No Rest Days for the Weary || Road to V-Tranquility

I have settled into a routine of bouldering every other day, and my body is deteriorating because of it. Detoriating or preparing to get really freaking strong. This is what happened last year: I started bouldering almost every day when my body just could just baaaaarely handle it.

I’d be at work and say to my coworker Bea, “I think I’m gonna climb today.”

“Didn’t you climb yesterday?”

“Maybe.”

“How’s your body holding up?”

“It’s hanging in there. Barely.”

And then I took a rest for a few days or a week or maybe the pandemic hit and suddenly I felt so good, so strong.

These are the things I need to keep in mind on a day like today, when I go to the gym and don’t send my project and if anything feel like I’m making negative progress. Because even when you’re not feeling strong you can still work on technique. In fact, when you’re not feeling strong may be the BEST time to work on technique, cuz that’s when you need it most.

Still kinda wish I’d sent that blue today, though.

Hurting my hip flexor has made it abundantly clear that my well-being needs to be the primary focus. Screw being able to climb, I just want to feel healthy, limber, strong. If I feel these things, then obviously I’m going to be able to boulder. I’ll be able to do a host of other things, too: play soccer, run, skydive. I would so much rather be healthy and boulder less than boulder all the time and have my body be destroyed. But this is a realization that has taken precisely that — destroying my body — to come to. My knee, my hip, my fingers, my elbow, my shoulder. The moral of the story is: Bouldering is hard on your body. It’s harder on your body than sport climbing. Why do you think the natural progression is to go from bouldering to sport climbing, and not the other way around? It’s because sport climbing you’re doing less intense stuff, just a lot more of it. If you can climb a V3 boulder over and over and over, you’ll be a killer sport climber. You might be the best at the crag on a given day. If you can climb V7 over and over and over, you’re going to be world class. Or at least national class. Or at least county class. Or at least city class. Or at least neighborhood class. Or at least street class. Or at least household class.

I’m tired. I was riding a high from mate about an hour ago but now I’ve come off it. I’m basically waiting to have dinner with friends. Not really sure what to do. It’s cloudy and cold outside. I could take a nap. I could clean my boat, but it’s already pretty damn clean. I could work on my writing project, but I’m taking the day off. I could apply for jobs, but I’m not ready for that, yet.

Maybe I’ll just do nothing.

 

 

Private Lessons, First Sprints (oh, and first burns on Zelda Rails V4) || R2V5

I just went to the track and did my first sprinting since hurting my knee. It felt good to fly around the track. And then I helped a girl try to find her key that she lost while working out (specifically while doing abdominal exercies; the most notorious exercises for key loss). However, none of us found it. But it was nice to come together for a common cause, or at least it was nice for me, I have no idea if it was nice for her. God, I wanted to find that key.

But sprinting! Sprinting! Sprinting is one of my favorite activities, and one that I’ve been reticent to do since hurting my knee, since your body is basically going full tilt. But as humans we’re MADE to sprint, and we should be sprinting often. Never jog; if you jog you’re an asshole. But sprint often. Basically our ancestors spent HUGE amounts of time walking, foraging, etc, and then every once in awhile A) Running for their lives, or B) Running to take something else’s life. So walk a lot. And every once in awhile sprint. If you want to feel amazing.

In ACTUAL CLIMBING NEWS, I started taking private classes at Vertical World yesterday. Yesterday I climbed twice: once in the early afternoon for my lesson, and once in the evening with homies. The lesson went….not that well. It felt very unstructured, I didn’t feel that strong, and I just felt like a bunch of information was getting thrown at me, none of it hugely useful, and at the same time like NO information was getting absorbed. Like, it sort of felt like when you’re climbing with your way stronger friend who’s actually not you’re friend and you’re kind of nervous around. Like, you still learn stuff, but it’s kind of weird.

HOWEVER, that’s exactly the reason I paid for five lessons up front. It’s probably going to take awhile for the instructor and I to feel comfortable around each other. It’s going to take awhile for him to figure out a plan for me, or for me to demand that a plan be figured out for me. Cuz I think that’s what I want, a training plan. Like, I want a plan to get me to V7, aka V6, aka V5 — aka I still haven’t climbed V3 since coming back from injury but that’s more for lack of tryhing than not being able to do it. I have a thing where I basically only want to try things at my limit. This is something I should examine, because if I weren’t grade chasing as much I’d probably do more volume, and do more climbs just because they’re interesting. And that’s how you get better, really. When you’re having fun and climbing a ton.

