Dirty Dancing in the Dark | Road to V4

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.

dirty dancing v4 slab in leavenworth, washington
Where were you / when they built the ladder to heaven? (Dirty Dancing as seen from lying on the boulder mat thinking, “How am I gonna get up this?”)

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.

– Wetz

 

Everything You Got | R2V7/4 #24

The author getting ready to crush (get owned) at the Paradise Boulders.

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 on.

And 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.

– Wetz

 

Slash I’m Journaling

Monaco. 2017 (I think).

9:47am

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.

9:59am

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.

Party.

(pardon the intermission)

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.

Fall is coming and I’m not even mad about it!

 

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!

A Breakdown of all the V4’s Currently on my Radar (Part 1) || ROAD TO V-effin’-4

I sat down a moment ago and penciled in my notepad the V4’s that are currently on my radar. They came out to 10 exactly. Here they are with a video showing each of them (when applicable), a brief description of my (insidious) relationship with them, and also the likelihood each one will go first shown with stars (1 star = not likely at all, 5 stars = will probably go real soon).

  1. Fridge Center V4

Where: Everyone’s eighth favorite canyon, “The Icicle,” also known as one of the places with the highest concentration of quality lines on the planet (see: North America [see: Washington State (see: Chelan County)}).

Relationship: I’ve tried Fridge Center V4 on a grand total of one occasion. I was almost able to get to the crux, which I assume is reaching for the fin on the left side of the bulge, and then getting your right hand to the fin on the upper right of the bulge. It was hot and I was a bit wasted from a previous session. But I made some progress and watched other crushers sending the bejeezus out of it. So I gathered beta.

Go soon? 3 stars

2. Zelda Dyno V4

Where: Everyone’s 30th favorite dyno problem is located next to everyone’s sixth and a half favorite North American whitewater “raphting” destination, aka Index, aka a place you only go if you’re A) Climbing, B) Rafting, or C) Lost. The line is about a 10 minute walk from Index “downtown.”

Relationship: Tried the dyno one one occasion for about an hour, getting fairly close (aka my hand on the top of the ledge but falling backwards and not really trying to stick it). Then tried it on another, drier occasion, but after I’d spent half a week in Idaho smoking cigarettes and eating ice cream and couldn’t even get to the lip. After sending Dyno 101 V3 in Leavy I think I can make a much better attempt at Zelda Dyno next time I go. Like, probably even send it.

Will go soon? 4 stars

3. Zelda Rails V4

Where: A hop skip and a pirouette from Zelda Dyno lies Zelda Rails V4. It’s not a highball, it’s not crimpy — it’s just a bunch of sloping rails. Landing is a bit janky but could def be climbed with two pads and maybe even one big pad (like mine).

Relationship: Never tried it. Never even looked at it, lest it shy from my lecherous gaze. Have been in the presence of other people who were sending it while I tried Zelda Dyno V4. Osmosis is real.

Go soon? 2 stars

4. The Rib V4

(that hoody style, tho)

Where: At the quote misquote Carnival Boulders in Leavenworth’s famed Icicle Canyon. About a three minute approach from the road (5 if you’re crawling on all fours with a dagger in your calf).

Relationship: I went to The Rib one hot July day, looked at it and basically crumbled. Couldn’t do the start. Couldn’t do the middle. Couldn’t do a single move on the boulder. So, like, I’ll probably day flash it next time I go there.

Go soon? 1 star

5. The Enigma V4

Where: At the Skykomish River Boulders just west (as the osprey flies) of Index. A beautiful line that involves starting on a slab and swinging around an arete and maybe some stemming and maybe some laybacking and maybe even some chemical engineering.

Relationship: Since I am a misanthrope and you need a lot of pads for this one, I haven’t really tried it. I did stand on the little shelf where you start. And I did touch the rock. And I did look at the line and imagine someone else way better than me sending it in style.

Go soon? 2 stars

Next post: The other five V4’s most likely to go soon. ONE OF THEM will probably be it. I’ve talked about this problem before and might’ve been there yesterday….

Let’s Talk About Crimping | R2V4 #4

Let’s talk about Machine Gun Funk V2. Let’s talk about crimping. Let’s talk about being unemployed. Let’s talk about finally sending a problem you’ve been working on for weeks. Let’s talk about avocados. Let’s talk about the EU ban on travelers from the United States. Let’s talk about the Dominican Republic. Let’s talk about fireworks. Let’s talk about ethanol-free gasoline.

Let’s talk about Leavenworth.

