If you’ve stumbled upon this blog looking for info on the epic boulder problem Feel the Pinch V4 (feel it) I’m sorry to disappoint: This blog post isn’t really about feel the pinch even though I’m sitting in front of it in above picture. No, this post is mostly because I wanted to do my first post with the subtitle of “Road to V5” and even though Feel the Pinch isn’t V5 I had a good picture of it.
Yes, friends, you are correct: The Road to V4 is over and the Road to V5 has begun. Actually, the road to V5 began a long time ago. When I was on the Road to V4 I was also on the Road to V5, and the Road to V6, and V9, and whatever other roads leading me towards further bouldering destinations. I don’t know what v-grade I will eventually climb one day. I don’t really care. I have dreams — oh yes, I have dreams — and they involve problems like Obesity V7 in Gold Bar, Naughty Corner V7, The Method V12 in Squamish…. I don’t look at The Method and think, “One day I’m gonna climb that,” but I also sort of do. That’s one of my favorite things about bouldering: You go to a boulder that’s V8 and look at it and think, There’s no fucking way I could get up that. But then you go back six months later and suddenly you can see yourself doing it, or at least doing some of the moves. What has changed? Our bodies? Our brains? Our sternums?
I’m in a hotel room in Ashland, Oregon right now headed towards California. After this blog post I’ll check the oil in my car and then leave. I’m drinking a venti English Breakfast tea from Starbucks right now with just a LITTLE BIT of cream in it, mostly because I wanted the human interaction of talking to the girl working there since for the first part of today I won’t really talk to anyone. Unfortunately the most interesting part of our conversation was her informing me that she couldn’t sell me produce or booze, a fact I already knew. Now I’m sitting in the hotel room and it’s mostly dark. When I got here yesterday they asked me, Do you have a dog? And I said, “Do I?” Actually I said no and then they upgraded me to the King Suite, where I proceeded to watch Chelsea v. Arsenal and cook bacon in the microwave.
That reminds me: I should probably leave a tip for the cleaners.
I probably have about seven hours of driving today. Maybe less. I would like to climb today — and I could climb near Mt Shasta — but I’m not really inspired by any of the boulders near there. Maybe I could find a new one? Maybe I could climb something near Redding? Or the boulders near Vacaville? Yes, yes, I could totally climb near Vacaville. But I don’t know if I want to.
I think it’s time for me to hit the road. I have two massive bouldering pads in the back of my car. Ninety six square feet of bouldering pad. I haven’t mentioned ANYTHING about it in this post so far, but this is actually a bouldering road trip. I’m planning to go to Bishop. Maybe Joshua Tree. And maybe, just maybe, Cataviña….
It is with great relief that I write the words “The Final Chapter” before Road to V4 today. This last jump, from V3 to V4, was by far the hardest yet. I had been projecting so many V4’s and gotten close on many of them before finally sending Toto V4, in Leavenworth’s Forestland area, a few days ago. And while I’m already starting to look at V5’s and have already started to project one boulder even harder than V5 (Climax Control V6), I realize from past experience that climbing one V4 in no way means you’re a V4 climber or ready to tackle all the V5’s. In fact, it usually means you need to do a lot more V4’s, and even more importantly a lot more V3’s, and a lot more V2’s, etc etc. I definitely need to do a lot more V3’s. And I’m not expecting the next V4 to be easy.
Without further ado, here it is:
At the risk of beta spray (see: stop reading if you don’t want any beta for this problem), I will say that moving my right foot up slightly before going for the lip changed everything. Before I was lunging for the lip with my foot all the way down on the good nub next to the ground. Foolish. But then moving my right foot up just six inches changed everything. It made getting to the lip much higher percentage. It made it less of a lunge. It allowed me to send this problem. And it also made me realize something very important about technique: get your feet high before you trying to make a big move.
My buddy Darren was filming, which was nice because it added some pressure to get it done and also made me not have to worry about setting up the camera.
Now what happens? Well, I’m supposed to start heading south toward California the day after Christmas, and there’s a very decent chance this trip to California will take me back to Bishop and also possibly Joshua Tree. There’s a less likely chance it’ll take me back to Red Rocks, but you never no. And there’s also a chance it’ll take me to Northern Baja, where about five hours south of the border there’s a little town that I like to think of as the Joshua Tree of northern Mexico. Will I actually go there? I’m not sure. There is no guidebook. There is very little on the bouldering around this town. But I’ve been there before, and I’m dying to go back.
As for now I’m going to enjoy Christmas Eve with my parents and a relaxing couple of days before heading south.
I’m also going to start thinking about my next post and The Road to V5.
