Trying on Climbing Shoes and My Third V4

So much to talk about tonight. So. Much. To talk. About. First of all: What is this insane pain in my wrist? Ever since playing golf the other day it feels like my wrist is half broken. Like, when I do certain movements it reminds me of when I broke my scaphoid. It’s a terrible feeling. And I have no idea what it is.

Next order of business: I’m drinking an “Organic Sparkling Yerba Mate Beverage” from Trader Joe’s right now, with “Hibiscus & Citrus Flavors.” Sixty milligrams of caffeine. I know, a little dangerous to be drinking at 8pm, but then I’m a wildman. I’m hoping to fast 16 hours from whenever I stop eating tonight till tomorrow afternoon. My hopes are high, since I was able to complete my 24 hour fast last week. I feel like I can do anything now, at least when it comes to not consuming food.

I WENT TO REI TO TRY ON CLIMBING SHOES TODAY. Yes, you read that correctly: I went to REI to try on climbing shoes this evening. Just a couple hours ago. The takeaways? The Solutions feel so damn good but they ravage my achilles tendon. I think I MIGHT be able to pull them off if only wear them for a little bit at first until they’re broken in. Maybe. Or maybe not. I LOVED the sock-like feel they have, and I loved the toe box. I noticed a massive difference between size 44 and 43.5, though. I was swimming in the 44’s and edging felt terrible, and the 43.5’s were a little too snug but edged like a dream. And also ravaged my achilles.

I also tried on the Skwama’s and didn’t like them.

And didn’t try on the Theories.

Honesly, I just wanna get the Solutions, but I’m worried about my achilles. I will lose sleep over this.

Aka mate.

Fuck I have to do yoga today still and I really don’t want to. I think it’s something like 17 minutes of hatha yoga. I don’t know what hatha yoga is. I think it’s all the yoga we’ve been doing. Today is day 14. Fourteen days straight of yoga. I feel good and can’t stop now. Slash my wrist feels terrible.

OK, so I guess we should talk about the elephant in the room. The big, beautiful, chalk-covered elephant. Yesterday was a bit of a landmark day for me climbing-wise in that I sent my third ever V4 outdoors. If you recall, my first V4 outside was Toto in Leavenworth in December of 2020, followed by Dirty Dancing (also in Leavenworth) in May of 2021, and yesterday, during my fourth session on the problem, I sent Zelda Rails V4 at the infamous Zelda Boulders in Index, Washington. Conditions were perfect. It was somehow dry. It was cold and somewhat windy. It was actually quite similar to the conditions in which I sent Dirty Dancing, though for Dirty Dancing it was even colder and windier and earlier in the morning and I was completely jacked out of my mind on an americano from everyone and their great aunt’s favorite cafe in Leavenworth: Argonaut. I’ll probably dedicate an entire post to the experience in a few days down the road but let me just say that this was the closest I’ve ever walked the line on a boulder between falling off and staying on. And when I topped out I experienced something similar to what I experienced with Dirty Dancing, i.e. overwhelming emotions and the desire to just sit in the fetal position and tremble. It also taught me a TON about projecting boulders, and hopefully I internalize it aka actually learn it. But again, I’ll probably go into this more in depth down the road a bit. Or maybe not. But probably.

As for tonight, I have to do this damn yoga. And I have my heater on. Jesus, I have my heater on. It’s getting colder. But what am I complaining about? That means fall climbing season is just getting started. And I have so many plans for fall climbing season. I want to project, amongst others, the following boulders: Obesity V7, Alfalfa or Spanky V5, Chubby Fairy V4, Twisted Tree V4, Pentaphobia V5, Piano Man V5, Miller Light V5, Diamond Engagement V6, and so, so, so, so (so) many others.

But for now it’s time to a little bit more and then stop eating. And do this damn yoga.

 

Adventures at the Zelda Boulders // Road to V5

For the post “Misadventures at the Zelda boulders”, one of my first outdoor bouldering missions, click here. 

