Hellfire Burns (and Climbing Everyday) | R2V4 #16

If someone had a gun to my head today and said, “Send V4 or I’m gonna pull the trigger,” what would I do? Honestly, I don’t know if I would get in my car right now and go right to Serenity Now V4. I don’t know if that has the best sending potential. I DEFINITELY wouldn’t go to Zelda Dyno V4, since you gotta be able to rag on some decently small crimps for that one, and I don’t want to do that right now. I’d need something that I sort of have the beta on, and that’s sort of my style. Maybe The Enigma V4, at the River Boulders? Maybe Dropping the Chicken V4 up at the Devil’s Club Forest Boulders, though last time I wasn’t really even coming close to getting the first move? Maybe Fridge Center V4, though the high today in Leavenworth is supposed to be…..dear jesus…104?

Anyway, just some fun morning thoughts. I guess in the end I would realistically drive straight to Serenity Now V4, mess around on the slab a bit, maybe climb up the downclimb to warm up, and then give it a few balls-to-the-wall burns.  Like, hellfire burns. Like, scream burns. Like, pretend-you-don’t-have-a-pad burns. Like, actually take your pad away to make falling less of an option? burns. Or something like that. The question is, would the dude (I’m assuming it’s a dude) with the gun ride shotgun with me to the boulder, holding the gun to my head the whole way? Would he drive his own car? Would that car be something vaguely pathetic, like a newish Mustang? Would he be the kind of guy who wears a leather coat? And why would he care so much about me sending V4? Why wouldn’t he want to just support my progression as a climber? Or maybe he WOULD be supporting my progression as a boulderer, just in ways beyond my comprehension.

Is this the lion’s mane talking?

For the time being I’m going to do one of two things: Not write posts for awhile, until I can start climbing again. OR, ALTERNATIVELY, write posts every damn day. Because since I’m not working right now I have more time to write, and I kind of like starting the morning in this way. I get up, I prepare myself a cup of matcha bacopa lion’s mane sludge, and I pull out the laptop. I think about bouldering even if I’m not really trying to. I think about going climbing that day even though I definitely shouldn’t. Or maybe I should climb everyday. Maybe I should legitimately figure out a way to basically be climbing everyday. Like, put myself on a schedule where I’m climbing two days on, one day off, and it doesn’t matter how hard I send, it doesn’t matter how long I climb or what I climb, I just have to get out there. Though that’s a lot of driving. And I JUST froze my gym membership. Not that I really feel like climbing in a gym right now anyway. But if I DID do that, and my body were to adjust, then I’d get really damn strong, really damn quick. I’d be sending a message to my body that says, “Hey, dickweed, we’re going to be doing this (almost) everyday. So get used to it. Maybe help me out with those tendon flexors a bit? Thanks.” But instead the message I’m sending to my body right now is, “Ohhhh, are you hurt? Are you feeling bad? I’m so sorry. Take a week off. Take two. Wouldn’t want to overdo it….”

No, the answer is: overdo it. Be a gladiator. Be a warrior. Send V4.

Bogged Down in the Mire | R2V-enlightentment

Yours truly preparing for lift-off on Hueco Man V0, one of two V0’s in the Western Washington Bouldering guidebook’s Top 100. Pictures of Barold crushing to come.

I may have to take a break from bouldering. Yes, you read that correctly. Yes, I’m still planning on bouldering tomorrow (see: hiking), and yes, this is something that would injure me to my very soul (and not just my finger pulleys). The thing is: My right hand is dying. It feels kinda dead. Yesterday I was trying to crank the first move on Mr. Smooth V7 (Aka River Arete Aka V-Bizarre), and I felt something in my right index finger just kinda…pull. Like a pully? Did I fuck up my pulley?

Maybe.

And so Barold and I stopped bouldering. Not so much actually because I had possibly just injured myself, but because it was getting hot as balls at the Skykomish River Boulders and we were kind of over the whole scene, aka we had both sent Hueco Man V0, which involves a fun, frictiony first move and a rather unsettling top out, and we’d also sent an Unknown V1 that was super fun, and we’d also made significant progress on an Unknown V3 that really needs to be named because it’s a tremendous problem (is it a tremendous problem?), involving a beautiful sloping ledge and a kind of mantle/lock off thing to a gaston just below the lip that brought us unexpected amounts of joy despite our lack of sendage.

