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.

 

 

If You Don’t Mind, Sir… | R2V3 #10

Welcome back to whereswetzler.com, everyone’s second favorite guide to bouldering…moderates. And by moderates I of course mean V0 climbs, my current specialty, though my other current specialty seems to be sitting on the bench seat of my boat devouring coconut flakes and watching YouTube videos of a Scottish soccer fan commenting on hockey fights.

Yes, folks: I worked three hours today.

I’ll be the first to tell you that the 9am to 12pm shift can be grueling. Yes, you read that right: 9am to 12PM. Though today I logged on and started battling my inbox at 8:45am, just to stay one step ahead of the game.

I’m contemplating whether to go climbing at the UW crag right now or just make dinner and laze the night away. There’s a slab problem I’ve been trying at the UW crag that actually reminds me a lot of Rocksteadeasy V3 at Gold Bar. Basically I just really don’t know what to do with all this time. I got off work at 12pm, walked several miles to Fremont, walked another couple miles to the U-District, got Chipotle, almost fell asleep on the UW campus, and then worked my way back to my boat. Where I’ve been sitting drinking tea thinking I should be sitting outside. That’s basically it.

Another thing I need to decide is this: Am I going to leave on another mini climbing trip tomorrow, or am I going to leave Wednesday? Tomorrow around midday it should be clearing up in Western Washington, and this high pressure zone should last us for the foreseeable future. It feels like I haven’t climbed on this side of the mountains in a LONG time. Remember when I was “obsessed” with Rocksteadeasy V3? Well, now I’ve almost completely forgotten about it. My thoughts have been taken by U2 V3, Briefs V3, the beautiful slab climbs at The Sword, and everything that’s gone down with my job. Get it together, Mark.

One thing I can say is this, and I don’t care about jinxing because I don’t really believe in jinxing: I’m really close to sending V3. Not just U2, but Rocksteadeasy and Briefs. As in, I’m becoming a V3 climber. I wouldn’t say I’m a V3 climber yet. No sir. But I’m getting there. My fingers are getting better at crimping. I don’t LIKE it, but I don’t hate it either. And I think in the near future I will like it.

So that’s the plan for the next climbing mission. Well, actually, I haven’t really told you the plan. So I’ll do it now. Boulder at the Clearcut Boulders if it’s dry on the way out to Leavenworth. Possibly sleep at the Money Creek Campground, wake up and get a quick session in at the Morpheus Boulders or the Zelda Boulders. Work my three hours. Then either check out Upper and Lower Devil’s Club Forest, or drive straight to Leavenworth, probably straight to The Beach Forest, where I do the following things: Warm up on the warm-up boulder, hopefully sending Fountain Blues V0 with my new beta. Go over to Brickwork V0 and enjoy the ridiculously fun moves. And then….and then…U2.

If I send U2, I might weep.

For now, it’s a beautiful night in Seattle, my succulent is soaking up delectable rays of sunshine, I’ve got delicious chai tea from Trader Joe’s, and I’m probably going to mess around a bit on the UW crag.

Like, right now.

U2 Breakthrough | R2V3 #6,433

So so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so.

So.

SO.

Here’s the deal.

I went climbing yesterday.

And it was my best outdoor session to date.

I climbed several new routes, made a momentous breakthrough on U2 V3, ALMOST (at least I think) sent another V3 called Briefs, and just generally felt really, really good. Like all the work so far has paid off. The calluses on my fingers are building up. I can climb for longer. And not that it wasn’t fun before, because it’s always been so much fun, but it’s REALLY fun when you start to see the fruits of your labor. For example, there is a V0 at The Sword boulders called Cubicle Gangster whose start I KNOW would’ve given me trouble just a few weeks ago. The start is really only the hard part. The middle is cruisy. But the start is a bit tricky and I was really stoked to flash it.

Other sends included the one to the right of Cubicle Gangster with a strange name involving the word “Poop,” The Crack V0-, Boxers V0, and making good progress on Briefs V3. I didn’t try I heart Jugs V2 because after doing all the aforementioned problems we wanted to move onto Forestland, and I didn’t try The Classic V2 because there were lots of people and it’s high as hell.

After The Sword Boulders we went to Forestland, and it was a zoo. It was a terrarium. It was, I dare say, a gymnasium. Will I ever go back to Forestland on the weekend? Ever again? The parking lot was full. There were people at most boulder problems, at least in Lower Forestland, and you certainly don’t quite get the feeling you’re out in nature on your own. In fact, you kinda feel like you’re in a big dust bowl.

