The Road to Nowhere

I messed up my knee the other day. Could be MCL. Could be ACL. Could be meniscus. Could be a combination of these things. But what’s pretty clear is that something is torn. I’m hoping it’s just the meniscus and that I somehow won’t need surgery. But I need to get an MRI as soon as possible. I need to figure out what’s going on down there. I need to figure out how I can get healthy so I can start bouldering again, so I can surf, so I can be active. I’m not going to let this stop me from bouldering, from continuing to climb harder. But it will stop me, probably at least for a few months.

All will be well.

Tomorrow I’m going back to San Francisco to get my car and at that point I’ll have a decision to make: keep going south, or go back north to Seattle to get my knee looked at. Even if I go south I’ll still get an MRI, I’ll just get it in Mexico. I should probably just get some snus and head south. Cross into baja california, be in my element, head further and further south, maybe even take the ferry across to Mazatlan, maybe even drive to Mexico City, maybe even drive further.

The only thing I know is that something is seriously wrong with my knee. But the fact that there’s almost no swelling, only some stiffness, gives me hope that maybe somehow it’s not that bad. But i don’t kow what happens when you tear your ACL. I don’t know where it’s supposed to hurt. Mine ONLY hurts on the outside of my knee. The FAR outside. Not in the center. Not in the center left. Not in the back. Only on the far outside of my left knee.

More diagnostic work remains to be done.

Going back to Seattle wouldn’t be the worst thing. I could fly back to Seattle from LA, or from San Diego, or from Loreto, or even from La Paz or Cabo. If anything surgical is required I’ll be required to fly back to Seattle. To see a knee specialist and get an MRI using my insurance I’ll be required to go back to Seattle.

I feel like my car doesn’t have too many more of these california trips left in it. My car has 276,000 miles on it.

The best thing to do in these situations is to not be precipitous. Start with what you know. I can’t boulder anymore, I can’t surf, I can’t do anything active except walk. I know that my knee is injured. I know that there were tearing sounds and a popping noise. I know it felt awful despite not being that painful. I know that it would be nice to know what’s going on and not just be guessing. I know that for any major medical work I’ll need to go back to Seattle. I know I can also get an MRI in Mexico for less than $500, and possibly even as little as $200. I know I could probably even see a knee specialist for pretty cheap. I know that regardless of any MRI’s I get in Mexico I’ll have to do them all over again once I get back to Seattle, but that’s OK. I know I need to accept this injury, because not accepting it just causes mental anguish. I know there are plenty or worse things that could happen, and I know I need to count my blessings.

God why did I do that stupid heel hook.

I know that I hate taking ibuprofen.

I know if I go south tomorrow I’ll probably stay the night in San Luis Obispo.

I know that if I go north tomorrow I’ll probably spend the night in Ashland (again).

I know that I like REI.

I know I climbed my first V4 a week ago.

I know I had my sights set on a V6 a week ago.

Who knows how long it will be until my hands touch rock again.

SILVER LININGS:

1) This will give my right middle finger a chance to finally heal.
2) It will give my left shoulder a chance to further heal.
3) It will force me to take a break from bouldering, and breaks can atually be really good for progression.
4) It will push me to climb in the gym more, since gym climbing is usually safer (and also lamer but still super fun).
5) It will give me a chance to devote time to hobbies that had been pushed to the side to make way for bouldering.

Anyway, I hurt my knee. That’s all I know so far. No need to stress.

Help me.

Feel the Pinch | Road to V5

If you’ve stumbled upon this blog looking for info on the epic boulder problem Feel the Pinch V4 (feel it) I’m sorry to disappoint: This blog post isn’t really about feel the pinch even though I’m sitting in front of it in above picture. No, this post is mostly because I wanted to do my first post with the subtitle of “Road to V5” and even though Feel the Pinch isn’t V5 I had a good picture of it.

Yes, friends, you are correct: The Road to V4 is over and the Road to V5 has begun. Actually, the road to V5 began a long time ago. When I was on the Road to V4 I was also on the Road to V5, and the Road to V6, and V9, and whatever other roads leading me towards further bouldering destinations. I don’t know what v-grade I will eventually climb one day. I don’t really care. I have dreams — oh yes, I have dreams — and they involve problems like Obesity V7 in Gold Bar, Naughty Corner V7, The Method V12 in Squamish…. I don’t look at The Method and think, “One day I’m gonna climb that,” but I also sort of do. That’s one of my favorite things about bouldering: You go to a boulder that’s V8 and look at it and think, There’s no fucking way I could get up that. But then you go back six months later and suddenly you can see yourself doing it, or at least doing some of the moves. What has changed? Our bodies? Our brains? Our sternums?

