A Capital Climbing Day | Road to V4

Happiness is a homemade brush extension on a boulder you’re about to eat shit on. Photo: Carolyn.

Yesterday I went to the Index River Boulders despite the fact that I was feeling under the weather, or maybe BECAUSE I was feeling under the weather and didn’t want to spend all day wallowing on my boat. I think yesterday was a perfect example of where the phrase “under the weather” probably comes from. The day before I’d gone swimming in the semi-frigid October Lake Washington water, and then promptly taken a hot shower, and then promptly walked around with my wet hair exposed to the elements. This is supposedly a recipe for catching a cold, and that appears to be exactly what I did. Yesterday I woke up, it was cloudy and shitty and generally depressing outside, and my voice sounded like I had a bullfrog living in my larynx, and I generally felt slightly fatigued. But there’s the keyword: slightly. This felt like a quintessentially common cold to me, and so I decided to press east towards the mountains, not least because I had a hotel reservation in Leavenworth for that night.

My first step on yesterday’s fall odyssey were the boulders on the Skykomish River near Index. These boulders are sometimes called the “Boulder Drop Boulders,” since they’re right next to some kayaking feature which is apparently called a “Boulder Drop” (or something. I have no idea. I’ve never river kayaked in my life. Is it fun? It looks kind of lame. But that was exactly what I said about bouldering until I tried it). My goal when going to these boulders yesterday was 16-fold: 1) Send Unnamed V3 (around the corner from Finger Crack V3), 2) Get some good burns in on Finger Crack V3, and 3) Maybe send the River Warm-Up V0 problem. If you remember from a previous post, I ate shit on Unnamed V3 one day when Carolyn and I were there, falling all the way from the lip, barely landing on the pad and in the process rolling my ankle, slightly spraining my wrist, and almost hitting my head. So another goal was just to not do that. Bouldering by yourself with one pad is significantly different from bouldering with a bunch of homies and a bunch of pads. I’ve never really experienced the latter. One time Barold, Carolyn and I went bouldering together and had THREE PADS. Can you imagine the decadence? We were punting off highballs just for fun. Carolyn did a swan dive off French Slab V2 just to take advantage of the multitude of protection we had placed at the base of the boulder.

Long story short: I sent Unnamed V3, and it glorious. Start on the side-pull and the undercling, move left grabbing the ledge above you. Get your hands on a good sloping ledge and then get your left foot up on the ledge on the left side of the boulder, and then reach up and grab the mini-jug just before the lip. The problem is the lip is slopey, and once you’ve grabbed the lip your work is not over, because everything about the boulder wants to push you off to the right and off balance. You must fight this feeling with not a little bit of cunning and cool-headedness. Yesterday I got to the lip very easily (the tenuous slopers you chill on just before reaching for the hold below the lip are so sick, you feel like you’re gonna fall off but they hold you perfectly), but then couldn’t top out because I felt off balance. Then the SECOND time I got to the lip I took my time, got my feet figured out, and the top out was actually pretty easy. I basically just vaulted my person onto the top, which was covered in moss and leaves, not unlike a bed. And then I rejoiced in what was only the fourth V3 I’ve ever sent!!!!! The fanfare!!!!! The glory!!!!! The sponsorship deals!!!!!!! The feeling of accomplishment!!!!!!

And then I peaced out and drove to Leavenworth.

Well actually before I peaced out and drove to Leavenworth I gave Finger Crack V3 a few burns and yes, despite getting shut down, made some progress. Do I feel like it will go next session? Maybe. Do I feel like it will go in the next couple sessions? Definitely.

Fall is upon us, and the drive to Leavenworth yesterday was nothing short of orange-tinged ecstasy. I passed most of the drive in a sort of reverie induced by black tea, the happiness of sending a project, and the uncertainty of what I was going to do that night. Carolyn and I were supposed to hang out but hanging out was probably not a good idea given the current state of my health. I figured if I DID go all the way to Leavenworth though I might as well climb, and so after chilling in the Swiftwater parking lot for a second and fondling some of the jugs on Hate Rock, I decided roll on down to The Labyrinth, an area I’d never climbed before and which MIGHT be the subject for another post, or might not since I only sent two problems (one of which was a V2 flash!!!!).

