Back in Time // Mexico on Sunday

I’m trying to decide whether or not to go climbing right now. I’m sitting on the boat drinking a matcha latte I just got from Whole Foods and it’s delicious. Sixteen ounces, oat milk. Need I say more? Shall I say more? Would you like me to say more?

The neighbors’ devil child has been screaming all morning and it makes me want to get off the boat. I’ve thought about going bouldering today, but feel it might be too much for my shoulder (shoulder). But if I were to go bouldering, where would I go? Well, I think the choice is pretty clear: The Sasquatch Boulders. Today might be the last day the Sasquatch Boulders are climbable all season. Starting tomorrow it’s supposed to rain, and with the rain the river level will be coming up, and if the river level gets too high it will be impossible to cross. Which means you’d have to either bushwack in from Index or get in a raft and not get sucked down the rapids. Either way a somewhat dicey prospect. Put on a wetsuit and swim across, toting your belongings behind you covered in plastic? That’s also a possibility.

Another possibility is that I could go to a place called Seattle Bouldering Project today. Seattle Bouldering Project is a climbing gym (actually there are two of them) in Seattle that’s dedicated to the discipline of “bouldering.” Bouldering, in case you’re familiar, is essentially rock climbing but without ropes and never getting high enough to where a fall would be fatal. If you boulder high enough it’s no longer bouldering: It’s free-soloing. Alex Honnold, for instance, sort of “bouldered” Freerider on El Capitan, only his boulder was several thousand feet high. Most of the time when you boulder you’re only several feet off the ground. Sometimes several inches.

Or I could wait till tomorrow and NOT climb today. A dastardly prospect. A prospect.

God, I wish I had another matcha latte.

Maybe I’ll roll it out fo a bit with the foam roller.

If I don’t climb today, and I don’t climb tomorrow, I won’t be climbing for another three or so weeks. This is because on Sunday morning I’m going to Mexico. Zihuatanejo, to be exact, though we’re not actually GOING to Zihuat, we’re going to points north to go surfing. By “we” I mean I and three of my friends. We fly into Zihuat Sunday afternoon, rent a car, drive up to a surf spot called The Ranch, surf there for a few days, and then drive north to Nexpa and possibly La Ticla. I don’t know how I feel about this trip, to be honest. Sure, I’m excited. I’m excited AF. But I’m also going to miss bouldering. I’m going to miss my solo missions into the mountains. And I know it’s for the best. I know my shoulder is screaming for (politely requesting) a break like this. And now it’s going to get a break. Three weeks with no bouldering at all. What will become of my psyche? How will I live?

In other news, I slept so fucking well last night. This morning I was having the most vivid dream — I’d slept through the whole night without having to get up and pee — and it was one of those dreams where it’s not necessarily great but it’s also not really a nightmare, it’s more just realistic, and it feels like it goes on and on and on…and then you wake up. And you’re kinda bummed you woke up. You kinda wanna fall back asleep and go right back to the moment you were living right before you woke up. But then you DO get up, and you go get a matcha  latte. And all is right in the world.

I think I’m going to meditate now. And by meditate I mean sit up somewhat straight and close my eyes and focus on my breathing. I don’t know how to meditate. Is it possible to know “how” to meditate? Is there a right and a wrong way? Can you meditate while listening to Metallica? Can you meditate while letting your mind run wild thinking whatever the hell thoughts it wants. OK, OK, real quick the Back in Time Exercise. Where was I a month ago? I was here, probably climbing, or if not climbing then thinking about climbing. My friend Pat would come over the next day and we’d take the boat out. Two months ago? OK nevermind that was two months ago. One month ago the smoke was here and there was a strange woman chilling on the dock and I’d gone to visit my parents that day but I was back on the dock trying to figure out who this woman was and the air was hot and sultry and I was bored.

So basically a lot has changed.

One year ago to this day? I was in Mexico with Nate and Hunter. We were in Nexpa. We’d probably just met Doreen and Tina, the girls with whom we’d spend the rest of the trip.

Two years ago to this day? I was in Vienna.

Five years ago to this day? I might’ve been out partying and drinking too much. Or hungover.

Ten years? I was in Oaxaca, coming back from a trip in the moutains.

20 years ago. I was in high school.

30 years ago. I was in Minnesota in first grade.

40 years ago. I didn’t exist.

Fin.

A Capital Climbing Day | Road to V4

Happiness is a homemade brush extension on a boulder you’re about to eat shit on. Photo: Carolyn.

Yesterday I went to the Index River Boulders despite the fact that I was feeling under the weather, or maybe BECAUSE I was feeling under the weather and didn’t want to spend all day wallowing on my boat. I think yesterday was a perfect example of where the phrase “under the weather” probably comes from. The day before I’d gone swimming in the semi-frigid October Lake Washington water, and then promptly taken a hot shower, and then promptly walked around with my wet hair exposed to the elements. This is supposedly a recipe for catching a cold, and that appears to be exactly what I did. Yesterday I woke up, it was cloudy and shitty and generally depressing outside, and my voice sounded like I had a bullfrog living in my larynx, and I generally felt slightly fatigued. But there’s the keyword: slightly. This felt like a quintessentially common cold to me, and so I decided to press east towards the mountains, not least because I had a hotel reservation in Leavenworth for that night.