I’m in a hotel room in Ashland, Oregon right now headed towards California. After this blog post I’ll check the oil in my car and then leave. I’m drinking a venti English Breakfast tea from Starbucks right now with just a LITTLE BIT of cream in it, mostly because I wanted the human interaction of talking to the girl working there since for the first part of today I won’t really talk to anyone. Unfortunately the most interesting part of our conversation was her informing me that she couldn’t sell me produce or booze, a fact I already knew. Now I’m sitting in the hotel room and it’s mostly dark. When I got here yesterday they asked me, Do you have a dog? And I said, “Do I?” Actually I said no and then they upgraded me to the King Suite, where I proceeded to watch Chelsea v. Arsenal and cook bacon in the microwave.

That reminds me: I should probably leave a tip for the cleaners.

I probably have about seven hours of driving today. Maybe less. I would like to climb today — and I could climb near Mt Shasta — but I’m not really inspired by any of the boulders near there. Maybe I could find a new one? Maybe I could climb something near Redding? Or the boulders near Vacaville? Yes, yes, I could totally climb near Vacaville. But I don’t know if I want to.

I think it’s time for me to hit the road. I have two massive bouldering pads in the back of my car. Ninety six square feet of bouldering pad. I haven’t mentioned ANYTHING about it in this post so far, but this is actually a bouldering road trip. I’m planning to go to Bishop. Maybe Joshua Tree. And maybe, just maybe, Cataviña….

But we’ll see.

For now I need to check my oil.

-Wetz

 

The Final Chapter | Road to V4

It is with great relief that I write the words “The Final Chapter” before Road to V4 today. This last jump, from V3 to V4, was by far the hardest yet. I had been projecting so many V4’s and gotten close on many of them before finally sending Toto V4, in Leavenworth’s Forestland area, a few days ago. And while I’m already starting to look at V5’s and have already started to project one boulder even harder than V5 (Climax Control V6), I realize from past experience that climbing one V4 in no way means you’re a V4 climber or ready to tackle all the V5’s. In fact, it usually means you need to do a lot more V4’s, and even more importantly a lot more V3’s, and a lot more V2’s, etc etc. I definitely need to do a lot more V3’s. And I’m not expecting the next V4 to be easy.

Without further ado, here it is:

At the risk of beta spray (see: stop reading if you don’t want any beta for this problem), I will say that moving my right foot up slightly before going for the lip changed everything. Before I was lunging for the lip with my foot all the way down on the good nub next to the ground. Foolish. But then moving my right foot up just six inches changed everything. It made getting to the lip much higher percentage. It made it less of a lunge. It allowed me to send this problem. And it also made me realize something very important about technique: get your feet high before you trying to make a big move.

My buddy Darren was filming, which was nice because it added some pressure to get it done and also made me not have to worry about setting up the camera.

Now what happens? Well, I’m supposed to start heading south toward California the day after Christmas, and there’s a very decent chance this trip to California will take me back to Bishop and also possibly Joshua Tree. There’s a less likely chance it’ll take me back to Red Rocks, but you never no. And there’s also a chance it’ll take me to Northern Baja, where about five hours south of the border there’s a little town that I like to think of as the Joshua Tree of northern Mexico. Will I actually go there? I’m not sure. There is no guidebook. There is very little on the bouldering around this town. But I’ve been there before, and I’m dying to go back.

As for now I’m going to enjoy Christmas Eve with my parents and a relaxing couple of days before heading south.

I’m also going to start thinking about my next post and The Road to V5.

– Wetz

Between the Burns | Road to V4+

IMG_4904

“People you’ve been before/that you don’t want around anymore.” — Elliott Smith

Yesterday while driving to Whole Foods I noticed I could see all the way to the Cascade Mountains. It was semi-dry in Seattle. I thought to myself, Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…I wonder if it’s dry in Gold Bar. If I can see all the way to the mountains it’s probably dry. At least sort of dry.