I had never bouldered outside before lockdown hit. I had no desire to boulder outside. All I wanted to do was watch Bouldering Bobat videos and try to send a blue at Seattle Bouldering Project. That was pretty much my singular goal in life. But then the lockdown hit and I had to either A) not climb, B) climb outside, or C) move to Libya. I chose option B and never looked back. I started on an abandoned building on Bainbridge Island. I moved to a glacial erratic just north of Poulsbo, WA. And then I got the Western Washington Bouldering Guide, which changed everything. I’ll never forget my first session at the Morpheus Boulders. My first V0…
2. First of the Grade
It’s rare to find a boulder that speaks to you. It’s rarer to find a boulder that A) isn’t so easy that you can send it on the first session or first couple sessions, but B) not so hard that you just want to give up.
U2 (V3), in Leavenworth’s Beach Forest area, was the perfect boulder for me. I projected it over the course of a couple months, usually giving it a few burns on each of my bi-weekly Leavenworth trips. One day after I had started getting close I woke up at 430am near Skykomish, sent it straight to Leavy, got an americano from Starbucks, by 630am was at the boulder. That day it went down. I thought it was totally going to go, and then after the first few attempts I felt myself getting weaker, and then finally I went for the lip.
3. Highball (ish???) slab
Making the move from “beginner” climbing shoes to the La Sportiva Miura’s I now sport was huge (I might move to the Solutions one day). My confidence in my feet went from about a 4/10 to about a 7/10. Which is huge when you’re trying a semi-highball slab where the crux move is towards the top and you’re afraid you’re going to fall off to the side where there isn’t a pad or just go skittering down to the pad below you. On this climb I actually did skitter a few times, pretty much from the top, and that gave me confidence that it wasn’t that bad. And then I sent.
4. Pre-covid SBP sessions w/ Homies
Picture this: You project hard (see: easy) blocs with your best homies, and then afterwords you go to the basement cafe, shoot the shit, and drink beers (see: you drink kombucha). This is what gym bouldering pre-COVID was like. Then COVID hit. Now gym bouldering = wearing masks and using liquid chalk. And then gyms getting closed every two weeks because COVID numbers soar into the stratosphere. Which means we can’t soar into the stratosphere on techy purples or reachy blues. Damnit.
5. After work Upper Walls sessions
For awhile there I was working in U-Village for a non-profit, just really doing God’s work, and after work the bus would go right by Upper Walls in Fremont, and usually I would get off and climb for a bit. These after work sessions were my favorite: short, sweet, and most importantly: alone. I mean, not completely alone. I would sometimes talk to other people. Sometimes I would project stuff with random heroes. It was during this time that I sent my first blue, a stemmy thing in the corner that at Joshua tree would MAYBE be a V1. Probably a V0. But indoors it’s a V5. I love stemming.
(Summer Solstice V3. Didn’t post to YouTube ‘cuz I filmed it so shitty.)
Projecting is my favorite aspect of bouldering. Going to a problem that feels impossible, leaving it alone, thinking about the moves and the micro beta as you lie in bed, trying it a couple weeks later, then a month later, and then finally sending it. This happened with a couple boulders for me: My first V3 slab, Rocksteadeasy, U2 V3, Summer Solstice V3, Briefs V3 (which went first try of the day a couple days ago!), Beam Me Up V2, and will HOPEFULLY be happening (any day now, seriously; gotta get this pulley thing figured out) with Dirty Dancing V4, Toto V4, Serenity Now V4+, Moss Bongo V3, the list goes on….
The most important thing I’ve learned about projecting: You don’t learn how to climb a boulder by trying it over and over again. You learn by trying over and over again and then leaving it, for a day or a week or a month, and coming back stronger and with a new plan.
7. Sorange V3
A Red Rock Canyon gem, and the first V3 I ever sent in one session. Basically I got there, a bunch of people were on it, I walked the loop through the canyon, came back, tried a problem near it, and as soon as the new people who were there left I swooped like a vulture descending upon a recently-deceased wildebeest. But NOT before asking one of the leaving dudes, “Bro, can you give me the beta. Like literally tell me every move.”
This problem is kinda crimpy and the last move is kinda reachy. It’s also kinda easy. Or maybe I was just really feeling it that day.
Yesterday I went to the Index River Boulders despite the fact that I was feeling under the weather, or maybe BECAUSE I was feeling under the weather and didn’t want to spend all day wallowing on my boat. I think yesterday was a perfect example of where the phrase “under the weather” probably comes from. The day before I’d gone swimming in the semi-frigid October Lake Washington water, and then promptly taken a hot shower, and then promptly walked around with my wet hair exposed to the elements. This is supposedly a recipe for catching a cold, and that appears to be exactly what I did. Yesterday I woke up, it was cloudy and shitty and generally depressing outside, and my voice sounded like I had a bullfrog living in my larynx, and I generally felt slightly fatigued. But there’s the keyword: slightly. This felt like a quintessentially common cold to me, and so I decided to press east towards the mountains, not least because I had a hotel reservation in Leavenworth for that night.
