to go into Magnolia to do grocery shopping and run errands. That’s for the rich/criminally insane. If you live close to the locks you’re obviously going to cross said locks and do all of your errands in Ballard. You’re going to go to Trader Joe’s. You’re going to get the coffee samples given out by the lady who’s always gossiping about her co-workers. And then, loot in hand, you’re going to walk back to the locks along Ballard Ave, possibly stopping at Miro to get tea.

At least that’s one possibility.

There are many, many more possibilities. Some of them involve the bus. Some of them involve not getting tea. Some of them involve getting — stand by please — mate.

I have not had any mate today. Or yesterday.

But what I have had so far is green tea and black tea. The nook off the kitchen of my sister’s house is surprisingly tranquil. From it you can hear: A) the fountain from the neighbor’s yard, and B) the hum of the refrigerator in the kitchen. I don’t know which is more soothing. It also allows me to be close to my sister’s dog who likes to sit on the back stoop, surveying the yard for squirrels she can possibly murder. When she finds them she watches them intently at first, and then eventually goes sprinting after them, always arriving several seconds too late, or never having a shot in the first place since squirrels are generally in trees.

Generally. They also like power lines and fence tops.

If you’re a longtime Where’s Wetzler fan you know the following: 1) I’ve been traveling on and off for the past 10 years. I’ve visited many countries. I’ve visited many countries people don’t know are countries, like Monaco and Lichtenstein and San Marino, to name exactly three. But you also know that recently I promised someone — let’s call her my friend, let’s call her my mentor — that I would “settle down.” This meant me buying a boat in Olympia, sailing it up to Seattle, and living on it near the Ballard locks.

But fret not! I will still travel. Today for example I’m going to travel back to Trader Joe’s where I will buy more matcha/green tea cans. Yesterday I bought six. The idea was to ration them over the course of two days, but I ended up drinking all six yesterday. And then even more travels are on the horizon. Mexico in October. Vietnam in November. And I know what you’re asking yourself: Aren’t crabs just really big marine spiders? And the answer is yes, they’re probably in the same family. I would imagine they are. And someday I’ll probably get around to googling it.

And I know you’re also asking yourself: How are you going to have a blog dedicated to travel when you’re not even traveling that much, when you, Yaweh forbid, have SETTLED DOWN? And that’s a wonderful question. One to which I don’t really have an answer to yet.

I guess we’ll find out.

-W