I started driving toward the mountains and almost immediately turned around to get my phone. I thought this little setback would break me. I thought I’d cozy up on my boat and never leave it. But then I was off again on the road with the snowy peaks in the distance and hope in my heart, headed for the Camp Serene Boulder and hopefully some burns on my now long-standing project, Serenity Now V4+++++++++++++++++++ (-).

I made a mandatory stop at Safeway in Monroe and bought the following: A Kind bar (sea salt caramel), smoked salmon, and a blackberry mint Guayaki. After this I was ACTUALLY on my way, still dry in Monroe, still dry in Sultan, STILL DRY IN STARTUP, STILL DRY IN GOLD BAR and…………………………………….mostly dry at the Camp Serene Boulder.

I parked and immediately noticed the wind was screaming. Common for this type of year, I’m learning. The wind whips through the Skykomish Valley like a peregrine falcon descending upon a naked mole rat. So I began my long warmup process. When the only thing climbable is a V4 and V4 is your absolute max, you need to figure out creative ways to warm up. So I did tons of jumping jacks. I ran back and forth to the car. I ran up the hillside a bit, turned around, and sauntered back down. I did more jumping jacks. I stretched. I did some hanging, partially loading my arms and shoulders and fingers and then fully loading my arms and shoulders and fingers. And then finally, once I felt sort of warmed up, I started doing some of the first moves. I was a bit worried about my finger after the slight pulley sprain the other day. But I taped it up tight in an “X” pattern and hoped for the best.

I fell in love again with the first moves on this boulder. Straight arms on the starting ledge. Daintily place your left foot on the shelf out left. Bring your right foot up to the small edge. Reach up to the jug crimp left. Cross your right foot over to the thin but good ledge. Flag your left foot out. Deadpoint up to the far right jug crimp. Smear your left foot, right foot up on the ledge, switch the feet quickly, and dive into the corner. I’ve done these moves so many times. I honestly think I might be able to do them with my eyes closed. But then I get to the crux and everything sort of shuts down. Except lately I’ve been making micro progress. Or actually probably macro progress.

While I was resting between burns two girls showed up. They’d seen me driving by and figured they’d check out the boulder. Their names were McKenna and Karen, and we immediately started working Serenity Now a bit together, and then moved over to Insanity Later V2, which was wet but not unclimbable. I sent it after a few tries and then Karen got to the top but didn’t want to top out with the wetness and the general precariousness of being up that high. Then we chilled by Serenity Now again, and they busted out snacks, which instantly made them two of my favorite people on the planet.

I figured I’d give Serenity Now a couple more burns before having to head back to Seattle, and I got closer to getting past the crux than I’ve ever gotten on that boulder. “I want to see you send it,” Karen said. After the first burn the rain whipped into the valley and the second burn suffered. It started pouring pretty much instantly and we hightailed it out of there.

The moral of the story is this: A day I thought was going to be unclimbable turned out to be one of the most fun days I’ve had in awhile. I made progress on my project. I met some new friends. And the best part is the forecast said “rain” all week, and now I’m realizing that all you need is a dry morning, or a dry afternoon, and you can probably sneak a little climbing in.

Which is totally rad.

– Wetz

Chopin Nocturnes | Road to V4

8:30am exactly on the boat. A candle lit. Tea made. Evgeny Kissin’s 1985 concert from Moscow playing on the stereo.

I couldn’t handle Fantasie in F Minor so I changed it over to the nocturnes, with which I’m much more comfortable. The tea is sweetened with almond milk. My goal today was to fast but that’s not happening. The weather outside is atrocious. Or my attitude towards it atrocious. Grey, rainy, cold. The three elements that define a Seattle winter. And yes, it doesn’t get that cold here, but the cold here is different than the dry cold. Vegas had similar low temps, but the wet cold here will chill you to your very marrow. It takes a few days to adjust. I think I’ve adjusted now. I’ve also bought a new puffy.