After a very successful Tuesday mish in Leavenworth, I headed back up the Icicle after work on Wednesday to check out the 420 Boulders. Mostly I wanted to try 420 Slab, a supposed highball bloc that in the guidebook looks picturesque. I expected to be able to send it pretty easily, but I expected it to be scary at the top. Neither of these were very true. The bottom turned out to be the hard part, and the holds at the top were pretty juggy. The bottom was so hard for me that after the first few attempts I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to send. But then I sort of figured it out: Go slow. Then there’s a beautiful jug about halfway up, and once you get to that your feet can cut loose and swing all over the place but it doesn’t really matter because both hands are matched on a granite dreamboat. From there it does get kind of high, but the holds are pretty good. If it was the other way around, if the hard holds were at the top, it would be a scary boulder. In the end one of the scariest parts ended up being the down climb, aka jump. I hadn’t scouted the down climb before sessioning it. For a bit I felt like a cat caught up a tree waiting for the fire department to get there. But then I sort of wiggled my down and made a bit of a jump to solid ground. Ankles intact. Stoked.

Then I headed to the Sword Boulders to have another go at I Heart Jugs V2. I had sessioned it on two previous occasions and not gotten that close. Watching some beta on YouTube I felt like I was doing it wrong, but the guy whose beta I was watching was pretty short, so I wasn’t sure if I could do it his way. There was a left-facing sidepull around the arrete I had to kind of lunge to, and that was the crux. Once you get that the climb lives up to its name, plenty of jugs. I taped part of my right index finger that was getting cut on the shark fin about halfway up, and that gave me some confidence. I also learned some microbeta for the shark fin: Grab it with two fingers on the sidepull, two fingers on the ledge. Cover all your bases. After that it was all footwork, and I could get the sidepull. And then it was just topping out feeling a little pumped.

Pumped is what I was. I felt great after sending a beautiful V1 slab and another non-slab V2, also one of Leavenworth’s classics. There is still so much more to climb at the Sword Boulders: Briefs V3, The Classic V2, and of course, once you start getting gnarly, The Hourglass V7. The Hourglass looks like a fun but intimidating climb. I tried the first moves on the slab just to see what it was like, but felt a little short of pads having to use most of my pad to cover the small boulder on the ground to the left that you DEFINITELY don’t want to fall on. They were half-assed attempts. But since no one was around I had to get on it. Had to see what I’m up against.

And now I’m out at Coeur d’Alene lake, enjoying some down days, gearing up for what is probably going to be another Leavy sesh starting Sunday evening. Probably camp there Sunday night. Things are getting hot in Leavenworth. It’s almost full on Gold Bar season, but Monday and Tuesday are looking rainy in Gold Bar. I’ve thought about driving down to Bend, but…is it worth it? Aren’t there a lot of hippies in Bend? Will someone force me to try to surf the river wave? Will I be handcuffed outside on a deck at a micro-brew brewery forced to drink Pale Ales? Will people make me wear Carhartts? Better to just go back to Leavenworth.

What boulders do I want to try next time I’m there?

The Rib V4

Sunny and Steep V2

The Real Thing V4

And any other V1 to V3 that looks fun.

But for now it’s time to enjoy the lake. Get some sun. Try not to get too fat before Sunday. No guarantees, though.

 

I Heart Wenatchee | R2V4 #3

Ahhhhhhhhhhh just waking up. Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes. What a beautiful day in……WENATCHEE????

That’s right friends: I’m in Wenatchee. Aka Nuevo México aka La Colonia Moctezuma aka Metro Insurgentes aka oye ‘mano vente pa’ acá por dónde has andado????

I love Wenatchee. Why do I love Wenatchee? Because it’s not Leavenworth. Why do I not love Leavenworth? Because it’s touristy. Simple as that. I mean, I like BOULDERING in Leavenworth, I get excited when I GET to Leavenworth. When I say, “I’m going to Leavenworth” I’m generally stoked out of my cranium, but I don’t like HANGING OUT in Leavenworth. I would rather hang out in Wenatchee.

But like, Mark, why would you get a hotel in Wenatchee? Why wouldn’t you just camp in Leavenworth.

Because I camp every other day of my life. I live on a 27-foot boat. Aka camping. Aka the opportunity to sleep in a real bed is just too much for me to pass up.

Anyway, here I am in Wenatchee. It’s my third to last day of work. I’m drinking a Guayaki 15 calorie and about to pack up and head into Leavenworth to work the rest of the day from the parking lot before going bouldering at 12pm when I get off. Yesterday’s bouldering session was GLORIOUS. Why was it glorious? Because I sent my second ever non-slab V2, because I sent a V0+ very easily and a V1+ fairly easily, and because it was just good to get out and rough up my fingers a bit on the rock. The V2 in question was Machine Gun Funk, one of Leavenworth’s best, and requires a big move from jug up to an incut crimp ledge. Then, if you have good technique, you maneuver your feet to support yourself so that getting your right hand up is fairly easy (since your left hand is starting to strain at this point). But since I have TERRIBLE technique, I basically just muscled my way through. Like, I saw a guy with a bunch of tats do it and he made it look so easy. I made it look like a cow going into labor. Aka not easy.

