Back in the Stirrups || Road to V5

OK! I would like to welcome all the boulderers out there who have sort of been following this blog, waiting for my recovery so they can start reading about the Road to V7 again, aka Road to V5, aka Road to VB. Why Road to V7? Becuase the goal of last summer was to send V7 outdoors before the summer was over. Which didn’t happen. So then basically the blog just became Road to X (x being whatever v-grade I was currently working on). And before my LCL injury that was V5. In fact, about a week before my injury was when I sent my first V4 outdoors. Here’s the video in case you don’t watch it every day before you go to bed:

Ahhhhhhhhh, the pleasures of watching a 37 year old man climbing a lowball while huffing like a musk ox. I forgot how enjoyable that video was, the feet cutting loose every four seconds, the red Patagonia fleece that I wear (literally) every day (though I did just get a new fleece). So yeah, I climbed that boulder, which I’d been working on a long time and gotten super close tons of times and finally did it just before Xmas, and then a week later I mangled myself climbing a V3 in California. Fuck.

But today! Today, friends! Today. Today something happened. Today I ran a mile. OK. I didn’t run a mile. I jogged a mile. OK, I didn’t jog a mile, I walk-jogged a mile. My official time on today’s mile was 10:57. As you can see, this time is mildly Olympian. And there was discomfort in my knee while jogging. Plenty of discomfort. But I imagined a physical therapist sitting there talking to me saying, “As long as there’s not like SHOOTING PAIN, like as long as it doens’t hurt really bad, if it’s just some slight discomfort, then keep going. Because keep in mind your body hasn’t run in a month and a half. It’s not going to feel great.” This was the physical therapist that was talking in my head while I jogged. Let’s call him Todd. Todd drives a 2018 Subaru Crosstrek and lives in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. He’s dating a girl named Danielle (actually, they just got engaged a month ago). They own a golden doodle. Todd is also a climber, which makes him uniquely adept at giving me physical therapy advice. Danielle and Todd will get married. They’ll divorce after 15 years. Todd will move to Nebraska and become a pipe fitter. Danielle will get full custody of the kids and remarry a guy named Rick who sells used Subarus in Ballard but lives in Kent. They’ll never speak again except when coordinating seeing the kids.

After jogging my mile (which I did at Greenlake) I got a matcha latte from Milstead and then came back to my boat where I promptly injected Body Protective Compound #157 into my knee. Right by the LCL. And now I’m sitting here thinking regenerative thoughts. Not thinking about bouldering, cuz that just makes me sad. Driving back from running I had to go by SBP, and that made me sad. I want to be there so bad. I want to work there. Maybe I should drop off an application. I am actually filling out job applications now, which is weird.

So, what are the goals for this summer, bouldering-wise? Well, to be perfectly honest, right now the goal by the end of this summer is V6. I hope to send Climax Control (Ryan Problem’s) V6, and The 5-Star Arete V6. I know I can do both of these boulders. I know it deep in my soul. But I need to get healthy in order to be able to send them. Not just my knee. My shoulder. My fingers. My psyche.

OK, time to rest for a bit, let this BPC 157 take hold. Any soccer on today? Not really. One Bundesliga game, one Premier League game.

God my succulent is beautiful.

– MW

I Want My Knee to Heal So Bad | Road to Recovery

Since I know the majority of you come here for spanking new bouldering content, I thought I’d give you an update on my knee and my Road to V7, aka Road to V12, aka Road to V2, aka Road to Being Able to Use My Knee Again in Any Sort of Normal Capacity.

So.

I’m lying on the floor of my hotel room in Los Mochis, Sinaloa. I just iced my knee with a huge bag of ice the dude from the restaurant gave me. I debated about whether or not to tip him. Should I give him the 5 pesos in my pocket? Would that be insulting? Do you really have to tip in a hotel when anyone does anything for you? Should I just dip my knee in the pool?

Brought the ice back up to my room, lay on the floor, propped my knee up on the foam roller (I travel nowhere without my foam roller), and iced the shit out of it. Then rested it. Then iced it some more. Watched some Emma Chamberlain. Rested it. Iced the living fuck out of it. And now I’m elevating it.

This knee is so fucking frustrating. Is it just my LCL that’s partially torn? Is it getting better? If it’s getting better why doesn’t it feel like it’s getting better? Are my ACL and meniscus also kinda fucked? God I hope not.

