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

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

 

Man Don’t Climb | Road to V4

It’s been raining all morning. This much is true. I don’t know what else is true. I suppose it’s true that I’m drinking pu-ehr tea right now mixed with heavy cream. I suppose it’s true that I just stretched my shoulder. I suppose it’s true that I’m going to flout the physical therapist’s recommendations of resting a week, half because I want to climb and half because I found him disagreeable as a person. Like, he wasn’t in particularly good shape and I’m thinking, Bruv, how are you giving me advice on how to be in form body when you’re slacking? How are you giving me advice on how to heal from climbing when you’ve never climbed in your life? I suppose when you’re climbing you’re always looking up, right? He says. No, I say, you actually look down all the time to see where you’re placing your feet. He tells me to rest for a week and the whole time I’m thinking, Bruv, weather supposed to get nice starting Monday, not just in Leavy but also in Index, Bruv. How you think I’m not gonna go to the River Boulders to shralp Finger Crack V3 and maybe try the first few positions on Leggo My Ego V6? Because the other day when I scoped Leggo My Ego for like the third time you know what I thought? I thought, I could do this boulder. I could send it. I could at least do the first couple moves. I could at least caress the first sloper. I could at least maybe show up and throw my pad down at the base of the rochet. I could at least chill and seem relevant. And you’re going to come and tell me, Bruv, no more loading your teres minor???? Get lost, Bruv.

I get up from the seat in the guest room in my parents’ house that seems like my room and go downstairs to make my SECOND cup of pu-ehr.

Bruv, he say, how you gonna act like man don’t climb. Man climb every day. Man climb V5. Man climb the V7. Man crimp. Man throw the meathook. And you know man be gettin’ that sticky icky friction even when temps be in the 30’s.

Thirties is pretty cold.

Man, man be talkin’ 30 degrees CEN-TI-GRADE, man. What you think I’m talkin’. Thirty degrees be hot, man.

And I say, Yo man I’m just looking for some physical therapy. Some exercises that will hopefully me to climb at 100% again. But he’s not listening. He’s already moved onto the next patient. He’s got his earbuds in. I’m so glad my insurance is paying for this because if I was paying out of pocket I’d be so pissed.

I’m actually amazed at how nice it’s supposed to be next week and the thought of not climbing is just apalling. So what I’ll probably do is just cancel my phys ther appointment with Bruv and call it good. I hella had my own rehabilitation routine going and it was feeling good but now Bruv’s phys ther routine has kinda thrown me off. Like Bruv not wanting me to do pushups when actually I gotta stengthen those opposing muscles so my shoulder can be more stable.

This pu-ehr is delicious, by the way. Yesterday I didn’t drink coffee and today I’m not having any, either. Today I’m taking the ferry back to Seattle and the only thing I have planned is to watch the Stanley Cup later. Which is why I’m not in a hurry to get back to Seattle. Oh, and I also have to go by Stone Way Hardware to get a tarp, and I hope they have the heavy duty white tarps in stock cuz if they don’t I’m about to have a conniption fit. Honestly at this point I’m about one night of bad sleep away from just sinking my boat. I’m trying to think of what redeeming qualities living on a 27-foot sailboat in the winter there are, and I can only think of about 60. The problem is all of them are outweighed by the simple fact that when you’re 6’2″ living on a boat you hit your head a lot.

Bruv.

I am rocketing through the tea this morning. I’ve already had two cups of mate and two cups of pu-ehr. I’ve already played the piano and straightened things up in the room where I was staying. I’ve already shaved my beard. I’ve already had a short text convo with Cory. I’ve already stepped outside onto the front porch and listened to the sound of the falling rain, indeed smelled the falling rain or the rain that’s just fallen. I’ve already showered. I’ve already looked at the news a bit and monitored my stocks and made a bank transfer between checking accounts. I’ve already weighed the possibility of going out to the peninsula tomorrow cuz actually the surf looks decent. I’ve already decided that I’m probably gonna climb on Monday or maybe even Sunday. I’ve already decided I’m gonna send Finger Crack V3. I’ve thought about how the landing could be improved at The Enigma V4. I’ve thought about how I’m gonna send Dirty Dancing V4 next time I’m in Leavenworth.

Bruv, how you gonna even act like hi don’t climb? Man climb harder than you. Man get up on the highball. Man climb the Apron boulders before you even send V2 in the gym. Man live at the Buttermilks.

It’s stopped raining. This is amazing. Should I go out for a walk? But my tea is steeping. It’s actually pretty clear now. I think the worst of it may be over.

What is the secret to having a body that just works even when you’re 37???????????????