Anyway.

As far as gym climbing goes I feel stronger than ever. When I’m feeling strong I usually send at least one new black and make progress on a blue. And when I feel less strong I usually send one or more new orange and make progress on a black. Blues no longer seem as intimidating as they once did. Did I say this in the last blog? I have the memory of a fish. Which I ironically just tried to fix by eating a tin of lightly smoked sardines.

Slash I had mate for breakfast this morning. And it was delicious.

And I also fasted for 15 hours today. Which was bomb.

And….

Finally, I MIGHT be climbing outside tomorrow, and if I don’t I’ll DEFINITELY be climbing outside on Sunday. And maybe even make it all the way to the storied town of Leavenworth on Sunday, where maybe I could FINALLY put down my Dirty Dancing V4 project, and maybe attempt some of my first V5’s (Pentaphobia and Alfalfa vs. Spanky amongst others). Either way, this is the time of year for Leavenworth. In a month it’ll be way too hot, and there won’t be any point in crossing the mountains, unless it’s to climb at night or unless we get a cold spell (which now that I think about it does happen quite a bit in June). It’s time to start on some new projects. And it’s time to get psyched.

Speaking of new projects, how could I forget????? I tried Zelda Rails V4 for the first time last weekend, and I felt like it almost went down! I could do the first few moves, and I could do the last few moves. But I couldn’t do the crux, which was getting to the good left hand crimp at the lip. However, since then I’ve thought about it a lot and I’ve also watched a bunch of videos, so if I’m feeling strong next sesh I think there’s a good chance it could go.

Road to V5!

Aka The Road to Index.

Aka I might need to take a nap right now.

 

First Order of Business

Alright friends, how’s everybody doing today? Good? Great? Amazing? Good, good. I’m glad. Well, I’m not that glad. I don’t really care. But I’m kinda glad. I’m kinda glad you’re doing well but to be honest I’m more focused on myself and don’t really care about you. That’s not to say I feel DISDAIN for you, it’s just that I’m much more important in my world than you are. You don’t take up much of my mental space, whereas my plight, my welfare, are two things that take up a LOT of my mental space.

First order of business today, April 7th, two thousand and twenty-one: Alex Honnold has a podcast.

You of course already knew this, but what you maybe didn’t know is that there are already a couple of episodes out. I’m not going to link to it. Links are so 2018. Just google Climbing Gold Alex Honnold.

Good.

Second order of business. I need to crack a mate.

Third order of business: I had my interview at Seattle Bouldering Project today, and it went….OK.

From an honesty perspective? It went great.

From a, did-I-get-the-job are-we-vibing is this going to be what I dedicate my life to perspective? Not so great.

And that’s because I was honest.

The guy who interviewed me was wonderful. I instantly felt rapport with him. But when he asked me how would you stay motivated after having the same interactions with customers over and over I couldn’t be anything but honest. That was actually my whole goal for the interview: to be honest. So I said something along the lines of (excuse me while I take a sip of my mate) I don’t know how I would stay motivated in that situation. I guess I would have to see.

Terrible answer, right?

Wrong. Honest anwer.

Because in my head I’m thinking: Fuck customer service, fuck the overprotective shitty Seattle moms that have jack fuck to do all day and bring their kids into Seattle Bouldering Project and then are assholes to the employees. Fuck ’em. I don’t have time for them. So if I had to have similar interactions with them over and over? Yeah, I don’t know how I would stay motivated. I probably wouldn’t.

Fuck ’em.

Fourth order of business: Yesterday’s climbing session.

I almost sent my first ever non-stemmy blue. I sent an orange that had been plaguing me since the last session, and made progress on a couple other things that are now “projects.”

I’m hoping that the blue will go tomorrow during tomorrow afternoon’s holy shit sick crew vibes super sesh. I’m confident that it will. I would like to start projecting some blacks, too. And keep projecting oranges. And maybe try some moves that slightly challenge the confidence in my left knee. Nothing crazy heel-hooky, just some stuff that’s not straight up climbing a ladder.

