Climbing Journal 6/7/22 (Catamite’s Delight, new projecting techniques)

“If you listen to your body when it whispers, you won’t have to hear it scream.” – Unknown

Today I climbed in Squamish.

I warmed up with some scapula pullups and did a couple where I engaged my core, did a little stretching (child pose, cat cows), but most of the warm-up came via climbing or simply touching the rock. For example: I high-stepped my foot onto the starting shelf of one of the problems and just leaned in and stretched. I got close to the wall. It was like doing a high lunge in yoga. I did it with the other foot, too. I also pulled on some of the holds, but standing on the ground, not to put too much weight on them.

This kind of slow, thoughtful warm-up, where I actually got into the positions a bit first but in a low stakes, low impact, non-climbing situation, was huge. I plan to do it again.

When it actually came to climb, I was decisive. I launched myself onto the start shelf of the V0+ I’d stretched on so I could reach a good hold. Then I kind of stood there and experimented with some hand holds, looked for feet, and then came back down. Flashing is going to be a rare occurrence for me in the future, as it is anathema to the kind of thoughtful, intelligent, meditative way I want to approach boulders. If you approach each boulder as having something to teach you, you’ll often find it will. But if you just try to brute force flash something and then move on, you might miss the wisdom, and this climbing wisdom is something I desperately yearn for.

So I climbed the V0+ a couple times, trying to find better feet, trying to do it more efficiently, and most importantly, trying to keep straight relaxed arms and not be locked off and gripped the entire time. This boulder reiterated to me that my default state has been to be locked off and gripped. Even when you’re just slightly locked off and over-gripping, you use a lot more energy (and it’s harder on your elbows) than if you’re straight-armed and relaxed.

The V0+ was a highball, according to the guide. My second (I think) Squamish highball. It wasn’t that high, though.

Next was a V1 called Catamite’s Delight. This problem was cool in that the starting hold was a unique, horizontal, perfectly uniform ledge pinch, and also cool in that the guidebook just said to start on that hold and said nothing else. On this boulder I learned something about flagging versus feet switching, and also implemented Paul Robinson’s tactic where he never tries to flash a boulder unless it looks insanely easy. Catamite looked a bit tricky, so I broke it into sections. When I finally sent it, it was so satisfying. And when I finally sent it using good beta, it was even more satisfying.

After Catamite I was quite happy and there was a quiet voice whispering through the trees that the baller move would just be to end the session right then. Part of me wanted to end the session then, having learned so much and not having pushed my body into injury territory, but another part (one influenced by society) was saying, “You’re gonna drive all the way out to Squamish and climb for a half hour? What about that V2 you wanted to try? What about doing some moves on that V5???” Amazingly enough, however, I decided to heed the first voice, and I’m so glad I did. My body actually feels good right now! I don’t feel like I pushed my shoulder or my elbow too hard!

Seriously, I learned something about flagging versus foot switching versus barn dooring. I learned something about keeping straighter arms, being more relaxed, which is in the same vein as finding mini rests in a climb, or just ways to make a position more restful. I learned more about projecting, and I’m so glad I didn’t try to flash the V1, even though I might’ve been able to. Instead I broked it into a couple pieces and basically figured everything out except for the first move, and that had me so much more confident when I finally sat down to do the first move. The whole experience was a pleasure.

Today’s session makes me realize that if I were to go out to Squamish and climb 50 V1’s and dedicate them all this same attention, I would truly master that grade. And then I could do the same with V2’s, and V3’s, etc. I could get to the point where I am now, still never having sent a V6, but feel like such a competent climber. I could achieve mastery, even if on a scale completely divorced from what the pros and so many other people are doing. So that’s the plan, for now. To become a better climber. To learn how to move on rock. Everything else will come in due time.

I Should Never Drink Coffee || R2V6 #2

I’m in Blaine right now getting ridiculously caffeinated and thinking about what I’m going to do today. I woke up at 5:30am this morning. Not ideal. Couldn’t get back to bed. Of course, it’s not that bad considering I was probably asleep by about 10:30-11:00pm last night. There’s no wifi at the cottage, and phone service is spotty. For example, last night it wasn’t working at all, not even to check my voicemail, and this morning I was checking my voicemail and surfing the internet.

I had a sesh in Gold Bar the other day, and it was so muggy and hot. The goal was to finally send Cabin Stabbin’ V4, a V4 I’ve been working on on and off for a while. I realized pretty quickly it wouldn’t happen. But the session wasn’t a bust! It wasn’t a bust at all. I warmed up on some of the moves of Summer Solstice V3, and learned something about heel hooking and also continued to learn more about resting/hanging from your skeleton while climbing. Then, on Cabin Stabbin’, I dialed the crux move so that it no longer felt like the crux move. In fact, with a new and improved knee scum and a solid lockoff, it almost felt easy. So when I go back with good temps and dial in the beginning a bit more, it should go.