Yesterday my friend Adi and I left Seattle at 8am with the plan to go to the Morpheus Boulders in the East Miller River Valley to sample some tasty blocs (see: blocs). After the obligatory stop at Whole Foods Totem Lake we were on the road, pooch in tow, braving the asphalt of Highway 2 and the Skykomish Valley. (Since I know you love hearing about what I buy at Whole Foods, I got: 1 Health Aid RecoveryAid, a Hop Tea, a matcha bar, and a sandwich. Aka some caffeine and some sustenance. Oh, and I also got an Epic Chicken Sriracha bar for some extra protein.) With Adi’s expedient driving and fairly new Ford we arrived quickly at the boulders, where, lo and behold! despite tons of cars in the parking lot (read: six) there was no one on the Car Door Boulder, aka the fun warm-up boulder, aka home of the best V0 (V1 in the guidebook) in the whole valley: Car Door Traverse. After a warm-up of jumping jacks and hooting and hollering we both quickly dispatched Dee Dee V0 and also the legendary Car Door Traverse, whose smooth granite rails we caressed with zeal.

After Car Door we headed across the path and down to the river to the also legendary Lines of Latitude V3. The river was plenty low. All deadfall had been cleared. But the boulder was also kind of……somehow…..

……

……

….wet.

I’m assuming dew?

I wanted to try the V1 “Climbing North” before trying Lines of Latitude, but it was a bit wet and scary. The top out looked particularly mossy and scary. Also the holds on the lip were not great. It’s funny, because Car Door Traverse is a V1 in the guidebook and essentially the easiest problem in the multiverse, and Climbing North, just a hop skip and a twisted ankle away, is ALSO a V1, but infinitely harder. Pablo Zuleta, what was your logic on this? Also, now that I’ve got you here, where ON EARTH do you start the V2 “Hump Day” on the Car Door Boulder. There are multiple underclings. Multiple right-facing side pulls. Is it the good underling all the way on the left?????? K, thanks.

I did send Climbing North after a few tries, and the top out was terrifying. Luckily, as soon as this was over, and after a couple failed attempts on Lines of Latitude, we got the hell out of there.

I mean like completely out of there, out of the East Miller River Valley, back to the Skykomish Valley, where after a quick lunch by the river in Index, we went to………..

….The Zelda Boulders!

It was a wonderful day in the Zelda Boulders. Light filtered through the evergreens, the smell of organic peat moss wafted about. There was one other party at the boulders, two guys and a girl, and also some lone wolf who from what I could tell climbed up one boulder, inspected the top of it for several minutes, and then left entirely. What he was up to I do not know. Adi and I were trying the arete next to Zelda Dyno V4, and then we moved to a slab that’s not in the guidebook but is on Mountain Project. I gotta say: What a fun slab. The holds were scoopy and dishy and smeary. It was a V0. Only the holds were scrubbed. Good heighth. Basically a super fun, not too hard slab.

After the slab I tried roof crack V3 for a bit and got completely shut down. Then we stemmed for a sec in the Open Book Corner, and then we made friends with the party who we’d seen coming in, the two guys and a girl. And they were rad. They were crushers. And super nice. And full of helpful beta. They were trying Zelda Rails Right V5, and I wanted to give Zelda Rails V4 a few burns since it’s a project of mine. I was feeling a bit shy but they welcome us over and I started giving it goes with the heel up beta but then they advised me to maybe try the toe on beta and showed me the EXACT PERFECT PLACE to grab the second rail with my right hand to keep my body in close to the wall. With this new microbeta I was able to get to the left hand intermediate slimper easily, and go for the bump to the good crimp below the lip.

I was ecstatic. This was huge progress for me, because this is the crux. Once you get to the good hold below (or sort of on) the lip it’s all easy from there. Reposition your feet. Send. I didn’t send yesterday but am actually confident it’ll go next time I’m there. The start with the toe on feels super secure, and grabbing the better part of the rail before the bump made a massive difference. Plus, these people were just a joy to climb with. The two dudes had already sent the V5 and the girl, Melissa, was trying it and making good progress. It was awesome to watch her body positioning as she prepared to go for the crux. It’s always awesome to watch competent climbers.

I was fairly in a state of bliss after this session. We took the long way back along Reiter Road, checking out the INSANE amounts of cars at the Index Town Walls parking and also the Clearcut Boulders parking. I’d never seen so many cars. How there were so few people at the Zelda Boulders I don’t know. But I felt fortunate. Also, it was such a gorgeous day. A great day to be out with a friend, making more friends, climbing gorgeous blocs and making progress.

