A Session at the River Boulders || R2V6 #1

Has the bouldering season already started? Is it going to be sunny in Gold Bar and Index from now until infinity? Is climate change real? Is the snow going to melt and are the boulders going to dry in Leavenworth over the next week? Is it actually going to be 67 DEGREES IN BEND ON THURSDAY? 

These are all questions I’ve been asking lately (except the climate change one).

Taking advantage of this break-in-the-weather bonanza, Matt, Ariana and I headed to the Index River Boulders for a sesh yesterday. We weren’t really sure EXACTLY where we were going when we left Seattle, just whatever felt right and was dry. If the River Boulders were dry, we planned to climb there. We were looking for fun, easy boulders, and I had the plan to try The Enigma V4 if I felt up to it.

We started at the Boulder Drop Slab, a perfectly polished V0 that looks like it’s about 45 degrees less than vertical in the guidebook. In fact, it might only be about 45 degrees, but this thing is deceptively hard. I got shut down despite crimping the hell out of the seam halfway up it, and Ariana and Matt weren’t really into it. It must be said that Matt was feeling under the weather.

Then we went to everyone’s third favorite unnamed V1, called, aptly, Unnamed V1. This is the shelf/ledgey problem around the corner from Finger Crack V3, and directly across from The Enigma V4. As the guidebook states, it has great movement for the grade. Ariana sent it after a few attempts and despite getting quite stymied by it at the beginning, and Matt sent it in approach shoes. And then we turned our attention to The Enigma V4.

The thing about The Enigma V4 is that it looks like an absolutely epic problem, but the first move is done over a gaping pit leading to the river bed below, so I’d never been able to commit to it. But with our plethora of pads and spotters it felt much more secure, and indeed the first moves aren’t that bad, i.e. scooting around the arete, just a little scary. Then the real problem begins. You have good handholds on a kind of jug horn, but basically only smears for feet. At some point you have to (I think) start laybacking the arete above you, but I’m not sure if you’re supposed to try to get a foot up on the jug before you do that. I didn’t. And I don’t want to watch videos (even though I already did a long time ago), because I’m a stubborn cow and want to figure it out. I did make progress, it must be said. And also took quite a few falls. And it was scary. But I think it could easily go on the next session. Or not. It could take 10 more sessions. It’s one of those where it’s hard to judge just exactly how close you are.

After The Enigma V4 we went up to the Leggo Boulder, home to one of the better V2’s in the area in the form of Leggo Arete. Ariana, who only just started climbing a few months ago, had just sent her first outdoor V1 in Unnamed V1, and the proceeded to FLASH Leggo Arete, for her first ever V2 outdoors. Epic. She made it look quite easy, and then tried to re-send it on video and struggled a bit more, but when she actually got the beta dialed made it look effortless again. Matt also sent it, and I went to the top and then tried to downclimb down, since I didn’t want to get my shoes or feet dirty walking off the back.

Almost on a whim I started tooling around on Leggo My Ego V6, the area classic whose start has firmly shut me down in the past. I tried the start again and still got shut down but it somehow felt much more doable, and then I just started trying it matched from the slanting rail. I was able to get my right foot on, but not able to go from there to the right thumb catch. However, it felt quite good. I was happy with the progress, especially since I hadn’t planned to try it. Just goes to show it can be good to take some whatever burns and just mess around on a bloc.

The traffic on the drive home was, to be expected, horrific. However, the sunset coming into Seattle was gorgeous, and it felt good to get outside and have a session with the homies. As I said earlier in the blog, the forecast for the next week is amazing, so I’m sure there will be more sessions like that to come.

Where’s Wetzler exclusive: Ariana sending her first outdoor V2 (Leggo Arete V2, Index, WA). 


A Terrifying V0 and A Trip to Canada???

Yesterday I woke up around 6am and got straight in my car and drove to the River Boulders in Index. The high temperature was supposed to be 95, so I knew early morning would be the only time to climb. I got to the boulders at about 8am after the obligatory stop at Safeway in Monroe where I bought two Bobo’s Otmeal Bars, a gallon of water, toilet paper and a venti earl grey with a little bit of heavy cream from Starbucks. This is exactly how I order it: a venti earl grey with a little bit of heavy cream. It’s key to say it in this manner so you don’t get a bucket of hot, steamed cream as happened to me in Starbucks in Vegas on the way to my first rope climbing experience in Red Rocks. It’s also imperative to say HEAVY cream instead of WHIPPING CREAM, even though they’re the same thing. If you say WHIPPING CREAM they might give you whipped cream, as has also happened to me. Mmmmmmmmm, bergamot with….whipped cream.

I warmed up on Unnamed V1, around the arete from Finger Crack V3. As the guidebook says, this does have fantastic movement for a relatively short, easy boulder problem. It’s got a lieback and a gaston and all sorts of ledges. The landing is semi-terrible so you don’t really wanna fall from the top even with a pad right under you. I warmed up by just hanging from the ledges a bit and climbing it twice, and then I tromped over to Unnamed Warmup V0, the one where you step off the adjacent boulder to start the climb.

This problem, Unnamed Warmup V0, is somewhat terrifying. You step off a boulder a few feet off the ground so that as soon as you start climbing you already feel pretty high. Also, you basically can’t fall till you get to the lip, since you might fall on the boulder you started on. I’d tried this on one, maybe two previous sessions. Last time I tried it it was just too scary. But this time I got my right foot up on a small edge and also used a high right crimp before going to the lip. I felt pretty insecure the whole time. Afterward I just kind of sat there, stoked that I’d done it, reflecting on how scary it was. I’m not exactly rushing back to do it again.

Then I made my way to the meat of the session, the Leggo boulder. Goal: send the two V2’s, hopefully send Chinook V3, and work Sigmund Freud V4, Gimme Back My ID V5, and Leggo My Ego V6. It sort of worked out. I sent the two V2’s easily. I sent Chinook V3, my first V3 in a long time, after much beta tweaking and puzzling and resting, which was really satisfying. What a cool problem. Slopers. A high right foot. Some weight distribution. Beautiful. How this problem escaped the guidebook’s creators is a bit mistifying. Maybe it just looked too easy.

As for the harder problems, I got completely shut down. I still couldn’t pull off the ground for either Sigmund Freud or Gimme Back My ID, and I made negative progress on Leggo My Ego. The techy section at the start is beyond me. I don’t think it’s cuz I’m not strong enough; I think my beta is screwed. At the same time I don’t really wanna watch videos to figure it out; I wanna figure it out on my own.

So that was the outdoor session. Then, in the EVENING, I went to SBP Fremont with the crew and fell in love with a problem. I think I fell in love on multiple levels, with multiple objects of affection, but the strongest feelings were for a heel-hooky black on the arete upstairs. Seriously, I’ve never seen a problem so good for practicing heel hooks. You could throw like four or five throughout the problem if you felt so inclined.

Tomorrow I’m going to CANADA. I repeat: CANADA. I just got my COVID test. I’m gonna  be catsitting from Saturday to Tuesday in Vancouver and hope to make two little trips up to Squamish. Dip my toes, as they say. See what Squamish is all about. Hopefully send a bunch of V0-V2’s and maybe even a V3 or V4. Maybe even a V14.

That’s all for now. Hope you all are having a wonderful day.