My first step on yesterday’s fall odyssey were the boulders on the Skykomish River near Index. These boulders are sometimes called the “Boulder Drop Boulders,” since they’re right next to some kayaking feature which is apparently called a “Boulder Drop” (or something. I have no idea. I’ve never river kayaked in my life. Is it fun? It looks kind of lame. But that was exactly what I said about bouldering until I tried it). My goal when going to these boulders yesterday was 16-fold: 1) Send Unnamed V3 (around the corner from Finger Crack V3), 2) Get some good burns in on Finger Crack V3, and 3) Maybe send the River Warm-Up V0 problem. If you remember from a previous post, I ate shit on Unnamed V3 one day when Carolyn and I were there, falling all the way from the lip, barely landing on the pad and in the process rolling my ankle, slightly spraining my wrist, and almost hitting my head. So another goal was just to not do that. Bouldering by yourself with one pad is significantly different from bouldering with a bunch of homies and a bunch of pads. I’ve never really experienced the latter. One time Barold, Carolyn and I went bouldering together and had THREE PADS. Can you imagine the decadence? We were punting off highballs just for fun. Carolyn did a swan dive off French Slab V2 just to take advantage of the multitude of protection we had placed at the base of the boulder.

Long story short: I sent Unnamed V3, and it glorious. Start on the side-pull and the undercling, move left grabbing the ledge above you. Get your hands on a good sloping ledge and then get your left foot up on the ledge on the left side of the boulder, and then reach up and grab the mini-jug just before the lip. The problem is the lip is slopey, and once you’ve grabbed the lip your work is not over, because everything about the boulder wants to push you off to the right and off balance. You must fight this feeling with not a little bit of cunning and cool-headedness. Yesterday I got to the lip very easily (the tenuous slopers you chill on just before reaching for the hold below the lip are so sick, you feel like you’re gonna fall off but they hold you perfectly), but then couldn’t top out because I felt off balance. Then the SECOND time I got to the lip I took my time, got my feet figured out, and the top out was actually pretty easy. I basically just vaulted my person onto the top, which was covered in moss and leaves, not unlike a bed. And then I rejoiced in what was only the fourth V3 I’ve ever sent!!!!! The fanfare!!!!! The glory!!!!! The sponsorship deals!!!!!!! The feeling of accomplishment!!!!!!

And then I peaced out and drove to Leavenworth.

Well actually before I peaced out and drove to Leavenworth I gave Finger Crack V3 a few burns and yes, despite getting shut down, made some progress. Do I feel like it will go next session? Maybe. Do I feel like it will go in the next couple sessions? Definitely.

Fall is upon us, and the drive to Leavenworth yesterday was nothing short of orange-tinged ecstasy. I passed most of the drive in a sort of reverie induced by black tea, the happiness of sending a project, and the uncertainty of what I was going to do that night. Carolyn and I were supposed to hang out but hanging out was probably not a good idea given the current state of my health. I figured if I DID go all the way to Leavenworth though I might as well climb, and so after chilling in the Swiftwater parking lot for a second and fondling some of the jugs on Hate Rock, I decided roll on down to The Labyrinth, an area I’d never climbed before and which MIGHT be the subject for another post, or might not since I only sent two problems (one of which was a V2 flash!!!!).

But anyway, for now it’s sunny and beautiful outside, and I’m going to get out of my sweatpants and off my boat. Though actually I might chill here just a little bit longer and read Pride and Prejudice, since I think Ms. Bennett is finally about to pull her head out of her ass and tell Mr. Darcy how she feels. God, I hope so.

Did people boulder in Victorian England?

– Wetzler

The Beauty of Not Sending | Road to V4

Today’s post is sponsored by Friction Labs Gorilla Grip*, the only chalk I use when I’m getting shut down by a V2. I’ve used Friction Labs ever since I needed to order some chalk online and had no idea what kind to get so I got the kind with the coolest branding. I mean, come on, the package looks dope. It’s all blue and that gorilla has his arms crossed like, “Bro, you’re ready for V4 and if you don’t send it today I’m gonna get your head in a vice grip.” All jokes aside, of the few chalks I’ve used so far I like Friction Labs the best. And I love the chunks in the Gorilla Grip!

*Today’s post is absolutely not sponsored by Friction Labs.

Aber ich wunshe ihnen einen sehr guten Morgen, meine Freundin! ¿Cómo están todos? ¿Qué hacen? ¿Toman lattes de matcha como yo? ¿Veían el partido entre Tottenham y Man United como yo, para luego apagarlo por la tarjeta roja estúpida que le dieron a Anthony Martial, pinches culeros de mierda?

Anyway, it’s a beautiful day (it’s absolutely not a beautiful day; it’s misting outside and grey and cloudy and the sky in Seattle reminds me of a wet diaper) and I’m drinking a matcha latte on the boat that I just got at Whole Foods. I must say, I remember hemp milk being better. This actually tastes like hemp. And there’s NO sweetness, which I know is good for my health but means this matcha latte mostly tastes like hay. I got an oat milk matcha latte at Whole Foods yesterday and it was significantly better. They definitely don’t use ceremonial grade matcha.

I know all of your are reading this post for one reason and one reason only: You want to know if I went climbing yesterday. And the answer is: Sort of.

I mean, I TECHNICALLY went climbing yesterday. I hiked all the way up to the boulders at Gold Bar, warmed up on a new V0 called Mario Kart or Mario Bros or Super Mario or something like that, and then because I was feeling slightly self-conscious due to people right next to me trying Metroid Prime V6 I went to a DIFFERENT area, aka walked around The Doja muttering and remarking on all the bad landings, and then I finally ended up at The Container V2, an overhanging V2 that looks like it should be SO easy and probably is really easy once you figure out the top out, but I keep getting shut down on the thing and yesterday was no different.

But see the thing is, yesterday I didn’t even really want to send.

Why would you go bouldering, you may be wondering, if I didn’t want to send. And the answer is simple but also incredibly nuanced.