Light at the end of the tunnel for Leavenworth and also Gold Bar. Next week is showing at least one dry day, probably two in Leavenworth. Darren and I are supposed to go up there to chill, take in the Christmas lights and the Biergartens, and also go cross country skiing. And obviously I’ll bring my bouldering pad if we go. Because today is day three of rest from my recent pulley strain — I’m not calling it a sprain because even that sounds too major — and if I rehab properly I should be able to crank a little bit next week. I really really wanna try Feel the Pinch V4. Even though it’s supposedly on the hard end of V4, apparently if you know the sequence then it’s not that bad. And I’m studied the sequence like a law student studying for the bar. I’ve never even climbed this boulder and I can already tell you the moves: start matched on the lower sloper, left foot on high ledge right foot where it’s comfortable; left hand up to next sloper rail; then either match and then switch feet and move left foot out wide before going for pinch with left hand, or….OK I guess I don’t have it completely memorized. I will have to try this boulder before it really becomes imprinted on my brain. But I’m in no condition to try it now. Maybe in a few days. Today at most I will do a little light hanging from the roof of my boat. Or I might just take another complete rest day. One website said after a minor pulley injury to take three days off climbing and then rehab.

8:55pm on the boat now and I’m looking into zen meditation retreats in Washington State. Everything is done over Zoom right now, which is unacceptable. I shall have to do my own retreat. I’m on my second cup of tea and trying to find a classical song that I know the tune of but can’t remember the name. Mazorka? La Tarantella? Is that even a song? La Malagueña? The Venetian Boat Song? OK, not the Venetian Boat Song, but at least I’m listening to that now and it’s sublime. Also, the tannins in the black tea are starting to make me nauseous. How do I keep my fast and ward off the nausea? Vitamin D and fish oil? A jump in the lake? A guttural scream? All of these options seem viable. All IK know is I have a Zoom meeting in an hour and I need to get off the boat before that. Maybe walk to QFC but probably not. More than likely drive to Whole Foods in Interbay where I’ll get an energy bar and a matcha latte. Because I’m an adult and I do what I want.

Top 7 Bouldering Moments of 2020

1. First Time Bouldering Outside

Start holds = Gene’s retinas

I had never bouldered outside before lockdown hit. I had no desire to boulder outside. All I wanted to do was watch Bouldering Bobat videos and try to send a blue at Seattle Bouldering Project. That was pretty much my singular goal in life. But then the lockdown hit and I had to either A) not climb, B) climb outside, or C) move to Libya. I chose option B and never looked back. I started on an abandoned building on Bainbridge Island. I moved to a glacial erratic just north of Poulsbo, WA. And then I got the Western Washington Bouldering Guide, which changed everything. I’ll never forget my first session at the Morpheus Boulders. My first V0…

2. First of the Grade

It’s rare to find a boulder that speaks to you. It’s rarer to find a boulder that A) isn’t so easy that you can send it on the first session or first couple sessions, but B) not so hard that you just want to give up.

U2 (V3), in Leavenworth’s Beach Forest area, was the perfect boulder for me. I projected it over the course of a couple months, usually giving it a few burns on each of my bi-weekly Leavenworth trips. One day after I had started getting close I woke up at 430am near Skykomish, sent it straight to Leavy, got an americano from Starbucks, by 630am was at the boulder. That day it went down. I thought it was totally going to go, and then after the first few attempts I felt myself getting weaker, and then finally I went for the lip.

3. Highball (ish???) slab

Making the move from “beginner” climbing shoes to the La Sportiva Miura’s I now sport was huge (I might move to the Solutions one day). My confidence in my feet went from about a 4/10 to about a 7/10. Which is huge when you’re trying a semi-highball slab where the crux move is towards the top and you’re afraid you’re going to fall off to the side where there isn’t a pad or just go skittering down to the pad below you. On this climb I actually did skitter a few times, pretty much from the top, and that gave me confidence that it wasn’t that bad. And then I sent.

4. Pre-covid SBP sessions w/ Homies

Picture this: You project hard (see: easy) blocs with your best homies, and then afterwords you go to the basement cafe, shoot the shit, and drink beers (see: you drink kombucha). This is what gym bouldering pre-COVID was like. Then COVID hit. Now gym bouldering = wearing masks and using liquid chalk. And then gyms getting closed every two weeks because COVID numbers soar into the stratosphere. Which means we can’t soar into the stratosphere on techy purples or reachy blues. Damnit.

5. After work Upper Walls sessions

For awhile there I was working in U-Village for a non-profit, just really doing God’s work, and after work the bus would go right by Upper Walls in Fremont, and usually I would get off and climb for a bit. These after work sessions were my favorite: short, sweet, and most importantly: alone. I mean, not completely alone. I would sometimes talk to other people. Sometimes I would project stuff with random heroes. It was during this time that I sent my first blue, a stemmy thing in the corner that at Joshua tree would MAYBE be a V1. Probably a V0. But indoors it’s a V5. I love stemming.