And then we went back up to the van, which was, kind of, sort of, completely, stuck. Like, the right rear wheel was just spinning. And we couldn’t move forward because a tree was blocking us. So what did we do? We smoked a rollie and chilled. And then what did we do? Well, I started stressing slightly because I had an engagement later that evening at 7:30pm at an historic Volunteer Park, and I was a bit concerned I was gonna miss that. I also started stressing a bit because I figured we might have to call Bubba’s Towing Service (name approximate) and that he would charge us an arm and a clavicle to yank the Sprinter out of the mire. I was also worried that I might use the word “mire” and that Bubba might think I was calling him a name and try to get physical (in which case I could surely outrun him).

But none of this happened. Because we did the best thing you can EVER DO WHEN CONFRONTING A DIFFICULT DECISION (caps Bubba’s):

We took a walk.

Yes, friends, it was a beautiful summer’s day, and Barold and I took a summer stroll through the forest toward Index, where Barold flagged down a passing and cyclist and demanded, “What ho, are you a local(e)?”

To which the local replied: “Yes. Why do you ask?”

To which I responded: “Kind sir, our chariot has become bogged down in the mire. We try to reverse but one of the wheels (aspirated “h”) just spins. Might you have a shovel?”

To which he responded: “Dude, hell yes I have a shovel. Let me just grab it for you real quick.”

Which he did.

Also on the walk to get the shovel, an idea occurred to Barold: Why don’t we jack up the offending tyre, put a bunch of rocks under it, no, essentially build a MOTHERF@!KING ROAD under it, and then let the tyre down and try to reverse then. Because you see the problem was that the tyre wasn’t able to gain purchase on anything, since the car was (mildly) high-centred. And so we were pretty confident that using the jack technique, and also shoveling the dirt out from behind the right front wheel (another quagmire altogether), we would be successful.

Back at the vehicle, Barold went to work jacking and I went to work shoveling. I was a modern-day laborer, getting by by the sweat of my back. I took the mound behind the front right tire and quickly reduced it to a….smaller mound. Meanwhile, Barold built what was essentially a cobblestone I-90 under the rear right tire, and we were able to give it a go. And guess what? It worked (though actually on the second attempt).

Fist bumps and even a high five abounded. The day was successful, in a type 2 sort of way.

But back to my “injury.” I believe my injury is at least partly mental, though I do believe my body is screaming for an extended break. Which is why, friends, after tomorrow’s hiking and very moderate sesh (I’ll maybe climb the Warm-Up Slab just for fun), I plan to take a week-plus off from bouldering. Yes, again you have a read correctly. A week plus. I need to start healing. I need to get back to where I was, both physically and mentally, before I went off the rails a couple weeks ago and overdid it and derailed myself both physically and mentally. I need to get my brain and body out of the mire.

Purity | R2V∞

I feel like some of the purity from my “early” bouldering days has been lost. I’m not sure why this is. I feel like the golden days of my bouldering were a couple months ago when I was making rapid progression, gaining muscle and finger strength, bolstering my head game outside, and making little trips to Gold Bar and Leavenworth whenever I could that were all the more special because I couldn’t do them that often.

Fast forward to now, when I could literally boulder every day if my body permitted it (which is of course exactly what happened the week before last). I’ve hit a sort of plateau at about V2 despite still constantly watching bouldering videos on YouTube, constantly thinking about bouldering, and still climbing quite a bit. Honestly, the best thing I could probably do for myself would be do take two weeks off. And I’ll do something similar to that soon if my right hand doesn’t figure itself out. If I continue to have finger problems on a my right hand over the next couple weeks, I’ll get out of dodge, maybe sail up to the San Juans, maybe fly down to Mexico, and take some time off. After all, bouldering is supposed to be like piano for me. Pure, only for myself. When I start stressing about grades or whether or not I’m making progress, when I start getting injured and trying to push through those injuries, some of that purity is sacrificed.

