……… || R2V6

The Road to V6 continues. And as I stated in a previous post: It’s probably going to be a long road. Well, no, actually I hope to send a V6 this summer, and possibly even a V7. And maybe even a V8. And while we’re at it let’s just throw in The Method V12, my lifetime bouldering accomplishment goal. The Method, if you’re not familiar, is located at The Apron Boulders in Squamish, BC. It involves a face/slab climb up to an undercling and then some tricky moves on slopers to get to the top. It’s a coveted problem, mostly just because of how cool it looks. It’s not some thuggy one mover where you’re cranking on a roof and then throwing a heel 15 feet above your head. It’s a combination of delicate and powerful, sharp and smooth, yin and yang, day and night, good and evil.

I’m having my second serving of collagen this morning. That’s right, in an effort to mitigate soft tissue injuries, I’m back on the collagen. My poison picked this time is by Ancient Nutrition and is formulated for joint mobility. It’s got several types of collagen, including one only found in eggshell membrane. I’ve been taking it for a few days now, and I must say I….don’t feel a huge difference. But I might feel some difference. And it’s only been a few days. (Ed’s note: I’ve climbed the last two days [yesterday was a baby sesh, albeit], and I don’t feel THAT sore. Would that have been possible without the collagen? Do I have tendonitis in 57% of all of my tendons?)

I need to go to Whole Foods and get a matcha bar.

The plan is to climb tomorrow in Gold Bar/Index, though I’m not sure exactly where. I’m done (at least for right now) saying, “OK, I’m gonna go here and I’m gonna give it everything I have on X boulder.” Instead I’m back in “intuition mode,” where I drive out to Gold Bar and MAYBE walk up to the Clear Cut Boulders. Or maybe I do something on the Warm-Up Boulder. Or maybe I try something on the Five-Star Boulder. Or maybe I go all the way to Index and go the River Boulders, or the Zelda Boulders, etc etc. No real plan, really, just a guy with two tri-panel crashpads and a pair of Miuras. Though I think, I THINK, that I need to start trying to haul both pads up to the Clear Cut boulders. It’s only an extra 15 pounds, and the amount of protection it provides is ridiculous. When you’ve only got one pad you’re limited on the boulders you can really try hard on. Not that I ever try hard.

But let’s say I DID try hard on a couple boulders tomorrow. Just for fun. These boulders might be:

Cabin Stabbin’ V4

Serenity Now V4+

Road to Zion V5

Sobriosity V6

Ryan’s Problem (Climax Control) V6

The Engineer V-whatever

I don’t really see myself trying too hard on any boulders other than these. The most probably are Cabin Stabbin’ and Serenity Now, and the least probable is either Road to Zion or The Engineer, since I have it in my head that any fall from up top on The Engineer results in catastrophe.

But whatever.

For NOW, I’m going to drive over to my parents’ house to pick up the queen bed frame so I can get ready for my move to Blaine!

Oh yeah and my friend Matt and I are probably driving to Alaska on Sunday.

…….

– Wetz

 

 

Serenity Now || R2V6 #2

The Road to V6 is in full swing.

Yesterday Matt and I went to the Camp Serene Boulder after going to the Five-Star Boulder and getting shut down because it was wet. The Camp Serene Boulder, however, was gloriously dry, as it often is due to its exposed location and the wind that whips through the Skykomish Valley.

We warmed up on Insanity Later, a V2 slab. It’s a fun problem with the crux somewhat high off the deck, and you have to trust semi-insecure feet. It took Matt about two tries to puzzle it out, and it took me a couple tries (I’d done it before, though) to puzzle out some beta that didn’t involve super high feet, because I didn’t want to aggravate my hip flexors.

We then went over the real business on the boulder, Serenity Now, a divine V4+ highball that’s a V5 in the guidebook, and Ryan’s Problem, aka Climax Control, a V6 (V6- on Mountain Project) that shares the start with Serenity Now but then heads off to the right after the dihedral. Both of these problems are about as epic as they come in the state of Washington, and feature insanely good movement. We had good paddage in the form of two tri-panel pads, one normal-sized pad, and one normal dimension pad but probably only 2-3 inches thick. With the two big pads, though, you can pad almost anything. And you want some pads for the Camp Serene Boulder, since any fall from even halfway up is (or at least feels like) a long way down. We were also able to better inspect the lip and upper holds on Serenity Now and Ryan’s Problem after climbing the V2 slab, which comforted us a bit. If there are jugs in the vicinity of the lip, it’s good to know where they are. And there are jugs up there.

