The Dark Days of Winter | Road to V4

Sit start match the little horn jug thing, right foot turned inward on the good foothold, left foot smeared. Swing right hand over to the sloper rail. Switch feet, delicately. Now, bring your left hand also to the rail. Be careful to keep your left foot on at all times. If it cuts loose you’ll swing down the slope and probably fall off. With the left foot pasted onto the foothold your right foot started on, start working your hands down the rail right until you get to a good flat ledge just before the jug. Now, get ready to cut loose, because you’re going to (“Hold on….hold on to yourself….This is gonna hurt like hell….). It’s OK, though, you’ll have at least one hand on the jug, and you can swing all day and not fall off. Go for it. Swing a bit and when you’ve regained yourself look for a good edge for your right foot down and to your right. Once your right foot is there (delicately!), swing your left foot up to the rail (DELICATELY, GODDAMNIT. WHAT DID I JUST SAY TO YOU). Now you’re ready to look off for the shark’s tooth (if you’ve never seen a shark’s tooth teleport to the 90’s and hang out with a 13-year-old kid who wears hemp necklaces). OK, ready, set, lock off. Grab the shark’s tooth with your left hand, pull yourself up, and either go straight for the finishing jug with your right or go to the mini jug beneath it and then bump up to the finishing jug. You are in control of your own destiny. You are a boulderer, so comport yourself as such. Once your right hand is on the finishing jug, bring your left hand up for a Swiss topout, hang there for a second watching the rest of your life flash before your eyes, marriage, kids, retirement, daeth, and then let yourself drop to a pad you’ve (hopefully) placed below. This problem can be done with one pad (my pad is big), as long as you’re willing to move the pad to the right away from the starting moves. The good news is that for the crux of the problem your knees are literally about six inches above the ground. Which, if you’re an insect, is a hell of a long way to fall, but your terminal velocity is also lower so you’ll be fine.

Good. Now, if you’ll just tell me what problem I’ve described, I’ll reward you with a prize. I’ll give you a hint: It’s not V4.

– Wetz

From Sandstone to Granite | The Road to V4 with your host Mark Wetzler

The ground at Salt Point State Park, California.

I am back in Seattle, back on the boat, back to freezing my ass off at night even though the heater I have right now is approximately 70 times better than last year’s. It has a thermostat, it oscillates, and it looks somewhat chic, too.

I’m going bouldering today out by Gold Bar. The weather for the next six days looks uncommonly glorious, and I plan to take advantage. I also plan to take advantage of the fact that I’ve been climbing more than normal over the past two weeks, and that I feel stronger than usual (maybe not stronger than ever. I still don’t feel like dynos would be a great idea but they don’t sound like a completely terrible idea, either. My climbing right now is probably on par with what it was back before my shoulder injury, though now hopefully with better technique and footwork).

I can’t leave for a few hours this morning due to various engagements. In about an hour I’ll go over to my sister’s to pick up my plants, and then I have a video appointment at 10am. Which means I’ll LEAVE For the boulders at around 11am. First stop? I’m not really sure. The goal for today is to send Serenity Now V4+. But I also want to climb up in the clearcut, and that could interfere with my first goal. The reason I want to climb up in the clearcut is because there are more boulders up there, I want the hike, and I also want to continue projecting Cabin Stabbin’ V4, Summer Solstice V3, and maybe even suss out the moves on No Chaser V5. There are also so many other “hard” boulders I could start trying, like: Stinkin’ Slopers V5, Midnight Lichen V4, Samurai V5, Fern Crack V3, Water V6, and Obesity V7. I am very much into the idea of trying boulders right now that are way “beyond” my ability. Because sometimes on these boulders you can do a move, or two moves, and you feel awesome about yourself and visualize yourself one day sending it. This is how it was in Red Rocks the other day with Hyperglide V4/5. I could do the beginning moves. I could get to the beginning of the face climb. And I could almost do the hard move on the face climb. Which gave me tremendous confidence, even though I didn’t really come that close to sending it. Now, for instance, if I go to Stinkin’ Slopers V5, I think there’s a very good chance I’ll at least be ABLE to do the sit start. Maybe even the first couple moves. Which means I can start projecting it. Which means I’ll be projecting V5.

Aka projecting V16.

Aka I’m back in Seattle and it’s so fucking cold and I might need to leave here soon.