But I also think of it this way: This was bound to happen. I couldn’t continue my meteoric progression. At the rate I was going, easily from V0 to V1 to V2 and then getting a couple V3’s and starting to project V4’s it looked like bouldering V7 by the end of the summer was entirely possible, if not reasonable. But this isn’t how it works. Especially when you’re almost 37 and you’ve been bouldering for last than a year. You’re going to push it too hard. You’re going to get injured. And if you do it from an egoic place in which the only thing that matters is proving something or doing a certain grade, you’re fucked. I need to go back to Fountainblues V0 in Leavenworth and just do it over and over, savoring the slopers. I need to get back to the micro side of bouldering, the way a hold feels when you grab it. Giving each hold the love and attention it deserves, not just focusing on sends or progression. And I also have to think of it this way. I was going to have to deal with setbacks eventually, better to do it now and figure out what I’m made of. Figure out how badly I want this. Figure out if I’m capable of continuing “pure” bouldering, bouldering just for myself, for no one else, and not because it means anything, but rather expressly because it doesn’t.  Realize that the Road to V7 is not actually a road, and the destination is not actually V7. The road is actually an entire universe of valleys and forests and rivers and lakes, meadows, pitfalls, rain, sunshine, clouds. And the destination is not actually V7 but rather the feeling of my fingers touching granite, the feeling of moving perfectly from one hold to the next, the feeling of, just for an instant, my brain turning off. I haven’t forgotten what the purity is, even if I’ve momentarily lost touch with it.

How to Not Boulder | R2V4 #11

What if I told the most important thing about bouldering was….not bouldering?

What if I told you that?

What if I came to your house in the middle of the night, broke in, started preparing a bowl of cereal with milk in your kitchen and then, when you came down, irate and holding a firearm, I told you, “Hear me, Grasshopper: The way to crushing V10 is to…not climb at all.”

Because this is exactly what I’ve learned ever since I “quit” my job just over two weeks ago. That if you want to crush, if you want to send gnarly blocs, if you want to mangle overhanging walls with tiny crimpy pseudo-holds, what you really need to do is train properly. And, as my new Czech friend Ales explained to me yesterday, thus sparking a sort of apostrophe (see: Hook) on my part, “Rest is an important part of training.”

I think the reason it resonated with me so much is because he employed the word “training.” I like the idea of training, because I like the idea of being an athlete. I’m an athlete. I’m a 36-year-old man-athlete. I have a low resting heart-rate. I’ve done long bike rides and walked across countries. I’ve played just about every sport there is. But now it’s time to start treating myself like an athlete. Eating properly. Training properly. Bouldering properly. Sending properly. RESTING PROPERLY.

Because yesterday I sent nothing at all.

Nothing new, at least.

Last week I climbed 6 OUT OF 7 DAYS, and it almost destroyed me. My shoulder began to fail. About half the knuckles on my hands started to fail. I was literally (figuratively) falling apart. I was not making progress. I was making reverse progress, and not in a good way (though actually totally in a good way because progress can NEVER be in reverse if you have the right attitude. Because what has all this REVERSE PROGRESS DONE? WHAT HAS IT DONE? It’s led me to this amazing realization that if I want to get stronger and send harder that I need to incorporate forced rest days into my training routine. There, I said it: training routine. There, I said it again: training routine. And one last time, I said it again: metacarpophalangeal).

So yeah, I don’t even really want to talk about yesterday’s sesh too much. Ales and I walked up to the clearcut boulders, he sent Cabin Stabbin’ V4 after a few tries. I couldn’t even get close. We walked up to Summer Solstice V3. He flashed it. I barely made progress at all. We went to Bricklayer V2 and I shit my pants at the bottom and didn’t even try it. We went to Midnight Lichen V4, which he flashed, I SORT OF made a tiny bit of progress on, and then he projected Stinkin’ Slopers V5 and eventually sent it in amazing fashion (one of those slopers on that boulder is built out of marshmallows and probably tastes like it. If you’ve been there you know which one I’m talking about).

So today is a FORCED REST DAY. I mean, not stagnation. Just not climbing. Plenty of other stuff.