And now if you’ll excuse me I have to go make a matcha latte.

 

 

Four Days of Rest || Road to V5

Part 1

I haven’t climbed in four days. My body has been resting for four days. What do four days of rest look like? Not much different than one day. My hip flexors still hurt. My fingers are still swollen. But something’s gotting be working, right?

Wrong.

Well, no, probably right.

I’m at my bro’s house. Today is the last full day of pet sitting. Tomorrow I do my pet sitting and plant watering duties and then I head back to the great world of Seattle. Ahhh…..city of dreams. City of….overpriced supermarkets. City of overpriced everything. But still the city I call home for now. Well, the city I will always call “home” until I live somewhere else for an extended period of time. But Seattle will always feel a bit like home.

You might be wondering what climbing plans I have for when I get back to the Seattle area. Because here’s the thing: I do have climbing plans, and possibly for as early as tomorrow. You see, tomorrow it’s supposed to “rain” in Gold Bar. There’s supposed to be “precipitation” which could make the boulders “wet” (see: juicy). But there’s also a chance it “won’t rain.” There’s a chance it will “hold off.” The forecast is calling for rain MAYBE starting around 4pm. Which means I’d have all morning to boulder. If I got up and got after it. Which I’m not sure I’ll do. But we’ll see.

If I DO go to Gold Bar I’d like to hike up to the Clearcut Boulders. I’d like to re-send some of my favorites, like Regatta de Blanc V0, BMOC V2, and Magic School Bus V2. I’d also like to work on some of my projects, like Cabin Stabbin’ V4, The Container V2 (I’m embarrassed to call this a project but I still haven’t sent it so there you go), Midnight Lichen V4 and Stinking Slopers V5. Depending on how I’m feeling it would also be great to get on some new blocs: Johnny Cash V3, Silver Slippers V4, Metroid Prime V6, Obesity V7, Water V6, for example.

This is a slightly embarrassing thing to admit, but I still haven’t broken the 10 V-point barrier outside. I.e., I haven’t sent boulder problems totaling at least 10 V-points in one day. Why should I be embarrassed about this? Because I feel like it’s almost a laughably low goal. I feel like it should’ve happened by now. And when I think about it, it COULD’VE happened by now. I could go out tomorrow and climb all the easiest V2’s I know and ones I’ve done many times, like the two V2’s on the Leggo My Ego boulder, Offa My Cloud, BMOC and Eight Bit Slab in Gold Bar, and that would be it. That would be 10 V-points right there, and it would be simple. But it would also feel a little meaningless just truly going for v-points. I’m more excited for when it happens naturally, when I look back on the climbs I’ve done one day and think, Damn, I just got 15 v-points. Or when I send a single boulder problem that gets me half way or most of the way there. That’s when I’ll really be excited. But to go out and re-send a bunch of problems just for one measly goal. Sounds pretty great.

Slash I think I need tea right now. Or some other form of caffeine. Slash this house feels cold. Why am I not out enjoying the sun right now.

Slash I think I’m going to go get a matcha latte.

Part 2

I went and got my matcha latte. Today is the one month anniversary of my newfound sobriety, so I’m celebrating. I got a matcha latte and some chili. And now I’m back at my bro’s house, writing this blog and contemplating how to spend my afternoon. I got a few books on yoga from the library. I still need to do Day 8 of the Yoga with Adriene 30 Days of Yoga series I’m doing, and my body currently feels too sore to do yoga. Why does my body feel sore all the time now? This is distressing. What should I be doing about it? Presumably, yoga.

God I just want to climb.

And climb V5.

 

 

 

 

 

Day is for Resting

It’s so quiet at my brother’s house where I’m pet sitting. I’d forgotten it could be this quiet. No sound of the road. I can’t hear the wind outside because the windows are probably somewhat soundproof. There’s no humming of a washing machine or a dishwasher or even the refrigerator. I hear a crack every now and again and also some kind of very low whooshing sound that might be the hum of the universe. And of course I hear my fingers typing. But that’s it. Other than that, the silence is deafening.