Sending, for me, is not the most important thing in bouldering. Sure, it feels GOOD to send, but bouldering for me is kind of like going fishing. I LOVE fishing, and it has nothing to do with catching anything. It’s the ANTICIPATION of catching something. That’s all it is. It’s kind of like watching soccer or hockey. If all you care about are goals, you should be watching a different sport. But if you can appreciate the movement, or a good play, or a good opportunity, then you can appreciate those sports. Similarly with bouldering, if you really want it to be fulfilling, you better just appreciate the movement and also making progress, however minute that is. There is always progress if you look at things correctly. Yesterday I SAW new boulders. I climbed ONE new problem. And I got pumped, which is always progress, because it means you’re getting stronger. Viewed correctly, a session is never wasted, especially when you’re in it to get out of the fog in Seattle and get out in nature as much as anything else.

And now I must go because I just made a last-minute reservation at Seattle Bouldering Project to climb using the guess passes they just gave all members with frozen memberships, i.e., me. Which means I’m going climbing today. And I’m gonna get pumped!

– Wetz

I Could Talk About

 

Today’s post is sponsored by Ugly Mug Cafe* on Dravis, who sold me a matcha latte this morning for $5.95 this morning and still had the gall to ask if I wanted to add a tip. Fuckers.

*Today’s post is absolutely not sponsored by Ugly Mug Cafe. The matcha latte was actually delicious and it’s my own damn fault for only tipping because I felt obligated.

Good morning! I have a wonderful post for you today. That’s actually not true. I have no post for you today. Nothing is “in store,” as they say. And actually I just found out that I need to leave the boat in 15-20 to pick up a friend, so that means this post is going to be harried, hurried, and possibly just really bad.

What could I talk about today?

Well, I could talk about how I MIGHT go climbing today. After I hang out with my home-boy today I might drive over to Index, Washington, United States of America, to try my fingertips on the elusive Unnamed V3, around the corner from such classics as Hittin’ the Rail (V5?) and Finger Crack V3. What a perfect day it would be if I did the following: hung out with my home-slice, drove to Index, day-flashed Unnamed V3, sent Finger Crack V3 in the first couple attempts, sent The Jewel V3 in the first few attempts, and then hauled my man-body up to Leggo My Ego and actually put in decent session on it. Wouldn’t that be a perfect day? I’m asking you: Would it be a perfect day.

It would be a perfect day.

I’m so alone.

What else could I talk about?

I could talk more about our sessions in Leavenworth the other day but I don’t want to do that. I could finally review the Miuras I got from La Sportiva recently that have (sort of) revolutionized my climbing (aka given me better edges and better grip but haven’t really made my technique better). I could talk about Mexico. I could talk about what I’m going to do when I get back from Mexico (maybe drive down to Bishop and camp there for a couple weeks). I could talk about the song I’m listening to right now, November, by Max Richter. I could talk about how badly I want the Canadian border to open. I could talk about how I want even more badly the Chilean border to open so I can go there after Christmas and spend January and February there before coming back from the spring climbing season (is this really how I live my life now).

Or I could talk about something else.

Part time love is the life round here

We’re never done.

What I think I’m ACTUALLY going to do though is talk about none of this. I’m going to finish listening to the James Blake song I’m listening to right now. I’m going to watch a little of the Machester City vs. Leeds United game. And then I’m going to go pick up my friend and get yet another (and another, and another, and another??????) matcha latte. And then we’re gonna come back to my boat and chill in the “sun,” aka the 67-degree misty weather.

Anyway. Maybe I’ll have more for you tomorrow. Aka I’ll definitely have more for you tomorrow. Aka I might have more for you tomorrow. Aka I smell like a girl because I got “Moroccan Sea Salt Spray” and it’s for women and the word “bombshell” shows up repeatedly in the copy.

Hair looks great, though.

– Wetzler

We All Got Our Runnins | Road to V4

Frustration after an attempt on Insanity Later V2.

I probably shouldn’t have woken up so early but on any day that I’m going climbing I’m like a kid on Christmas. The only difference between this kid and an actual kid on Christmas is that I’m getting stoked to hopefully send sic (sic) blocs (sic). Today I’m hoping to send Dirty Dancing V4, which would be my first ever V4. That’s what I’m hoping. But I’m not pinning the success of this mission on that one bloc. There are plenty of other boulders I want to try, and frankly I’m stoked to just be getting out there climbing. I’ll be stoked if I send some new V0 and V1’s. I’ll be even more stoked if I send a couple new V2’s or even a V3. And if I send a V4, then, well, you know what this blog becomes:

The Road to V5.

Anyway. Waking up on the boat. Not having earl grey but rather Trader Joe’s Chai. Which means yes, I’m having black tea, and yes, to combat the tannins I’ve mixed said black tea with some golden tea mix containing (I think) turmeric, cardamom, black pepper, and coconut creamer. It’s delicious. Is it delicious? I’m not sure. God, yesterday started off wonderfully but then finished dastardly. And then for some ridiculous reason I decided to watch the Netflix show An American Murder before bed. Big mistake. It made me feel so bad. There’s a reason I don’t watch horror movies or scary movies or even scary documentaries. I don’t see the point. I don’t see the redeeming value. They just make me feel terrible.

Left foot up to the tiny scoop hold. Left hand up to the terrible slimper. Right foot up, trying not to catch it on the undercling. That’s about all the beta I remember from Dirty Dancing V4. The high today in Leavenworth is somewhere in the mid-80’s, which is not exactly the best weather for strenuous slab climbing. But it is good weather for hanging out and enjoying the last rays of summer/early fall, and it is good for swimming, and we me might take a dip in the Wenatchee River after sessioning the Beach Forest Boulders or we we might go over to Lake Wenatchee. I’m not sure. Should I be doing a keto diet?