Since we weren’t fully warmed up, we started by just doing some of the first moves, the ones that get you into the dihedral. These are straightforward moves, but they still require some decent pulling, and though the holds are juggy for someone used to climbing V6, they’re not juggy for someone used to climbing V2. I hadn’t tried Serenity Now in a lukewarm minute, so getting into the dihedral felt like quite a bit of work. However, when I did it, I immediately went for a high left foot and then kind of crouched down and tried to pull my right foot up. This allowed me to then windmill my right arm over to hopefully grab either the seam below the bread loaf hold, or the bread loaf hold itself. I fell the first time because I didn’t have my right foot set up properly, but on the second go was able to get the bread loaf hold for the first time in my life, and thus navigated the crux of Serenity Now — something that had stymied me over and over again in the past — for the first time.

Then, however, things get real. The bread loaf is an amazing hold, but then you have to paste your feet on the wall and lock off with your right hand to go for the final jug on the lip. It’s not a crazy hard move, but it requires some strength and nerves since you’re very high at this point. You’re also a bit tired, having navigated quite a few moves to get there (at least six hand moves). I have to admit I was pretty scared at this point, but gave going for the jug a good go, almost got it, sort of latched a bad crimp below it, and then ALMOST got it, aka got about halfway in it, and then backed off for fear of slipping off. It was a scary experience, and I’m glad I backed off and came back down. Better to suss it out, first. And then I could at least revel in getting past the crux and the sublime, satisfying movement required to do it.

After this, Matt started giving Ryan’s Problem some more serious burns. He wanted to test out how going for the deadpoint to the crimp just below the lip felt, and it was super easy for him to get there and get set up for it. On his second attempt at getting set up for the deadpoint he actually went for it, well sort of went for it, didn’t fully commit but took a very controlled fall that he said felt completely fine and gave him lots of confidence for future attempts. At this point I’d called it a session, because I want to go back to Serenity Now with more confidence, and felt good about the progress. Matt also called it a session, because he didn’t feel like going for the top out on Ryan’s Problem until he felt a little better (he’s been sick).

So that was the session. The temps were pretty perfect and the Camp Serene Boulder was dry on the sides that mattered, and the highway noise disappeared as we became engrossed in engaging climbs. We’ll be back for round two and hopefully some sends, and maybe (definitely for Matt) even a V6.

 

Road to Zion || Road to V5 #2

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Cracking a beer on the boat.

Tonight’s beer is the So What IPA from E9 Brewing out of Tacoma, a “West coast style IPA,” whatever that means.

It’s good to be here with you guys to talk a little about life and a lot about bouldering.

Yesterday was the super sesh. I and about seven others made the trek up to the Clear Cut Boulders, aka the Reiter Foothills Boulders, aka the Gold Bar Boulders. We had more pads than we could use, even on Road to Zion V5, an epic traverse that will put any group’s pad numbers to the test. We started out at Warm-up Slab V0, which you already know is one of my favorite boulders of all time, one of the first boulders I ever climbed outside, and also the boulder I’ve definitely climbed the most in my life. What would be second? Hmmmm. I’ve climbed Bricklayer V0 in Leavenworth a bunch. I’ve definitely climbed Regatta de Blanc V0 and BMOC in Gold Bar a bunch. Magic School Bus V2. It’s probably Regatta de Blanc V0, one of the most popular boulders in Gold Bar and one I initially had more fondness for but now, for whatever reason, don’t like as much. I mean, it’s still kinda cool. It’s got a heel hook. But like. I don’t know.

After Warm-up Slab we went to the Tetris Boulder for a bit, the sun beating down on us, the inversion visible on the Skykomish Valley floor below. It felt like some of the hardmen were getting antsy to try something hard, even if they weren’t vocalizing it, so we then went up to Road to Zion V5, aka everyone’s favorite epic maneating lionheart granodiorite fantasy blitzkrieg traverse. Pretty much everything about his boulder is epic. The size of it. The cleanliness of the face. The fact that you’re not dragging your ass but doing most of the moves at head height. The fact that it goes on forever and might end up in Narnia. The fact that the top out is spicy af and you can’t really pad it and by the time you get there you’re pumped and crying for help and the only person to spot you is screaming “everything you! got come on!” in your ear and the rock is kind of wet and mossy and you don’t know where the holds are.