My first step on yesterday’s fall odyssey were the boulders on the Skykomish River near Index. These boulders are sometimes called the “Boulder Drop Boulders,” since they’re right next to some kayaking feature which is apparently called a “Boulder Drop” (or something. I have no idea. I’ve never river kayaked in my life. Is it fun? It looks kind of lame. But that was exactly what I said about bouldering until I tried it). My goal when going to these boulders yesterday was 16-fold: 1) Send Unnamed V3 (around the corner from Finger Crack V3), 2) Get some good burns in on Finger Crack V3, and 3) Maybe send the River Warm-Up V0 problem. If you remember from a previous post, I ate shit on Unnamed V3 one day when Carolyn and I were there, falling all the way from the lip, barely landing on the pad and in the process rolling my ankle, slightly spraining my wrist, and almost hitting my head. So another goal was just to not do that. Bouldering by yourself with one pad is significantly different from bouldering with a bunch of homies and a bunch of pads. I’ve never really experienced the latter. One time Barold, Carolyn and I went bouldering together and had THREE PADS. Can you imagine the decadence? We were punting off highballs just for fun. Carolyn did a swan dive off French Slab V2 just to take advantage of the multitude of protection we had placed at the base of the boulder.
Long story short: I sent Unnamed V3, and it glorious. Start on the side-pull and the undercling, move left grabbing the ledge above you. Get your hands on a good sloping ledge and then get your left foot up on the ledge on the left side of the boulder, and then reach up and grab the mini-jug just before the lip. The problem is the lip is slopey, and once you’ve grabbed the lip your work is not over, because everything about the boulder wants to push you off to the right and off balance. You must fight this feeling with not a little bit of cunning and cool-headedness. Yesterday I got to the lip very easily (the tenuous slopers you chill on just before reaching for the hold below the lip are so sick, you feel like you’re gonna fall off but they hold you perfectly), but then couldn’t top out because I felt off balance. Then the SECOND time I got to the lip I took my time, got my feet figured out, and the top out was actually pretty easy. I basically just vaulted my person onto the top, which was covered in moss and leaves, not unlike a bed. And then I rejoiced in what was only the fourth V3 I’ve ever sent!!!!! The fanfare!!!!! The glory!!!!! The sponsorship deals!!!!!!! The feeling of accomplishment!!!!!!
And then I peaced out and drove to Leavenworth.
Well actually before I peaced out and drove to Leavenworth I gave Finger Crack V3 a few burns and yes, despite getting shut down, made some progress. Do I feel like it will go next session? Maybe. Do I feel like it will go in the next couple sessions? Definitely.
Fall is upon us, and the drive to Leavenworth yesterday was nothing short of orange-tinged ecstasy. I passed most of the drive in a sort of reverie induced by black tea, the happiness of sending a project, and the uncertainty of what I was going to do that night. Carolyn and I were supposed to hang out but hanging out was probably not a good idea given the current state of my health. I figured if I DID go all the way to Leavenworth though I might as well climb, and so after chilling in the Swiftwater parking lot for a second and fondling some of the jugs on Hate Rock, I decided roll on down to The Labyrinth, an area I’d never climbed before and which MIGHT be the subject for another post, or might not since I only sent two problems (one of which was a V2 flash!!!!).
But anyway, for now it’s sunny and beautiful outside, and I’m going to get out of my sweatpants and off my boat. Though actually I might chill here just a little bit longer and read Pride and Prejudice, since I think Ms. Bennett is finally about to pull her head out of her ass and tell Mr. Darcy how she feels. God, I hope so.
Yesterday Carolyn and I went to the Pretty Boulders in Leavenworth. We left at around 7:45am after getting Caffe Vita (I got a matcha latte with oat milk, my latest go-to drink) and took probably two and a half hours to get there 1) Because I was driving and 2) because we made a quick stop at the Nason Creek Rest Area. God, nothing like a good rest area. This is a wonderful country, right? Wonderful interstate system. Wonderful rest stops. Now, let me let you in a a little secret: Other countries have rest stops too. Except they’re usually more in the line of restaurants, i.e. they have a parking lot for lots of cars and things like buses and trucks. They’re usually somewhat beautiful because they’re in the middle of nowhere, but they also have a restaurant geared primarily at people on the road. And I honestly don’t know which set-up is better. For example, I have glorious memories of hot food at an Austrian rest stop just south of Salzburg on my way to Slovenia, but I also have glorious memories of rest stops in the US, more for their solitude (mixed with the camaraderie of being around fellow travelers?) and relative quiet.