I don’t really know what to talk about this morning. I’m stoked to be going bouldering, that’s all. I’ve actually wondered lately why I don’t more unabashedly give my life over to bouldering. And I think it’s because I’m 37 and I just started bouldering and that, for some reason, would seem ridiculous. But on the other hand it’s all I want to do. It brings me happiness like few other activities ever have. When I’m bouldering I feel complete, and the thing is it has nothing to do with sending hard (for me) problems or making new friends. I’m just as happy bouldering alone, if not much happier. It has to do instead with the feeling of stone against skin and the feeling of body moving over stone. It has to do with presence. It has to do with listening to the sound of your breathing, and then lying there on the mat, after an attempt, listening to the sound of the forest. It has to do with turning your brain off. It has to do with some sort of connection that’s difficult to describe. And the whole fact that it’s contrived and unnecessary makes it that much more beautiful. It makes it art; and art is necessary.

It’s almost time to go and I hope I don’t drink coffee today. I hope I eat well and am positive. I hope I climb hard and that my body feels good. I hope I have a wonderful day and that today is day of improvement on all fronts, however, incremental.

Bless you all.

– Wetzler

Chilling on Eastlake Ave in My Car Writing a Blog Post | Road to V4

Well ok, this is a new one for me, blogging from my car outside Seattle Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy. Why am I here, you ask? Why am I sitting in my car on a busy thoroughfare blogging?

The answer is simple: I needed to mix it up.

Yes, friends, I realized something this morning, something frankly disquieting. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, “almost” being the operative word, since I am not at all ashamed to admit it: My life, it would seem, is empty without bouldering.

Now, before you jump to any conclusions, let me just explain a bit. Here’s the deal: The days that I boulder feel incredibly full. I have a sense of purpose. I have a mission. I’m exploring. I’m improving myself, improving my body, and it’s almost impossible to go bouldering without making some kind of progress, however micro that progress is. For example, when Carolyn and I went bouldering the other day I didn’t send anything new. But I still made so much progress. I think I’m starting to learn, for example, how to figure out beta. Before, I had this weird mental block where I would almost try to make problems harder because if they were too easy I thought I was cheating. So I’d find what I figured was the intended beta and then stick to that no matter what because I felt like doing anything outside of that was somehow cheating. Isn’t that insane? Isn’t that absolutely, no-holds-barred, elephant dung crazy??? It is crazy. I know it’s crazy. Because the whole point of bouldering is figuring out the beta that’s gonna get you up the rock. And sometimes the beta you find will be wildly different from the “intended” beta, but everyone climbs differently, and everyone’s body is different, so “intended” beta doesn’t mean “mandatory beta.”

Basically what would happen is this: I’d find a boulder (let’s say it’s V2 in this case), find what felt like V2 beta, and then PUT BLINDERS ON TO ANY OTHRE BETA BECAUSE IF I FOUND BETA THAT MADE IT FEEL V1 I FELT LIKE I WAS CHEATING.

I’m sure some of you can identify with this. Also, there are times when the “cheating” thing is legit. If you stand start a sit start boulder, for example. If you use a detached block that’s “off,” ETC ETC ETC ETC ETC ETC ETC ETC ETC ETC

(etc).

Anyway, we were supposed to be talking about progress. And sitting on Eastlake Ave. feeling cars whiz by.

So this figuring out of how to figure out beta is major progress. This acceptance of making it as easy as possible for me without “cheating” is huge progress and I think is going to allow me to get off the plateau I’ve been on for the past few months (and continue upward). Physically, I know I’m ready to boulder V4, V5 and maybe even harder. Technique-wise, I’m probably ready for those grades, too. But MENTALLY I’ve been stuck at about the V2, V3 level. And moving beyond that mental pleateau is one of the things I’m most excited about right now.

OK what the hell were we talking about. What is the point of this blog post. I have to pee and there are no bathroom prospects anywhere close. The Tottenham vs. Chelsea game starts in just over an hour.

OK, I remember what we were talking about. We were talking about how my life feels empty without bouldering.

Um, that’s pretty much all there is to it. On the days when I DON’T boulder I need to socialize or play the piano or do some good reading or writing if I don’t want it to feel empty. This is something I’m WORKING ON, i.e. accepting the days where I just don’t do much. I know many of you would kill to be in my position, or at least think you would kill to be in my position, because the grass is often, if not always, if not at least sometimes, more green.

If I don’t go bouldering today I won’t be going until Thursday since I can’t boulder tomorrow because I actually have plans.

I think I’m ready to be done chilling on Eastlake Ave. It’s one thing to chill on a quiet side street when you don’t have to pee and it’s quite another altogether to be on a street where the passing cars actually make your car rock side to side and a dude walks by smoking a cigarette and it drifts directly into your vehicle. I wish I was going bouldering today — and I could totally go — but my wrist and ankle will probably appreciate having a couple more days to rest.

Anyway, here’s a photo of where I am right now:

Damn, pretty sick resolution.

OK, time to go find a bathroom.

– Wetzler

 

Unnamed V3 aka A Day in Index | Road to V4!

Good morning, Friends and Lovers. Friends of course, in the platonic sense, and lovers also sort of in the platonic sense, i.e. lovers of bouldering, lovers of good literature, lovers of good tea, lovers of getting lost in foreign lands, lovers of Vancouver, lovers of crossing borders, lovers of Leavenworth, lovers of Index, etc. etc. You are all my friends and lovers. We are lovers. Lovers of life. Lovers of yerba mate and earl grey tea.

Etc., etc.

(Etc.).

