Chilling on Eastlake Ave in My Car Writing a Blog Post | Road to V4

Well ok, this is a new one for me, blogging from my car outside Seattle Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy. Why am I here, you ask? Why am I sitting in my car on a busy thoroughfare blogging?

The answer is simple: I needed to mix it up.

Yes, friends, I realized something this morning, something frankly disquieting. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, “almost” being the operative word, since I am not at all ashamed to admit it: My life, it would seem, is empty without bouldering.

Now, before you jump to any conclusions, let me just explain a bit. Here’s the deal: The days that I boulder feel incredibly full. I have a sense of purpose. I have a mission. I’m exploring. I’m improving myself, improving my body, and it’s almost impossible to go bouldering without making some kind of progress, however micro that progress is. For example, when Carolyn and I went bouldering the other day I didn’t send anything new. But I still made so much progress. I think I’m starting to learn, for example, how to figure out beta. Before, I had this weird mental block where I would almost try to make problems harder because if they were too easy I thought I was cheating. So I’d find what I figured was the intended beta and then stick to that no matter what because I felt like doing anything outside of that was somehow cheating. Isn’t that insane? Isn’t that absolutely, no-holds-barred, elephant dung crazy??? It is crazy. I know it’s crazy. Because the whole point of bouldering is figuring out the beta that’s gonna get you up the rock. And sometimes the beta you find will be wildly different from the “intended” beta, but everyone climbs differently, and everyone’s body is different, so “intended” beta doesn’t mean “mandatory beta.”

Basically what would happen is this: I’d find a boulder (let’s say it’s V2 in this case), find what felt like V2 beta, and then PUT BLINDERS ON TO ANY OTHRE BETA BECAUSE IF I FOUND BETA THAT MADE IT FEEL V1 I FELT LIKE I WAS CHEATING.

I’m sure some of you can identify with this. Also, there are times when the “cheating” thing is legit. If you stand start a sit start boulder, for example. If you use a detached block that’s “off,” ETC ETC ETC ETC ETC ETC ETC ETC ETC ETC

(etc).

Anyway, we were supposed to be talking about progress. And sitting on Eastlake Ave. feeling cars whiz by.

So this figuring out of how to figure out beta is major progress. This acceptance of making it as easy as possible for me without “cheating” is huge progress and I think is going to allow me to get off the plateau I’ve been on for the past few months (and continue upward). Physically, I know I’m ready to boulder V4, V5 and maybe even harder. Technique-wise, I’m probably ready for those grades, too. But MENTALLY I’ve been stuck at about the V2, V3 level. And moving beyond that mental pleateau is one of the things I’m most excited about right now.

OK what the hell were we talking about. What is the point of this blog post. I have to pee and there are no bathroom prospects anywhere close. The Tottenham vs. Chelsea game starts in just over an hour.

OK, I remember what we were talking about. We were talking about how my life feels empty without bouldering.

Um, that’s pretty much all there is to it. On the days when I DON’T boulder I need to socialize or play the piano or do some good reading or writing if I don’t want it to feel empty. This is something I’m WORKING ON, i.e. accepting the days where I just don’t do much. I know many of you would kill to be in my position, or at least think you would kill to be in my position, because the grass is often, if not always, if not at least sometimes, more green.

If I don’t go bouldering today I won’t be going until Thursday since I can’t boulder tomorrow because I actually have plans.

I think I’m ready to be done chilling on Eastlake Ave. It’s one thing to chill on a quiet side street when you don’t have to pee and it’s quite another altogether to be on a street where the passing cars actually make your car rock side to side and a dude walks by smoking a cigarette and it drifts directly into your vehicle. I wish I was going bouldering today — and I could totally go — but my wrist and ankle will probably appreciate having a couple more days to rest.

Anyway, here’s a photo of where I am right now:

Damn, pretty sick resolution.

OK, time to go find a bathroom.

– Wetzler

 

Unnamed V3 aka A Day in Index | Road to V4!

Good morning, Friends and Lovers. Friends of course, in the platonic sense, and lovers also sort of in the platonic sense, i.e. lovers of bouldering, lovers of good literature, lovers of good tea, lovers of getting lost in foreign lands, lovers of Vancouver, lovers of crossing borders, lovers of Leavenworth, lovers of Index, etc. etc. You are all my friends and lovers. We are lovers. Lovers of life. Lovers of yerba mate and earl grey tea.

Etc., etc.

(Etc.).

OK, sorry, I really am just waking up right now, and I am having a cup of earl grey tea mixed with coconut/almond creamer, but my brain still hasn’t woken up. I actually woke up at a like 8:30am today, which is WAY past when I normally wake up, and I credit this to the fact that I’m sleeping MUCH better now that I’ve moved the fan further away from my person, and also because of what will be one of the subjects of today’s blog, a somewhat dastardly fall I took while bouldering yesterday at the River Boulders near Index.

That’s right, friends: I fell.

But it’s OK. Honestly, I’m kinda glad it happened. And while I rolled my right angle and gently sprained my right wrist and almost hit my head, I’m just glad it wasn’t worse, because it could’ve been much worse.

But it wasn’t worse.

It was fine.

Let me start at the beginning of yesterday, though. Let’s walk through the whole damn day, step by step. You don’t have anything better to do, right? You’re sitting at home “working remotely,” aka mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or watching YouTube videos or trying to figure out why your damn sourdough isn’t rising. So just take a second and let’s take a little stroll through my day yesterday. Because these fall days are beautiful, and yesterday, despite the fall, and even BECAUSE of the fall, was gorgeous.

OK. The beginning. I was at coffee in Queen Anne with Carolyn. Storyville. This place has AMAZING coffee but is expensive AF and apparently owned by Christians. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Just something to note. The insane prices are most noteworthy.

Carolyn (bless her right ventricle) treated me to a DECAF soy latte, which hit the spot in so many ways. We sat there at the table on the sidewalk, watching people walk by, talking about our lives, a scent of fall in the air and leaves turning colors strewn about the sidewalk. A slight bite to the air, if you know what I mean, and the sun, which doesn’t rise quite as high, leaves a light that is distinctly fall-ish, enhancing the already beautiful colors of the leaves. In short, there’s nothing better than drinking good coffee outside a cafe with a friend on a beautiful fall day.