After the rest stop we made yet ANOTHER stop. I know: It’s like we weren’t even in a rush. It’s like we weren’t frothing. It’s like my blood wasn’t boiling with the prospect of sampling tasty new Central Cascade granite pearls. The place we made a stop at is called Argonaut, and even though I find it a bit overpriced it’s still my favorite café in Leavenworth, partly because it’s tasteful, partly because it’s the first café you come to, and partly because it has about as much square footage as the closet on my boat. The one thing I DON’T like about it is that they verbally ask you if you want to leave a tip. I much prefer when tipping is something you can do or not do discreetly without having to voice out over the six-foot chasm between you and the ordering window. What am I supposed to say if I don’t want to leave a tip because their product is already expensive as balls? No, thanks? Sorry, no? I’m not thankful, and I’m not sorry.
Anyway, Carolyn got hipster toast (fancy avocado toast) and I got yet another matcha latte. God, I am obsessed with matcha lattes lately. With oat milk!!! If I had a bathtub on my boat I would bathe in them. I would lather the beautiful matcha onto my supple dermis. I would inhale the matcha steam rising from said bathtub. I would slip a few inches under the water and see how long I could hold my breath.
But now onto the Pretty Boulders! This was my first time at the Pretty Boulders and as usual I had massive expectations. First impressions: They weren’t as hard to find as I thought. The guidebook shows how to arrive perfectly. Secondly, I was expecting a longer approach. I have no idea why. Third, I was expecting (again I have no idea why) that Pretty Girl V3 would be south facing. But it’s not; it’s east facing (k maybe southeast). I did (and still do) find this somewhat disconcerting. I also expected Pretty Girl to be more of a highball, and though people said repeatedly it was bit of a sandbag, I expected it to be easier. And I know it’s highly beta dependent, but I couldn’t get past the first couple moves. I couldn’t get my hand up to the fin. I couldn’t send the boulder. And all I wanted to do was weep by it and have someone console me, but instead I mustered what was left of my dignity and sent Pretty Easy V0 in good fashion, and also sent Noland V1, which for some reason has zero stars despite not being that fun at all. Oh, and of course we warmed up on the sumptuous Alexis C. Jolly, a two star V0 capable of bringing you to your knees and begging for mercy just because all you want to do is fondle her beautiful granite hips and she spits you off like an Arabian show horse to punish you for your gall. Just kidding. Alexis C. Jolly was really easy. It’s insane how much of a difference there is between V0’s. Alexis C. Jolly: easy as fuck. Pretty easy: Not actually that easy. Noland V1: actually pretty easy (though that might’ve just been cuz I’m tall).
The worst part of the Pretty Boulders was getting completely owned by Ms. Pac Man V2. If you’ve sent it and have the beta please leave a comment. If you have video please leave me a link. If you have words of wisdom please also leave a comment. If you have words of hate please don’t leave a comment. If you know some kind of beautiful saying in Spanish please leave it in the comments. French and German work, too. Russian also works but I won’t be able to understand without the aid of Google Translate. I will be sort of able to sound it out, though.
After the Pretty Boulders we had lunch at South, a Mexican Restaurant, which is overpriced but good and it’s nice not to be surrounded by anti-maskers at the various Biergartens. Then we went to the Beach Forest, where I had a semi-erotic experience with the slopers of Fountainblues V0 (video to come?????) and Carolyn I think wanted to strap some explosives to the slopers because she didn’t find them quite as alluring. Carolyn absolutely THRASHED Brickwork V0, a V0 whose top-out is not exactly easy. I tried U2 V3 a couple times for posterity, got kind close and then gave up. Then after chilling at the Beach a bit we got in the car and drove back to Seattle.
All in all a tough-on-the-ego day at Leavenworth but good to get lots of climbing in and rough up the skin a bit. When I got back to my boat I even did my pushups! Fuck yeah antagonist exercises!!! And today my shoulder doesn’t even feel THAT bad. And my fingers don’t feel that bad either. And I’m listening to Eric Satie and it’s dreamy.
I probably shouldn’t have woken up so early but on any day that I’m going climbing I’m like a kid on Christmas. The only difference between this kid and an actual kid on Christmas is that I’m getting stoked to hopefully send sic (sic) blocs (sic). Today I’m hoping to send Dirty Dancing V4, which would be my first ever V4. That’s what I’m hoping. But I’m not pinning the success of this mission on that one bloc. There are plenty of other boulders I want to try, and frankly I’m stoked to just be getting out there climbing. I’ll be stoked if I send some new V0 and V1’s. I’ll be even more stoked if I send a couple new V2’s or even a V3. And if I send a V4, then, well, you know what this blog becomes:
The Road to V5.