Fifth order of business: There is no fifth order of business. I’m going to drink my mate and wait until I can watch the Chelsea game on Paramout Plus. And then I don’t know what I’m going to do with the rest of the day. Oh god, what am I going to do with the rest of today? Why are you just bringing that up now?????? I hadn’t even thought about it!!! Fuck!!!! I have no plans!!!!!

I’m not climbing, that’s for damn sure. Weather isn’t great. I could go to Bainbridge. Hmmmmmm, what am I going to do.

I’ll figure something out.

Arrivaderci,

Mark Thomas Wetzler I

Waking up on the Boat

My awakening in the morning happens in steps, much like a spiritual awakening probably happens. When I first wake up I’m always a bit confused. Where am? Why am I on this boat? Why am floating?

Then I get my bearings and the first thing I do is open the curtain directly above my head. Let some light in. Look at the mast of my neighbor’s boat. One time I was looking at the mast and a crow landed on one of the spreaders. This had never happened before. What majesty! What glory for one of god’s creatures to alight upon an object made by man and bestow its glory upon it, even if only a “lowly” crow.

After opening this first curtain I eventually, and I’m not exactly sure how this happens, get up and rather quickly open all the other curtains on the boat to let in as much light as possible, and then I do something that lets in TONS of light, i.e. take out all the wooden boards of the hatch — and here I’m exposed to the outside world! geese honking! water rippling! wind blowing! — and replace them with the two plexiglass pieces that turn most of the north side of my boat into a window. Now we’re talking. Now the light is getting in and I’ve gotten out of bed.

But of course I get right back in.

I get right back in, but at least now I’m “up.” I’m not going back to sleep. I look at my phone because I’m not allowed to look at the internet till 8am. So I journal a bit. I look at maps. I think about what I’m going to do that day.

I put on the tea kettle, and this is where things really start to change. I’m now going to INGEST something. Granted, I’m not going to ingest any calories. That happens later. I’m going to ingest tea, and lately it’s been in the form of an herbal tea from Rishi called “Elderberry Healer” that’s got ginger, elderberry, hibiscus and a few other things. I like to NOT start the day with caffeine if I can. That said, I’m currently drinking a yerba mate beverage from Trader Joe’s, but it’s already almost 9am, and I’m well into the morning process. It’s ok to have some caffeine at this point. But I don’t like it to be the first thing that enters my body. I like to awaken somewhat naturally.

While the tea is steeping I’m back in bed and if it’s already 8am I’m checking stocks and checking my email and doing all sorts of stupid stuff on the internet, and if it’s not 8am I’m either journaling more or reading or just kind of lying there, looking out at the world through the hatch. This morning I read A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, and I’d like to give you a quote from it just because I found it so beautiful:

(talking about walking his land in the early morning with his dog after listening to the birds)

We sally forth, the dog and I, at random. He has paid scant respect to all these vocals goings-on, for to him the evidence of tenantry is not song, but scent. Any illiterate bundle of feathers, he says, can make a noise in a tree. Now he is going to translate for me the olfactory poems that who-knows-what silent creatures have written in the summer night.

A Sandy County Almanac, 1949

This makes me think of the processions I can watch every day if I’m not too engrossed in watching bouldering videos on YouTube. The geese honking, the mallards paddling, the mergansers diving, the herons sitting on the pier, and at some point the bald eagles will be back, but that probably doesn’t happen till salmon season. But even without the birds there are still things to watch. The ripples on the water. The boats idling into the locks. I derive a bit of satisfaction just from looking at the wood of the dock as it extends out into the cold grey of the lake water.

But enough of that. Now that I’ve interneted and had some tea I’m actually up, and this is where things get crazy, here I actually take all the bedding off my bed, aka the bench seat where I sleep, and now I sit back on it with my legs propped up, leaning back against the bulkhead on the bedding I’ve bunched in the corner. From here I’ll maybe transition into actually sitting up, my computer on the table in front of me. And then I’ve fully woken up. Though let’s be honest, usually this process is interrupted halfway through by me getting into my car and driving to Whole Foods to spend WAY too much on matcha and its derivatives. A matcha bar. A matcha latte with OAT milk. A green hop tea.