At least, that’s what I imagine it’s like. I didn’t send it.

But I watched Wyatt, Matt and Brad all flash it, and it was inspiring. Heel hooks. Toe hooks. Hip opening. Crimps. Jugs. Lunges. Big moves. It was great. I got a little frustrated because I want to be able to do more moves, and because the heel hooks weren’t as comfortable for me as they were for other people, but it’s a great boulder to learn on, too. It’s great practice for getting your core close to the wall. For weighting your feet. For keeping your arms straight. For doing every trick in the book to not get pumped. And I can’t wait to go back.

Well, I can wait a bit.

IN OTHER NEWS! My beer is almost done. I’m climbing outside with Matt either Wednesday or Thursday. We’re either going to the Index River Boulders or the Zelda Boulders or the Five Star Boulder or the Camp Serene Boulder or we’re just saying fuck it and chartering a plane to Red Rocks. Though I guess we wouldn’t have to charter, we could just fly Alaska. In other OTHER news, work still hasn’t picked up, but I’ve started working on the novel again in earnest, doing about 1,000 words a day. I’m 68,000 words (about 225 pages) in, some of which I hope is useable. I hope the book is actually readable. I’m going to have to re-write some or all of the beginning, and I still don’t know how it’s going to end. But when do we ever know how anything is going to end? Not knowing how things are going to end, in fact not knowing how any given day is going to end, is what makes life exciting, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A Tale of Two Sessions || Road to V5

I’d like to talk about two bouldering sessions today: One, the other day when I went to Gold Bar and climbed basically nothing and then it rained; and two, when I went to the River Boulders in Index last weekend and it was glorious.

I’ll start with Gold Bar.

The Gold Bar sesh was actually SUPPOSED to be a Leavenworth sesh, but as sometimes happens when I got to Gold Bar on the way to Leavenworth it was still dry and I thought, Why not just climb here? I figured it would still be kinda wet, but that at least the blocs not under trees would be dry.

And I was mostly right.

My goals were to get 10 v-points, try the start of Metroid Prime V6, try the first move of Midnight Lichen V4 and send Stepping Razor V2. I accomplished none of these goals. I warmed up on a new V0 around the corner from The Shorstop V2 and then went over to Stepping Razor V2 and The Button V3 and got shut down by both. Except I couldn’t just get shut down and let it go. I had just sent The Button a week or so previous fairly easily and so became obsessed with re-sending it. Then I would mix in burns on Stepping Razor, berating myself for not being able to send V2. My psyche spiraled. After burns on The Button I would scream “fuck” into the forest, no one around to hear it. Eventually I felt myself getting weaker and, in retrospect somewhat thankfully, it started to rain.

So I went back down the mountain, stopping to try the first moves on Obesity V7.

My worst sesh in a long, long time. And yet there were still positives to take from it. It made me more humble? It made me realize the important of multiple rest days between sessions? It made me realize that bouldering strength ebbs and flows and not every day can be a try hard day?

Contrast that with the session last weekend at the Skykomish River. This time I went into the session with no goals, the only goal being to climb whatever I felt like and to have fun and hopefully learn something. I actually started the session at the Five-star Warm-up boulder in Gold Bar but it was mostly wet and so pivoted to Index. The river boulders were dry. I started at the first boulder you come to, with some high-ball, polished warm-ups. I tried sending the polished slab, a V0, in bare feet and then when I felt myself getting closer put shoes on for the send. This was a satisfying V0 because I hadn’t gotten it the session before, it’s extremely polished and basically you just have to trust your feet. A great exercise in friction climbing.

After the slab I went over to Finger Crack V3 and got absolutely owned. I don’t know what it is about this boulder, but I can’t decipher it. I watch people in videos do it and it looks so easy, and then I try it and can barely get off the ground. But since it wasn’t part of my goals and I was just trying to have fun, I didn’t stress and moved on. To the Jewel V3.