Anyway. Waking up on the boat. Not having earl grey but rather Trader Joe’s Chai. Which means yes, I’m having black tea, and yes, to combat the tannins I’ve mixed said black tea with some golden tea mix containing (I think) turmeric, cardamom, black pepper, and coconut creamer. It’s delicious. Is it delicious? I’m not sure. God, yesterday started off wonderfully but then finished dastardly. And then for some ridiculous reason I decided to watch the Netflix show An American Murder before bed. Big mistake. It made me feel so bad. There’s a reason I don’t watch horror movies or scary movies or even scary documentaries. I don’t see the point. I don’t see the redeeming value. They just make me feel terrible.
Left foot up to the tiny scoop hold. Left hand up to the terrible slimper. Right foot up, trying not to catch it on the undercling. That’s about all the beta I remember from Dirty Dancing V4. The high today in Leavenworth is somewhere in the mid-80’s, which is not exactly the best weather for strenuous slab climbing. But it is good weather for hanging out and enjoying the last rays of summer/early fall, and it is good for swimming, and we me might take a dip in the Wenatchee River after sessioning the Beach Forest Boulders or we we might go over to Lake Wenatchee. I’m not sure. Should I be doing a keto diet?
I don’t really know what to talk about this morning. I’m stoked to be going bouldering, that’s all. I’ve actually wondered lately why I don’t more unabashedly give my life over to bouldering. And I think it’s because I’m 37 and I just started bouldering and that, for some reason, would seem ridiculous. But on the other hand it’s all I want to do. It brings me happiness like few other activities ever have. When I’m bouldering I feel complete, and the thing is it has nothing to do with sending hard (for me) problems or making new friends. I’m just as happy bouldering alone, if not much happier. It has to do instead with the feeling of stone against skin and the feeling of body moving over stone. It has to do with presence. It has to do with listening to the sound of your breathing, and then lying there on the mat, after an attempt, listening to the sound of the forest. It has to do with turning your brain off. It has to do with some sort of connection that’s difficult to describe. And the whole fact that it’s contrived and unnecessary makes it that much more beautiful. It makes it art; and art is necessary.
It’s almost time to go and I hope I don’t drink coffee today. I hope I eat well and am positive. I hope I climb hard and that my body feels good. I hope I have a wonderful day and that today is day of improvement on all fronts, however, incremental.
Before we talk about anything this morning, let’s talk about grades. Yesterday I went to Leavenworth for the first time in months. If you haven’t noticed, there’s been a pandemic happening but actually that didn’t prevent me from going to Leavenworth at all. What prevented me from going there was the ‘eat. But YESTERDAY I was finally able to go there, and it was glorious, and it was wonderful, and I sent some new shit, and bla bla bla, but I need to talk about grades here because the last problem I was working on is rated differently in the guidebook than on certain online bouldering websites.
And this annoys the shit out of me. But it’s also kinda awesome.
The problem in question: Dirty Dancing V4 (or V4-, or V3, depending on who you consult). This is a beautiful slab located at the “Washout” area, aka Unearthed area in Leavenworth. It’s a unique boulder because it’s essentially river polished granite even though it’s not particularly close to any river. This is because it was buried up until a huge washout (landslide?) happened in XXXXX and presumably (I’m not a geologist) the reason this boulder is smooth is because eons ago it WAS in a river. Anyway. I wanted to go there to try Dirty Dancing V4 because I kind of like slabs and it also just sounded like a cool problem, and so yesterday, after warming up at Swiftwater a bit and sending The Barista V1 and also Unobvious V2 (I started from the rock and not the ground, making it a V2 and not a V3), I went to the Washout.
Actually first I accidentally went to the Upper JY Boulders and was quite confused. And then I traipsed through what might’ve been a bunch of alder bushes, cutting myself up in the process and fairly cursing. But then I found the boulders, and all was well. I scoped the beautiful Lion’s Den V8 and also Buried Alive V6. But my eyes were drawn to what to me is the most striking line there, Dirty Dancing V4.
