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

My First V3 Slab | R2V7

OK, first of all let’s talk about the elephant in the room: How ugly this blog is. The reason this blog is ugly is because I am very poor at manipulating WordPress themes and also because I have no patience or dedication when it comes to this. I should probably just fork over some money to get this blog professionally designed, or at THE VERY LEAST fork over a few shekels for a premium WordPress theme.

Any thoughts on how I can make this blog beautiful with minimum effort/money?????????????

Thanks. Appreciate it. I’ll turn the comments back on.

So yeah, yesterday was a momentous day because I finally sent Rocksteadeasy V3 near Gold Bar, a slab I’d been working on for months. It’s basically only one hard move (well, I turned it into two): getting your left or right foot high and then easing yourself up onto that foot with very little in the way of hands. I’d been trying this problem off and on for months. Usually I’d show up, warm-up with Warm-up Slab V0 once or twice (or thrice?????) and then give Rocksteadeasy a few burns just for posterity. Actually, at the beginning I’d show up and every time think: Today’s gonna be the day I fucking send this. And then I never would. And that finally turned into: Today’s gonna be the day I give this some good fuckin’ burns. And that turned into: Today’s gonna be the day I just give this some burns. See what happens.

There is so much to talk about. The fact that I felt like I kinda blacked out during the climb, such was my concentration. The fact that when I topped out I didn’t whoop or scream. I think when you work on something for so long and kind of know you can do it — it’s just a matter of time — you’re less “excited” when you finally do it. Granted, the satisfaction is still great. I spent the rest of the afternoon in a kind of euphoric daze. I walked slowly down the mountain and then for some reason parked my crash pad in the middle of the dirt road for about a half hour and almost took a nap on it. I guess I was just enjoying nature. But yeah, I didn’t freak out when I actually did the boulder problem. I was more just “quietly pleased.”

And I didn’t film it. But one day I’ll go back and I will.

Also something we need to talk about: My shoes. I GOT NEW CLIMBING SHOES!!!!!

They are currently sitting on the bench seat across from me looking like sexy little bumblebees. They are the…….(drum roll)…………………………………………………La Sportiva Mirua VS’s. Size 44. I liked them when I tried them on, and I think they were the perfect decision for a second climbing shoe. A great all-around shoe and about 8,000 times more high performance than the Scarpa Origins I’ve been rocking. They fit quite tight but I’m not screaming out with pain when I put them on. In fact, most of the time I put them on I just feel fucking stoked. Like, “I’m about to send hard.” Like, “My body is a machine.” Like, “When I drink green tea on an empty stomach I feel like I’m going to vomit.”

Things are pretty good for me right now on the climbing front. My shoulder is hanging in there, I’m stoked, I’ve been re-sending old projects/blocs and yesterday just sent a brand new one. The weather is getting better (for climbing). It’s less hot. And I’m basically just stoked in general. About climbing. And about other things. About my new shoes. About going to Mexico again in October (!). And about one day having a blog that doesn’t look like it was created by a 4th grader in computer science class.

Tomorrow’s post: An early review of my new shoes OR something else entirely!

Have a wonderful day.

– W

Beam Me Up | R2V7 #A Lot

I feel weird right now. It’s 9:12am and I’m sitting on the boat. Today the only things I’ve ingested are a Spindrift (four calories) and two small swigs of Tunisian extra virgen olive oil. And now I think I’m gonna have another Spindrift.

Yesterday I climbed and it was glorious. Why was it glorious? Because my shoulder seems to be hanging in there, because I didn’t force anything, and because I climbed a beautiful boulder that I’d only ever climbed one time in my life (Beam Me Up V2).

Well, ok, it’s not completely true that everything was unforced yesterday. Lately I’ve been forcing myself to do all kinds of shit (one second while I flush the toilet on my boat; I peed this morning when I woke up and didn’t flush it and I think I need to get some kind of treatment stuff for it because it smells inordinately bad when you don’t flush every single time [god this Spindrift is so fucking good except on the can it just says spindrift maybe I’m not supposed to capitalize the “s”]), like go running, for instance. Basically I’m just trying to do what Sam Harris said in a video I watched yestereday: Get behind myself and push. Which means I’ve been meditating more, exercising more, reading more, just doing all the shit that I kinda know makes me happy, even if I don’t really want to do it. In short, I’m becoming my own parent.