OK, sorry, I really am just waking up right now, and I am having a cup of earl grey tea mixed with coconut/almond creamer, but my brain still hasn’t woken up. I actually woke up at a like 8:30am today, which is WAY past when I normally wake up, and I credit this to the fact that I’m sleeping MUCH better now that I’ve moved the fan further away from my person, and also because of what will be one of the subjects of today’s blog, a somewhat dastardly fall I took while bouldering yesterday at the River Boulders near Index.

That’s right, friends: I fell.

But it’s OK. Honestly, I’m kinda glad it happened. And while I rolled my right angle and gently sprained my right wrist and almost hit my head, I’m just glad it wasn’t worse, because it could’ve been much worse.

But it wasn’t worse.

It was fine.

Let me start at the beginning of yesterday, though. Let’s walk through the whole damn day, step by step. You don’t have anything better to do, right? You’re sitting at home “working remotely,” aka mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or watching YouTube videos or trying to figure out why your damn sourdough isn’t rising. So just take a second and let’s take a little stroll through my day yesterday. Because these fall days are beautiful, and yesterday, despite the fall, and even BECAUSE of the fall, was gorgeous.

OK. The beginning. I was at coffee in Queen Anne with Carolyn. Storyville. This place has AMAZING coffee but is expensive AF and apparently owned by Christians. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Just something to note. The insane prices are most noteworthy.

Carolyn (bless her right ventricle) treated me to a DECAF soy latte, which hit the spot in so many ways. We sat there at the table on the sidewalk, watching people walk by, talking about our lives, a scent of fall in the air and leaves turning colors strewn about the sidewalk. A slight bite to the air, if you know what I mean, and the sun, which doesn’t rise quite as high, leaves a light that is distinctly fall-ish, enhancing the already beautiful colors of the leaves. In short, there’s nothing better than drinking good coffee outside a cafe with a friend on a beautiful fall day.

Then, I drove off alone to go boulder Index, and Carolyn went off to go sportclimb Exit 38, but 20 minutes into my drive she called and said her friend had bailed and could she come bouldering with me? I of course did a backflip inside my car and then calmly said, “Yeah, that sounds good. Where do you wanna meet?” We met at the Wal-Mart in Monroe, Washington, and I went inside to get some deodorant and browse, which was a singular experience. Take back our freedom!!!!! Don’t take our guns!!!! Build that f$#$ing wall! These are the rallying cries of the Monrovian. The best part is in the next town over, Startup (you can’t make up these names), someone has a banner on their fence that says (wait for it): “Viva la revolution. Take back our freedom.”

In how many ways is this funny. We could probably break this little banner down over the next 10 or so paragraphs, but I’ll keep my questions short. First of all, why “Viva la REVOLUTION” and not “Viva la REVOLUCION”??? Why is “revolution” in English when the first part is in Spanish???? Also, to what revolution are they referring? I assume, and this is the best part, that they’re sub- consciously referring to the Cuban Revolution, i.e. the advent of communism in that country, i.e. in many minds the antithesis of freedom.  BUT WHO KNOWS. WHO CAN GET IN THE COMPLEX MINDS OF THE WONDERFUL FOLKS OF STARTUP. Maybe this is actually WAY beyond me, and I’m the idiot here. Maybe they’re referring to the French Revolution and some kind of agrarian takeover. I JUST DON’T KNOW. But either way, I’m so intrigued. You’ve done it again, Startup.

(ok let’s take a quick intermission. tea time, coffee time, whatever. just get up and stretch a bit and then we’ll continue talking about the day).

OK, back.

After Wal-Mart in Monroe we drove to Index where we checked out the Lower Mound climbing area. I was fairly non-plussed (complete wrong use of that word). I don’t really care about sport climbing but it was cool and inspiring to stand at the bottom of some of these routes, following the bolts to the top as your neck begins to crik. I could see myself climbing many of the routes and instantly see the main difference between sport climbing and bouldering. Sport climbing is endurance, bouldering is difficulty. Take a V3 bouldering problem and stretch that over many moves and you have an insanely hard sportclimbing route.

ANWAY. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes. Carolyn and I then drove over to the River Boulders, just a hop skip and a pas de bourre from the Town Walls, and we walked down the path saying, “Copper wires! Copper wires! Copper wires!!!” because on one of the paths leading down to the boulders there are a bunch of copper wires cris-crossing it, and it looks like they were almost put there by design to make someone trip. I would’ve already tripped on them many times if I didn’t have the reactions of a Thompson’s Gazelle. And I didn’t want Carolyn to trip on them, so thus began our rallying cry.

My whole GOAL, as you’ll know from yesterday’s post, was to climb Finger Crack V3. I had watched videos on this climb, thought about the moves, even PRACTISED THEM IN THE SHOWER so that I would be ready for this boulder. And what happened? Well, it was wet. There was water in the crack. Even though it had been dry all day, there was water in the crack. So we had to improvise. We warmed up (Carolyn sent it in amazing fashion) on Unnamed V1 around the corner, and then started having cracks at Unnamed V3, which is just down from Unnamed V1. Unnamed V3 (which I really wish had a name), is a pretty fabulous problem. You start with a right hand on a sidepull and left hand on an undercling with your feet on a sloping ledge, traverse left a bit, grab a ledge above you, and then proceed to haul yourself up onto that ledge while reaching for a decent hold just below the lip. I didn’t have that much desire to session this boulder, but these were the proverbial lemons that our proverbial lives had given us, and sessioning it meant making the proverbial lemonade.

We were both giving it good go’s, and I was getting somewhat close (I’d sessioned it once before with Barold), and then I tried a somewhat different beta where I moved even further down the sloping ledge before reaching for the lip, and the beta worked because I was able to grab the hold just under the lip perfectly, and PULL MYSELF ONTO THE LEDGE, and then grab the lip, and then, and then…..