Then, I drove off alone to go boulder Index, and Carolyn went off to go sportclimb Exit 38, but 20 minutes into my drive she called and said her friend had bailed and could she come bouldering with me? I of course did a backflip inside my car and then calmly said, “Yeah, that sounds good. Where do you wanna meet?” We met at the Wal-Mart in Monroe, Washington, and I went inside to get some deodorant and browse, which was a singular experience. Take back our freedom!!!!! Don’t take our guns!!!! Build that f$#$ing wall! These are the rallying cries of the Monrovian. The best part is in the next town over, Startup (you can’t make up these names), someone has a banner on their fence that says (wait for it): “Viva la revolution. Take back our freedom.”

In how many ways is this funny. We could probably break this little banner down over the next 10 or so paragraphs, but I’ll keep my questions short. First of all, why “Viva la REVOLUTION” and not “Viva la REVOLUCION”??? Why is “revolution” in English when the first part is in Spanish???? Also, to what revolution are they referring? I assume, and this is the best part, that they’re sub- consciously referring to the Cuban Revolution, i.e. the advent of communism in that country, i.e. in many minds the antithesis of freedom.  BUT WHO KNOWS. WHO CAN GET IN THE COMPLEX MINDS OF THE WONDERFUL FOLKS OF STARTUP. Maybe this is actually WAY beyond me, and I’m the idiot here. Maybe they’re referring to the French Revolution and some kind of agrarian takeover. I JUST DON’T KNOW. But either way, I’m so intrigued. You’ve done it again, Startup.

(ok let’s take a quick intermission. tea time, coffee time, whatever. just get up and stretch a bit and then we’ll continue talking about the day).

OK, back.

After Wal-Mart in Monroe we drove to Index where we checked out the Lower Mound climbing area. I was fairly non-plussed (complete wrong use of that word). I don’t really care about sport climbing but it was cool and inspiring to stand at the bottom of some of these routes, following the bolts to the top as your neck begins to crik. I could see myself climbing many of the routes and instantly see the main difference between sport climbing and bouldering. Sport climbing is endurance, bouldering is difficulty. Take a V3 bouldering problem and stretch that over many moves and you have an insanely hard sportclimbing route.

ANWAY. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes. Carolyn and I then drove over to the River Boulders, just a hop skip and a pas de bourre from the Town Walls, and we walked down the path saying, “Copper wires! Copper wires! Copper wires!!!” because on one of the paths leading down to the boulders there are a bunch of copper wires cris-crossing it, and it looks like they were almost put there by design to make someone trip. I would’ve already tripped on them many times if I didn’t have the reactions of a Thompson’s Gazelle. And I didn’t want Carolyn to trip on them, so thus began our rallying cry.

My whole GOAL, as you’ll know from yesterday’s post, was to climb Finger Crack V3. I had watched videos on this climb, thought about the moves, even PRACTISED THEM IN THE SHOWER so that I would be ready for this boulder. And what happened? Well, it was wet. There was water in the crack. Even though it had been dry all day, there was water in the crack. So we had to improvise. We warmed up (Carolyn sent it in amazing fashion) on Unnamed V1 around the corner, and then started having cracks at Unnamed V3, which is just down from Unnamed V1. Unnamed V3 (which I really wish had a name), is a pretty fabulous problem. You start with a right hand on a sidepull and left hand on an undercling with your feet on a sloping ledge, traverse left a bit, grab a ledge above you, and then proceed to haul yourself up onto that ledge while reaching for a decent hold just below the lip. I didn’t have that much desire to session this boulder, but these were the proverbial lemons that our proverbial lives had given us, and sessioning it meant making the proverbial lemonade.

We were both giving it good go’s, and I was getting somewhat close (I’d sessioned it once before with Barold), and then I tried a somewhat different beta where I moved even further down the sloping ledge before reaching for the lip, and the beta worked because I was able to grab the hold just under the lip perfectly, and PULL MYSELF ONTO THE LEDGE, and then grab the lip, and then, and then…..

This is where things kind of broke down.

You see, the ledge before the lip was kinda wet. So by the time I got to the lip my hands were kinda wet. And even though I felt tremendously unstable I just, well, went for it.

And that’s when I remember falling from somewhat great heights to the pad below, BARELY catching the edge of the pad, rolling my right ankle slightly, spraining my right wrist slightly to break my fall, and ALMOST, ALMOST hitting my head on a rock right before I tumbled to a stop.

I sat on the ground for a second clutching my right wrist and breathing. “I’m fine,” I told Carolyn. I was 80% sure I was fine. I just lay there for a few moments, in the rocks. “That’s the gnarliest fall I’ve ever taken bouldering,” I said.

Eventually I got up and surveyed the extent of my injuries. I knew the next few minutes would tell the tale. If things got worse, something was wrong. If things got better, then I was in the clear.

And thankfully I’m pretty much in the clear. Though my wrist and ankle are feeling a bit tender today.

Now, that was basically the end of that session, and HERE’S THE DEAL:

I’m not bummed about it. In fact, I’m stoked. The fall could’ve been WAY WORSE and was an eye opener. When you don’t have proper pad setups and things are wet, DON’T PUSH YOURSELF. Also, I came REALLY close to sending that problem, and know I will when I go back. Also, I made some beta breakthroughs, i.e. figuring out how to solve problems, and that’s huge and actually the subject for a different post.

We got back in the car and had a nice drive back. All in all it was a good day, and I was stoked on the session. Now I have a good excuse to rest a few days and then, well, I’ll be back. Ready for dry granite, ready to send, and ready to see some damn larches.

Viva la revolution!

– Wetz

 

Going to Index! | Road to V4

getting rad n
Happiness is a couple of bouldering and an approach hike with a friend.

Good morning Where’s Wetzler readers and fellow boulderers!!!!!!!! And also good morning to those of you who don’t boulder though not quite as cheery a good morning because to be honest I’m saving most of my cheer for the boulderers since I consider the rest of you second class citizens. I’m kidding, of course. I might be kidding. I’m definitely not kidding. But I do consider the rest of you people!!!! I just don’t really understand how a discipline like bouldering could exist, could indeed be out there at your disposal, and you would decline to participate. I don’t understand it all. It’s beyond me. I cannot fathom it.