Which reminds me: I need to go buy some mate…..

Metacarpophalangeal | R2V4 #10

Waking up on the boat drinking mate. Isn’t that pretty much exactly how I started the last post? I feel a bit like I’m in some sort of purgatory waiting for the next climbing session, but like I’m also TERRIFIED for the next climbing session because of the state of my fingers, see: finger. The swelling has finally gone down in my hands to where I pretty much wake up with no swelling, except that I still can’t close the middle finger on my right hand and there is definite pain in the MCP (metacarpophalangeal) joint, aka the joint closest to the finger tip. This is distressing. Is it a stress fracture? Partial tendon or ligament tear? Micro tears? Strain? I obviously have no idea. All I know is that there is pain. One thing that is GREAT is that now I’ve at least figured out where the pain is, since I’d previously thought the pain was actually in my index finger. Which caused me to leave my index finger out every time I had to crimp, locking off my MIDDLE finger a la Tommy Caldwell, and this is probably what actually led to the injury in the first place. I thought my index finger was messed up, so I start using my middle finger instead. And now my middle is effed. And I’m not sure what to do. I’m not going to STOP climbing. That would just be ridiculous. I have to figure out ways to still climb and let this heal while still pushing down the illustrious, silky, Mesopotamian, mate-laden, ROAD TO V7.

The most distressing thing is that I’m legit kinda scared to go climbing tomorrow. Scared of the pain, scared of hurting myself even more, and also scared of getting up there and not being able to send at all because one tiny little joint on ONE of my fingers is messed up. There’s gotta be a way around this. I will find a way around this. The only thing I know for sure is that just NOT CLIMBING would be the worst decision possible (or possibly a great decision).

Plan: rest one more day (today). Do some hanging/core training today, see how it feels (no crimping involved, obviously). Tomorrow, when I climb, do not do a single closed crimp. Not a single one. Not even if I’m about to send V7 and the only thing between me and the lip is a tiny little chip that’s just begging for the tip of my middle finger. Nope. Stay away. No right hand closed crimping. Maybe a half. Certainly open. And try to leave that middle finger out of it. Here’s the deal about bones: they get stronger when they’re put under stress. Unless the stress is too much, in which case they break. I have broken fingers in the past and it wasn’t a big deal. I broke one of my fingers in high school and didn’t even know it until I broke it again. Rest if you HAVE to. Sometimes rest can be the best decision. But if you rest and then go right back to doing the same exact thing that was hurting you, you’ll likely just hurt yourself again. But if you keep going in a MODIFIED way, then you can climb forever, and send V7, and everyone will love you. But if you quit climbing no one will love you.

Should I splint it???

This Road to V4 is dragging on, isn’t it? Maybe tomorrow I’ll just send The Enigma V4 at the Index River Boulders and be DONE WITH IT. Move on to V5! Start projecting Piano Man V5 at the Morpheus Boulders! Or maybe I’ll just send Mr. Smooth V7 tomorrow and be done with it completely! Although I was thinking: Ideally I should send at least three V7’s to really be able to claim the grade. One crimpy V7, one slopery V7, and one wildcard V7. Because sending one V7 might just mean that you found the EXACT boulder suited to your style, and on a perfect day you were able to send. But you still can’t send V5. And you’re an overall V2 climber. Or something.

I feel like I wanna talk about other stuff in my life, not just about bouldering. So what can I talk about? Well, the weather has been gorgeous in Seattle lately. I’ve been swimming everyday. The climbing gym is also open, though this week I haven’t gone at all due to wanting to become un-injured. The blackberries are starting to get ripe. I have coconut meat in my fridge. I’ve been drinking a TON of yerba mate. I’m going backpacking with my friend Dan in August for a few days and also hope to sail up to the San Juan’s at some point.

One thing I would LOVE to do is come up with some sort of detailed plan for the next few months of my life. So I’ll try a rough esquema right here:

1) This week: don’t climb more than twice (once outdoors and once indoors). Try not to get more injured (but also try to send V4).

2) Next week: Try to climb three times (twice outdoors and once indoors)? Continue to be mindful of fingers on right hand.