The first thing I scoped were the holds. Perfect little crimps. And then I scoped where you might start with your feet. “Start from a good edge in the middle of the scar…” the guidebook says. OK, there’s the scar, and there’s what looks like a pretty good edge. Why is there all that chalk on the undercling? Who is using the undercling? What I’ve since come to realize is that shorter people use the undercling because that allows them to establish, but if you’re taller you can just start with a shoulder height left crimp and reach up to a high right hand pocket/crimp. Neither of these holds are particularly great, especially when it’s warm outside and you’re sweating out of nervous excitment. But the first foothold IS great. So here’s what I did: Step onto the good right foot, lock off a crimp on the left hand and then reach up to grab the right hand pocket/crimp (getting established was pretty hard, so I understand people using the undercling). Once established, bring left foot up to pocket just just above the undercling. After watching YouTube videos, no one seems to do it this way. Most people bring the left foot up to an edge just above the right foot, and then do a foot switch. Maybe I’ll try that. But because I’m kinda tall, I can also do it my way.
From there, you’re basically just laddering up on tiny crimps and possibly a smear or two. If you want to see how it’s done BEAUTIFULLY by a dude who’s not that tall, and see where the name Dirty Dancing actually probably comes from, once again watch a vid of the Badwater Brothers doing it:
Damn these guys. They make everything look so easy, so graceful, so dancing, so dirty.
How close did I get on my attempts? Well, pretty damn close. In fact, I have video but I’m not going to show you until I get the send. I got ALMOST to the easy part, aka I had my hands up where the rock starts to level off a bit but just couldn’t quite get my feet right. I think next time it’ll go. It would help to have slightly colder temps and maybe to go there SLIGHTLY fresher. Like, after a few days rest. Like, maybe next week????? Though next week in Leavy is supposed to be pretty hot….
And now back to the grading discrepancy that I promised to talk about at the beginning of this post but have left off till now. Obviously, bouldering grades are subjective. One gal/guy sends a boulder, suggests a grade, and then everyone who climbs after her/him either says, “Damn, that grade is totally right. Good job. That’s a perfect V4,” OR “Bro, are you out of your mind. That is not V4. That’s like V3+.” The question you might be asking is, “WHERE do these grading discussions happen? Like, where is this documented?” And the answer is two places: Mountain Project and Sendage. Obviously there’s the guidebook grade first. In the case of Dirty Dancing it’s listed as V4. But if you go on Mountain Project it’s listed as a V4-. And on Sendage as a V3. This is because this is the grade resulting from all the people sending it and subsequently grading it. The ANNOYING part of this is when something is listed in the guidebook as a V3 and you get super psyched because you sent V3 outdoors and then you go on Mountain Project and see it’s only a V2. This is actually fairly common. The OTHER way around, problems getting upgraded, is not that common. But it does happen. One I can think of off the top of my head is The Enigma at the River Boulders in Index, listed as a V4 in the guidebook but a V5 on Sendage.
Here’s how I’VE decided to handle this situation: I’m going with the majority. In the case of Dirty Dancing it’s listed as a V4 in two sources and a V3 in one, which means I’m going with V4. Which is a relief becuase I really want this problem to be V4 because I really wanna send V4.
But that’s enough for today! I’ve said too much. I’ve said too little. I haven’t said enough. In case you were wondering, after the Dirrty Dancing sesh I made the tired drive home to Seattle. I thought about camping in Leavy but didn’t really feel like camping alone and also my body was slightly wrecked. The drive home sucked until I got to Safeway in Monroe, where I bought about a gallon of black tea and also come white cheddar Cheetos. God I want to go back to Leavenworth right now….
It’s time to stretch and get coffee and use the foam roller? It’s time to escape to my parents because we’re supposed to get two inches of rain over the next few days? It’s time to meditate?
I don’t know what it’s time to do. But I do know I can’t WAIT to go climbing again.
Four days of rest. Four days of rehab. Four days of mental preparation, all leading up to tomorrow’s session. At the beginning of this summer I set the following goal: to climb V7 by the end of the summer. I have not done it. I have not, some might say, come close. Others might say that I am on the very precipice of greatness, all I need to do is take that step towards the edge…
Tomorrow. High temps around 70. The coldest temps in a long time. A tick list in my head. Which boulders to try. Dirty Dancing V4. Briefs V3. Alfalfa or Spanky? V5. The list goes on.
(and then it ends).
Listening to Kid Francescoli to mentally prepare. Doing pushups. Doing hip mobility exercises. Hanging from the ceiling of my boat. And most importantly: drinking yerba mate. The Trader Joe’s variety, 60mg of caffeine per bottle (usually in the cold drink section or over by the rest of the teas; you can always ask if you can’t find it. Also: I just asked today if they had discontinued it because I didn’t see it the other day at the Ballard Trader Joe’s but the guy working assured me they had not. Just an FYI). 60mg of pure psyche. Pure psyche that will have you climbing blocs you never thought possible to climb. You think you’re gonna climb V4 today? Wrong: You’re gonna climb V5. You think you’re gonna climb V7 today? Wrong: You’re gonna climb V2 (you’re going to have an uncharacteristically bad day due to crazy hot temps and a lingering finger injury). The point is this: today is gonna be special. So prepare. Have another sip of yerba mate. Have two. Hell, finish the damn bottle and then crush it in your hands (actually don’t because the bottles are glass. though if you could you probably have crazy strong grip strength).