Anyway. I’m sitting on the boat right now drinking my customary earl grey tea mixed with some kind of non-dairy creamer. It’s not that I can’t tolerate dairy, it’s just that it makes me feel a little slow. And I can’t afford to feel slow today because I think I’m………………………………………………………….GOING TO INDEX (caps Yaweh’s). Yes, that’s right, friends, I think I’m going to Index today, aka everyone’s favorite hamlet west of the Cascades and east of Gold Bar, aka the whitewater rafting capital of the Skykomish Valley, aka the sport climbing capital of the Skykomish Valley, aka the town with the cute little park and the hotel that might not be a hotel and the general store where when you call to ask if they sell shovels because your car is stuck at the Skykomish River Boulders parking they’re rude to you and hang up.

Aka.

Now, I maybe shouldn’t be going to Index today because of my teres minor, aka my shoulder. My shoulder is not feeling great. In fact, it’s feeling pretty terrible. BUT, it’s really hard to figure out how it’s ACTUALLY feeling until I ACTUALLY climb. And the reason for that is because sometimes with these tendon and muscle injuries there’s also a nerve component, and what you mistake for an aggravated tendon might just be an aggravated nerve. It’s very possible I’ll get to the boulders today and think, Oh, damn, my shoulder actually feels bomber, and then proceed to CRUSH Finger Crack V3, CRUSH Unnamed V3 around the corner, semi-CRUSH slash at least attempt The Enigma V4, and semi-CRUSH slash mostly get shut down by The Jewel V3 and Leggo My Ego V6. But damn, I really wanna see if I can least do the techy section at the beginning of Leggo my Ego. Though that’s pretty much the whole boulder. I mean, you have the dyno, but the dyno looks pretty easy. Except that the landing is a sloping rock that might be kind of hard to cover with one pad. We’ll see what happens. First I actually have to get off my boat, get my stuff together, and make the drive out there.

(Sorry, just getting distracted by Leicester aka Jamie Vardy dismantling Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. The announcer just said the phrase, “Country mile.” I find this infintely endearing and will try to use it at least once in conversation today even though I’ve never used this phrase. Maybe I can use it with the cashier at Safeway. Maybe I can use it at Trader Joe’s when I go there in the next 30 minutes.)

So yeah, that’s the plan for today: Go to Index. And if it’s for some reason not dry in Index then, well, I don’t know what I’m gonna do. Because I don’t really feel like driving all the way out to Leavenworth today. That, for some reason, just seems immeasurably far. If I did go to Leavenworth today, though, I know where I’d stay. Not in the campground. Not in any of the dispersed camping. In fact, not even in Leavenworth at all. I’d be in Wenatchee, at everyone’s fourth favorite chain hotel, the SureStay by Best Western in East Wenatchee, a hop skip and a meniscus tear from the East Wenatchee Mall and two blocks from everyone’s 34th favorite Mexican Restaurant, El Porton, where the only thing bigger than the portions are the……Jesus I wish I could think of something funny to say here. But I can’t. And now I can’t blog anymore, either, because it’s time to get ready.

To Index!

– Wetz

Why I Gave Up Energy Bars

Embed from Getty Images

Recently, I gave up energy bars. This was a big decision, since bars formed a big part of my life. Almost every day I’d go into Whole Foods, buy some kind of caffeinated beverage, and then just stand there, looking at the bars. Sometimes I’d pick one up and look at the ingredients. Sometimes I’d buy one. Sometimes I’d buy three.

And now those days are over.

Before we talk about why I gave up bars, however, let’s talk about the different types of bars there are, and the different types of goons who eat them.

We’ll start with a guy who just eats Clif Bars. I don’t know if this kind of guy exists but if he does he probably: a) has very little imagination, b) works in finance or similar field, c) is really into bike riding and/or hiking. I could rant all day about people who like hiking. I mean, JUST hiking. Like people who go into the mountains and just walk around in them a bunch and then get in their car and go home. “Oh, man, what a sick day we had. Can you believe those views? And we like totally worked up a sweat. God, it’s so good to hit the trail.” But I’ll save that rant for another blog post.

Then there’s the guy/gal who just eats Lara Bars. This is sort of me. Lara Bars are/were definitely one of my go-to bars. But beware the person who ONLY eats Lara Bars. Like, they would never get any other kind of bar. The first thing you’ll probably notice about this person is they don’t wear deodorant. They’re wearing those loose-fitting, hippie parachute pants. They probably have an eyebrow piercing or at the very least a nose piercing. They’re 96% vegan. They talk a lot about certain movements and yet spend most of their days just like everyone else, driving around and consuming. They have a more varied interest set. Sure, they like hiking, but they also do yoga, climb, and then wildcard activities like kayaking and maybe the occasional surfing. They’re kind of fun to hang around and maybe even pretty attractive, but they’re also insufferable, too. Mostly they just smell like campfire and camphor oil.

Lastly there’s the person who gets things like Builders Bars and bars focused on improved recovery after lifting weights or other performing other strenuous activity. Beware this person, not just because of their questionable taste in bars, but because they’re probably a criminal. This is the same kind of person who graduated from drinking energy drinks like Ballz when they were younger. This person also coincidentally works in finance, but wears flashy suits and has a nasty streak. This person doesn’t usually read books but when they do they’re books like Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday (which they don’t finish, of course). Maybe even secretly something by Jodi Picoult.

And then there’s me. Like I said, I’m kind of a Lara Bar guy. But I’m also kind of a Clif Bar guy. Hell, I’m even a Power Bar guy, if I can find them. There are a ton of other bars I like too and I’m open to pretty much any kind of bar. I like Perfect Bars, GoMacro bars, Kind bars, Primal Kitchen bars, any kind of self-professed paleo bar as long as it doesn’t have sugar alcohols. Basically, being a bar guy, my favorite thing to do is go to Whole Foods or any other place that has a lot of bars, and check out the offerings. Read the ingredients. Read the nutrition facts. And this last one is the perfect segue for talking about why I gave up bars, because the long and short of it is this: I gave up bars because of their ingredients, because (almost) all of them have one thing in common: Too much sugar, too many carbs.