3) August: Boulder my ass off, go backpacking, go on a sailing trip to the San Juan’s, surf a little bit, eat really really really healthy.

4) Late August early September: Start prepping for the long voyage. Buy dinghy, Garmin InReach, solar setup, and fix the jib.

5) Late September: Leave south.

Something is still lacking. I can’t figure out what it is. Meditation, maybe. Yoga. Quality time with Quality people. I’m not exactly sure what’s lacking, but I plan on figuring it out.

Hella Seaweed | R2V4 #9

Chillin’ on the boat, drinking mate and listening to Polo & Pan. Just got back from Oregon/Westport yesterday and went straight to the climbing gym, where Barold and I projected a couple blacks and blues and sent a couple oranges at Seattle Bouldering Project. I was stoked because I flashed two oranges, which I’d never done before. Now, just to dispel any doubts: from my experience the problems set in the Northwest Room of SBP are not any easier than the problems anywhere else. The black we were trying yesterday felt as hard as any of the blacks anywhere else, i.e. we couldn’t do them but we could sort of get close. I could do a few of the moves on one of the blues, which has been consistent with my experience anywhere else in the gym. Where did this rumor come from that the Northwest Room is somehow easier or for “different body types?” Can someone please not enlighten me?

Now, one thing I’m going to be candid about here because I’ve always been candid with you guys and I feel like that’s the kind of relationship we’ve developed: My right hand feels fucked. Like, it’s sort of become a claw more than a hand. I can’t fully close it. I definitely can’t close the right middle finger. The second joint of my right middle finger is noticeably bigger than the one on the the left. Couple this with the on-point calluses currently on all my fingertips, and it feels a bit like I have “climbing appendages” more than hands. Which is kind of rad.

Also, I have a three-point plan for attacking this latest finger malady: 1) Eat hella seaweed, 2) Use the anti-inflammatory cream I have, 3) switch to open-handed crimps. All of these are easy to do and implemented properly could potentially yield sweeping dividends. Especially the seaweed. There’s something about eating seaweed that just makes you feel kind cool.

The other thing I’m going to do is rest. Sort of. I’m at least not going to climb “today,” aka today, and I might not even climb tomorrow since the high in Gold Bar is in the mid 80’s and the high in Leavenworth is probably in the mid 200’s. But I will have to climb sort of soon. Ideally I would not climb for the next two days, but I know that’s not going to happen. Also, in my experience the following is often true: If your body is acting up from overuse, sometimes the best thing you can do is keep going. Whenever I go on surf trips with my friend El Cazador we always surf at least twice a day and at the beginning my left shoulder is always hanging on by a thread but I just try not to push it TOO hard and my body always ends up adjusting. Like, when stressed, your body adjusts. And movement is almost always a good thing. So with my right hand right now rather than STOP CLIMBING COMPLETELY like a Donald I’m just going to take a few strategic breaks and also modify certain behaviors. Keep sessions short and sweet. Avoid crimping with my right hand when possible, and when not possible employ open-handed crimps. Search out slopers like a bloodhound. Make sure to keep moving even if I’m not climbing. Etc etc?

I feel like I’ve been on the Road to V4 for a long time now. But this is what’s going to happen. I have a FEELING that there we might be a quick jump between V4 and V5, or V5 and V6, but other than that I feel like each V-grade from now on is going to be a bit of a saga unto itself. The Road to V7 is not paved with gold. It’s more paved with swollen fingers and frustration and wondering why your’e not getting better despite the fact that you climb almost everyday. But you are getting better. You just don’t realize it. Yesterday for instance I did something I’ve seen people do in videos that I’d never done. I threw a heel hook on a hold where my hand already was so I could then move my hand. So sick. This is the kind of movement that you only learn by watching people way better than you, and it made the climb so much easier, and just made me feel really cool.

Also: the new pic from the homepage is from Cannon Beach, where Barold and I hit up a bloc we found on Mountain Project. The line in question is a V3 called Spare Change we weren’t able to send but should go next time we’re back with a pad and better beta. Sick line and thanks to whoever put it up. We started on the right, shelf-like undercling rather than the smaller one on the face. No idea if that was “right” but it was definitely more fun and allowed for more climbing.