Today is day two of what will be at least four — possibly five — rest days. My tendons and muscles are so happy to get a rest. I woke up this morning with my fingers completely swollen. I wondered: How long would it take to stop waking up with swollen fingers? Obviously diet has some influence in this. My diet lately has been….not great. With proper diet I bet I could stop waking up with swollen fingeres in about a week. Without proper diet I think it would take at least twice as long. Which reminds me…I’m thinking of fasting tomorrow. I say “thinking” because that’s all I usually do with fasting lately. I think about it. The last time I fasted for any significant period of time (i.e. 24 hours or more) was right around the summer solstice. So, late June. Which means it’s been at least two months since a proper fast. I’m due. My digestive system is screaming for a break.

In other news, I went climbing the other day at SBP with my friend and former physical therapist. He’s a much stronger climber than me. Not so much grade wise, but more in just technique and overall competency. He’s one of those people that climbs and you’re like, “OK, that guy climbs.” Some people get on a route and they can sort of do it just because they’re strong. And other people get on a route and you’re like, “Damn, that guy/girl knows what they’re doing.” You can just tell. They’re smooth. Even if they’re straining they go confidently between holds. They read problems well. They’re efficient. And this is exactly how my friend/former physical therapist is. Efficient, smooth, skilled.

I learn a lot climbing with people like that.

That session was Friday evening. It’s now Sunday. I won’t climb again until Thursday at the earliest. Temps are looking PERFECT for Thursday. Thursday evening could be a super sesh, though the whole day looks great. Though shit, I just checked the forecast for Gold Bar and now it’s saying a 30% chance of rain! Oh well, these things are never really accurate more than 48 hours out. Could always go to Leavenworth. Could always go to Mad Meadows, since I STILL HAVEN’T BEEN THERE. And for some reason I’ve been thinking about Dirty Dancing V4 lately. After my essentially religious experience on this problem, I’ve been thinking about how much I liked it and how much I’d like to repeat it. It really is a perfect boulder problem for my level right now. The holds are JUST good enough. Just bad enough. Just perfect enough. Just dishy enough. And also I want to try the V2 across from it again, Slam Dunk, and also the V5 next to that, Buried Alive, and maybe — maybe? — try the first moves of Lion’s Den V8. I mean, why not. I can heel hook. I can do compression (maybe). I can sit start.

Other problems to try:

Schist Cave Right V5

Footless Traverse V5

Weather Report V3 (got close last time!)

Shaniqua V5 (this thing looks rad and I wanna see just how high this start is cuz people are talking about how you need to stack like 40 pads)

Yosemite Highball V4 (couldn’t do the first move last time)

Alfafa vs Spanky V5

And don’t worry, a bunch of easier ones too.

Also, I’d love to go back to Gold Bar sometime soon. I haven’t hiked up to the Clearcut Boulders in a lukewarm minute. I have so many projects up there. And so many boulders I’d like to repeat. Basically I wish I could climb all day every day from now until the end of Septmber. And who knows, maybe once my tendons adjust I’ll be able to do that. But regardless of how your body hangs in, it’s hard to keep up stoke for that long. One thing I’ve learned: taking breaks is the best way to get back stoke. After a break your body is raring to go and your mind is raring to go, too. You’ve had time to reflect. You’ve had time to absorb good technique and hopefully ditch old patterns.

God it’s still so quiet in here. What am I going to do. I think I’m gonna go up to the high school and kick a soccer ball around a bit. I think I’m gonna eat some beets. And chug some whater. And maybe watch the rest of a 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow film I got into just before I came here. Sunday, lazy Sunday.

Crossing the Border to Canada // First Session in Squamish

I’m at my sister’s house in Ballard. I just got back from Canada yesterday. Crossing the border was actually easier going IN to Canada, because I crossed through Lynden and there was no line. The guy asked me almost no questions. He asked to see my negative COVID test and maybe what I was doing in Canada. He didn’t ask me what I did for work, which made me happy because I would’ve felt like I was lying when I said “interpreter.” When I DO work, I usually work as an interpreter or a teacher. This is what I “do” for work. The only thing is I’m not “doing” it right now. Because I’m a semi professional boulderer, minus the professional, minus the semi.

