Yesterday I went to Leavenworth.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Mark hasn’t been to Leavenworth in a long time. What’s wrong with him?
And it’s not that there’s anything wrong with me. It’s just that Leavenworth in summer is hot, and it’s also far away. If you boulder you know that hot temperatures are the enemy of sending. Your hands get sweaty, and there’s less friction. So THAT’S why I haven’t been going to Leavenworth lately. Also, when I go to Leavy I like to stay in a hotel in Wenatchee, and for whatever reason they’ve been REALLY expensive lately. Like, prohibitively expensive. So that’s another reason. And three hours each way is too far to drive in one day. I know the drive takes most people less time, but I drive like a grandma, so it takes me about three hours. I will not apologize.
But yesterday I DID go to Leavenworth and it was glorious. I went to Egg Rock aka I Heart Jerry Garcia aka Musashi aka the cluster of boulders just beyond The Sword boulders aka almost the furthest cluster of boulders down The Icicle in the guidebook. I went here for two reasons: 1) Usually it gets colder as you go up The Icicle, and 2) I figured it would be quiet. Because I don’t like climbing with people. Or rather, sometimes I like climbing with people, but yesterday I definitely didn’t feel like it. Which is why I STILL haven’t been to Mad Meadows. My biggest nightmare is going there on a hot day with six thousand people blasting speakers and talking loudly and stirring up a bunch of dust with their crash pads. Better to stay solitary.
I started off climbing Funiculi Funicula VB which was, as the guidebook stated, quite basic. The mantle was a TINY bit hard, mostly because when you mantle you have to support most of your body weight, and since I’ve started eating whatever I want I weigh as much as a small wildebeest. But it was still a good, easy, fun warm-up. In case you go there by yourself this is probably also the easiest downclimb. So keep that in mind.
After FF VB I went over to China Cat V2, a slab! God, how I love slab. I mean, I don’t love slab, I just love climbing something that requires mostly legs. My legs are strong. My arms and fingers not so much. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Uh, duh, Mark, everyone has strong legs compared to their arms. But having grown up playing soccer and generally just running all over the place, my legs might even be inordinately strong, whereas before climbing (and surfing) I basically never did anything with my arms. So maybe that’s why I like slab climbing. I think I also kind of like it because people love to talk about how they hate slab. It’s cool to say things like, “Man, I’m so bad at slab,” or “Man, I hate slab.” Just once I’d like to hear someone say, “I LOVE SLAB.” Until that person comes along I will simply say it myself.
China Cat is a V2 that has pretty terrible feet after the initial good dish. You’re basically smearing, or standing on very small edges. Which is great practice. It took me at least five tries to get to the top, and when I did it was anything graceful. I basically lunged for the lip, took all the weight off my feet, and thrutched over the top. So at some point I’d like to go back and do it over and do it more gracefully. But yesterday once was enough, because I really wanted to get to the next problem, which was….
Estimated Prophet V1.
This thing is a lowball with perfect staircase edges. It’s a sit start. I thought it might be kind of hard. It wasn’t. It was insanely easy. I mean, as a taller climber I did have to spider my legs off to the side a bit on the sit to get them out of the way, but all the holds are bomber and well, you basically just stand up and you’re at the top. So, maybe not the most fun I’ll ever have climbing something eight feet tall, like the guidebook says, but still fun, and still a great warm-up.
After Estimated Prophet I went back to the Jerry Garcia/China Cat boulders so I could try Weather Report V3. On this problem you start crouched with your left hand on a fin and your right hand on a good sidepull (the good sidepull is the higher of the two sidepulls). You then smear your feet and “lunge” to a good rounded hold above. I tried this with just smearing at first, but it seemed hard. Then I spotted a left heel hook, and got much closer. However, the rounded hold lay tantalizingly out of reach, and in retrospect I will either have to lunge a bit to get it even with the heel hook, or try different smear beta, or maybe even try a left foot smear (or on a small edge) with a right toehook. Either way, I was super stoked to find the left heel hook and make some progress, even though I didn’t send the boulder. I’m bummed if I don’t send a V2 first session, but not with a V3. However, I DID get bummed when I watched a bunch of people doing it on YouTube this morning, mostly because A) I know I’m as strong or stronger than some of the people in the videos, and B) it took the mystique of figuring out the beta on my own away from me. Lately I’ve been into figuring out the beta myself, instead of watching YouTube videos. There’s something IMMENSELY satisfying about “solving” a boulder problem yourself. And it’s still satisfying when you climb it after getting beta from videos, but you definitely feel a bit like you cheated. Or something.
Aka I bought barley milk this morning and it’s disgusting.
Aka I woke up at 6am and couldn’t get back to sleep.
ANYWAY, that was the session yesterday at Egg Rock in Leavenworth. Great bouldering area, lots of rad moderates, and already a project or two in the making. Can’t wait to get back.