Now it’s time to watch Chelsea play in the FA Cup, aka Christian Pulisic, aka Cha Boi!

A Breakdown of all the V4’s Currently on my Radar (Part 1) || ROAD TO V-effin’-4

I sat down a moment ago and penciled in my notepad the V4’s that are currently on my radar. They came out to 10 exactly. Here they are with a video showing each of them (when applicable), a brief description of my (insidious) relationship with them, and also the likelihood each one will go first shown with stars (1 star = not likely at all, 5 stars = will probably go real soon).

  1. Fridge Center V4

Where: Everyone’s eighth favorite canyon, “The Icicle,” also known as one of the places with the highest concentration of quality lines on the planet (see: North America [see: Washington State (see: Chelan County)}).

Relationship: I’ve tried Fridge Center V4 on a grand total of one occasion. I was almost able to get to the crux, which I assume is reaching for the fin on the left side of the bulge, and then getting your right hand to the fin on the upper right of the bulge. It was hot and I was a bit wasted from a previous session. But I made some progress and watched other crushers sending the bejeezus out of it. So I gathered beta.

Go soon? 3 stars

2. Zelda Dyno V4

Where: Everyone’s 30th favorite dyno problem is located next to everyone’s sixth and a half favorite North American whitewater “raphting” destination, aka Index, aka a place you only go if you’re A) Climbing, B) Rafting, or C) Lost. The line is about a 10 minute walk from Index “downtown.”

Relationship: Tried the dyno one one occasion for about an hour, getting fairly close (aka my hand on the top of the ledge but falling backwards and not really trying to stick it). Then tried it on another, drier occasion, but after I’d spent half a week in Idaho smoking cigarettes and eating ice cream and couldn’t even get to the lip. After sending Dyno 101 V3 in Leavy I think I can make a much better attempt at Zelda Dyno next time I go. Like, probably even send it.

Will go soon? 4 stars

3. Zelda Rails V4

Where: A hop skip and a pirouette from Zelda Dyno lies Zelda Rails V4. It’s not a highball, it’s not crimpy — it’s just a bunch of sloping rails. Landing is a bit janky but could def be climbed with two pads and maybe even one big pad (like mine).

Relationship: Never tried it. Never even looked at it, lest it shy from my lecherous gaze. Have been in the presence of other people who were sending it while I tried Zelda Dyno V4. Osmosis is real.

Go soon? 2 stars

4. The Rib V4

(that hoody style, tho)

Where: At the quote misquote Carnival Boulders in Leavenworth’s famed Icicle Canyon. About a three minute approach from the road (5 if you’re crawling on all fours with a dagger in your calf).

Relationship: I went to The Rib one hot July day, looked at it and basically crumbled. Couldn’t do the start. Couldn’t do the middle. Couldn’t do a single move on the boulder. So, like, I’ll probably day flash it next time I go there.

Go soon? 1 star

5. The Enigma V4

Where: At the Skykomish River Boulders just west (as the osprey flies) of Index. A beautiful line that involves starting on a slab and swinging around an arete and maybe some stemming and maybe some laybacking and maybe even some chemical engineering.

Relationship: Since I am a misanthrope and you need a lot of pads for this one, I haven’t really tried it. I did stand on the little shelf where you start. And I did touch the rock. And I did look at the line and imagine someone else way better than me sending it in style.

Go soon? 2 stars

Next post: The other five V4’s most likely to go soon. ONE OF THEM will probably be it. I’ve talked about this problem before and might’ve been there yesterday….