Last night, wandering around Blaine, and I got a burger and a couple beers at a place right next to the border, and then on a whim crossed the border and drove up to Cloverdale to check out the Project Climbing Cloverdale gym. First, however, I stopped at the casino in Cloverdale, where I promptly lost 40 dollars playing blackjack. However, I consider the casino trip totally worth it, mostly because I never go to casinos, patently don’t have a gambling problem, and had a fun time talking to the blackjack dealer. It’s fun, because I always tell people I have an addictive/obsessive personality, but there are certain things I could never see myself getting addicted to. Gambling is one of them. It’s hard to do something when you know that, statistically, you’re going to lose. Yes, it’s fun here and there, maybe with 20 CAD burning a hole in your wallet you don’t care about losing, but how could you ever do it regularly?

Part of the reason for the trip across the border is I just wanted to beta test how smoothly it would go on a random Sunday evening. I filled out the ArriveCan stuff at the Starbucks in Blaine and then a few minutes later was in line. There were a lot of people waiting to cross, so it took at least 20 minutes. Note to self: Sunday evenings are probably not a great time to cross. Getting back to the US was super easy, though. Took about five minutes. Pretty sure the agent said, “Hey, Mark,” as I rolled up in my car. Like he’d already run my plate and knew who I was. Then he asked if I’d bought any cams while in Canada. Like, he was kind of joking with me. Like, it was kind of awesome.

Speaking of cars, I need a new one. The Subee is on her last leg/axle.

ANYWAY, this is supposedly a R2V6 post, so I’ll keep talking about climbing. I’m going to Squamish either later this evening (!!!!) or tomorrow morning. Still not sure. It’s supposed to be pretty hot tomorrow in Squampton, so I’d like to climb kinda early or in the evening. Which means I either need to camp there tonight or get up super early tomorrow morning. And if I get up super early tomorrow morning I’ll be battling some Van rush hour traffic. What to do. Either way, I think the idea is to climb at Murrin Park, since it seems like it has some cool blocs and I’ve never been there before.

One coffee is too much. Why did I get two? Slash I need to go to a hardware store. Slash Walmart.

OK, time to get out of the this Starbucks. Two coffees has made me absolutely bonkers. It’s 7:55am.

Have I Cracked the Code? || R2V6 #1

So, I’ve decided to start giving these Road to V6 posts numbers, because I’ve decided to take this goal seriously. So even though there have been a lot of previous R2V6 posts, today’s, as you can see, is labelled #1. How many posts from here on out will there be in the R2V6 series? Probably quite a few. Time will tell.

ANYWAY, I climbed yesterday, 6/1/2022, and the previous session was four days before that, on 5/28/2022. The 5/28 session was at the Weiner Lake Boulders in Alaska. I didn’t really send much, just some warm-up stuff and then worked on a V3 traverse and a cool V3 slightly overhanging juggy face climb. But here’s the deal about that session and yesterday’s: I felt pretty damn good. For yesterday’s I might even say I felt amazing.

Of course, even after the first sesh I was thinking, Why did I feel good today? What was different about today’s session? And more importantly: How can I replicate and optimize it?

Before we start discussing some data on the sessions, please note that I basically hadn’t felt that great climbing since about January 2022. I felt like I had plateau’d or was even making backwards progress. It was quite distressing. So to climb and actually feel pretty good for these last two sessions has been a breath of fresh air. It’s no fun to feel weak, tired and on the verge of injury basically every time you go out climbing.

THE DATA

1st Sesh: Weiner Lake Boulders, Alaska (5/28/2022)

Rest days before sesh: 2

Sleep before the sesh: Decent.

Diet in days leading up to sesh: Not great, but somewhat intermittent fasting

Diet morning of sesh: Coffee with cream in the morning from a cafe in Girdwood, nothing else but water, then some collagen powder right before the sesh

Warm-up: Decent. Basically went with the flow of the sesh. Hung from some rock. Tried some easy warm-ups. Worked the fun part of the traverse V3.

Crux of the sesh: Worked a V3 that I got really close on. Fun problem. Tried pretty hard. Shoulder felt OK. Elbow felt OK. Most importantly felt like I COULD try pretty hard.

