A Day at Vantage || Road to 5.12???

Good morning, all. How is everyone doing this morning? If you’re like me you’re sitting on your boat thinking about what caffeine you’re going to drink next, reveling in the incredible forecast for Seattle, Index and Leavenworth for the next week. Take a gander at the Seattle forecast:

That’s a lot of yellow orbs, if I’m not mistaken. A lot of sun. Highs right around room temperature. Lows around the sending range. A good time to get out on your project, if I dare to say so myself.

AKA.

Vantage?

Yesterday was only my second ever rope-climbing experience outdoors! I repeat: second ever rope-climbing experience outdoors! The other time was in Red Rocks in Vegas where I might’ve top-roped 5.8? I’m not sure. That experience has been lost in the sands(tone) of time as I no longer remember what the route or even the area was called. Something about a Wizard’s Hat? Calico Basin? The Kraft Boulders? Sorange V3?

A senhora entende?

Honestly I don’t remember. I do remember I got an earl grey with heavy cream from the Starbucks on the way to that rope-climbing expedition and instead of just giving me a LITTLE heavy cream they gave me all heavy cream. No water. It was just a wet sock in a bucket of cream.

And it was kind of delicious.

But anyway. Vantage.

Yesterday Adi and Wyatt and I and a MASSIVE (see: like seven people) crew went to Vantage to do some good ol’ rope dangling. Some hangdogging. Some cragging. If you didn’t know I’m HUGE into cragging, especially the part where you sit at the base of the crag minding the dogs and hopefully eating the chocolate chip cookies. Every other part? Not so much. I mean, I guess the APPROACH to the crag ain’t so bad. I guess the climbing itself ain’t so bad. And even belaying ain’t so bad. So why don’t I like cragging more? Why do I kind of regard cragging as a stressful, windswept, sunburnt shit show? I don’t know. I think the main reason is I don’t feel comfortable doing all of the things surrounding rope climbing. I don’t feel comfortable with the climbing itself. I don’t feel that comfortable belaying. I always feel like I’m gonna be in someone’s way or do something wrong or do something that’s going to hurt or piss someone else off. Add to this the fact that in this already stressful situation you’re usually perched AT THE BASE OF ONE CLIFF AND AT THE TOP OF ANOTHER and it’s all kinda just like…stressful.

Not to say that there weren’t wonderful moments yesterday.

AKA I almost sent 10c.

AKA I almost top-roped 10c.

AKA I had to ask Spencer, the guy who belayed me, to take, and I was so bummed about it even though my elbow tendonitis had flared its ugly head like the Lernaean Hydra come to devour an unsuspecting sailor, and even though I was also pumped as balls because I was climbing like dog shit — perpetually locked off, arms not even close to straight or efficient, basically cruxed and gripped out of my mind. I sat there for a second after he took, thinking about the next moves and wishing I could just lower down, but then when I actually went for it it wasn’t that bad and next thing I knew I was at the anchor and all I could think was, Why didn’t I just climb better so I didn’t have to ask him to take? Why is my technique so bad? Why can’t I just spend all day in a perpetual outside flag?

Aka flagging.

Aka outside flag.

Aka back flag.

After trying Professor Pogue’s Precarious Pinnacle (the 10c) I was basically done and went into support/dog watching mode. I found a nice little niche under where people were climbing and chilled with the dogs, who spent much of the time either crying or lying on a dirty sweatshirt. I, alternately, spent much of the time squinting/wearing a dirty fleece. Behind me I could hear belayers talking to climbers and vice versa, and people (possibly) sending. Wyatt went for broke on a 10b called Steel Pulse and Adi stemmed the shit out of an aesthetic trad line called Tangled Up In Blue 5.9. There was also a dude with us, Kyle, who had never climbed before in his life, and who kind of rocked a 5.7 or 5.8 (can’t remember) called The Chossmaster and who tried his damndest on Tangled Up In Blue. I was stoked to see him try hard, and also stoked to get tons of top rope belay experience holding someone tight since I basically yarded on the rope after having him ever so slightly too loose at the beginning and letting him mini-deck.

Wyatt on Steel Pulse.
Adi high up on Tangled Up In Blue.

As things were winding down Wyatt started to really crank on a (I think) 5.11b/c mixed route called (again, I think) Crossing the Delaware with Your Pants Down. At this point I only had one thought on my mind though: Get back to the car. Eat. So I skedaddled while the people with dogs took the  long way home and we all met at the cars, where I was sitting in the back seat drinking energy drinks and generally not reflecting on the day but rather just staring out at the stunning vistas, plains, mesas and buttes that are Frenchman Coulee. Then people got back to the car, we ate some sour gummy worms, and drove home.