And now that this has happened TODAY for example I have to figure out what to do. Or actually I GET to figure out what to do. I thought about driving out to Index today just to look at Chutzpah V10, and then maybe continue on to Leavenworth and Wenatchee and stay the night in Wenatchee. But it’s hard for me to justify all that driving unless I’m going to look at a lot of boulders, or do some hiking and exploring, or stay a couple days. After all, Why should the lord of the country flit about like a fool?

-WW

Oh, Cana….Gold Bar || Road to Enlightenment

Having a little bit a fiesta on the boat over here. I got a wedge of brie and some yerba mate and I’m listening to KEXP. Some kind of DJ. It JUST got fully dark outside, today the sunset after 6pm, all was glorious, I walked to the Locks where I did my physical therapy and hung out with the cormorants a bit.

So today I did the following: This morning I got in my car and drove up to Greenlake. I thought I was gonna go to the Whole Foods on 65th but then I was like fuck it and got on I-5 going north. The plan was to go to Gold Bar and hike up to the boulders and just kinda look at them. Maybe touch them a bit. Maybe just sit there in the forest next to them. Maybe just think about them. Maybe not even make it all the way to the boulders but at least give it my damndest. Then I thought, Screw that, I should drive up to Canada! Well, not all the way to Canada of course, but at least to the Peace Arch Park, where I could at least SEE Canada, where I could go up to the very border, maybe even dip a hand in or a foot in. I’m not sure how they have things set up out there, but from what I understand the American side of the border is open. Who knows when the border will actually open. This is something I check almost every day. I google “US canada border” and check out the results. It’s been a year since the border’s been closed. It’s been OVER a year since I went to Canada. I remember it perfectly. I caught the train after work on a Friday (I think). The train got delayed, because Amtrak is a disaster. I got into Van at midnight. And had a glorious, glorious, weekend. Went swimming at the Mt. Pleasant community center pool with my friend Jeff. Pretty sure I did a gainer.

ANYWAY, I thought about driving up to Canada this morning, even thought about getting a hotel in Bellingham, but at the last second decided to just keep going towards Gold Bar.

(K, had to turn the radio off. And have some more brie. The wedge is gone. I’m gonna have some weird dreams tonight.)

ANYWAY, ok. Where were we. Oh yes, I went to Gold Bar. I debated whether to put the pad on my back for extra exercise but then decided if I could make it all the way up to the boulders, three miles, and back, that would be quite the achievement. Last time I made it probably less than halfway. And keep in mind the steeper parts are towards the end. ALSO keep in mind it looked like it was going to rain. But I pressed on.

After about 10 minutes on the trail I passed a guy walking the opposite way and he didn’t even look at me. Didn’t say hello, didn’t even look at me. There we were, two dudes in the middle of thousands of acres of DNR land, passing on a one-lane dirt road, and home-slice doesn’t even look at me. What a weirdo. What. A. Damn. Weirdo. Or maybe he was a COMPLETELY normal guy. Maybe I’m the weirdo. It’s not like I said hello to him. I just kind of looked at him. And then he passed. And I thought, That guy probably hurts people and enjoys it.

Anyway, I made it up to the boulders. My knee felt pretty good. Just before getting to the boulders it started to rain/snow and I took refuge in the forest, under the BMOC boulder. Not that that really helped, since this boulder isn’t really overhung. But parts of it are kind of overhung, I realized today. This bloc has three lines on it, all of which I’ve done. A great V0, a short but fun V2, and a cool V3 that traverses from the V0 into the V2. Today I just caressed the beginning crimps of BMOC V2 a bit and wondered what it would be like to climb it (again). Thought about where I’d put my feet. Then I took refuge under the rock again.

(It’s officially pouring outside and my boat keeps lurching back and forth and I hate it I hate living on a boat I want to get the fuck off this thing slash I’m going to Leavenworth tomorrow for the love of god).

So yeah, that was the mission.

It was…..pretty awesome.

It was wonderful to be in nature.

And wonderful to touch some boulders.

-Marko