The weather was nice Leavenworth, a little humid feeling but cool and windy. Today should be similar. Another great thing about yesterday was exploring a new area. I had never bouldered on the Machine Gun boulder, named so for all the climbs right next to each other that you can knock down as if with a machine gun (apparently). Today I think I will explore another new area, possibly The Carnival Boulders, possibly The Pretty Boulders. Possibly both. Possibly neither. Possibly just….stay in Wenatchee?

Oye, Marquitos!

The Last Chapter | R2V3 #13

This is the video I’m warming up my brain with today:

What little progression I’ve had since starting bouldering about six months ago I owe at least in part to watching YouTube videos about bouldering pretty much constantly. Some of my favorites are made by the guy above, a young Swedish guy who gives insights into his training, his battles, his life. I feel like the three ways to learn better technique are: climbing a lot, taking classes, and watching people way better than you. Since I don’t want to pay for classes I’m left with the first option and the third option. And the third option you can do pretty much all the time, thanks to the internet.

Anyway, I climbed V3 outdoors. It happened two days ago in the fairly early morning on Friday. I had climbed the evening before near Gold Bar and had a really good sesh. I sent my first non slab V2 on the first go (not a flash since I had tried it before but couldn’t even do the first move), got closer on the knee crunching first moves of Rocksteadeasy V3 slab, did Regatta de Blanc V0 way easier than I had done it previously, and just generally felt pretty good. Felt pretty strong. Oh! And then I went to the Zelda Boulders, where I tried Zelda Dyno V4 for about an hour. And I actually got fairly close! I was able to get my right hand to the lip and scrape scan off with each unsuccessful attempt to grab it. I know it’ll go soon. I need to go back when the footholds aren’t wet. Also the mosquitoes were merciless. Between attempts I had to walk in circles on my crash pad, 1) to not get my feet wet and 2) to ward off the skeeters.

The next morning I woke up ASS early because of a shitty night of sleeping at the Money Creek Campground. I was convinced the guy in the site next to me was a psychopath who was going to come murder me in my sleep, and trains kept passing in the night. So when I woke up I thought, Fuck it, I’m outt a here. I’m driving straight to U2 and I’m going to try to send it. Leavenworth was about an hour away, but it was still before 6am when I got there, so I went to Starbucks and got an Americano:

And THEN I went to the bloc, aka U2 V3, aka the boulder I’ve been working on for the past month and was hoping to send that day since the next week I’d be dogsitting for my sister and wouldn’t have a chance to get out to it and also felt like sending V3 before the summer solstice would really give me a good psychological boost to actual have a chance to send V7 by the end of the summer.

Tu capisci?

And of course if you watched the video from the last post you know I sent it, but what you might not know is that I really didn’t think I was going to send it. Or I really wasn’t sure. That is, the day before I was CONVINCED I was going to send it, as you often are before you actually get to the bloc and start trying it. But after the first few goes I realized I still didn’t know how to do the top part really well, and short of having a rope or a ladder there’s no way you practice the top part in isolation. So after about four go’s I thought, Shit, this might actually NOT go today. And that would be a huge bummer. But all hope was not lost. I figured as long as I rested 10-20 minutes between burns I could keep going for awhile. But then my right hand started to fail from a pretty small crimp about 2/3 of the way up, and I realized the sun was going to hit it soon. I lay there on the ground, watching the clock just because I was curious, and after about 12 minutes gave it what I figured would be my second or third to last burn.

Funnily enough, I climbed really sloppily on that burn and my foot pretty much instantly slipped off. So I got right back down on the ground and started again. This really is a great climb and I think my favorite parts are: placing your right hand on the ledge in the perfect position before going left hand palm up to the undercling. Standing up on the left foot. Getting both hands on the sloping crimp rail just below the lip. Actually, I like pretty much the entire climb. There’s a reason it’s considered one of the best V3’s in Leavenworth, and I feel honored to have been able to project it. I had gotten so close the lip so many times that I thought, I just have to go for the lip. It’s right there. The reason I’m not going for it is because I’m scared of falling.

On the send burn I was more deliberate about where I put my right foot when bringing it up to the good rail. It’s a good rail but there are parts of it that are flatter than others. I also rocked over onto the right foot more to take stress off my hands. Once I felt fairly stable, I made a bit of a lunge for the lip. Luckily, the lip is amazing and all kinds of juggy. Once you get it you’re pretty much home free. And I couldn’t believe it when I got to the top. It was the best feeling I’d had in a long time.

Afterward I sat for a few moments, basking in my happiness, in the perfect temperatures of this last day of spring in Leavenworth, Washington. Basking in the short hike back to the car and being able to go back to Seattle and enjoy the rest of the day. And basking in looking forward to the next step: V4.