So, second rope-climbing experience was MORE successful, but comfort and full-on stoke for rope-climbing is still a long way off. I need to ease into it more. I need to get my own equipment, go with a friend to a baby crag, and just mess around. None of this long (see: normal) pitch stuff. I need to get comfortable being on a rope. I need to get comfortable belaying.

Or I just need to stick to bouldering.

 

Where Are The Sasquatch Boulders (and other pertinent life questions)?

Hello, friends. That was quite the deluge last night, wasn’t it? Anytime it rains that hard I find myself thinking: OK, I live on water, and now there’s water coming from the sky. I’m surrounded by water. I’m going to drown.

Actually, I didn’t think that. I gobbled down half a wedge of brie last night and proceeded to have nightmares. But at least I slept almost a full eight hours.

ANYWAY, we’re not here today to talk about rain or fine cheeses. We’re here today to talk about one thing and one thing only: The Sasquatch Boulders. Specifically: Where are they? How do you get to them? How hard is the river crossing? What should I climb when I get there? Is there any other pertinent information I should know?

Let’s start with a photo of the river crossing from last Thursday, September 16th, 2021, when the river was at about 250 cubic feet per second:

Adi braves the raging (tranquil?) waters of the North Fork Skykomish River.

Can we talk about these colors? The azure of the sky, the brown tannins of the river, the pink of the crash pad, the vermillion greens of the forest. So, this is where I personally recommend crossing the river (Disclaimer: crossing the river is inherently dangerous and could result in injury or death. If you have any doubts, don’t do it). Not that I recommend crossing the river, per se. The guidebook (Western Washington Bouldering by Pablo Zuleta) recommends only crossing at 900 cubic feet per second or less, and having crossed at about this level last year I can second (and possibly even third) this notion by saying you wouldn’t want to cross with the river any higher. Unless maybe you have a raft. Or a zip line. But anyway, just to give you an idea of where exactly this is in case you’re planning a future trip (for next year since after last night the river is raging), here it is:

Also, pro tip: The guidebook says to wear surf booties, and I fully second this notion. Luckily, I own supple seven millimeter O’neill booties. It’s cheating, basically. When we went on Thursday Adi kept talking about how cold it was in her Chocos, while I was as comfortable as a harbor seal. So yeah, wear surf booties if you got ’em, Tevas or Aquasocks if you don’t. But don’t go barefoot.

OK, but where are these boulders exactly? If you have the guidebook or just zoomed out on the map, you’ll know they’re near the town of Index, Washington, bouldering haven but much better know for its sport/trad climbing. The parking for the Sasquatch boulders is located 2.1 miles from the Index bridge down Index-Galena Road. At about 2 miles the road will run right alongside the river. The parking is located on the left side after the road stops going along the river and becomes separted from it by a thin stretch of forest. Once you’ve parked, look for a path down a short but steep bank with a huge cable running across it and a rope that sort of won’t help you down, as it’s tied on one end to saplings. Follow this trail onto the river bed, where it will soon turn right and and head along another embankment. Follow this for about a few hundred yards until you see a path running down to the left that makes its way down this embankment. There are many of these little paths, so if you have to jump, it’s too steep and you’ve chosen the wrong one. Keep going. Once you’ve found the one that’s not TOO steep and gotten onto the actual river bed, follow the trail until you come to the river, AKA the pin I marked on the map above. Here you can sort of pick your poison. You can cross in the rapids where the water is shallower but more quickly moving, or you can cross where it’s slower and deeper. I’ve always opted for slower and deeper. But I’m not your mother.

OK, SO NOW YOU’VE CROSSED THE RIVER AND YOU’RE STOKED OUT OF YOUR GOURD. But wait, where are all the boulders? They’re in the forest, my friend. You’re almost there, but not quite. Luckily, the hard part, aka the river crossing, is over. You’re just about to climb, I promise you that. In mere minutes your hands will be caressing the granodiorite fantasies that are the starting holds of The Network V5, Yin Yang V7, Where the Wild Things Go V2, or whatever it is you want to climb.

After you’ve crossed the river and gotten situated and maybe taken some Instagram pics making a duck face with the river in the background, look for a dry creek bed heading off to your left. Follow it for 200-300 yards until you see a trail heading up the bank to your right marked by either a cairn or a log with a piece of orange hunter’s tape tied to it or both. The trail is AFTER you’ve passed the gorgeous little natural pool polished rock thing, and should be quite obvious. If you find yourself saying, That could be a trail, it probably isn’t. Once you find the trail, follow it up for a steep minute or so until it flattens out. Two minutes after that you’ll be at the boulders.

To recount real quickly: 

To get to the boulders: 

  1. Take Highway 2 towards Index, WA.
  2. Turn left on Index-Galena Road (if you’re coming from Seattle).
  3. Once you pass the bridge leading to Index keep going for two miles till you see the river.
  4. At about 2.1 miles park on the left side of the road and look for a trail going down the parking with some rope on it.
  5. Follow the directions above to get to the river.
  6. Cross it.
  7. Follow the directions above to find the trail to the boulders.
  8. Send hard.