When any of us strive toward a goal there will come a judgment day. A day when your preparation is put to the test. For me that day is tomorrow. I’ve spent the whole summer preparing. I’ve spent the whole summer mentally preparing. I have dialed in my diet, my training, my meditation, all with the goal of getting to V4 sometime in the next few days. And tomorrow it all pays off. Or it doesn’t. Tomorrow is the day of reckoning. Tomorrow my hands will grab holds and my feet will smear granite. Tomorrow the world will be watching.
And so as you go to bed tonight think of the goal you’ve been working on. How bad do you want it? Why do you want it? The thing about having bouldering goals is that when I wake up in the morning and go for a walk or run stairs to warm-up, I’m not just doing it to make myself feel good. I’m doing it because my focus is laser sharp. I’m doing it because I want to stretch afterward and work on my hip mobility, my shoulder mobility, my pelvic mobility, my tarsal mobility, my elbow mobility, my neck mobility, my social mobility. If you work out because you “want to feel good” or because “you think you should” you’re a damn fool. You need a goal, and you need it to be as specific as possible. Having the goal of climbing V7 and then at the last minute changing it to V4. That’s as specific as it gets. Because when I’m running up those stairs and my heart rate is climbing I know it’ll all be worth it when I get to the lip and people are screaming, “Come on, Mark. Try hard. Come on, Mark. Right now. Everything you got. Strong. Come on, Mark. No, seriously, come on, Mark. We gotta go. It’s getting dark and we have a decently long drive ahead of us plus we kinda wanted to get Chick Fil-A on the way home. So come on, Mark. So strong. Right here. Everything you got. And then let’s pack up the pads and get the hell out of here and maybe even get some tea on the way out. Come on, Mark.”
And then your hand reaches for the lip. They told you it was a jug but actually it’s kind of slopey. But you hold on anyway. The temps have dropped and you hope you don’t drop too. You’re slipping. This could’ve been it. This could’ve been your first V4, everything you’ve been working for. Come on, Mark. Strong. Everything you got. And then you realize there’s actually a really good foot hold that you didn’t notice because you didn’t even look down. And so you use that foothold and the top out is a piece of cake.
You pack up the pads and drive away with your friends. Oh, the satisfaction. Oh, the euphoria. There’s never been a sweeter drive home. The mountains have never felt higher.
And then you get home and realize on Mountain Project it’s only a V3.
Chilling on the boat watching Dortmund play ‘Gladbach. Just walked to QFC and got almond and coconut milk, which I’m now drinking in my earl grey. QFC is 1.7 miles away! That means I’ve already walked 3.4 miles today. Which means I get a treat. And if I don’t eat anything till 12:00 then I get another treat. Dope. Gio Reyna just drew a penalty. This earl grey is delicious.
When I got back from the boat I stretched, doing some of the mobility exercises I’ve learned from Tom Merrick. Hips are feeling pretty good. I love the foam roller. Took the theracane back yesterday which I’m stoked on. 35 bucks.
Holy shit Gio Reyna is taking a corner. Damn Jadon Sancho isn’t the top young guy anymore on Dortmund. I mean he is. He’s fucking amazing.
Going to Erica’s at 11:30am this morning to have lunch. Will be good to see Ginger. Hopefully won’t have too many carbs. Really wanna see if I have more energy after lunch if it’s a lower carb affair. Forecast looking great for Leavy tomorrow. Really wanna go bouldering. Really wanna try Dirty Dancing. Why are my wrists so crackly right now????????????
Ok time to have another cup of tea.
I’m legit slightly overweight. At least in terms of belly fat. I need to lose that so I’m not hauling that extra five pounds up the rock. OR. Even better. Turn that into muscle. What I need to focus on is my BMI. Not weight. More muscle. Less fat.
Switching to matcha/green tea after the earl grey.
Is it warm or am I just warm from the walk? Cuz I’m chilling on the boat in just boxers and it feels so bomb. Chilled with Barold and Nate Dog at Nate Dog’s house last night. Was stoked on the movie the edge of tomorrow. God Emily Blunt is gorgeous. Rocked two snus. The burgers were amazing. Barold and Nate drank whisky.
Gio Reyna just scored. So sick. He’s 17!!!! God with Gio Reyna and pulisic and weston mckennie and tyler adams and josh sargent the USMNT is starting to look kinda sick. Though of course Berhalter will play michael bradley, who is now probably 60 years old. And felix passlack is playing. And I went to monaco once and felt so fucking cosmopolitan. God I need to get out of here.