This is where things kind of broke down.

You see, the ledge before the lip was kinda wet. So by the time I got to the lip my hands were kinda wet. And even though I felt tremendously unstable I just, well, went for it.

And that’s when I remember falling from somewhat great heights to the pad below, BARELY catching the edge of the pad, rolling my right ankle slightly, spraining my right wrist slightly to break my fall, and ALMOST, ALMOST hitting my head on a rock right before I tumbled to a stop.

I sat on the ground for a second clutching my right wrist and breathing. “I’m fine,” I told Carolyn. I was 80% sure I was fine. I just lay there for a few moments, in the rocks. “That’s the gnarliest fall I’ve ever taken bouldering,” I said.

Eventually I got up and surveyed the extent of my injuries. I knew the next few minutes would tell the tale. If things got worse, something was wrong. If things got better, then I was in the clear.

And thankfully I’m pretty much in the clear. Though my wrist and ankle are feeling a bit tender today.

Now, that was basically the end of that session, and HERE’S THE DEAL:

I’m not bummed about it. In fact, I’m stoked. The fall could’ve been WAY WORSE and was an eye opener. When you don’t have proper pad setups and things are wet, DON’T PUSH YOURSELF. Also, I came REALLY close to sending that problem, and know I will when I go back. Also, I made some beta breakthroughs, i.e. figuring out how to solve problems, and that’s huge and actually the subject for a different post.

We got back in the car and had a nice drive back. All in all it was a good day, and I was stoked on the session. Now I have a good excuse to rest a few days and then, well, I’ll be back. Ready for dry granite, ready to send, and ready to see some damn larches.

Viva la revolution!

– Wetz

 

Going to Index! | Road to V4

getting rad n
Happiness is a couple of bouldering and an approach hike with a friend.

Good morning Where’s Wetzler readers and fellow boulderers!!!!!!!! And also good morning to those of you who don’t boulder though not quite as cheery a good morning because to be honest I’m saving most of my cheer for the boulderers since I consider the rest of you second class citizens. I’m kidding, of course. I might be kidding. I’m definitely not kidding. But I do consider the rest of you people!!!! I just don’t really understand how a discipline like bouldering could exist, could indeed be out there at your disposal, and you would decline to participate. I don’t understand it all. It’s beyond me. I cannot fathom it.

Anyway. I’m sitting on the boat right now drinking my customary earl grey tea mixed with some kind of non-dairy creamer. It’s not that I can’t tolerate dairy, it’s just that it makes me feel a little slow. And I can’t afford to feel slow today because I think I’m………………………………………………………….GOING TO INDEX (caps Yaweh’s). Yes, that’s right, friends, I think I’m going to Index today, aka everyone’s favorite hamlet west of the Cascades and east of Gold Bar, aka the whitewater rafting capital of the Skykomish Valley, aka the sport climbing capital of the Skykomish Valley, aka the town with the cute little park and the hotel that might not be a hotel and the general store where when you call to ask if they sell shovels because your car is stuck at the Skykomish River Boulders parking they’re rude to you and hang up.

Aka.

Now, I maybe shouldn’t be going to Index today because of my teres minor, aka my shoulder. My shoulder is not feeling great. In fact, it’s feeling pretty terrible. BUT, it’s really hard to figure out how it’s ACTUALLY feeling until I ACTUALLY climb. And the reason for that is because sometimes with these tendon and muscle injuries there’s also a nerve component, and what you mistake for an aggravated tendon might just be an aggravated nerve. It’s very possible I’ll get to the boulders today and think, Oh, damn, my shoulder actually feels bomber, and then proceed to CRUSH Finger Crack V3, CRUSH Unnamed V3 around the corner, semi-CRUSH slash at least attempt The Enigma V4, and semi-CRUSH slash mostly get shut down by The Jewel V3 and Leggo My Ego V6. But damn, I really wanna see if I can least do the techy section at the beginning of Leggo my Ego. Though that’s pretty much the whole boulder. I mean, you have the dyno, but the dyno looks pretty easy. Except that the landing is a sloping rock that might be kind of hard to cover with one pad. We’ll see what happens. First I actually have to get off my boat, get my stuff together, and make the drive out there.

(Sorry, just getting distracted by Leicester aka Jamie Vardy dismantling Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. The announcer just said the phrase, “Country mile.” I find this infintely endearing and will try to use it at least once in conversation today even though I’ve never used this phrase. Maybe I can use it with the cashier at Safeway. Maybe I can use it at Trader Joe’s when I go there in the next 30 minutes.)

So yeah, that’s the plan for today: Go to Index. And if it’s for some reason not dry in Index then, well, I don’t know what I’m gonna do. Because I don’t really feel like driving all the way out to Leavenworth today. That, for some reason, just seems immeasurably far. If I did go to Leavenworth today, though, I know where I’d stay. Not in the campground. Not in any of the dispersed camping. In fact, not even in Leavenworth at all. I’d be in Wenatchee, at everyone’s fourth favorite chain hotel, the SureStay by Best Western in East Wenatchee, a hop skip and a meniscus tear from the East Wenatchee Mall and two blocks from everyone’s 34th favorite Mexican Restaurant, El Porton, where the only thing bigger than the portions are the……Jesus I wish I could think of something funny to say here. But I can’t. And now I can’t blog anymore, either, because it’s time to get ready.

To Index!