But anyway, for now it’s sunny and beautiful outside, and I’m going to get out of my sweatpants and off my boat. Though actually I might chill here just a little bit longer and read Pride and Prejudice, since I think Ms. Bennett is finally about to pull her head out of her ass and tell Mr. Darcy how she feels. God, I hope so.

Did people boulder in Victorian England?

– Wetzler

Bogged Down in the Mire | R2V-enlightentment

Yours truly preparing for lift-off on Hueco Man V0, one of two V0’s in the Western Washington Bouldering guidebook’s Top 100. Pictures of Barold crushing to come.

I may have to take a break from bouldering. Yes, you read that correctly. Yes, I’m still planning on bouldering tomorrow (see: hiking), and yes, this is something that would injure me to my very soul (and not just my finger pulleys). The thing is: My right hand is dying. It feels kinda dead. Yesterday I was trying to crank the first move on Mr. Smooth V7 (Aka River Arete Aka V-Bizarre), and I felt something in my right index finger just kinda…pull. Like a pully? Did I fuck up my pulley?

Maybe.

And so Barold and I stopped bouldering. Not so much actually because I had possibly just injured myself, but because it was getting hot as balls at the Skykomish River Boulders and we were kind of over the whole scene, aka we had both sent Hueco Man V0, which involves a fun, frictiony first move and a rather unsettling top out, and we’d also sent an Unknown V1 that was super fun, and we’d also made significant progress on an Unknown V3 that really needs to be named because it’s a tremendous problem (is it a tremendous problem?), involving a beautiful sloping ledge and a kind of mantle/lock off thing to a gaston just below the lip that brought us unexpected amounts of joy despite our lack of sendage.

And then we went back up to the van, which was, kind of, sort of, completely, stuck. Like, the right rear wheel was just spinning. And we couldn’t move forward because a tree was blocking us. So what did we do? We smoked a rollie and chilled. And then what did we do? Well, I started stressing slightly because I had an engagement later that evening at 7:30pm at an historic Volunteer Park, and I was a bit concerned I was gonna miss that. I also started stressing a bit because I figured we might have to call Bubba’s Towing Service (name approximate) and that he would charge us an arm and a clavicle to yank the Sprinter out of the mire. I was also worried that I might use the word “mire” and that Bubba might think I was calling him a name and try to get physical (in which case I could surely outrun him).

But none of this happened. Because we did the best thing you can EVER DO WHEN CONFRONTING A DIFFICULT DECISION (caps Bubba’s):

We took a walk.

Yes, friends, it was a beautiful summer’s day, and Barold and I took a summer stroll through the forest toward Index, where Barold flagged down a passing and cyclist and demanded, “What ho, are you a local(e)?”

To which the local replied: “Yes. Why do you ask?”

To which I responded: “Kind sir, our chariot has become bogged down in the mire. We try to reverse but one of the wheels (aspirated “h”) just spins. Might you have a shovel?”

To which he responded: “Dude, hell yes I have a shovel. Let me just grab it for you real quick.”

Which he did.

Also on the walk to get the shovel, an idea occurred to Barold: Why don’t we jack up the offending tyre, put a bunch of rocks under it, no, essentially build a MOTHERF@!KING ROAD under it, and then let the tyre down and try to reverse then. Because you see the problem was that the tyre wasn’t able to gain purchase on anything, since the car was (mildly) high-centred. And so we were pretty confident that using the jack technique, and also shoveling the dirt out from behind the right front wheel (another quagmire altogether), we would be successful.

Back at the vehicle, Barold went to work jacking and I went to work shoveling. I was a modern-day laborer, getting by by the sweat of my back. I took the mound behind the front right tire and quickly reduced it to a….smaller mound. Meanwhile, Barold built what was essentially a cobblestone I-90 under the rear right tire, and we were able to give it a go. And guess what? It worked (though actually on the second attempt).

Fist bumps and even a high five abounded. The day was successful, in a type 2 sort of way.

But back to my “injury.” I believe my injury is at least partly mental, though I do believe my body is screaming for an extended break. Which is why, friends, after tomorrow’s hiking and very moderate sesh (I’ll maybe climb the Warm-Up Slab just for fun), I plan to take a week-plus off from bouldering. Yes, again you have a read correctly. A week plus. I need to start healing. I need to get back to where I was, both physically and mentally, before I went off the rails a couple weeks ago and overdid it and derailed myself both physically and mentally. I need to get my brain and body out of the mire.