Ok now I’m getting kinda cold.
Aka I just dribbled almond milk on my chest.
Slash why is Marco Reus not playing.
Slash why do I always think V4 is not gonna be THAT hard and then when i get there I can literally do 0 moves. What am i gonna do today? I need to do something sick. Start my new novel. start the second draft of the Dan’s Perfect Life novel. DONT WORRY ABOUT MOVING THE PLOT FORWARD. That will happen on its own. just worry about having fun. holy shit crystal palace is beating Man U. God i loveMarcus Rashford.
Need to write a thank you to B and K and the kids.
Get tarp (two tarps since one is gonna cover the boom. Clear vinyl windows?????? The reason I’m experimenting with this journal style of blog today is because I wanna figure out what works.
How sick would it be to be a 17 year old English kid playing the Bundesliga right now. Slash why is unemployment not giving me benefits. Slash why is the US becoming a third world country. Nothing works anymore. This is Russia. We’re fucked. Roads are crumbling. Corruption is rife. Inequality is insane right now. All anyone cares about is money. Fucking money.
Ok i really need to take a break from the computer.
Ok goals for climbing tomorrow if we go to Leavy:
Re-send I Heart Jugs?
Try Dirty Dancing, Pretty Girl, and at least a couple other v4’s. The RealTthing???? looks so fucking hard. Check out Clamshell Cave and Barney’s Rubble.
Hello friends. As you may or may not have noticed it’s been awhile since I blogged. This is because I haven’t been bouldering and this blog is currently, ostensibly, dedicated to stone-wrestling. However! Do not despair, because I am not only back in the United States of America, I am also probably going bouldering pretty damn soon. Like, maybe even tomorrow. Like, I might just drive to the Camp Serene boulder tomorrow after my call with my life coach and try to send Serenity Now V4 once and for all, a prospect which terrifies me, like actually terrifies me, because once you get past the crux of this boulder (which I’ve never done), you’re, well, pretty damn high. And I don’t really know what to expect up there. I do know there is a gorgeous hold which basically looks like a brick. I do know that at the top of the boulder there’s a juggy seam which, once you grab, should make it pretty easy to top out. But I only know all of this in theory. I don’t know it in practice. I would like to know it in practice. I would like to know what it’s like to send V4.
But also, once I send V4 it doesn’t make me a V4 climber. You could give someone a basketball who’s never played the game before and tell ’em to shoot half-court shots and sooner or later they’re probably gonna sink one. Which is kind of like me projecting these V4’s right now. I still struggle with plenty of V2’s. Hell, I struggle with some V1’s. But also I feel like Serenity Now is within my wheelhouse. I feel like I’m pretty close to sending. I feel like it’s more mental than anything. And here’s the thing: I’ve never gone to this boulder fresh and just dedicated a session to trying to send Serenity Now. Like, given it my all.
Which I still might not do tomorrow because even if I do go bouldering I don’t know if I wanna just go to one boulder and have that be the whole session.
I’m sitting on my boat right now and one thing I’ve noticed since getting back yesterday evening is that the temps are starting to drop. We’re starting to get into the fall season. Leavenworth is going to be game on very, very, very (very) soon. This Saturday looks great for Leavenworth, but sadly (happily) I think I’m going surfing. Because that’s what I was doing the whole time in Mexico and I actually have surf muscles right now and I want to take advantage of them while being on the Olympic Peninsula with friends.
I hope you all have been well. Yesterday was a bit of a gnarly evening because I got back and drank a Focusaid and smoked a rollie and then had a hell of a time getting to sleep. I probably slept about five hours. If it weren’t for a wee nap around 12:30pm I would’ve been completely frazzled all day.
Friends, I’m having trouble once again finding purpose in life. I didn’t find it in my last job. It’s not completely there with bouldering or surfing. Something’s missing and I’m not sure what it is. It’s not a woman, though I would love to have a partner right now. It’s not a job, though actually it might be a job, just the right job. Maybe it’s writing? Maybe it’s blogging? Has that ever been enough? Have I ever dedicated myself in mind and soul and body to the blogging life? Maybe I should.
I’ll let you know tomorrow, or the next day, if I end up going bouldering tomorrow. I’ll let you know either way. If I don’t go tomorrow it will definitely be sometime next week. I’m thinking the Morpheus Boulders. I’m thinking the Clearcut Boulders. I’m thinking Fern Crack V3. I’m thinking Fridge Center V4 in Leavenworth. I’m thinking Fountain Blues V0 over and over and over.