An Interview with my Dream Boulderer Self

Freshly 37 and with the physique of a malnourished puma, the author rests between attempts.

This interview was conducted on March 24th, 2021 with my future boulderer self and has been edited both for content and readability (winky face). 

How old are you? 

I just turned 39.

How long have you been bouldering? 

I started when I was 36. About halfway through being 36, so I’ve been bouldering about two and a half years.

And you just sent your first double digit boulder? How was that? 

Yes, I’m super stoked. It was actually a week ago today that I sent Chutzpah, which is a V10 near the town of Index here in Washington State. I was so stoked. I’d been working on it for about six months. It’s a cool boulder because it’s on super polished river granite and just a very aesthetically pleasing line with cool holds.

Amazing. How did you get to where you are now in bouldering? Did you ever imagine you’d be sending tasty double digit blocs? 

Actually, sort of yes. A couple of years ago at the age of 37 I was living in Seattle and just sort of decided to dedicate my life to bouldering. Like, put as much of myself into at as possible and just see where it took me. Kind of surrender to it, I guess you could say. When I discovered bouldering I had never felt that passionate about anything in my life, and I just had this feeling that if I completely gave myself over to it, even though it didn’t totally make sense and I wouldn’t necessarily make any money from it, it would still be a good idea. And around that time was when I also decided that it was kind of my life goal in bouldering to send V10, though I also have another life goal which we can talk about too.

What’s that?

Well, a while back I kind of decided that if I could ever send The Method in Squamish, then my bouldering life would be complete.

The Method?

Yeah, it’s a V12 in Squamish. I’m not sure who put it up but I first saw a video of Jason Kehl doing it.  Have you seen it?

I think I know it. Is that the one with kind of the slab start and then some pretty heinous slopers? 

Exactly. I’ve been to it to look at it a few times. I’ve sort of sussed out the beginning slab moves. Like, I know I can get to the slopers, but that’s where it gets pretty gnarly. Getting to the slopers does not mean you’re sending it. But yeah, that’s kind of the new life goal. Send The Method in Squamish.

Awesome. Let’s back it up a little though. You told me earlier that after a year you’d only bouldered V4 outdoors? Which is pretty good, I’d say. But how did you go from V4 to V10 just a year and a half later?

That’s a great question and I’m glad you asked it. You’re a good interviewer. Cute, too. OK, so, yeah you’re right after a year I’d only bouldered V4 outdoors. Actually, I’d only sent ONE V4 outdoors, this crazy lowball in Leavenworth called Toto. And then I got injured, which we haven’t really talked about. I partially tore my LCL and probably messed up my meniscus, too. But once I got healthy from that, or rather when I was recovering from that, is when I really decided to give my life over to bouldering. Like, everything revolved around bouldering. I think the main difference was before I was kind of like, “Well, I’m gonna boulder as much as I can, but like, I should probably be doing other stuff too.” And now it was just like, “OK, I’m going to live my entire life around bouldering, completely unabashedly, and just see what happens. Like, this is what feels natural, and I’m just going to give my body and soul to it.”

So then I started eating better, I started climbing more, I even sort of got a coach at one point, and I also move to Leavenworth for part of the year just so I could be closer to tasty granodiorite pearls. When I really let myself just get wrapped up in bouldering I started making pretty steady gains. V6 came pretty soon, and then all the sudden I was projecting some V7’s and sussing out some V8’s. Like, there were still plenty of V5’s that I couldn’t do, and I was by no means a V7 climber, but I was projecting a few. I knew they would go eventually. And eventually they did.

Nice. Did you train, too? Like fingerboarding or any kind of weight training? 

Not really. I mean, I’ve always done hangboarding for warm-up. But I’ve never done campus boards and the only thing I have around my apartment are those little Metolius holds that you can attach rope to so sometimes I’ll just walk around my apartment crimping like 10 or 20 pounds of weight. Nothing crazy, but so my body knows: “OK, we’re going to be crimping a lot now. So better get strong.”

But also diet! Diet has been huge. And watching bouldering videos and learning different techniques. Sometimes I’ll just go to the gym and do one boulder over and over and over and over until I’ve learned the absolute most efficient beta. Sometimes a heel hook will appear where there wasn’t one before. And then a couple days later I’ll do that again, just over and over and over. And watching videos was huge for absorbing some good technique. When you’re watching Jimmy Webb and Nalle Hukkataival all day, you’re going to start trying to imitate them.

What advice would you have for someone starting to boulder?

None, really. I mean, I’d have some advice for someone who’s been bouldering for a little while and already pretty into it. I’d say, “Whatever you love about bouldering, do that. People say stuff like, ‘Train your weaknesses.’ I say, ‘Fuck that.’ Do you want to train your weaknesses? Then sweet, do that all the time. But do you just want to have fun and climb on stuff that you like to climb or do dynos all day? Then do that. If you love bouldering enough, you might actually WANT to train your weaknesses. But don’t force yourself to do anything. That’s how you lose the love for it, and that’s how you get injured.”

At least that’s my take on it.

Awesome. Well, we wish you the best of luck on The Method and all the boulders to come. Thanks for sitting down with us. Any final words?

Yes. I’d like to thank my sponsors Patagonia, La Sportiva and Metolius. Their support has helped me get to where I am today. Thank you to you guys too. It’s been a pleasure.

-WW