There was a time when I would eat five Clif Bars a day. It was a very specific week a couple years ago, and it was the week I was riding my bike from LA to San Francisco. When in the town of Carmel, California I met a guy who was also riding his bike, though he was riding south. We ate some pastries outside a cafe and he even bought me a coffee and somehow the conversation turned to diet. I told him I’d basically just been living off Clif Bars. And he said, “Hey, when the furnace is hot enough, it’ll burn anything.”

Which is true. When the furnace is hot enough, it’ll burn anything. But most of us don’t go through the day with our furnaces burning very hot. Most of us, in a typical day, barely turn our furnaces on. Sure, we might turn them on for the 20 minutes we go on a run, but the rest of the time they’re just sitting there, distinguishable only by the faint glow of the pilot light. And here’s the thing: ENERGY BARS WERE MADE FOR FURNACES RUNNING AT FULL BLAST. If you’re gonna eat a Clif Bar, you better be exercising, and exercising strenuously. Like, you better be on a 10-mile hike. Like, you better be running from the cops. Like, you better be coding so hard your little fingers are starting to bleed. Otherwise, energy bars are superfluous. You don’t need them. And taking in that many carbs and sugars when you’re just sitting around means that in a couple hours (or less) you’re going to crash. Which is funny, because for people running marathons, energy bars are there so they DON’T crash (or at least that’s what they claim). But for most of us who are just sitting around all day crying, energy bars are too much. Too much sugar, too many carbs. Take the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Clib Bar, for example. It has 20 grams of added sugar. 20 GRAMS. That’s about half the daily recommended intake of sugar for a man. In one little bar. It doesn’t make you feel good. It makes you feel like crap.

So lately, as I’ve experimented more with my diet and things like lowering the amount of carbs I consume/not consuming carbs until later in the day, I’ve realized there’s no place for bars in my life anymore. Or at least that place is reduced. I used to get bars every morning before I’d go climbing. But then I realized they were actually making me feel MORE tired. I was crashing after eating them. Now I do the opposite. I keep my meals light — especially the carbs — before I go climbing, because I’ve found that makes me feel lighter, stronger, and more energetic. I would love to walk around in the forest all day just shovng Peanut Toffee Buzz into my mouth, reveling in the caffeine, but that would be a perfect way to feel like crap and get fat. I’m sorry to break it to you, but most energy bars are basically candy bars, i.e. you’re kidding yourslef if you think they’re good for you.

So now what do I do when I go to Whole Foods if I don’t stand there gazing at all the bars? Well, I still get my caffeinated beverages. And to be perfectly honest, often times I still look at the bars, because I’m hoping one day there will be a bar that’s somehow lower in carbs, lower in sugar, but without a bunch of weird ingredients or sugar alcohols. Except, oh wait, I found it. It’s called: A handful of nuts, or,  a couple pieces of beef jerky. It doesn’t taste quite as good, but it’ll get you up the mountain a lot more effectively. If that’s the kind of thing you’re into.

 

 

Man Don’t Climb | Road to V4

It’s been raining all morning. This much is true. I don’t know what else is true. I suppose it’s true that I’m drinking pu-ehr tea right now mixed with heavy cream. I suppose it’s true that I just stretched my shoulder. I suppose it’s true that I’m going to flout the physical therapist’s recommendations of resting a week, half because I want to climb and half because I found him disagreeable as a person. Like, he wasn’t in particularly good shape and I’m thinking, Bruv, how are you giving me advice on how to be in form body when you’re slacking? How are you giving me advice on how to heal from climbing when you’ve never climbed in your life? I suppose when you’re climbing you’re always looking up, right? He says. No, I say, you actually look down all the time to see where you’re placing your feet. He tells me to rest for a week and the whole time I’m thinking, Bruv, weather supposed to get nice starting Monday, not just in Leavy but also in Index, Bruv. How you think I’m not gonna go to the River Boulders to shralp Finger Crack V3 and maybe try the first few positions on Leggo My Ego V6? Because the other day when I scoped Leggo My Ego for like the third time you know what I thought? I thought, I could do this boulder. I could send it. I could at least do the first couple moves. I could at least caress the first sloper. I could at least maybe show up and throw my pad down at the base of the rochet. I could at least chill and seem relevant. And you’re going to come and tell me, Bruv, no more loading your teres minor???? Get lost, Bruv.

I get up from the seat in the guest room in my parents’ house that seems like my room and go downstairs to make my SECOND cup of pu-ehr.

Bruv, he say, how you gonna act like man don’t climb. Man climb every day. Man climb V5. Man climb the V7. Man crimp. Man throw the meathook. And you know man be gettin’ that sticky icky friction even when temps be in the 30’s.

Thirties is pretty cold.

Man, man be talkin’ 30 degrees CEN-TI-GRADE, man. What you think I’m talkin’. Thirty degrees be hot, man.

And I say, Yo man I’m just looking for some physical therapy. Some exercises that will hopefully me to climb at 100% again. But he’s not listening. He’s already moved onto the next patient. He’s got his earbuds in. I’m so glad my insurance is paying for this because if I was paying out of pocket I’d be so pissed.

I’m actually amazed at how nice it’s supposed to be next week and the thought of not climbing is just apalling. So what I’ll probably do is just cancel my phys ther appointment with Bruv and call it good. I hella had my own rehabilitation routine going and it was feeling good but now Bruv’s phys ther routine has kinda thrown me off. Like Bruv not wanting me to do pushups when actually I gotta stengthen those opposing muscles so my shoulder can be more stable.

This pu-ehr is delicious, by the way. Yesterday I didn’t drink coffee and today I’m not having any, either. Today I’m taking the ferry back to Seattle and the only thing I have planned is to watch the Stanley Cup later. Which is why I’m not in a hurry to get back to Seattle. Oh, and I also have to go by Stone Way Hardware to get a tarp, and I hope they have the heavy duty white tarps in stock cuz if they don’t I’m about to have a conniption fit. Honestly at this point I’m about one night of bad sleep away from just sinking my boat. I’m trying to think of what redeeming qualities living on a 27-foot sailboat in the winter there are, and I can only think of about 60. The problem is all of them are outweighed by the simple fact that when you’re 6’2″ living on a boat you hit your head a lot.