6. Projecting

(Summer Solstice V3. Didn’t post to YouTube ‘cuz I filmed it so shitty.)

Projecting is my favorite aspect of bouldering. Going to a problem that feels impossible, leaving it alone, thinking about the moves and the micro beta as you lie in bed, trying it a couple weeks later, then a month later, and then finally sending it. This happened with a couple boulders for me: My first V3 slab, Rocksteadeasy, U2 V3, Summer Solstice V3, Briefs V3 (which went first try of the day a couple days ago!), Beam Me Up V2, and will HOPEFULLY be happening (any day now, seriously; gotta get this pulley thing figured out) with Dirty Dancing V4, Toto V4, Serenity Now V4+, Moss Bongo V3, the list goes on….

The most important thing I’ve learned about projecting: You don’t learn how to climb a boulder by trying it over and over again. You learn by trying over and over again and then leaving it, for a day or a week or a month, and coming back stronger and with a new plan.

7. Sorange V3

A Red Rock Canyon gem, and the first V3 I ever sent in one session. Basically I got there, a bunch of people were on it, I walked the loop through the canyon, came back, tried a problem near it, and as soon as the new people who were there left I swooped like a vulture descending upon a recently-deceased wildebeest. But NOT before asking one of the leaving dudes, “Bro, can you give me the beta. Like literally tell me every move.”

This problem is kinda crimpy and the last move is kinda reachy. It’s also kinda easy. Or maybe I was just really feeling it that day.

 

Weaker, Stronger and Weaker Again | Road to V4

The scent at Ketron V4, Happy Boulders, Bishop.

The middle joint on my right middle finger is wrecked. My left shoulder is semi-wrecked. I feel weak. I couldn’t send Summer Solstice V3 yesterday despite (sort of) cruising it four days ago.

My body needs a rest.

And yet, I was climbing almost every day on the road trip. How did my body deal with that?

Well, I wasn’t pushing myself too hard. I attempted ONE (1) V4 in Bishop, nothing harder than a V2 in J-Tree, ONE (1) V3 in Red Rocks, and ONE (1 [1.00]) V4/5 (see: Hyperglide on the Monkey Bars Boulder). Oh, and The Pearl V5, though I didn’t really go for broke on that one.

Contrast that with the last few days: Attempted one V3 four days ago (Summer Solstice), went for broke on a V4 in Leavenworth (Toto. Almost sent it. Got to the lip. Got to the lip and didn’t send. Dear God) two days ago. Then went for broke on a V3 yesterday (Regatta de Blanc traverse variation, which I sent for the first time), again for broke on Midnight Lichen V4, and then AGAIN for broke on Summer Solstice at the end of that session despite already feeling discomfort in my shoulder and middle finger.

So I need a rest.

Today, rest day one:

Fingers feel slightly swollen after walk to Whole Foods and back. Right middle finger feels especially tender. Shoulder doesn’t feel THAT bad, which heartens me greatly. Doesn’t feel as bad as it did a couple months ago after climbing, when even things like reaching up to open and close the hatch on my boat felt like a bit of a nuisance. So THAT’S great.

Tomorrow: rest day two.

Monday: light training on the finger board (see: roof) of my boat. Aka body tension training. Aka basically grabbing onto the lip of the hatch of my boat and then walking my feet up and down the bottom of the mast (the wood covered part that extends through the cabin into the keel below) while focusing on quiet feet and straight arms.

Tuesday: rest day number four

Wednesday: Climb again, weather permitting.

That’s the plan for now. Even though not being able to send Summer Solstice V3 again yesterday was discouraging, I was super stoked on sending the V3 variation of Regatta de Blanc for the first time (I’d tried it several times in the past), and also stoked to make a little progress on the first move of Midnight Lichen V4, which continues to plague me. That hand bump. But I think once you get that hand bump the left hand to the lip move is easier, and from there I have confidence I’d be able to top it out. So many V4’s that are so close to going! Midnight Lichen, Serenity Now, Toto, and even Cabin Stabbin’. One of them will go soon as long as I take care of my body. Which means today I’m going to have a salad, and not have any gluten (just to try it out), and I’m going to rest the shit out of my body. And try to sleep well. And watch the Chelsea game. And read a book about healing your inner child which makes me profoundly depressed. But it’s like also kind of a dope book.