In other news, I’m feeling a BIT of the Sunday Blues today because I had coffee this morning and because I’m not climbing and because the majority of my Seattle friends are in California surfing and I don’t really know what to do. I bought some ketone testing strips, so that’s been fun. I was in moderate ketosis this morning and I think still barely in ketosis after eating a bunch of blueberries and greek yogurt. Today I might say “To hell with it,” though, and reward myself with a steaming pot of white rice. Wouldn’t that just be reckless?

I could, of course, get in my car and drive to Gold Bar right now. It’s not supposed to rain for the rest of the day. And I might actually do that. But it also seems a bit wasteful, i.e. in terms of gas/emissions/wear and tear on my car. If I really want to climb I could also go to the UW crag. Though that sounds kinda awful.

Another thing about yesterday was that I made massive progress on U2 V3. A kid was there trying The Terrible V7 and helped me with the beta for U2 a bit. ONLY LEFT HAND ON THE UNDERCLING! YOUR RIGHT HAND NEVER TOUCHES IT. And guess what? I got to the rail just below the lip. I got to the rail just below the lip and was kind of wasted by that point and panicky, and all I had to do was lift my right foot up to the beautiful rail your right hand uses instead of going to the undercling, but instead I panicked and dropped off. So no send. But it was still momentous. I was thrilled. The micro beta on that problem is wonderful. Your foot positioning is huge. And the new beta makes it so much easier. So much easier.

Since I’m only working 12 hours a week now I’ll go bouldering again this week, Gold Bar if it’s dry, Leavenworth if it’s not. And maybe Leavenworth too even if Gold Bar is dry. I would also really like to go to Index soon. I have a feeling I can send Zelda Dyno V4, since dynos are kind of my strong suit, but Index hasn’t been dry in several fortnights.

Time to pee onto a strip again, and see what my ketosis levels are. And then. And then.

And then.

What Am I Doing to Get to V7? | R2V3 #7

In early May I set a goal for myself: Climb V7 outdoors by the end of the summer. To many this might seem like an absurd and impossible (and just dumb) goal since I only started climbing last Christmas. And indeed, it’s very possible I won’t reach this goal. To date the hardest thing I’ve climbed outdoors is V2 (Eight Bit Slab V2 near Gold Bar). But I haven’t given up on this goal, and indeed it’s more present in my mind than ever. I’ve also started taking some concrete steps to reaching it.

What am I doing to get to V7??????? (like, what concrete steps am I taking):

1. Diet 

I’ve started transitioning to a ketogenic after being inspired by Dave Mccleod (and countless others) and his success with it. This isn’t something I decided on a whim. I’ve long battled inflammation problems and wondered if radically changing my diet would have a radical effect. So far, so good, but I’m only on like day three and I’ve still got carrots in my fridge. So not FULLY keto yet. But getting there. So far the little paunch I developed during lockdown is starting to disappear and I noticed a significant decrease in elbow pain after my last climbing session. And this is without even going fully keto! Today I’m going to count my carbs. I’m going to count the shit out of them.

2. Climbing as much as possible. 

I’ve been climbing every weekend Leavenworth and have even made some mid-week missions to Gold Bar. Notable happenings from this include: Sending my first V2 outdoors (Eight Bit Slab), projecting Summer Solstice V3, still not sending Beam Me Up V2 because the sit start makes me want to hurt myself, projecting U2 (V3) at the Beach Forest Boulders, feeling the majestic slopers of Fountain Blues V0, and chilling in Leavenworth drinking iced coffees. Aka chilling in the municipal pool parking lot. Aka being a bit of a vagrant.

The biggest thing I need to work on by far is not strength. It’s technique. So what am I doing for that?

3. Watching tons of YouTube videos of good climbers

Watching good people do a task actually makes you better. You internalize it. Which is probably why I watch a shit ton of bouldering videos on YouTube. My favorites are: Anything with Daniel Woods or Jimmy Web, anything with Paul Robinson or Lizzy Ellison, the wonderful videos the Badwater dudes make, Bouldering Bobat, and Eric Karlsson and Emil Abrahamsson videos (from Sweden). Currently my favorite female climbers are Nina Williams, Alex Puccio, Lizzy Ellison, Janja Garnbret and my friend Anya. Watching Nina Williams do highballs is so sick.