BACK TO CLIMBING. THAT IS WHAT THIS BLOG IS ABOUT. I AM A CLIMBER. Actually no, I’m a boulderer. I would never call myself a climber. Climbing means you probably use ropes and all that dumb gear and you “clip in” and need someone to belay. Bouldering just means you’re kinda badass even though the shit you’re climbing is approximately four inches off the ground.

Yesterday I: Drove to the Whole Foods at Totem Lake, where I bought a: Focusaid, a large Earl Grey with heavy cream, and a Lara Bar. Then I went to Safeway in Monroe where I: bought smoked salmon and: bought water. Then I: got in my car and started eating the smoked salmon, drove up to the parking for the boulders, parked in said parking, walked up to the boulders (taking a break on the way), stretched for a bit, climbed the V0 next to Offa My Cloud V2, then climbed Offa My Cloud V2 (I might be getting the names mixed up here), then went up to the “Warm-up Slab” and climbed Warm-up Slab V0, failed several times on Rocksteadeasy V3 and said, “Fuck it, today is unfortunately not the day for Rocksteadeasy. I’m going to check out Fern Crack V3.”

So I went to Fern Crack and got completely shut down. Like, I couldn’t even do the first move. Like, I couldn’t even hold the first hold well enough to get my feet in position to do the first move.

Which kinda sucked.

But THEN I went to The Container V2, a problem Barold and I had tried wayyyyyyyyyyyyy back in the day, and I didn’t send it but I kind of figured it out and got very close to sending it and wanted to save some strength for Beam Me Up V2.

So I went to Beam Me Up. And on the fourth try, at approximately 1:32pm, on the day of our Lord Tuesday the 8th of September, twenty twenty, I sent Beam Me Up (for the second time). And THAT got me stoked. And you know what else got me stoked yesterday (well, a lot of stuff got me stoked)? The fact that I kinda fucked up my hands. The fact that I pushed myself. I used to get kind of messed up pretty much every time I went bouldering. I used to bleed pretty much every time. And I don’t even remember the last time I bled bouldering. Like, I haven’t been pushing myself that hard. But yesterday my hands and fingers were abraded. I pushed myself. And it felt great.

And my shoulder seems to be kinda decent, too.

 

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.

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!

Todo lo que yo sufrí | R2V4 #7

Friends. Lovers. I’ve missed you so much. I feel like we’ve been apart for quite some time now. I feel like you never want to hang out anymore. I feel like every time I say, “Babe, lets go project some sick blocs. You know you’ve been thinking about the beta for The Doja V7 (direct variation).” And she’s like, “No, I don’t want to go bouldering with you. All you talk about are ‘blocs’ and ‘micro-beta.’ Right hand up to the crimp, wedging it into the wedge. Left hand up to the tic and then mini bump up to the fin? Give me a break. Plus, what’s the hardest you’ve crushed outside, babe? Go on: Tell me: What’s the hardest you’ve crushed outside?”

You turn your eyes downward, ashamed.

“I’ve almost sent a V4…”

She spits on your feet and farts in your direction. Then the two of you get up and make brownies.

ANYWAY.

Yes, I went climbing yesterday. Yes, I know I wasn’t supposed to. My carbon emissions are off the charts. Two days in a driving ALL THE WAY up to the mountains, and ALL THE WAY BACK. Two days in a row hiking six miles roundtrip just to project some sic (sic) blocs (sic). And I mean, it’s been worth it. OBVIOUSLY it’s been worth it. Sent Beam Me Up V2. Yesterday sent another V2 called Moonlight Mile in the Que Luna boulders. Sent a V0 called Offa’ My Cloud. Sent another V0 down at the Index River Boulders called Hueco Man. Calluses are building up. Elbow feels pretty good. I feel like I’m on the ROAD TO V7. Like, I’m not just sitting by the side of the road watching men go by in their horse-drawn carriages, women in their Victorian era hats and frilly dresses. I’m actually on this road with the rest of them. I’m driving one of the damn carriages! Hell, I might even be one of the horses. I might even be one of the Victorian-era hats. I might even by a rock on the road that people stub their toes on. Either way I’m on the road — I’m not just a bystander. I’m not just standing by. Rather, I’m passing by. I’m a passerby amongst other passersby.