Bruv.

I am rocketing through the tea this morning. I’ve already had two cups of mate and two cups of pu-ehr. I’ve already played the piano and straightened things up in the room where I was staying. I’ve already shaved my beard. I’ve already had a short text convo with Cory. I’ve already stepped outside onto the front porch and listened to the sound of the falling rain, indeed smelled the falling rain or the rain that’s just fallen. I’ve already showered. I’ve already looked at the news a bit and monitored my stocks and made a bank transfer between checking accounts. I’ve already weighed the possibility of going out to the peninsula tomorrow cuz actually the surf looks decent. I’ve already decided that I’m probably gonna climb on Monday or maybe even Sunday. I’ve already decided I’m gonna send Finger Crack V3. I’ve thought about how the landing could be improved at The Enigma V4. I’ve thought about how I’m gonna send Dirty Dancing V4 next time I’m in Leavenworth.

Bruv, how you gonna even act like hi don’t climb? Man climb harder than you. Man get up on the highball. Man climb the Apron boulders before you even send V2 in the gym. Man live at the Buttermilks.

It’s stopped raining. This is amazing. Should I go out for a walk? But my tea is steeping. It’s actually pretty clear now. I think the worst of it may be over.

What is the secret to having a body that just works even when you’re 37???????????????

 

Drinking Tea and Listening to the Rain


Hello, my ten or so readers, give or take. I hope you are all doing wonderfully today. I hope if you’re in the Seattle area you’re finding a way to enjoy the rain since it really can be beautiful and should not completely inhibit us from doing the activities we love. It’s almost gym climbing season in Seattle, i.e. when it’s too wet to climb at the UW crag or drive out to Gold Bar and you kinda just wanna climb inside with your homies or by yourself. Since learning to climb outdoors I’ve had a bit of an aversion to gym climbing. I don’t really see the point. It’s so wildly different than climbing outdoors. Climbing on something that’s meant to be climbed vs climbing on something that’s completely indifferent to you climbing on it. I used to watch videos of indoor climbing all the time and now it’s hard to fathom that. Indoor climbing is just so boring. You see all the holds mapped out. There’s no mystery. Whereas climbing outdoors there’s an infinite variety of holds and possibilities.

Obviously it’s not THAT clear cut, but if you’re in the Reiter foothills, it’s probably pretty clear cut ;).

Ok sorry I’m all scatterbrained this morning. I can’t concentrate. I’m at my parents’ house because I wanted to escape being on my boat so much in the rain, and there’s a lot going on here. Well actually there’s nothing going on here but there are so many possibilities. I could walk into town right now or I could go downstairs and make tea. Downstairs?????? What a concept. My boat doesn’t have a downstairs. Downstairs on my boat is where the fish live. Upstairs is a mast where the spiders make their webs. Which might have you wondering: how much longer am I gonna live on the boat? Well, I’m going to Mexico on October 11 so at least till then. Then the plan is to come back and make sure everything’s in order and then go BACK south, maybe to Mexico, maybe to Guatemala, maybe to Costa Rica or Panama or Colombia and eventually, if possible, to chile. All roads lead to Chile and they always have led to Chile.

I’m a bit all over the place this morning and loving every second of it.

Hold on a sec while I get some tea.

If you’re wondering what kind of tea I’m drinking it’s Lipton black tea. This is a staple at the Wetzler household, along with hotdogs and the occasional split pea soup.

I had plans of going to the Olympic pensinsula this weekend to surf, but the physical therapist  yesterday forbade me to engage in any shoulder-loading activities for a week until I see him again on Thursday. The question is: will I do this? Will I actually not climb early next week when the weather gets nice again? And the answer is: maybe. I do want to have a healthy shoulder. And I know that resting it probably wouldn’t be a bad thing. I’m going to rest it a solid four or five days at least! The problem is I know when I go in on Thursday he’s not gonna say, ok sweet go ahead and start climbing again. You’re good. He’s gonna say, ok and now we’re going to start gradually loading that tendon again, 10% at first and then gradually build up to 100%. And this is the part that is simply not possible. I need to find a physical therapist who is willing to work with me despite my refusal to quit climbing completely. Maybe I should have been upfront with him about this. Also when I go to Mexico on October 11th I’m gonna be surfing a ton. It’s figuratively a surf a trip. And that doesn’t aggravate my shoulder the same way bouldering does, but it doesn’t allow for it to get back to homeostasis, either. I don’t know what to do. I just want my shoulder to be perfect. Come on, teres minor, get your shit together.

I am supremely unmotivated today and that is ok. Motivation comes with action. So sometime soon I’ll go for a walk, and then I’ll maybe go up to the high school to run some stairs and run around the track and maybe I’ll play soccer. Maybe I’ll go for a walk in the forest. Maybe I’ll go to the bakery downtown to get coffee and a pastry. Maybe I’ll go to the bookstore. I’ll definitely go to the grocery store. Maybe I’ll go to the bank. Maybe I’ll even drive out to Home Depot to get a heavy duty tarp. Or just a duty tarp. Or a light duty tarp. Or an off duty tarp.

Ok probably time to actually go outside.

Or lay down.

– Wetz

Dirty Dancing in the Dark | Road to V4

Before we talk about anything this morning, let’s talk about grades. Yesterday I went to Leavenworth for the first time in months. If you haven’t noticed, there’s been a pandemic happening but actually that didn’t prevent me from going to Leavenworth at all. What prevented me from going there was the ‘eat. But YESTERDAY I was finally able to go there, and it was glorious, and it was wonderful, and I sent some new shit, and bla bla bla, but I need to talk about grades here because the last problem I was working on is rated differently in the guidebook than on certain online bouldering websites.

And this annoys the shit out of me. But it’s also kinda awesome.

The problem in question: Dirty Dancing V4 (or V4-, or V3, depending on who you consult). This is a beautiful slab located at the “Washout” area, aka Unearthed area in Leavenworth. It’s a unique boulder because it’s essentially river polished granite even though it’s not particularly close to any river. This is because it was buried up until a huge washout (landslide?) happened in XXXXX and presumably (I’m not a geologist) the reason this boulder is smooth is because eons ago it WAS in a river. Anyway. I wanted to go there to try Dirty Dancing V4 because I kind of like slabs and it also just sounded like a cool problem, and so yesterday, after warming up at Swiftwater a bit and sending The Barista V1 and also Unobvious V2 (I started from the rock and not the ground, making it a V2 and not a V3), I went to the Washout.