Fly Like an Egret | R2V4 #6

Waking up on my boat, indigestion, listening to the rain outside, watching the rain drip down the plexiglass. Takes me so long to get out of bed. Boat smells like farts from eating a pound of cherries last night after “dinner,” aka a spicy falafel wrap from Trader Joe’s. Trying to SORT OF fast this morning, aka you’re always fasting when you wake up, aka breakfast, aka I wish I could just instantly be teleported to Leavenworth right now so I could climb. Where would I climb? Honestly, I just want to repeat Fountainblues V0 over and over and over, savoring the silky slopers (they are somehow soft even though they’re made of granite), savoring each move, never topping out, just practicing the new foot beta I learned which makes the problem so much easier. I would argue though, and I would argue vehemently, that if you start on the bottom sloper on the arete that there’s still no WAY this problem is a V0. More like a V1. But then again my Loser Beta from before was making the problem so much harder. Now that I have the Crusher Beta the problem is so much easier. Crusher Beta. Loser Beta. Fountainblues.

I could of course GET IN MY CAR and drive to Leavenworth, aka the modern day version of teleporting, a trip that on horseback would’ve taken a week and now takes 2.5 hours, but I’m not going to do this. Unless I carpool with someone or unless I’m DEFINITELY camping there tonight, it seems wasteful. Drive all the way out there just so I can NOT send Briefs V3, get an iced coffee, and then drive all the way back? See? Wasteful. So wasteful. It makes way more sense just mope around on my boat and watch bouldering videos, like this one I was just watching from Colorado:

That arpeggio is definitely V4. At least. Probably more like V6.

OK, sorry, now for an ACTUAL bouldering video:

I actually have an ENTIRE BLOG dedicated to Pulisic. Hold up a sec, let me find the link: https://www.straightouttahershey.com/

As you can see, it’s been a while since I updated this blog. Not that I’m not obsessed with Christian Pulisic anymore, or anything Christian, really. Watching the Sheffield United vs. Chelsea game yesterday was one of the highlights of July so far, even though they lost and and even though Christian played terribly (touches were just a bit off).

But BACK TO BOULDERING. BACK TO THE ROAD TO V4.

Despite whinging a bit, I’m actually very well established on the road to V4. I feel good about it. My diet is decent. I’ve already started projecting some V4’s, most notably Serenity Now V4 at the Camp Serene boulder. Yesterday I hung out there for a few burns on my way back from the Index River Boulders, and the session went really well. It has to be one of the most fun climbs that exists, and I’ve only done the first half. I can’t imagine what stringing it all together must be like. I can’t imagine what wrapping my hippo paw around that brick at the top is going to feel like, and then reaching for the dorsal fin, and then topping out like an egret and just flying away, flying off the boulder, out over the Skykomish Valley, and beyond, beyond.

I Heart Wenatchee | R2V4 #3

Ahhhhhhhhhhh just waking up. Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes. What a beautiful day in……WENATCHEE????

That’s right friends: I’m in Wenatchee. Aka Nuevo México aka La Colonia Moctezuma aka Metro Insurgentes aka oye ‘mano vente pa’ acá por dónde has andado????

I love Wenatchee. Why do I love Wenatchee? Because it’s not Leavenworth. Why do I not love Leavenworth? Because it’s touristy. Simple as that. I mean, I like BOULDERING in Leavenworth, I get excited when I GET to Leavenworth. When I say, “I’m going to Leavenworth” I’m generally stoked out of my cranium, but I don’t like HANGING OUT in Leavenworth. I would rather hang out in Wenatchee.

But like, Mark, why would you get a hotel in Wenatchee? Why wouldn’t you just camp in Leavenworth.

Because I camp every other day of my life. I live on a 27-foot boat. Aka camping. Aka the opportunity to sleep in a real bed is just too much for me to pass up.

Anyway, here I am in Wenatchee. It’s my third to last day of work. I’m drinking a Guayaki 15 calorie and about to pack up and head into Leavenworth to work the rest of the day from the parking lot before going bouldering at 12pm when I get off. Yesterday’s bouldering session was GLORIOUS. Why was it glorious? Because I sent my second ever non-slab V2, because I sent a V0+ very easily and a V1+ fairly easily, and because it was just good to get out and rough up my fingers a bit on the rock. The V2 in question was Machine Gun Funk, one of Leavenworth’s best, and requires a big move from jug up to an incut crimp ledge. Then, if you have good technique, you maneuver your feet to support yourself so that getting your right hand up is fairly easy (since your left hand is starting to strain at this point). But since I have TERRIBLE technique, I basically just muscled my way through. Like, I saw a guy with a bunch of tats do it and he made it look so easy. I made it look like a cow going into labor. Aka not easy.