Todo lo que yo viví.

Todo lo que yo sufrí.

And today is a quote unquote down day. I’m going to try to not climb today. Give my fingers a rest. Too much crimping. I can’t remember the last time I woke up without swollen fingers. I should probably go back to the keto diet, but I don’t want to. I really like carbs. Plus when I was doing keto I ate so many animal products. Too many animal products. I feel better about eating corn chips than I do sausages. I feel better about fasting than I do sausages.

Ya no queda nada.

Aqui estoy sentado en mi velero, viendo como la toalla se mece en la brisa. Oigo el canto de un pájaro. Bueno, no tanto un canto ya que es un cuervo. Pienso en tomarme otro té. O en comer algo. Me pregunto que si en este mero momento preferiría estar en México. O en Chile. O en Europa. Pero ahorita no se puede ir a Europa si sos gringo. Sí se puede ir a México. México ha cerrado sus fronteras terrestres pero no las aéreas. Así que todavía se puede ir en avión.

 

First Moves on a V7??? | R2V4 #5

I haven’t written in awhile. I think this is because I got laid off/quit and have been going a bit buck wild as a result. By buck wild I of course meaning eating a bit more sugar than normal. Sleeping in till 8am. That kind of buck wild. I’m not suddenly snorting amphetamines, though part of me wants to. Seattle is so boring. Is it boring? Am I boring?

It’s raining outside and my car windows are cracked. This is because this morning it didn’t seem like rain could be in the forecast for the next 14 years. I went bouldering this morning! How is that possible? I woke up at 5:30am and was on the road by 6:06am. By 8:30 my hands were touching the beautiful granite features of Magic School Bus V2, which I sent within a few tries. I found the tall man beta first, which turned the problem into a V0/1, and then sent it with the intended beta, and apart from a spicy topout, it still felt a bit soft for a V2. If I can send a V2 within a few tries it either means A) It’s soft, B) I’m hard, or C) The Red Sox are going to win the World Series.

And now having bouldered this morning AND having watched the Chelsea game this afternoon, what else is there to do? Go to sleep so I can wake up and boulder again? Do I have anything else to live for?

Let me at least tell you about the rest of the session.

So, right before sending Magic School Bus I sent an Unknown V0 which also had a spicy topout and the whereabouts of my pad were somewhat unknown. I mean, I sort of glanced down and was pretty sure it was under me, but I was also pretty sure I wasn’t going to fall.

After these two boulders I headed up to Beam Me Up V2, which I FINALLY DID THE FIRST MOVES ON FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER A FEW DAYS AGO. OMG. But I didn’t top out. Because I got to the second half of the boulder and was kind of pumped/panting and didn’t know the beta. So today, after failing on Mr. Brightside V1 for a few tries, I went back down to Beam Me Up and was able to do the first few moves after the first few tries and, after not topping out AGAIN, thought to myself, Why is it that every time I try to read Catch-22 I give up after 50 pages? I also thought, I better learn the top part. And so I did. And it was easy. And then I gave it a send burn and sent it. And it was somewhat glorious. A long time coming. And then I got the hell out of there.

I was going to hang out in the Bricklayer area of the clearcut boulders but it was insanely crowded. Like, gym crowded. Like, Mariners Game crowded. Like, parade crowded. Like, Montlake at rush area crowded. Like, Pagliacci when they’re having a special crowded. So I headed back to the car and down to the Boulder Drop Boulders, located just a hop skip and a faceplant from the town of Index, where my goal was to A) look at Mr. Smooth V7, B) touch Mr. Smooth V7, and C) maybe even try the first move of Mr. Smooth V7. All three of which I did. And here’s the thing: I ALMOST DID THE FIRST MOVE OF MR SMOOTH V6000. Like, I think I might be able to send this boulder in the next 20 or so tries. And by 20 I mean 19. And by 19 I mean 21.

After Mr Smooth I went to the Camp Serene Boulder, where I got closer on Serenity Now V4 than I have ever gotten.

So it was a good day! But now what do I do?

Ups and Downs | R2V4 #1

Look at it. Look how it glistens in the sun. Look at how much cooler the “4” looks at the end of R2V4 than the “3” looked at the end of R2V3. Yes, friends, we have moved onto a new chapter: V4.