At The Jewel, a bloc I’ve wanted to try for a LONG time but never had the pads for, something mystical happened. I tried various forms of beta, never able to reach the lip and feeling a bit off-balance, until I finally figured out a sequence in which I brought my right foot up, kept my left hand out wide, and then did a sort of side toe hook with my left foot on the same hold my left hand was on, allowing me to stand up on the good right foot and reach the lip. The lip was slopey but I’d spotted it before hand and knew there was a great ridge to the right. After matching the lip I was able to bring a foot to the good pocket where my right hand had been and then get my right hand onto the ridge, which felt like grabbing a granular loaf of bread.

This figuring out of beta was one of the most satisfying things I’ve experienced to date as a boulderer. It make something that felt like V3 or V4 feel like V1. I also, in just that one little move, learned a great deal about technique and balance. After the send I sat on my pad a bit, looking out over the river in the sun, and then schlepped the two massive pads back up to the car, where I had a glorious Hop Tea waiting for me.

So yeah, the first session not so great, but the Index Session? Glorious.

Theft and Sendage || Road to V5

Jesus Cristo, what a morning.

I’m happy to report that the Subee is purring once again. I’m $175 poorer, but she’s purring again until someone tries once more to cut out the catalytic converter. Where did that happen? Was it when I was parked at the Clear Cut Boulders yesterday in Gold Bar? When I left my car by the Sculpture Park to walk to the ferry? Or here at the marina when it was sitting in the gravel lot at night?

Who knows.

Bottom line is this: Yesterday when I was driving back from Gold Bar I went to pass someone and all of the sudden it sounded like an F-16 was landing next to me on the highway. Then I realized the noise was actually coming from my car, from my beloved Subee, and that I hadn’t actually been overtaken by a troupe of souped up Honda Civics. When I got back to Seattle I took it to my sister’s mechanic and he immediately found that someone had cut the exhaust. The reason I only discovered it when passing someone is because it was hanging by a thread and my accelaration caused it to become separated completely. What kind of asshole tries to steal someone’s catalytic converter? Well, I guess we do live in Seattle.

Anyway.

Bouldering.

Yesterday I had a delightful sesh up at the Gold Bar boulders. I had three goals: 1) Send The Container V2, a long time project (or something I just used to give a burn on here and there), 2) Hang the starting holds on Silver Slippers V4, and 3) Try the starting move of World’s Best V7. And I SORT OF accomplished all of those goals. I sent The Container despite completely thrutching out the top out.

(video hopefully soon to come. can’t upload it. wordpress sucks.)

It felt good to send The Container, and it also felt good to do the start of it a few times after I’d sent it just to see how efficiently I could do it. There was definite opportunity for a heel hand match, and it might’ve even be the most efficient line.

After The Container I went up to World’s Best V7, which is a trek. First of all it’s a trek to get to the Gold Bar boulders, and then Jaws, which is where World’s Best V7 is located, is a bit of a trek from there. However, I found the boulder without too much deviation, and wasn’t super surpised to find it’s quite overhanging, since A) it’s V6-7, and B) you could tell it was somewhat overhanging in videos and in my experience things are always WAY more overhanging in real life. So I started trying the first move, and then realized I might not be able to properly commit without proper paddage. Then I started trying the SECOND move, which is a gorgeous left heel hook followed by slapping the left hand up to a good hold. Again here I had a tough time committing, 1) because my heel hooks REALLY need work, and 2) because I was afraid of falling. I’m just starting to take some more falls after hurting my back about a month ago, and so I’m still being quite careful.

It felt amazing to try some moves on a V7, and on a boulder with such satisfying movement. I can’t wait to go back, but I need to go back either with friends or more pads or both, and hauling more than one pad up there would be quite the task.

After WBV7 I went down to Silver Slippers V4, located in the Aries area, and STILL COULDN’T HOLD THE START HOLDS. Like, I couldn’t establish. I’m pretty sure that if someone held a Nerf gun to my head I could do the boulder tomorrow from one move in, but holding those start crimps is killing me. Guess I just have to get stronger.

After the sesh is when I realized someone had tried to steal my catalytic converter, and so I spent the rest of the afternoon dealing with that. This morning an awesome dude up on Aurora welded it for $160 plus tax, and now she’s good to go again, but how do you prevent someone from trying to steal your catalytic converter? The sad answer is you can’t. And the sad answer is that it’s becoming really common.

But let’s end today’s blog on a good note. It’s a gorgeous, sunny day here in Seattle. I’m probably going to Leavenworth this weekend. I’m probably going to BC soon. And I’m also, despite certain difficulties, generally pretty stoked.

The Road to V7 lives on!