– Wetz

Dirty Dancing in the Dark | Road to V4

Before we talk about anything this morning, let’s talk about grades. Yesterday I went to Leavenworth for the first time in months. If you haven’t noticed, there’s been a pandemic happening but actually that didn’t prevent me from going to Leavenworth at all. What prevented me from going there was the ‘eat. But YESTERDAY I was finally able to go there, and it was glorious, and it was wonderful, and I sent some new shit, and bla bla bla, but I need to talk about grades here because the last problem I was working on is rated differently in the guidebook than on certain online bouldering websites.

And this annoys the shit out of me. But it’s also kinda awesome.

The problem in question: Dirty Dancing V4 (or V4-, or V3, depending on who you consult). This is a beautiful slab located at the “Washout” area, aka Unearthed area in Leavenworth. It’s a unique boulder because it’s essentially river polished granite even though it’s not particularly close to any river. This is because it was buried up until a huge washout (landslide?) happened in XXXXX and presumably (I’m not a geologist) the reason this boulder is smooth is because eons ago it WAS in a river. Anyway. I wanted to go there to try Dirty Dancing V4 because I kind of like slabs and it also just sounded like a cool problem, and so yesterday, after warming up at Swiftwater a bit and sending The Barista V1 and also Unobvious V2 (I started from the rock and not the ground, making it a V2 and not a V3), I went to the Washout.

Actually first I accidentally went to the Upper JY Boulders and was quite confused. And then I traipsed through what might’ve been a bunch of alder bushes, cutting myself up in the process and fairly cursing. But then I found the boulders, and all was well. I scoped the beautiful Lion’s Den V8 and also Buried Alive V6. But my eyes were drawn to what to me is the most striking line there, Dirty Dancing V4.

dirty dancing v4 slab in leavenworth, washington
Where were you / when they built the ladder to heaven? (Dirty Dancing as seen from lying on the boulder mat thinking, “How am I gonna get up this?”)

The first thing I scoped were the holds. Perfect little crimps. And then I scoped where you might start with your feet. “Start from a good edge in the middle of the scar…” the guidebook says. OK, there’s the scar, and there’s what looks like a pretty good edge. Why is there all that chalk on the undercling? Who is using the undercling? What I’ve since come to realize is that shorter people use the undercling because that allows them to establish, but if you’re taller you can just start with a shoulder height left crimp and reach up to a high right hand pocket/crimp. Neither of these holds are particularly great, especially when it’s warm outside and you’re sweating out of nervous excitment. But the first foothold IS great. So here’s what I did: Step onto the good right foot, lock off a crimp on the left hand and then reach up to grab the right hand pocket/crimp (getting established was pretty hard, so I understand people using the undercling). Once established, bring left foot up to pocket just just above the undercling. After watching YouTube videos, no one seems to do it this way. Most people bring the left foot up to an edge just above the right foot, and then do a foot switch. Maybe I’ll try that. But because I’m kinda tall, I can also do it my way.

From there, you’re basically just laddering up on tiny crimps and possibly a smear or two. If you want to see how it’s done BEAUTIFULLY by a dude who’s not that tall, and see where the name Dirty Dancing actually probably comes from, once again watch a vid of the Badwater Brothers doing it:

Damn these guys. They make everything look so easy, so graceful, so dancing, so dirty.

How close did I get on my attempts? Well, pretty damn close. In fact, I have video but I’m not going to show you until I get the send. I got ALMOST to the easy part, aka I had my hands up where the rock starts to level off a bit but just couldn’t quite get my feet right. I think next time it’ll go. It would help to have slightly colder temps and maybe to go there SLIGHTLY fresher. Like, after a few days rest. Like, maybe next week????? Though next week in Leavy is supposed to be pretty hot….

And now back to the grading discrepancy that I promised to talk about at the beginning of this post but have left off till now. Obviously, bouldering grades are subjective. One gal/guy sends a boulder, suggests a grade, and then everyone who climbs after her/him either says, “Damn, that grade is totally right. Good job. That’s a perfect V4,” OR “Bro, are you out of your mind. That is not V4. That’s like V3+.” The question you might be asking is, “WHERE do these grading discussions happen? Like, where is this documented?” And the answer is two places: Mountain Project and Sendage. Obviously there’s the guidebook grade first. In the case of Dirty Dancing it’s listed as  V4. But if you go on Mountain Project it’s listed as a V4-. And on Sendage as a V3. This is because this is the grade resulting from all the people sending it and subsequently grading it. The ANNOYING part of this is when something is listed in the guidebook as a V3 and you get super psyched because you sent V3 outdoors and then you go on Mountain Project and see it’s only a V2. This is actually fairly common. The OTHER way around, problems getting upgraded, is not that common. But it does happen. One I can think of off the top of my head is The Enigma at the River Boulders in Index, listed as a V4 in the guidebook but a V5 on Sendage.

Here’s how I’VE decided to handle this situation: I’m going with the majority. In the case of Dirty Dancing it’s listed as a V4 in two sources and a V3 in one, which means I’m going with V4. Which is a relief becuase I really want this problem to be V4 because I really wanna send V4.

But that’s enough for today! I’ve said too much. I’ve said too little. I haven’t said enough. In case you were wondering, after the Dirrty Dancing sesh I made the tired drive home to Seattle. I thought about camping in Leavy but didn’t really feel like camping alone and also my body was slightly wrecked. The drive home sucked until I got to Safeway in Monroe, where I bought about a gallon of black tea and also come white cheddar Cheetos. God I want to go back to Leavenworth right now….

It’s time to stretch and get coffee and use the foam roller? It’s time to escape to my parents because we’re supposed to get two inches of rain over the next few days? It’s time to meditate?

I don’t know what it’s time to do. But I do know I can’t WAIT to go climbing again.