Of course, this isn’t the only bouldering milestone I look forward to in the near future, nor even the only milestone I look forward to grade-wise. I’ve still only climbed ONE V3 outside at this point. I’ve only climbed ONE V2 that wasn’t a slab. So there are tons more grade milestones to achieve that don’t even involve climbing V4. Flash V2, for instance. Climb a bunch more V3’s. Flash a V3. Flash a V16. Move to Finland. Get a tattoo of a spider on my abdomen. Get a tattoo of an eye…on my neck. Get a horrible almost bowl cut mushroom thing. Get ripped as fuck. Start sport climbing. Wait a minute, no on that last one. Never start sport climbing. Sport climbing is lame.

Why is sport climbing lame? Because you have a rope…

Why is bouldering rad? Because you don’t have a rope…

I mean, that’s pretty much it, isn’t it? Sure sport climbing is probably thrilling. But, like, you’re strapped into a harness. That goes around your upper inner thighs and fits all snug. Probably causes your boxers to roll up. And then you have bolts drilled into the rock? Um, cool, that sounds totally natural. Let’s go up on that beautiful granite face and just start drilling shit into it. Awesome. Good idea. Sport climbing is totally rad.

Anyway. I actually did go climbing today. Sort of. I took my sister’s dog up to the boulders, and I tried the sit start on a V3 for like a half hour, sort of learned how to do the first move — maybe? — and then went to Serenity Now V4 where I definitely made some advances. I was able to get my left fingers into the little slot thing and actually hold the position, just hold it there, and prepare to move my right hand somewhere to stabilize myself so I could stand up. After that you’re ESSENTIALLY at the top, except that the top is still (or at least feels) several hundred yards away. What a beautiful dihedral though, right? Have you ever seen a more perfect dihedral?

Dihedral?

I would like to go climbing tomorrow. I would like to go WITH someone. This will not happen. Unfortunately.

What’s happening right now? I’m drinking black tea. And thinking about bouldering. And also thinking about not bouldering. I’m also thinking about taking my sister’s dog for a walk. And about watching Border Town. Honestly I probably won’t go outdoor, real bouldering again until Sunday evening at the earliest. Which is a bit of a bummer. But in the grand scheme of things matters not a whit.

Not a whit.

 

 

Serenity Now V4 | First Sesh | R2V3 #11

Morning, y’all.

I would normally never write a blog this early but I want to talk a little about yesterday’s sesh and if I don’t do it now I feel like I won’t do it at all. Or I’ll do it later tonight when I’m not as into it and when I’d rather just sit down and watch the latest episode of “Border Town.”

I knew it was a little bit dumb, but I did it anyway. Yesterday immediately after getting off work at 12pm I drove out to Gold Bar, where, guess what? It was raining. And then I drove to Index where, guess what? It wasn’t raining, but everything was wet. And then it started raining. And then I drove to the East Miller River Valley where, guess what? It was kinda sunny. But everything was still wet. And then it started raining briefly. And then it stopped and the sun came out but it didn’t feel like the stone was drying out anytime soon.

Now, keep in mind, folks, that I wasn’t trying to force anything. I wanted to climb but I was also content to wait until it was the right moment. And of course I COULD have driven all the way to Leavenworth, but I didn’t feel like it. Too much driving. Too many mountain passes. Too much Eastern Washington. So after the East Miller River Valley I got back in my car and started driving back towards Seattle, guided by my intuition like a moth to flame but in this case instead of flame we’re talking about moderate blocs. My intention was to check out the Camp Serene Boulder aka Zeke’s Boulder aka one of the most beautiful blocs in the great state of WA, and indeed, when I got there, it was….dry.

This was witchcraft.

The Camp Serene boulder lies just on the south side of Highway 2, a mere couple hundred feet from the highway, and is home to one of the most beautiful lines I’ve yet to lay eyes on, aka Serenity Now V4, which in the Western Washington Bouldering guidebook is graded a V5 but over the years seems to have been downgraded. Not that it really matters. I just wanted to check out this line. I actually checked it out last time I was out there, when it was completely wet, and was fascinated by it. It starts on some pretty juggy holds and then moves right into a sort of dihedral thing and is just a hot mess of sidepulls, open-palmed smears and smooth granite (or whatever its composition is). I was a bit mesmerized by it. And yesterday evening I was actually able to get on it.