Actually first I accidentally went to the Upper JY Boulders and was quite confused. And then I traipsed through what might’ve been a bunch of alder bushes, cutting myself up in the process and fairly cursing. But then I found the boulders, and all was well. I scoped the beautiful Lion’s Den V8 and also Buried Alive V6. But my eyes were drawn to what to me is the most striking line there, Dirty Dancing V4.

dirty dancing v4 slab in leavenworth, washington
Where were you / when they built the ladder to heaven? (Dirty Dancing as seen from lying on the boulder mat thinking, “How am I gonna get up this?”)

The first thing I scoped were the holds. Perfect little crimps. And then I scoped where you might start with your feet. “Start from a good edge in the middle of the scar…” the guidebook says. OK, there’s the scar, and there’s what looks like a pretty good edge. Why is there all that chalk on the undercling? Who is using the undercling? What I’ve since come to realize is that shorter people use the undercling because that allows them to establish, but if you’re taller you can just start with a shoulder height left crimp and reach up to a high right hand pocket/crimp. Neither of these holds are particularly great, especially when it’s warm outside and you’re sweating out of nervous excitment. But the first foothold IS great. So here’s what I did: Step onto the good right foot, lock off a crimp on the left hand and then reach up to grab the right hand pocket/crimp (getting established was pretty hard, so I understand people using the undercling). Once established, bring left foot up to pocket just just above the undercling. After watching YouTube videos, no one seems to do it this way. Most people bring the left foot up to an edge just above the right foot, and then do a foot switch. Maybe I’ll try that. But because I’m kinda tall, I can also do it my way.

From there, you’re basically just laddering up on tiny crimps and possibly a smear or two. If you want to see how it’s done BEAUTIFULLY by a dude who’s not that tall, and see where the name Dirty Dancing actually probably comes from, once again watch a vid of the Badwater Brothers doing it:

Damn these guys. They make everything look so easy, so graceful, so dancing, so dirty.

How close did I get on my attempts? Well, pretty damn close. In fact, I have video but I’m not going to show you until I get the send. I got ALMOST to the easy part, aka I had my hands up where the rock starts to level off a bit but just couldn’t quite get my feet right. I think next time it’ll go. It would help to have slightly colder temps and maybe to go there SLIGHTLY fresher. Like, after a few days rest. Like, maybe next week????? Though next week in Leavy is supposed to be pretty hot….

And now back to the grading discrepancy that I promised to talk about at the beginning of this post but have left off till now. Obviously, bouldering grades are subjective. One gal/guy sends a boulder, suggests a grade, and then everyone who climbs after her/him either says, “Damn, that grade is totally right. Good job. That’s a perfect V4,” OR “Bro, are you out of your mind. That is not V4. That’s like V3+.” The question you might be asking is, “WHERE do these grading discussions happen? Like, where is this documented?” And the answer is two places: Mountain Project and Sendage. Obviously there’s the guidebook grade first. In the case of Dirty Dancing it’s listed as  V4. But if you go on Mountain Project it’s listed as a V4-. And on Sendage as a V3. This is because this is the grade resulting from all the people sending it and subsequently grading it. The ANNOYING part of this is when something is listed in the guidebook as a V3 and you get super psyched because you sent V3 outdoors and then you go on Mountain Project and see it’s only a V2. This is actually fairly common. The OTHER way around, problems getting upgraded, is not that common. But it does happen. One I can think of off the top of my head is The Enigma at the River Boulders in Index, listed as a V4 in the guidebook but a V5 on Sendage.

Here’s how I’VE decided to handle this situation: I’m going with the majority. In the case of Dirty Dancing it’s listed as a V4 in two sources and a V3 in one, which means I’m going with V4. Which is a relief becuase I really want this problem to be V4 because I really wanna send V4.

But that’s enough for today! I’ve said too much. I’ve said too little. I haven’t said enough. In case you were wondering, after the Dirrty Dancing sesh I made the tired drive home to Seattle. I thought about camping in Leavy but didn’t really feel like camping alone and also my body was slightly wrecked. The drive home sucked until I got to Safeway in Monroe, where I bought about a gallon of black tea and also come white cheddar Cheetos. God I want to go back to Leavenworth right now….

It’s time to stretch and get coffee and use the foam roller? It’s time to escape to my parents because we’re supposed to get two inches of rain over the next few days? It’s time to meditate?

I don’t know what it’s time to do. But I do know I can’t WAIT to go climbing again.

– Wetz

 

A Sesh at the Camp Serene Boulder | R2V4

OK I’ve held off on doing this for awhile, but I’m going to vent for a second about how this blog has no readers and it’s really frustrating to be churning out top-level omg on a daily basis only to get like two views. So. Frustrating. But in the past when this has happened I’ve given up, or I’ve decided everything I’ve written is shit and then I delete it all or let the domain expire or do SOMETHING that essentially makes me have to start at 0 again. So no matter what I just need to fucking stick with it. And now that no one reads this blog AT ALL it’s actually kind of freeing. I can just kind of vomit all over the keyboad and post whatever comes up. I can say fuck this and fuck that and motherfucker and not really worry about swearing because NO ONE FUCKING READS THIS BLOG, so like, it doesn’t matter right???????

EXHALE. 

Ok. I feel better now. Just give me a second, though. 

Two days ago Barold, Carolyn and I went on a mission to the Gold Bar area and as you know from a PREVIOUS post we hit up the Morpheus Boulders aka the 420 Boulders and then afterward stopped at the Camp Serene Boulder on the way back and I didn’t blog about it cuz, well, a lot went down at that boulder, and it’s an epic boulder, and it garners its own post.

But FIRST a quick history of the Camp Serene Boulder aka Zeke’s Boulder according to Pablo Zuleta’s Western Washington Bouldering (aka the guidebook):

camp serene boulder aka zeke's boulder
The Camp Serene Boulder aka Zeke’s Boulder aka tall as fuck.