Party.

– Wetz?

The Dark Days of Winter | Road to V4

Sit start match the little horn jug thing, right foot turned inward on the good foothold, left foot smeared. Swing right hand over to the sloper rail. Switch feet, delicately. Now, bring your left hand also to the rail. Be careful to keep your left foot on at all times. If it cuts loose you’ll swing down the slope and probably fall off. With the left foot pasted onto the foothold your right foot started on, start working your hands down the rail right until you get to a good flat ledge just before the jug. Now, get ready to cut loose, because you’re going to (“Hold on….hold on to yourself….This is gonna hurt like hell….). It’s OK, though, you’ll have at least one hand on the jug, and you can swing all day and not fall off. Go for it. Swing a bit and when you’ve regained yourself look for a good edge for your right foot down and to your right. Once your right foot is there (delicately!), swing your left foot up to the rail (DELICATELY, GODDAMNIT. WHAT DID I JUST SAY TO YOU). Now you’re ready to look off for the shark’s tooth (if you’ve never seen a shark’s tooth teleport to the 90’s and hang out with a 13-year-old kid who wears hemp necklaces). OK, ready, set, lock off. Grab the shark’s tooth with your left hand, pull yourself up, and either go straight for the finishing jug with your right or go to the mini jug beneath it and then bump up to the finishing jug. You are in control of your own destiny. You are a boulderer, so comport yourself as such. Once your right hand is on the finishing jug, bring your left hand up for a Swiss topout, hang there for a second watching the rest of your life flash before your eyes, marriage, kids, retirement, daeth, and then let yourself drop to a pad you’ve (hopefully) placed below. This problem can be done with one pad (my pad is big), as long as you’re willing to move the pad to the right away from the starting moves. The good news is that for the crux of the problem your knees are literally about six inches above the ground. Which, if you’re an insect, is a hell of a long way to fall, but your terminal velocity is also lower so you’ll be fine.

Good. Now, if you’ll just tell me what problem I’ve described, I’ll reward you with a prize. I’ll give you a hint: It’s not V4.

– Wetz

From Sandstone to Granite | The Road to V4 with your host Mark Wetzler

The ground at Salt Point State Park, California.

I am back in Seattle, back on the boat, back to freezing my ass off at night even though the heater I have right now is approximately 70 times better than last year’s. It has a thermostat, it oscillates, and it looks somewhat chic, too.

I’m going bouldering today out by Gold Bar. The weather for the next six days looks uncommonly glorious, and I plan to take advantage. I also plan to take advantage of the fact that I’ve been climbing more than normal over the past two weeks, and that I feel stronger than usual (maybe not stronger than ever. I still don’t feel like dynos would be a great idea but they don’t sound like a completely terrible idea, either. My climbing right now is probably on par with what it was back before my shoulder injury, though now hopefully with better technique and footwork).

I can’t leave for a few hours this morning due to various engagements. In about an hour I’ll go over to my sister’s to pick up my plants, and then I have a video appointment at 10am. Which means I’ll LEAVE For the boulders at around 11am. First stop? I’m not really sure. The goal for today is to send Serenity Now V4+. But I also want to climb up in the clearcut, and that could interfere with my first goal. The reason I want to climb up in the clearcut is because there are more boulders up there, I want the hike, and I also want to continue projecting Cabin Stabbin’ V4, Summer Solstice V3, and maybe even suss out the moves on No Chaser V5. There are also so many other “hard” boulders I could start trying, like: Stinkin’ Slopers V5, Midnight Lichen V4, Samurai V5, Fern Crack V3, Water V6, and Obesity V7. I am very much into the idea of trying boulders right now that are way “beyond” my ability. Because sometimes on these boulders you can do a move, or two moves, and you feel awesome about yourself and visualize yourself one day sending it. This is how it was in Red Rocks the other day with Hyperglide V4/5. I could do the beginning moves. I could get to the beginning of the face climb. And I could almost do the hard move on the face climb. Which gave me tremendous confidence, even though I didn’t really come that close to sending it. Now, for instance, if I go to Stinkin’ Slopers V5, I think there’s a very good chance I’ll at least be ABLE to do the sit start. Maybe even the first couple moves. Which means I can start projecting it. Which means I’ll be projecting V5.

Aka projecting V16.