ANYWAY, FIRST SESSION IN SQUAMISH!!!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!!!! V0’s!!!!!! Failing on a crimpy V2!!!!!!!! Climbing a terrifying highball V1 that felt like V5!!!!!!

Even though this was sort of supposed to be a climbing trip, I only climbed once. This is because my body is disintegrating. I’m not resting enough. I’m not taking enough breaks. I’m due to take about a week off climbing (or more), and until I do that I’m probably not going to make any progress and possibly make backward progress. Yesterday I went to SBP Poplar with Barold Doug, the Crush from Down Under (down under being south Seattle), and DIDN’T CLIMB ANYTHING HARDER THAN A PURPLE. I REPEAT: I DIDN’T CLIMB ANYTHING HARDER THAN A PURPLE. I mean, I didn’t really attempt anything harder than a purple, and I still had a blast and became a better climber, but it just goes to show when you’re 38 (oh yes, I had a birthday recently) you need lots of rest, and your tendons need a TON of time to adjust to climbing. I’ve been climbing about a year and half now. My finger tendons are still adjusting to climbing. I assume this process will take at least another couple years (slash never end), at which point I’ll basically be geriatric. I’ll be the only senior citizen at Bishop super psyched on V2’s. Which is fine. I’m completely down with that. As long as you’re stoked, nothing else matters.

We climbed a V1 called Hot Tamale at the Clean Boulders in Squamish after warming up on a couple V0’s. Hot Tamale is a cool line that sort of traverses/climbs a rail from right to left. The start is slightly tricky. But after a couple tries the start became super easy, which is always a great feeling. All of us sent it, and then we moved on to Bear Trap V2, which (almost) shut us all down. The start to Bear Trap involves a sideways facing foot that allows you to cinch your body close to the wall and windmill (bear trap) your right hand over to a TERRIBLE crimp. Charlie skipped this crimp and went for the hella tall guy beta that involved going directly to the sidepull thing. I was SORT OF able to do this, but it made me really stretched out. After a couple goes Charlie got it, and I was stoked because one of us had sent it and I could now stop trying it and feel better about myself. Then we went back to the welcome area, which was crowded as balls, but one line had no people on it at all: Kung Fu Fighter V4 (a V5 on Sendage). This line is incredible. It involes starting in a nice little corner, working your way up to a slab, and then somehow traversing to an arete as footholds become fewer and further between. I tried it a few times, getting to the crux, and then a guy who lived in Squamish started trying it with me, and stoke levels were high. We had about five pads. His French Canadian friend started trying it too, and at this point stoke levels were basically in the stratosphere. The problem: My body felt gnarly. I needed to stop. So mostly I just watched/spotted/fist bumped. And then eventually I got out there, it was already almost 3pm, traffic was gnarly AF getting back to Vancouver, but I was also in a state of relative bliss. I hadn’t eaten anything all day. All I’d had was a coffee with honey, and I don’t drink coffee. So I stopped at the Whole Foods in West Van, possibly my favorite Whole Foods on the planet. I got a burrito bowl and a GT’S Adaptogenic Tea and a slice of banana bread and sat out in the courtyard eating it and reveling in the day and the fact that I was in Canada. And I then I went back into town.

I plan on going back to Squamish in September for subsequent sessions, but I’d like to give my body a good rest first (at least a week) so I can climb a little more aggressively and attempt harder problems. Having only climbed in one area, I’m still not sure exactly what Squamish is like. So far it felt a bit like Gold Bar, albeit with an even higher concentration of quality problems. Kung Fu Fighter frankly blew my mind. That is now on my lifetime tick list. I’d also really like to try Tyler’s Dihedral V3, Phat Slab V5, and at least LOOK at Black Slabbeth V7. I have no idea what a V7 slab looks like, but I’d like to find out.

That’s about all for today. There’s an annoying dog barking outside and I’m about to drink some tea and take my sister’s dog for her second walk. Tomorrow morning is essentially the last day I could climb outside for awhile, but I don’t know if I’ll do it. If I do, I’ll probably go back to the Index River Boulders. Maybe I’ll do Chinook V3 again, maybe I’ll try Finger Crack V3, The Jewel V3, and who knows what else. Or maybe I’ll finally get back on my old Project, Serenity Now V4+. The Sky (Valley)’s the limit.