Aka I need to shave.

Aka I have a slight mullet.

Aka Joshua Tree.

Aka Stem Gem V4.

Aka failing on V0-‘s.

Aka the nicest AirBnb I’ve ever stayed in in my life.

Aka once it starts raining I might need to bust out the hangboard.

Aka this black tea is making me nauseous.

OK, just had some carrots so I’m OK. Moderation is the name of the game right now, folks. Also, doing the crux on Serenity Now V4+ is the name of the game. I’ve gotten to the crux so many times. And I just kind of stand there, paralyzed. Which is why today I’m going to try a couple new things: straighten my left arm and lean out over the right-hand sidepush thing. Force myself to get my left foot up, and then right foot up even if it pushes me off the wall. Lean into the wall to the point where I’m literally lying on it. I feel like any of these three things could be critical, though mostly the first one, letting my left arm go straight and leaning more over my right hand, possibly while letting my right leg dangle.

Enough talk for now. Time to take action. It is officially 65 degrees in my boat right now. I’m wearing a bikini. I’m contemplating jumping in the lake to cool off. I’m also contemplating drinking a yerba mate right now. From Trader Joe’s.

Aka I’m going to do that.

Last Climbing Trip Before Mex | Road to V4

My sister and her son — aka my nephew — and I went on a walk this morning-

Hold on, let me start over.

I went on a walk this morning with my sister and her son, aka my nephew, to “Poo Poo Point,” a short little jaun-

OK, I don’t like that one either.

I’m sitting on my boat drinking matcha this afternoon and what’s different between right now and when I USUALLY sit on my boat is that I’m sitting outside, in the cockpit, feeling the breeze and watching my boardshorts sway in the br-

Damnit.

OK. Sitting on my boat drinking matcha. Boarshorts swaying in the breeze. Sunny. Crows cawing. Tired but feeling ok since I just jumped in the water. Maybe should jump in again to wake up even more? Mellifluous. Not very comfortable. Ducks pissed at each other. Plant looks like it’s dying. What am I gonna do tonight?

OK that’s MUCH better now that I’m sitting on the ground and instead of on that pad. Though the ground is dirty.

Why am I so TIIIIIIIIIIRED right now? I have no good food on my boat except apples and peanut butter, but I’ve already had two apples today. I have kale. What am I going to do with the kale? Eat it plain? Disgusting. Eat it with some olive oil and salt?

OK I’m ready to start.

Good afternoon, faithful Where’s Wetzler readers! My name is Mark Wetzler and I’ll be your host for this afternoon’s blog post. We’ve got a lot to talk about today, including but not limited to: Me going bouldering tomorrow, my hike today, why I feel so tired–

K, sorry, can’t do that either. Can’t do a real post.

Stephen King said: Don’t go lightly to the page. I’m going to lightly to the page right now, Stephen. Light as a feather. Light as one of the leaves on my calathea plant that’s dying. Light as my humor. Light as my right toenail which is becoming slightly ingrown. Here’s the problem with reading books on how to write: It’s like reading books on how to paint pictures. They can only take you so far. At some point you have to launch yourself off the diving board and think: OK, I’m gonna do my OWN thing now. And if people hate it then fuck ’em. I’m going to make the stuff that I know is good, that makes me happy, and if people don’t like it well then they’re the ones with no taste. You don’t tell me what’s good art. I tell YOU what’s good art. I tell you what to like. People don’t know what they like anyway until someone has already given it to them. They say, “Well, I like light comedies,” and then someone makes a horror film and they love it cuz it’s well done and someone says, “But you don’t like horror films,” and they say, “Well, I guess I like that one.”

I’m going to be a piece of shit for the rest of the day and I’ve made peace with that. Go to Whole Foods. Read Pride and Prejudice. You know what I might do tomorrow? I might go session Serenity Now V4 FRESH. I’ve never sessioned that boulder fresh before. Only after a pretty long sesh. So maybe I’ll go there tomorrow, I’ll warm up on the slab a bit, I’ll climb the V0, and then I’ll give Serenity Now some fresh burns. Give it everything I got. And maybe make it past the crux.

K just watched a few videos of people getting up Serenity Now V4 (+!). I think I can do the crux now. And by crux I mean the low crux, there’s also a fairly gnarly deadpoint up to the hold on the lip. God, I got this. I need this. Come on, Mark.

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