I’ve stopped writing about bouldering because I’m not bouldering. I went to Bishop last week and just looked at boulders. I drove by some boulders leaving Hermosillo the other day and you know what? IT DIDN’T FEEL WEIRD NOT BEING ABLE TO CLIMB THEM. I’M GETTING USED TO NOT BEING ABLE TO CLIMB.

It’s terrible.

When I can climb, where do I want to go? Bishop, of course. Leavenworth. Gold Bar. Index. Joe’s Valley. Moe’s Valley. RMNP. Bishop again. Joshua Tree. Back to Bishop. Leavenworth. Bishop. Leavenworth. Bishop. Leavenworth.

Squamish.

Has anyone else partially torn their LCL in isolation? How long did it take to heal? Please leave several comments below.

I can hear the ice melting next to me.

I’m going to watch a movie on Hulu tonight and go to bed. Supposedly I’m fasting right now. We’ll see how that pans out. I think it will pan out fairly well. Tomorrow I’m driving to Mazatlan. Or maybe even beyond, to San Blas.

I want my knee to heal so bad.

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.

Getting Healthy Again | R2V4 #12

“Due to a lack of gadgetry, the act of bouldering is climbing movement in its most refined state.” – John Gill in Stone Crusade: A Historical Guide to Bouldering in America by John Sherman

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A DOCTOR OR MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. The following are techniques I have experimented/am experimenting with. Consult a medical professional before following the advice in this blog post.

When it comes to bouldering, I have been a LOT more proactive about my injuries than with other sports. Injury #1: Medial epicondylitis, aka Golfer’s Elbow, aka pain on the outside of your elbow that got so bad a few times I climbed that my arm felt dead for up to an hour after climbing. Recipe? Stop climbing for so long, self-massage, and, the most important, ECCENTRIC-EFFING-STRENGTHENING. Eccentric strengthening (in my experience) is the best thing you can do for any overuse injury, and I’ve had a lot of overuse injuries. Self massage is also good. Rest is good but if you rest forever and just go back to doing the same thing, you will re-injure it. So you also have to learn for techniques to participate in your sport without injuring yourself.

My latest malady, aka the one I’m dealing with right now, is (I’m pretty sure) an aggravation of the teres minor, a narrow shoulder muscle that makes up part of the rotator cuff. I’ve aggravated this muscle by the constant reaching required for climbing, and not reaching correctly, aka not activating my shoulders properly. And now I’m paying the ultimate price, uncertain about my climbing future for the coming weeks and months and, most importantly, uncertain whether I’ll be able to go climbing this Sunday.

But! Knowledge is power. And after scouring the internet and YouTube I’ve found TWO YouTube videos that I think are going to be the key to overcoming this injury, coupled of course with REST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (no more back to back days until I get this shit figured out. In fact, a MINIMUM of two rest days between all climbing sessions and never pushing it once I start to feel pain):

1)

As you can see, this first video is about the subscapularis release for shoulder pain. Is the subscapularis my problem? Not really sure, but whatever tender muscle I’m touching when I do this, it feels painful but great at the same time. Self-massage is real. Self-massage using a natural ant-inflammatory ointment is even realer. Come to think of it, anything with an ointment (or a balm) is about as real as it gets.

2)

It’s HARD AF to find videos on the internet with eccentric exercises for the teres minor. Why? Because most of the clowns on the internet have eccentric motion in their videos, but also concentric motion too! In my experience, if you have an overuse injury THE LAST THING YOU WANT TO DO IS MORE UNNECESSARY, CONCENTRIC MOTION. In case you’re wondering what eccentric vs concentric means here’s a perfect example: When you do a push-up, the part where you’re pushing yourself UP is the concentric motion. The part where you’re lowering yourself DOWN is the eccentric motion. With eccentric strengthening the only thing you want to do (according to the experts I’ve read) is the eccentric motion. So when doing a pushup you would use your knees and elbows or whatever you want to get back to the starting position after slowly lowering yourself down, and then lower yourself down again. And unfortunately, almost all of the videos I found on YouTube that claimed to be eccentric strengthening for the rotator cuff or teres minor ALSO INCLUDE THE CONCENTRIC MOTION. Are these people insane? Except, of course, for the video above, which only focuses on the eccentric motion. Brilliant. I’m going to try it right now. Report to come soon.

I had WAY too much caffeine today. Like, way too much. But now I’ve had a nap and feel more or less normal again. I’m going to try these exercises out, do a little more self-massage and then maybe go out grocery shopping/for yet another walk. Maybe I’ll even meditate. Maybe I’ll go to Trader Joe’s and get snacks and veg the night away. Because that’s therapy, too.

– Wetz

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!