Aka I’m back in Seattle and it’s so fucking cold and I might need to leave here soon.

Aka I need to shave.

Aka I have a slight mullet.

Aka Joshua Tree.

Aka Stem Gem V4.

Aka failing on V0-‘s.

Aka the nicest AirBnb I’ve ever stayed in in my life.

Aka once it starts raining I might need to bust out the hangboard.

Aka this black tea is making me nauseous.

OK, just had some carrots so I’m OK. Moderation is the name of the game right now, folks. Also, doing the crux on Serenity Now V4+ is the name of the game. I’ve gotten to the crux so many times. And I just kind of stand there, paralyzed. Which is why today I’m going to try a couple new things: straighten my left arm and lean out over the right-hand sidepush thing. Force myself to get my left foot up, and then right foot up even if it pushes me off the wall. Lean into the wall to the point where I’m literally lying on it. I feel like any of these three things could be critical, though mostly the first one, letting my left arm go straight and leaning more over my right hand, possibly while letting my right leg dangle.

Enough talk for now. Time to take action. It is officially 65 degrees in my boat right now. I’m wearing a bikini. I’m contemplating jumping in the lake to cool off. I’m also contemplating drinking a yerba mate right now. From Trader Joe’s.

Aka I’m going to do that.

19 Days | Cali Road Trip #5 Road to V7 #6,234

Planet X, Joshua Tree.

I’m in a hotel room in Ashland, Oregon. It’s freezing outside. Thirty degrees, to be exact. I just walked to Safeway where I bought a big thing of Tejava tea, a Kind bar, and a FocusAid. I’m watching the Chelsea v. Tottenham game and SORT OF waiting to see if Christian Pulisic will come on, but I also think I just need to leave soon. I’m debating whether or not to go to Bend today, mostly just to try a V3. The thing is, I WANT to try this V3, it’s an epic problem and I think I can send it, but I also really don’t want to do the drive from Bend to Seattle. I don’t like that drive. I don’t know why. But today I’d rather do the drive from Ashland to the Portland area, or Ashland to Centralia, or Ashland all the way home to Seattle. I’m a little bit reticent about getting back to Seattle. Reticent about the cold, dark days. Reticent about being on the boat. Reticent about being in gloomy Seattle when the climbing gyms aren’t even open.

Four days ago I sent a V3 in Red Rocks called “Sorange.” Yesterday I sent a V3- and a V3 at a boulder called “Byron’s Boulder” near Mt. Shasta. I don’t think either of the problems yesterday were V3. One of them, Pulley Pulling, was probably a V2, and the other problem, “Byron’s Backside,” was probably a V2 too, though maybe a V1. Byron’s Backside was a sloper problem, and I don’t think it was too much harder than Fountain Blues, in Leavenworth, which is a V0 (the best V0 in the universe).

The reason I’m mentioning these problems I’ve recently sent is because it’s possible that right now I feel stronger than ever. This is because I’ve been climbing A LOT lately, and so the question is: how have I been able to climb so much without injuring myself or further aggravating previous injuries?

And then answer, I think might be, diet. I’ve been hanging out with Carolyn lately due to our road trip, and she eats approximately 6,000 times better than me. She east a LOT more vegetables than me, and she also never goes crazy on the sugar. Could these two things be it? Is the solution merely eating sugar in MODERATION and also getting more vegetables? I dare say this could be it, or could be a massive step in the right direction. I like feeling strong. I want to keep feeling this way. And maybe it means I need to make some massive changes to my diet.

After Tahoe I went to the Bay Area where Carolyn and I bouldered at Salt Point State Park. Then we went to Joshua Tree where we experienced some of the most magnificent bouldering I’ve ever seen, albeit with the hardest grades I’ve ever seen. And from there to Red Rock Canyon outside Vegas. Oh, and I kinda went to Bishop, too. I went to Bishop, camped two nights, almost froze to death, and climbed some beautiful, juggy, overhanging blocs.

I still haven’t sent V4.

But I’m getting damn close.

J-Tree, Bishop, and Red Rocks will be subjects for other posts. Especially J-Tree. I’ve never experienced a place like that.

For now, though, I’m going to watch this Chelsea game, drink my tea, and get ready to send it MAYBE to Bend, maybe just up north to Seattle. If you have a thought on the matter please post a comment immediately and try to influence me.

Anyway.

Talk soon.

-Wetz