4.  Training

Now, when I say “training” I mean this very lightly. Sometimes I hang from the roof of my boat and walk my feet up the mast to practice overhangs and strengthen my core. I do stretching. I walk a lot. I do a little bit of yoga. I do have a hangboard but I’m still trying to figure out how to install it on my boat. Anyway, I don’t do much training. But that’s OK because you don’t want to get really strong when your technique is still shitty.

5. Listening to my body

Yeah, the goal might be V7. But that’s not the real goal. The main goal is just to boulder as much as possible, have fun, and enjoy the movement. The other day I went to the UW crag and literally the only thing I wanted to do for the first 15 minutes was just stand on the ground and feel the holds. I didn’t do this because I was self conscious. But I should’ve. If I want to climb a V0 slab 15 times over and over because it makes me happy, I’m going to do it. If I want to drive to Leavenworth and project a V3 for 20 minutes and then give up because I’m over it, I’m going to do that, too. I’m not bouldering for anybody else. I’m doing it because it makes me feel good. And so what that means as far as listening to my body is that when I can feel my elbow starting to fail (my tendons and flexors are still adjusting), I stop. Or when I just see myself not making any more progress, I stop. I stop when I know it’s time to stop. I don’t make myself top out on a highball if I don’t feel comfortable. I just do whatever feels right.

6. Thinking about beta

I think about beta a lot. I write the beta down. I visualize the holds in my head. I love thinking about beta. It’s one of my favorite parts about bouldering — not being able to do something and then thinking about a way you might be able to do it. Beta is also closely tied to technique. Which, as I’ve said, I really need to work on.

So those are the concrete steps I’m taking. I’m not forcing myself to take these steps, they just seem like a natural part of becoming a better climber. A natural part of getting to V7. But for now, time to concentrate on those V3’s. Aka V2’s. Aka V0’s.

Try hard!

Leavenworth Days (R2V3 #????)

Well here I am in my favorite parking lot in the whole wide world: the Howard Hopkins Memorial Pool parking lot. Yes friends, this place has it all: a tranquil setting without too much vehicle traffic (at least on weekdays), the shade of trees, and — the kicker (but don’t tell anyone) — free WIFI. You see, most people head to the public library in Leavenworth when they want free wifi. But not me. I post up at the Howard Hopkins Memorial Pool with an iced coffee and a bouldering guide on my lap, ready to daydream the day away.

Why am I not on blocs right now? Because I’m working.

Sort of. When work is slow I can do other things.

Like drink iced coffee.

And think about the beta for U2 (V3).

Speaking of the beta for U2, I’m going to go back there today, and I’m going to try the following things:

  1. Grabbing the right side of the undercling gaston but by rotating hand clockwise instead of counter (a reverse gaston?), and then trying to get my right foot up high.
  2. ONLY USING MY LEFT HAND on the undercling, grabbing the right side of it palm up, and then using the big-butt rail on the right side for my right hand and also some kind of crimp just above it.

I’m also really excited to try Fountain Blues V0 again, even though I basically sent it yesterday (I might have dabbed ever so slightly), just because the slopers are so gorgeous. And what I love about the slopers is figuring out how to grab them in just the right way so you get maximum traction. For example, on the sloper as you move up and right, the last sloper before right hand to the jug, there’s this little nubbin on the top of it that you can get one finger on and thus get much more traction. It’s little things like that, sort of micro beta, that can help so much in a send.

In other news yesterday also saw my first attempts on Fridge Center V4. In fact, here’s a video of one of my first attempts:

What a beautiful, beautiful problem Fridge Center is. Gorgeous. I spent about 15 minutes just watching other people try it. The crux is definitely once you get to the bulge at the top, navigating that. Left hand up to the bottom left of the bulge. Nice and juggy. Slap the right hand up high. Hug the bulge! Hug it! I wasn’t going to try this problem because there were a lot of people at it but then they all left and I thought, Why not? And I’m glad I did. Just to be able to do the first few moves gave me so much confidence, just to be able to get to the left facing rail. The next trick will be getting all the way the top of the left facing rail, and making sure my feet are solid. Then you just gotta reach for that jug…

Back at the Howard Hopkins Memorial Pool. Things are pretty breezy here. Breezy in the literal sense and also just care-free. These lazy, almost summer afternoons. Strolling the streets. Sipping iced coffee. Gazing up at the ridges, the clouds, the blue sky. And thinking about beta, always thinking about beta.