My approach to starting this V4 was very different than how I’ve approached difficult (for me) boulders in the past. I didn’t try to flash it. Instead, the only thing I tried to do was THE FIRST MOVE. Aka go from being matched on a low ledge to getting my left hand up. That was it! And I could do that pretty easily. Then I got a bit stuck and “cheated,” aka sat down and looked for beta on YouTube. Of which there is an abundance. Using that beta I was able to get to the first crux, Which consists of having both hands on fairly juggy crimps and pulling your body weight up so you can get your right foot on the ledge you started on. Or your left foot. I’ve watched a ton of people do this problem, and some people go left foot, some people go right. Left foot makes a lot more sense to me, but then the hard part is releasing your left hand, bringing it across your body, and inserting it into one of the fairly tiny sidepulls in the dihedral. And then you either just stand up, or you smear your right hand on some knobby features and stand up. It LOOKS like it’s not too hard after that. But it could also be really hard. The people who I watched doing my “crux” cruised it as if it was nothing, so many the real crux is actually further up. And this is no lowball. I think you can do it with one big pad, but you gotta have some mustard once you get to the top. It would be nice to practice the topout, but without a rope that’s not an option.

So, I made some pretty good progress, and am fascinated by this line. After the sesh I just stood there looking at it for a bit. I can’t wait to go back. I have so many projects now! Fridge Center V4, Briefs V3, Rocksteadeasy V3, Serenity Now V4, and I’m sure there will be more to come.

But for now I must “go to work,” aka go to work. It’s almost that time. And tomorrow, back to the mountains. Hopefully straight to Gold Bar.

A Time for Poetry and a Time for Fists: R2V3 #4

Hay momentos para recitar poesías y hay momentos para boxear. – Roberto Bolaño

I have become obsessed with the V3 slab “Rocksteadeasy.” It is dominating my life. If you google “Rocksteadeasy V3 Gold Bar” nothing comes up, because this is not a notable boulder problem. It has one star in the guidebook. I don’t think it gets climbed all that much. And yet it is dominating my life. Fifty percent of my waking thoughts are directed at the holds on this problem. I think about the valley that makes the first good foothold for several minutes everyday. Which might not sound like a lot. And indeed I could probably do it more and still not be satisfied.

Start with your left foot on the point at the top of the ledge at the bottom of the boulder. This is a great foothold. If you’re doing this problem the way most people probably do it, you start with your right foot here and then put your left foot on the mini ledge about a foot and a half up, and then stand up from the ensuing pistol squat, using the waist-high crimps to aid you. But this beta wasn’t working for me. I couldn’t trust my left foot, and I kept dabbing on the tree. So after many frustrated attempts I changed tactics. I now go right foot high — way high — to the little valley crimp that’s about two feet up. At first it was hard to get to. Now it’s easy. Am I more flexible? I doubt it. I think it’s a mental thing.

Then the hard part comes. Get all of your weight on your right foot and somehow stand up from this one legged squat. You have low crimps to help you. You have a high seam that’s not great. And of course you have the face of the rock. Despite this, I feel much more confortable in this position. It’s a better foothold and I feel more comfortable trusting my right foot than my left, despite the fact that I’m left handed (if you play basketball you’ll understand; think about how you use your opposite foot to go up for lay-ups).

This is as far as I’ve gotten so far, and yet I am much heartened. I think at this point it’s all about having the strength in my right leg to push myself up, and getting my hands on the face/seam to support myself, since they’re higher up than the crimps. You can sort of crimp the seam with your right hand. Sort of. And then from there it’s easy. Once you stand up after that initial lunge, it’s a piece of homemade rhubarb pie. Left foot up to the crimp your left hand started on. Grab the crimp below the lip. Grab the lip. Top out. Your first ever V3 outside.

Last time was (I think) my third session on this boulder. It has become a project. Granted, I don’t spend the whole session on this boulder. I usually only give it a few go’s each time. That’s how I operate. I don’t usually stay on one problem too long. If I can’t do it, I move on, and then come back later. This allows the beta to crystallize in my mind while being away from it. This is the best method for me. It’s how I play the piano. It’s how I do anything, really.

Hay momentos para recitar poesías y momentos para boxear. Me parece que en este boulder hay momentos para los dos.