The weather was nice Leavenworth, a little humid feeling but cool and windy. Today should be similar. Another great thing about yesterday was exploring a new area. I had never bouldered on the Machine Gun boulder, named so for all the climbs right next to each other that you can knock down as if with a machine gun (apparently). Today I think I will explore another new area, possibly The Carnival Boulders, possibly The Pretty Boulders. Possibly both. Possibly neither. Possibly just….stay in Wenatchee?

Oye, Marquitos!

Ups? | R2V4 #2

R2V4 is so far NOT having the gangbusters start that R2V3 did. This is because, well, bouldering progress is not always linear. I found that out the fun way yesterday. My sister’s dog and I went on a mission to find the Devil’s Club Forest Boulders in the East Miller River Valley (EMRV), and were stymied, partly because Ginger is not the talus crawler she once was, and partly because I…forgot the guidebook. Yes, you read that correctly. I committed an egregious mental gaffe. I picked up the guidebook, thinking, Gee, can’t forget THIS, and then promptly forgot it.

Blast.

It’s drizzling today — MISTING — and I have a snus in because ostensibly it will make me think better. What am I thinking about? Not bouldering V4. I’m actually thinking about — and this is quite specific — the following: whether or not there are anchorages near the city of Squamish, BC. So I guess I’m SORT OF thinking about bouldering. Indirectly. Because obviously Squamish is one of the best towns for bouldering in the world, and I would be going there because I want to boulder, and also because I’m ruminating on a pretty big sailing trip starting this fall, and Squamish would be a rad first destination to boulder and chill and maybe meet the love of my life.

Yesterday was actually a massive step back in bouldering. I couldn’t even get to the lip on Zelda Dyno V4, I couldn’t even come remotely close to starting two different V5’s (Miller Lite of the EMRV and Face Crack of the Zelda Boulders), the only thing I really climbed was the V0 or V1 arrete next to Zelda Dyno, and I just felt…generally…weak. I felt slow. I felt fat. I felt sluggish. I felt becalmed. I felt lethargic. This COULD have been because I hadn’t eaten anything all day, and because my diet the day before was awful. But I think it’s actually just my first mini plateau. There are going to be plateaus on the illustrious, yellow-bricked, gold-paved, like-approaching-the-mythical-city of-Tenochtitlan, Road to V7. Some plateaus will last longer than others. Some plateaus will be mental, some will be because you just don’t feel like climbing that much, and some will be because instead of eating healthy you’re microwaving mini-pizzas (!) and drinking non-alcoholic beer.

But, like, I also gotta live my life.

Aka as of not this Monday but the next I will be unemployed. Funemployed? You know when people make jokes that are KIND of funny but you’ve heard them so many times they more suggest a simple mind? Funemployed is kind of like that. Beware anyone who says “funemployed.” They could be a sadist.

The V4’s that are most likely to go first, hopefully sometime in the next few weeks? Month?:

Fridge Center V4

Zelda Dyno V4

Toto V4

The Real Thing V4

Serenity Now V4

God, please let me climb one of these soon. The thing is: I am patently NOT a V4 climber. I am not a V3 climber. I am not a V2 climber. I’m like a V1 climber. On a good day. On a terrible day I’m probably more like a V0 climber. V-basic climber? No, I’m a little better than that. I’m still not a crimp master. I still struggle with slopers. My foot placement is terrible. Sit starts make me want to throw a tantrum. There are so many ways I could improve my climbing. But, and here’s the thing, and this time it’s an unavoidable thing, the kind of thing that can’t be avoided, the kind of thing that, some might say, is “essential”: It takes time. It takes a lot of climbing. It takes paying your dues, even though — and let me be 14,000% clear about this — paying your dues does not have to be unfun. Paying your dues is the awesome part. Sitting at the bottom of a boulder, looking up at it, looking up at the sky, thinking, How am I going to climb this? And then one day you do climb it. And it’s glorious. Ups? Downs? Paying dues? It’s all part of the process, I suppose.