In 1985, Bob Buckley cleaned the highway side of the boulder and sent Highway Crack V1 and The Arete V0. Then, in the 90’s, Bob and friends established more difficult problems like Serenity Now (a V5 in the guidebook but now widely considered a hard V4) and Climax Control V6. In 2002 the boulder appeared in an “elusive” guidebook, then was later rediscovered by Kelly Sheridan (author of Leavenworth guidebook) and friends and has (presumably) seen regular traffic since.

It’s called the Camp Serene Boulder because it has Camp Serene graffitied in big letters on the west side. It’s also called Zeke’s Boulder because it’s just down the street from Zeke’s Drive-in and across the valley from Zeke’s Wall, the huge cliff above the Clearcut Boulders in the Reiter Foothills. Also, it’s worth noting that (at least in my limited experience), this is one of the best single boulders in Washington. It’s got at least five quality lines on it, and Serenity Now V4 is one of the most iconic boulder problems in Washington. It’s also kinda highball, and epic/terrible because it lies right off highway 2, a main thoroughfare connecting Eastern and Western Washington. Anytime you go to Index or Leavenworth or Steven’s Pass, you drive by this boulder. It used to be surrounded by luscious trees, but was clearcut sometime in the last few years and now stands there bald for all to see. What a shame. But still a sick boulder.

(for a great video of the Camp Serene Boulder showcasing most of its lines, watch this beaut by Jake and Kyle Love of Badwater Bouldering)

ANYWAY, on to our session. As we were driving out to Morpheus I prepped B and C by asking, “Do you guys mind if I take a few burns on Serenity Now on the way back?”

They said that was fine.

So, we went to Morpheus and sessioned, and it was wonderful, and a good warm-up, and bla bla bla. Then, AFTER our Morpheus sesh we headed BACK to Camp Serene, where I thought I might warm up on Insanity Later V2 (even though I’d never sent it) and then go for broke on Serenity now. But, Barold and Carolyn turned out to be really psyched on all the lines on the boulder, so we started out with a few burns on Insanity Later (Barold sent it second try!!!! with only a tiny pad at the bottom. he was a man possessed) and then moved on to Highway Crack V1, which shut all of us down. It’s a gorgeous line, a sloping crack that ascends some 20 feet into the air. We all found it dastardly hard and eventually gave up, feeling a bit bad but not that bad when I later found out on Sendage Jake Love called it “the hardest V1 I’ve ever done” and rates it a V2. After this went to Serenity Now so I could give it my burns, but I was feeling weak, had trouble even GETTING to the crux, and just did the same old shit I’ve done every time when trying it, i.e. not knowing how to get my feet higher when getting to the dihedral. I’ve since re-watched the Badwater Bouldering video I linked to earlier in this post, and now I think I might be able to crack it. But that’s what always happens. The eternal optimism. Probably the reason we keep bouldering. We always think we’re going to be able to send it next sesh even though half the time we get there and get absolutely shut down.

Lastly, Carolyn and I wanted to give Insanity Later a few more tries, since we’d both made good progress at the beginning of the sesh. I hadn’t gotten to the lip yet, but I’d slipped from the crux a couple times, which is pretty high and terrifying, but the falls had been fine so I was pretty much ready to go for broke. And go for broke I did. On one of the attempts (Barold was sitting there totally ready to leave and complaining about how hungry he was) I actually TOUCHED THE LIP but bailed because I felt unstable. So I asked if I could give it one last burn even though that’s exactly what I’d said about the previous burn. I’d found a bit of micro beta for the high right foot to make it a bit more secure, and also realized that I needed to get my left hand higher after getting the feet on the crux holds. And that’s what I did. I also went faster. I chalked up and just sent it. I didn’t dilly dally before going for the crux hold. I got my right foot high, trusted it, slapped my hand up the arete, got my left foot up, slapped my left hand up once more, and then could easily grab the lip with my right hand. Wonderful.

And so that was the session. Barold and I were super hyped to get Insanity Later, and I’m sure Carolyn will send next time she’s there, but being shorter she wasn’t able to do the high right foot and will have to smear in between, which makes it much harder. But I’m sure she’ll still get it. And I’ll be back for Serenity Now V4, and someday get that, too. Someday. Like, maybe, today?

– Wetz

The Soggy Waffle Traverse | R2V4 #24

Yesterday we went to the 420 Boulders. At the Morpheus Boulders. And we thought it was going to be wet, at least I thought it was going to be wet, but we went anyway. First we went to the Car Door Boulder, home of Car Door Traverse V1, one of the easiest V1’s out there and consequently the first boulder I ever did outdoors, way back in March. We had a full-on squad yesterday! Three people and three pads! All of us with a pad on our backs, bouncing through the forest like happy little squirrels. At the Car Door Boulder we all sent Dee Dee V0, which was actually pretty fun, and then made up an extension of Dee Dee that traversed right that was even more fun that we dubbed the Soggy Waffle Traverse V0/1. I have no idea where this name comes from. Well, it was wet outside. But I don’t know what was going on in Barold’s head that prompted him to proffer such nomenclature.

After the Car Door Boulder we went to none other than the Landjager boulder, home of Girlfriend Slab V0 and Slabjager V2, both of which were completely and utterly wet. Not a problem! All of us subsequently sat down and easily cranked out the heinous first move of Miller Lite V5 and then proceeded to crush the other…..just kidding. Screw that first move on Miller Lite V5. I mean, one day I’ll probably be able to do it. And maybe I’ll even say, “Damn, that was a cool bloc.” But right now I try to do it and just think, “Man, screw this thing. This thing is not fun.”

The author testing his arete skills on French Arete V0 (V1 in the guidebook but pretty damn easy). Photo: The Barold B Photography Dream LLC.

After the approach boulders we continued on to….we continued on to…..we continued over to….we continued down the trail to….we continued UP the trail to….we decided to check out….we decided to have a look at….the 420 Boulders, which the guidebook said were “22 minutes from the parking lot.” In reality they’re about 5-7 minutes from the Landjager Boulder (which is probably about 15 minutes from the parking lot so there you go). You’ll see them on your right up a bluff and there is (currently, at least), some fluorescent green tape on a tree that marks the short trail up. You got it? Think you can get there? I include this information because FINDING boulders can sometimes be just as difficult as climbing them, and there’s nothing worse than getting super psyched to project primo granodiorite kiddie-blocs and then realizing you don’t even know where they are, or, like I did one time, traipsing all the way there, FINDING them, and then realizing you’ve forgotten the Tao Te Bouldering (aka the guidebook).