Notes/conclusions: Two rest days before the sesh probably had a pretty big influence. No carbs or big meal weighing me down before sesh could’ve had a decent influence. How did the coffee in the morning influence the sesh/did it?

2nd Sesh: SBP Fremont (6/1/2022)

Rest days before sesh: 3 (!)

Sleep before sesh: NOT THAT GREAT (maybe about six hours)

Diet in days leading up to sesh: Decent, some intermittent fasting

Diet morning of sesh: Koia cold brew protein shake, tea with collagen/protein powder, PCC hot bar chicken and vegetables around 12pm (so pretty low net carb leading up to sesh)

Warm-up: Decent. Did some scapula pull-ups, then some scap engage core (basically keep arms straight and start to pull into a front lever [for an example of a warm-up I want to try to follow, check this amazing Hannah Morris video with coach Belinda Fuller). Climbed yellows and reds and greens to warm up, made half-assed attempt to focus on things like straight arms, downclimbed, did a decent amount of volume.

Crux of the sesh: Tried a black on the slightly overhanging well that felt like a pretty hard black. Gave it a good flash go with semi-terrible beta. Then rested standing and walking around and brushing (not just lying on the mat with my elbows back), thought about the beta, then two goes later sent it. Felt thuggy and proud. Probably could’ve optimized beta better and engaged shoulders better was still super psyched.

Notes/conclusions: Three rest days before sesh amazing. Another point in favor of minimal carbs before sesh but YES on protein. Had coffee morning of sesh, still not sure how this influences things. Shoulder felt decent. Didn’t feel like I was tiptoeing around injury nearly as much. Tried pretty damn hard on the black/hardest I’d tried in awhile. Felt so good to try hard and actually send something. Quit immediately after sending black.

MOVING FORWARD

If you’re still reading this I commend you. You must be pretty obsessed with bouldering/really bored.

My takeaways so far are the following:

  1. Rest days are absolutely paramount. Right now I need a minimum of two rest days between sessions.
  2. Low carb with protein the morning of climbing could be helping quite a bit.
  3. Intermittent fasting could be helping quite a bit.
  4. Need to continue to prioritize technique/proper form while climbing.
  5. Party.

That’s all for now. The next sesh will hopefully be Saturday, after two days of rest, and hopefully outside.

Weather permitting.

– MW

 

 

……… || R2V6

The Road to V6 continues. And as I stated in a previous post: It’s probably going to be a long road. Well, no, actually I hope to send a V6 this summer, and possibly even a V7. And maybe even a V8. And while we’re at it let’s just throw in The Method V12, my lifetime bouldering accomplishment goal. The Method, if you’re not familiar, is located at The Apron Boulders in Squamish, BC. It involves a face/slab climb up to an undercling and then some tricky moves on slopers to get to the top. It’s a coveted problem, mostly just because of how cool it looks. It’s not some thuggy one mover where you’re cranking on a roof and then throwing a heel 15 feet above your head. It’s a combination of delicate and powerful, sharp and smooth, yin and yang, day and night, good and evil.

I’m having my second serving of collagen this morning. That’s right, in an effort to mitigate soft tissue injuries, I’m back on the collagen. My poison picked this time is by Ancient Nutrition and is formulated for joint mobility. It’s got several types of collagen, including one only found in eggshell membrane. I’ve been taking it for a few days now, and I must say I….don’t feel a huge difference. But I might feel some difference. And it’s only been a few days. (Ed’s note: I’ve climbed the last two days [yesterday was a baby sesh, albeit], and I don’t feel THAT sore. Would that have been possible without the collagen? Do I have tendonitis in 57% of all of my tendons?)

I need to go to Whole Foods and get a matcha bar.

The plan is to climb tomorrow in Gold Bar/Index, though I’m not sure exactly where. I’m done (at least for right now) saying, “OK, I’m gonna go here and I’m gonna give it everything I have on X boulder.” Instead I’m back in “intuition mode,” where I drive out to Gold Bar and MAYBE walk up to the Clear Cut Boulders. Or maybe I do something on the Warm-Up Boulder. Or maybe I try something on the Five-Star Boulder. Or maybe I go all the way to Index and go the River Boulders, or the Zelda Boulders, etc etc. No real plan, really, just a guy with two tri-panel crashpads and a pair of Miuras. Though I think, I THINK, that I need to start trying to haul both pads up to the Clear Cut boulders. It’s only an extra 15 pounds, and the amount of protection it provides is ridiculous. When you’ve only got one pad you’re limited on the boulders you can really try hard on. Not that I ever try hard.