Got it? Good.

Things you might need:

  1. Surf booties
  2. A dry bag
  3. Board shorts or swimsuit bottom
  4. Snacks
  5. Stoke

Now, I know you’re all asking: BUT MARK, WHAT DO WE CLIMB WHEN WE GET THERE? 

And the answer is easy: Giraffe V1.

And then you go home (I’m only sort of kidding).

More to come on which blocs are best later. For now I hope this post on how to get to The Sasquatch Boulders was useful. Feel free to leave any pertinent question, bouldering or otherwise, in the comments.

Happy sending.

— W

Stoked on Mad Meadows || ROAD TO V5

So, I’m watching this vid right now:

Before this video I had no idea who Ned Feehally was. Now I’m obsessed with him. Did you know that Ned Feehally is one of the few climbers in the world to have flashed V14? Did you know he’s also one of the co-founders of Beastmaker? Did you know I’m one of the few people who live on a 27-foot Catalina in the Greater Seattle Area to have flashed V2? Did you know any of these things?

He also just wrote a book called Beastmaking: A fingers-first approach to becoming a better climber. You can (and will, because I command it) pre-oder a signed copy right here. Prepare to spend the rest of your life climbing. Prepare to flash V14.

ANYWAY, nothing like starting off a blog post on a tanget. Because I’m not here today to talk about Ned Feehally. I’m here today to talk about climbing shoes. And Leavenworth. And Mad Meadows. And actually MOSTLY Mad Meadows, and the Sword Boulders, and sending V2, and chilling with tons of people at the boulders, and having tons of mats, and generally having a wonderful time. Because that’s what went down this last Saturday in Leavenworth. We had a mega crew, and that led to a mega sesh.

Slash I had to take it easy because I COULD NOT FALL. Aka could not fall from high up. Aka could not aggravate my back. Aka.

I think I might need to make some sausage and eggs right now.

Bear with me.

We started off on The Hueco Route V1. Keira sent. I sent. Then we went over to Barnacles V1. Keira sent. I sent. At some point during the warm-up I completely ravaged my right middle finger. Yes, the one that’s been super fucked up for a long time. Then we went UP the trail over to The Rail boulder, and started working on a V2 called The Crack. Keira sent. I sent.

BUT.

But.

BUT.

But.

(But.)

This wasn’t your ordinary V2. The first move was, like, kinda hard. I tried the heel hook beta and couldn’t do it cuz I suck at heel hooking. Kiera said, “I don’t think I’m gonna be able to do it without the throw,” and then proceeded to stick the throw, and then thrutch the shit out of the top out. I stuck the throw but wrenched the shit out of my shoulder, and thought about calling it a day (aka calling it a boulder). But then I felt inspired to see if I could do the throw without wrenching my shoulder. And I did. And I found a hold on the top out that made the top out, like, pretty darn easy, despite the guidebook calling the top out “strenuous.” And so I decided I loved the boulder, even though we were baking in the sun like geoducks at low tide, and even though I’d wrenched my shoulder, and even though I failed on the heel hook beta.

And then the Mega Crew showed up.

The crushers: B-Rad, Emi, Meli. Co-starring: Franz.

They proceeded to session the shit out of The Crack and do every kind of beta imaginable. I’m not sure why they didn’t try the V3 around the corner, The Rail, which is supposedly classic. They seemed more stoked on just doing The Crack over and over. It was rad to watch B-Rad’s heel hook methods. It inspired me to go back and do it again with the heel hooks, and just get better at heel hooking in general. Why am I so bad at it. Is it because I want so badly to be good at it? Is that it? Are the gods taunting me?

Um, so yeah.

Then we went to The Sword Boulders.

And sent a bunch of V0’s.

And maybe a V2.

And then Emi tried the dyno on The Hourglass V6 for like an hour. And by an hour I of course mean a half hour. And then it was, like, late. So we left. And went to the diner by Cole’s Corner. And I got a club sandwich and instantly regretted it. And also sort of regretted not getting a milkshake.

But GOAL ACCOMPLISHED. First goal: send a new V2. Second goal: find more V5’s to project. That goal I didn’t accomplish. I wanted to go check out Pentaphobia at Clamshell Cave or The Dihedral at the Carnival Boulders. We did none of those things. It’s hard when you have a big group. Things always take longer than you expect. You’re not gonna spend your entire day traipsing from boulder to boulder. No one likes to traipse.

She wears short skirts I wear t-shirts.

Five V points.

Didn’t hurt my back.

Stoked on The Crack V2.

Stoked on:

Photo: Adi.

 

Time to Project V5?