The first bloc you see when arriving to the 420 boulder is the majestic Wise Man’s Fear V6 (V5 on Mountain Project [really kinda over how there’s a different rating for everything depending if you consult the guidebook, Mountain Project, or Sendage]). After getting your breath taken away by this hunk of geologic wet dream, your eyes will inevitably be drawn to the hypnotic Diamond Engagement V6, which might even be more aesthetically pleasing despite the slight feeling you get when looking at it that you may never be able to look away, that you might just camp out in the little nook below the start holds, spending the next few years of your life shivering and soiling yourself but somehow still happy just to be in the presence of this beautiful bloc.

We were looking for easy blocs though, so we headed over to French Arete V1 and French Slab V2, which were KIND of fun but also just….kinda not. Well, ok, French Arete is legit fun. It’s a perfect arete. It’s kinda highball. It’s not contrived in the least. But French Slab V2???? What are you supposed to do on this thing? Going straight up seems like a V3 at least, and going up and then grabbing the arete is a V0. So. I don’t know. Like. Try hard?

We tried the first moves of the slab many times but were not able to get our feet up on the ice cream cone shaped hold at about shoulder height due to lack of hands up high. Our only solace was the fact that the sun came out and started roasting our dermises. I immediately took my shirt off and started flexing to take advantage of the situation. I wanted to try Dinosaur Skin V4 but was warded off by the wretched crack between the base of this boulder and the boulder that forms the landing. Do people shove stuff in there before putting pads down? Or do they just ignore it like true crushers? One day I’ll know. Either way none of us were able to go straight up on French Slab, so eventually we peaced out and walked back mostly because we were over it and also because I wanted to have strength to try Serenity Now V4 on the way back, which would be my FIRST EVER V4 if I were able to send it, but that’s a subject for another day, another post, aka tomorrow, aka sometime soon.

PARTY!!!!!!!

-Wetz

 

Everything You Got | R2V7/4 #24

The author getting ready to crush (get owned) at the Paradise Boulders.

Four days of rest. Four days of rehab. Four days of mental preparation, all leading up to tomorrow’s session. At the beginning of this summer I set the following goal: to climb V7 by the end of the summer. I have not done it. I have not, some might say, come close. Others might say that I am on the very precipice of greatness, all I need to do is take that step towards the edge…

Tomorrow. High temps around 70. The coldest temps in a long time. A tick list in my head. Which boulders to try. Dirty Dancing V4. Briefs V3. Alfalfa or Spanky? V5. The list goes on.

And on.

And on.

(and then it ends).

Listening to Kid Francescoli to mentally prepare. Doing pushups. Doing hip mobility exercises. Hanging from the ceiling of my boat. And most importantly: drinking yerba mate. The Trader Joe’s variety, 60mg of caffeine per bottle (usually in the cold drink section or over by the rest of the teas; you can always ask if you can’t find it. Also: I just asked today if they had discontinued it because I didn’t see it the other day at the Ballard Trader Joe’s but the guy working assured me they had not. Just an FYI). 60mg of pure psyche. Pure psyche that will have you climbing blocs you never thought possible to climb. You think you’re gonna climb V4 today? Wrong: You’re gonna climb V5. You think you’re gonna climb V7 today? Wrong: You’re gonna climb V2 (you’re going to have an uncharacteristically bad day due to crazy hot temps and a lingering finger injury). The point is this: today is gonna be special. So prepare. Have another sip of yerba mate. Have two. Hell, finish the damn bottle and then crush it in your hands (actually don’t because the bottles are glass. though if you could you probably have crazy strong grip strength).

When any of us strive toward a goal there will come a judgment day. A day when your preparation is put to the test. For me that day is tomorrow. I’ve spent the whole summer preparing. I’ve spent the whole summer mentally preparing. I have dialed in my diet, my training, my meditation, all with the goal of getting to V4 sometime in the next few days. And tomorrow it all pays off. Or it doesn’t. Tomorrow is the day of reckoning. Tomorrow my hands will grab holds and my feet will smear granite. Tomorrow the world will be watching.

And so as you go to bed tonight think of the goal you’ve been working on. How bad do you want it? Why do you want it? The thing about having bouldering goals is that when I wake up in the morning and go for a walk or run stairs to warm-up, I’m not just doing it to make myself feel good. I’m doing it because my focus is laser sharp. I’m doing it because I want to stretch afterward and work on my hip mobility, my shoulder mobility, my pelvic mobility, my tarsal mobility, my elbow mobility, my neck mobility, my social mobility. If you work out because you “want to feel good” or because “you think you should” you’re a damn fool. You need a goal, and you need it to be as specific as possible. Having the goal of climbing V7 and then at the last minute changing it to V4. That’s as specific as it gets. Because when I’m running up those stairs and my heart rate is climbing I know it’ll all be worth it when I get to the lip and people are screaming, “Come on, Mark. Try hard. Come on, Mark. Right now. Everything you got. Strong. Come on, Mark. No, seriously, come on, Mark. We gotta go. It’s getting dark and we have a decently long drive ahead of us plus we kinda wanted to get Chick Fil-A on the way home. So come on, Mark. So strong. Right here. Everything you got. And then let’s pack up the pads and get the hell out of here and maybe even get some tea on the way out. Come on, Mark.”

And then your hand reaches for the lip. They told you it was a jug but actually it’s kind of slopey. But you hold on anyway. The temps have dropped and you hope you don’t drop too. You’re slipping. This could’ve been it. This could’ve been your first V4, everything you’ve been working for. Come on, Mark. Strong. Everything you got. And then you realize there’s actually a really good foot hold that you didn’t notice because you didn’t even look down. And so you use that foothold and the top out is a piece of cake.

You pack up the pads and drive away with your friends. Oh, the satisfaction. Oh, the euphoria. There’s never been a sweeter drive home. The mountains have never felt higher.

And then you get home and realize on Mountain Project it’s only a V3.

– Wetz