– Wetz

 

A Sesh at the Camp Serene Boulder | R2V4

OK I’ve held off on doing this for awhile, but I’m going to vent for a second about how this blog has no readers and it’s really frustrating to be churning out top-level omg on a daily basis only to get like two views. So. Frustrating. But in the past when this has happened I’ve given up, or I’ve decided everything I’ve written is shit and then I delete it all or let the domain expire or do SOMETHING that essentially makes me have to start at 0 again. So no matter what I just need to fucking stick with it. And now that no one reads this blog AT ALL it’s actually kind of freeing. I can just kind of vomit all over the keyboad and post whatever comes up. I can say fuck this and fuck that and motherfucker and not really worry about swearing because NO ONE FUCKING READS THIS BLOG, so like, it doesn’t matter right???????

EXHALE. 

Ok. I feel better now. Just give me a second, though. 

Two days ago Barold, Carolyn and I went on a mission to the Gold Bar area and as you know from a PREVIOUS post we hit up the Morpheus Boulders aka the 420 Boulders and then afterward stopped at the Camp Serene Boulder on the way back and I didn’t blog about it cuz, well, a lot went down at that boulder, and it’s an epic boulder, and it garners its own post.

But FIRST a quick history of the Camp Serene Boulder aka Zeke’s Boulder according to Pablo Zuleta’s Western Washington Bouldering (aka the guidebook):

camp serene boulder aka zeke's boulder
The Camp Serene Boulder aka Zeke’s Boulder aka tall as fuck.

In 1985, Bob Buckley cleaned the highway side of the boulder and sent Highway Crack V1 and The Arete V0. Then, in the 90’s, Bob and friends established more difficult problems like Serenity Now (a V5 in the guidebook but now widely considered a hard V4) and Climax Control V6. In 2002 the boulder appeared in an “elusive” guidebook, then was later rediscovered by Kelly Sheridan (author of Leavenworth guidebook) and friends and has (presumably) seen regular traffic since.

It’s called the Camp Serene Boulder because it has Camp Serene graffitied in big letters on the west side. It’s also called Zeke’s Boulder because it’s just down the street from Zeke’s Drive-in and across the valley from Zeke’s Wall, the huge cliff above the Clearcut Boulders in the Reiter Foothills. Also, it’s worth noting that (at least in my limited experience), this is one of the best single boulders in Washington. It’s got at least five quality lines on it, and Serenity Now V4 is one of the most iconic boulder problems in Washington. It’s also kinda highball, and epic/terrible because it lies right off highway 2, a main thoroughfare connecting Eastern and Western Washington. Anytime you go to Index or Leavenworth or Steven’s Pass, you drive by this boulder. It used to be surrounded by luscious trees, but was clearcut sometime in the last few years and now stands there bald for all to see. What a shame. But still a sick boulder.

(for a great video of the Camp Serene Boulder showcasing most of its lines, watch this beaut by Jake and Kyle Love of Badwater Bouldering)

ANYWAY, on to our session. As we were driving out to Morpheus I prepped B and C by asking, “Do you guys mind if I take a few burns on Serenity Now on the way back?”

They said that was fine.

So, we went to Morpheus and sessioned, and it was wonderful, and a good warm-up, and bla bla bla. Then, AFTER our Morpheus sesh we headed BACK to Camp Serene, where I thought I might warm up on Insanity Later V2 (even though I’d never sent it) and then go for broke on Serenity now. But, Barold and Carolyn turned out to be really psyched on all the lines on the boulder, so we started out with a few burns on Insanity Later (Barold sent it second try!!!! with only a tiny pad at the bottom. he was a man possessed) and then moved on to Highway Crack V1, which shut all of us down. It’s a gorgeous line, a sloping crack that ascends some 20 feet into the air. We all found it dastardly hard and eventually gave up, feeling a bit bad but not that bad when I later found out on Sendage Jake Love called it “the hardest V1 I’ve ever done” and rates it a V2. After this went to Serenity Now so I could give it my burns, but I was feeling weak, had trouble even GETTING to the crux, and just did the same old shit I’ve done every time when trying it, i.e. not knowing how to get my feet higher when getting to the dihedral. I’ve since re-watched the Badwater Bouldering video I linked to earlier in this post, and now I think I might be able to crack it. But that’s what always happens. The eternal optimism. Probably the reason we keep bouldering. We always think we’re going to be able to send it next sesh even though half the time we get there and get absolutely shut down.

Lastly, Carolyn and I wanted to give Insanity Later a few more tries, since we’d both made good progress at the beginning of the sesh. I hadn’t gotten to the lip yet, but I’d slipped from the crux a couple times, which is pretty high and terrifying, but the falls had been fine so I was pretty much ready to go for broke. And go for broke I did. On one of the attempts (Barold was sitting there totally ready to leave and complaining about how hungry he was) I actually TOUCHED THE LIP but bailed because I felt unstable. So I asked if I could give it one last burn even though that’s exactly what I’d said about the previous burn. I’d found a bit of micro beta for the high right foot to make it a bit more secure, and also realized that I needed to get my left hand higher after getting the feet on the crux holds. And that’s what I did. I also went faster. I chalked up and just sent it. I didn’t dilly dally before going for the crux hold. I got my right foot high, trusted it, slapped my hand up the arete, got my left foot up, slapped my left hand up once more, and then could easily grab the lip with my right hand. Wonderful.

And so that was the session. Barold and I were super hyped to get Insanity Later, and I’m sure Carolyn will send next time she’s there, but being shorter she wasn’t able to do the high right foot and will have to smear in between, which makes it much harder. But I’m sure she’ll still get it. And I’ll be back for Serenity Now V4, and someday get that, too. Someday. Like, maybe, today?

– Wetz