But let’s say I DID try hard on a couple boulders tomorrow. Just for fun. These boulders might be:

Cabin Stabbin’ V4

Serenity Now V4+

Road to Zion V5

Sobriosity V6

Ryan’s Problem (Climax Control) V6

The Engineer V-whatever

I don’t really see myself trying too hard on any boulders other than these. The most probably are Cabin Stabbin’ and Serenity Now, and the least probable is either Road to Zion or The Engineer, since I have it in my head that any fall from up top on The Engineer results in catastrophe.

But whatever.

For NOW, I’m going to drive over to my parents’ house to pick up the queen bed frame so I can get ready for my move to Blaine!

Oh yeah and my friend Matt and I are probably driving to Alaska on Sunday.

…….

– Wetz

 

 

I Flashed a Pink || R2V6

I thought yesterday’s cup of tea was an anomaly, that I was off caffeine for good. But today, as if in a trance, I found myself putting the kettle on, pulling the teabag out of the box, putting it in the cup, waiting for the familiar gurgle (or ALMOST gurgle since I never let the water boil), and then pouring the steaming hot liquid onto the tea leaves  — and even glancing at my clock to see what time it was so I don’t let it steep too long!

This could easily snowball into my caffeine consumption from before, basically going from grocery store to grocery, cafe to cafe, all day buying caffeinated products.

And I don’t want that to happen.

WE don’t want that to happen.

You’re probably wondering about the title of this post.

“Ha, good one Mark. Nice clickbait,” you may have said.

But no, yesterday at SEATTLE BOULDERING PROJECT POPLAR, I actually flashed a pink. This means that I established on the starting holds and then maneuvered my way up to the boulder to the top, where I delicately placed both hands on the finishing hold, held them for the requisite time, and then delicately climbed back down.

I am not a liar.

Here’s the thing, though: I didn’t get THAT much satisfaction from it. I didn’t put any work into it. I didn’t suss out the beta a bunch beforehand. I didn’t look at the moves. I just got on it and climbed, and it happened to be exactly my style (aka a stemmy problems where you basically don’t need arms) and then a few seconds later found myself at the top. Sure, I was STOKED, I mean obviously — but it didn’t give me the satisfaction that a black I’d been working on for the past half hour before and wasn’t sure if I was gonna get gave me. Because you see the black I actually had to work for, whereas the pink was a proverbial stem in the park/bouldering gym.

Anyway, other than that I don’t have much to report, but I’m going to keep talking for a bit anyway, as I’m wont to do.

What else could I talk about.

It’s sunny here today in Seattle, so that’s nice.

I just shaved my beard and so feel like a spring hen.

After this I think I’m gonna go to Whole Foods and get a matcha bar, and then MAYBE run the Howe stair climb.

I really wish I had some honey for this black tea.

I literally check the status of my Nexus application every day. It’s so dumb. It could be another two months before they process it, and yet I check every day.

Slash am I going to Pembina, North Dakota?

I do actually want to do a bit of traveling this summer. Here are the destinations I’d like to visit, in order of how badly I’d like to visit them:

  1. Alaska — I’m yearning to go back. Haven’t been back in a long time.
  2. Quebec — I’m yearning to go back. And to boulder in Les Laurentides. And talk to monolingual French speakers.
  3. Sweden — I mean, how awesome would it be to spend midsummer in Scandinavia jumping over a fire with some kind of crown of woven sweetgrass braided into your hair?
  4. German/Europe — I kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinda wanna go to Europe. But, like, not that bad. So I probably won’t. Not too high on the list. So freaking far.

And then of course there’s Squamish. I hope to spend a LOT of time in Squamish this year. Like, a decent amount. Like, a little bit. Like, I hope to get up there at least a couple times.

My reading material last night as I lay in bed was the Squamish Bouldering guidebook, by Marc Bourdon. It’s not exactly Dostoyevsky, but it it moves me in the same way and drives me to contemplate life. There are so many quality problems there I want to get on, and I’m convinced in the next couple weeks the weather’s gonna turn and it’s gonna be scorching hot in Leavy and even too hot in Gold Bar and everyone’s gonna flock to Squamish and I’m gonna be there, happy as a damn razor clam, alternating between sleeping in my car/tent and commuting back to my cottage on the border in Blaine. It’s going to be wonderful, and I hope to see you there. We’ll climb V0’s — we’ll climb V2’s! Hell, we may even climb a V5. And by V5 I of course mean V6, since that’s the title of this series (for now!). In fact, I already have figured out the V6 we’re going to climb. It’s called Lounge Act, and it’s in the Easy Chair area. And I better see you there. And you better try it with me. And then afterward we’ll go celebrate with a cup of tea.

– Wetz