Ladies and gentlemen. Friends. What a beautiful day here in Seattle. What a gorgeous, mild, special fall day. Except it isn’t quite fall yet. What a beautiful, sultry, clear late summer day. A great day to be alive. A great day to drink caffeine. A great day to ride the ferry from Bainbridge Island ALL the way to Seattle, to disembark, to walk up 1st Avenue, to find your car parked on 9th and Republican in Lower Queen Anne, to drive that car to Whole Foods, to get a Hop Tea, to drink it, to be merry.

In short: Day.

(OK asshole just because you’re talking on your phone doesn’t mean you get to take off your mask).

Tomorrow I am PROBABLY going climbing at the Sasquatch Boulders. If I do go, I have several goals: 1) Send Where the Wild Things Go. 2) Send Goosebumps V2. 3) Check out Sun Sail V3. And 4) Check out The Network V5, Dreamscape V7, and Yin Yang V7. Because it’s time to start projecting harder blocs. It’s time to OFFICIALLY start projecting a V5, which means I need to first FIND that V5, which means I need to go to a bunch of different V5’s and caress the starting holds and look at the line and think, Do I see myself climbing this? I’ve now sent three V4’s, and thus think it appropriate to start projecting a V5 or harder. It’s all about finding problems that inspire you. The sight of them can inspire you, or the movement can inspire you. Or even just the grade can inspire you. But it’s hard to get psyched about something — to get obsessed with something — if it doesn’t inspire you.

Slash.

Is the ferry arriving?

Why yes, turns out it is:

Well, that means it’s time for me to skedaddle. It means it’s time for me to take a long walk. It means it’s time for me to get some caffeine (Whole Foods on Westlake or Whole Foods in Interbay??????). Or do I just go to REI right now and try on climbing shoes for the fourth time?

Fare thee well, friends! We shall talk soon.

 

Surfing La Push Slash Why Does My Back Hurt

Friends. Lovers. Times are tough right now in Wetzlerlandia. I hurt my back last Wednesday and I still don’t know how bad it is. I was just jumping down from a route at the climbing gym, just using my legs to break my fall, and I felt something kind shift or get tweaked in my back and it’s felt gnarly ever since. Surfing a lot yesterday and the day before might not have helped. It might have helped, but it also might not have helped. That remains to be seen. Either way it feels stiff and gnarly right now and makes me sad.

But.

Anyway.

Hi.

My succulents are sitting in the cockpit. I just did some child’s pose and cat cow. Smoked SO many cigarettes (rollies) over the past two days, so now my body is detoxing. I need to axe cigs completely, but it’s kind of a ritual with the friends I smoke them with and so I’ve been hesitant to completely axe them. But, like, they’re gnarly. Not good. They don’t make my body feel good. They don’t make me feel good. The only thing they DO do is make my cognition as sharp as a tack. But I’m not ready to sacrifice my soft tissue for that.

Do you follow?

You don’t follow.

You’re not even paying attention.

How dare you.

It’s a beautiful sunny day here. Please stand by while I check the Gold Bar forecast.

….

OK the HIGH tomorrow in Gold Bar, WA is supposed to be 80. Which means I could go bouldering in the morning. Which I won’t do because my back feels gnarly. HOWEVER! The highs for like the ENTIRE week after that are only around 70 degrees. Aka perfect bouldering attempts. Aka will I ever go back to Canada? Aka I need to talk to my physical therapist today about my back. Aka I’m drinking matcha right now and it tastes disgusting. Aka I just bought four packs of sardines. Aka bee pollen. Aka turmeric pills.

OK. Time to concentrate.

Honestly that might be it for today.

I guess I could talk about the surf trip.

El Cazador and I went to the Olympic Peninsula on Sunday, surfed near PA on Sunday morning and then La Push Sunday evening. It was my first time surfing in a couple months and only my SECOND TIME SURFING since my knee injury though lately I never think about my knee my knee is great it’s my damn hip flexors now and MY MOTHEREFFING BACK GOD WHY DOES MY BACK HURT SLASH.

The waves at La Push yesterday were, in one single word, primo. Well, they were “good,” but the sun was out and they were fun and playful and it felt pretty darn good to be back in the water. I only surfed one sesh cuz I wanted to take care of the BOD, but El Cazador surfed two cuz he’s a beast. Then we slow-rolled out of there and made the late 8:10 ferry back to Seattle and I didn’t get home till like 10:10pm. I was tired. I still took the time to rinse my westuit and shower and get all the gnarliness off me. So many things went well from the expedition, namely the WEATHER. Sun in La Push?????????????? Almost never happens. Mist in La Push? Happens all the time. But so much sun that your face gets charred? Um, yeah, pretty rad.

Now I’m back on the boat as I alluded to earlier, drinking matcha and stuffing my maw with bee pollen. I want more caffeine. But I’m not going back to Whole Foods. But I want more caffeine.

Slash.