Road to Zion || Road to V5 #2


Cracking a beer on the boat.

Tonight’s beer is the So What IPA from E9 Brewing out of Tacoma, a “West coast style IPA,” whatever that means.

It’s good to be here with you guys to talk a little about life and a lot about bouldering.

Yesterday was the super sesh. I and about seven others made the trek up to the Clear Cut Boulders, aka the Reiter Foothills Boulders, aka the Gold Bar Boulders. We had more pads than we could use, even on Road to Zion V5, an epic traverse that will put any group’s pad numbers to the test. We started out at Warm-up Slab V0, which you already know is one of my favorite boulders of all time, one of the first boulders I ever climbed outside, and also the boulder I’ve definitely climbed the most in my life. What would be second? Hmmmm. I’ve climbed Bricklayer V0 in Leavenworth a bunch. I’ve definitely climbed Regatta de Blanc V0 and BMOC in Gold Bar a bunch. Magic School Bus V2. It’s probably Regatta de Blanc V0, one of the most popular boulders in Gold Bar and one I initially had more fondness for but now, for whatever reason, don’t like as much. I mean, it’s still kinda cool. It’s got a heel hook. But like. I don’t know.

After Warm-up Slab we went to the Tetris Boulder for a bit, the sun beating down on us, the inversion visible on the Skykomish Valley floor below. It felt like some of the hardmen were getting antsy to try something hard, even if they weren’t vocalizing it, so we then went up to Road to Zion V5, aka everyone’s favorite epic maneating lionheart granodiorite fantasy blitzkrieg traverse. Pretty much everything about his boulder is epic. The size of it. The cleanliness of the face. The fact that you’re not dragging your ass but doing most of the moves at head height. The fact that it goes on forever and might end up in Narnia. The fact that the top out is spicy af and you can’t really pad it and by the time you get there you’re pumped and crying for help and the only person to spot you is screaming “everything you! got come on!” in your ear and the rock is kind of wet and mossy and you don’t know where the holds are.

At least, that’s what I imagine it’s like. I didn’t send it.

But I watched Wyatt, Matt and Brad all flash it, and it was inspiring. Heel hooks. Toe hooks. Hip opening. Crimps. Jugs. Lunges. Big moves. It was great. I got a little frustrated because I want to be able to do more moves, and because the heel hooks weren’t as comfortable for me as they were for other people, but it’s a great boulder to learn on, too. It’s great practice for getting your core close to the wall. For weighting your feet. For keeping your arms straight. For doing every trick in the book to not get pumped. And I can’t wait to go back.

Well, I can wait a bit.

IN OTHER NEWS! My beer is almost done. I’m climbing outside with Matt either Wednesday or Thursday. We’re either going to the Index River Boulders or the Zelda Boulders or the Five Star Boulder or the Camp Serene Boulder or we’re just saying fuck it and chartering a plane to Red Rocks. Though I guess we wouldn’t have to charter, we could just fly Alaska. In other OTHER news, work still hasn’t picked up, but I’ve started working on the novel again in earnest, doing about 1,000 words a day. I’m 68,000 words (about 225 pages) in, some of which I hope is useable. I hope the book is actually readable. I’m going to have to re-write some or all of the beginning, and I still don’t know how it’s going to end. But when do we ever know how anything is going to end? Not knowing how things are going to end, in fact not knowing how any given day is going to end, is what makes life exciting, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Last Chapter (R2V2 #9)

Ahhhhh friends, where to start? This, this ninth installment, will be the last ever in the existence of “Road to V2.” Why? The answer is quite simple, but nonetheless compelling: I sent V2 outside. Yes! You read that right! This is not some kind of hoax, some kind of bedevilry your eyes are playing upon you: I sent the bouldering grade V2, on real rock, not in a gym. And it was glorious. It was glorious and over all too quickly. And as with sending anything that you’ve been working on for awhile, it kind of felt like, “Wait, that was it?”

The boulder in question: Eight Bit Slab V2, of the Road to Zion boulders, of the Clearcut Boulders, of the Reiter Foothills Boulders, near Gold Bar. When? Two days ago, Wednesday, May 27th, the year of Yaweh two thousand and twenty. What were the circumstances? Please read on…

First, a video of someone ELSE sending Eight Bit Slab:

Now, I know what you’re thinking: I should get a new car instead of a used car. Because they don’t cost THAT much more and you get a warranty and they break down less, right? Plus, I’ve never had a new car.

Actually, you’re probably not thinking that. But you probably HAVE thought that at some point. Now, you’re probably thinking, “Jesus, that’s a beautiful slab.” And you’re damn right. That is a beautiful slab. That’s one of the reasons Eight Bit Slab is rated three stars in the Western Washington Bouldering guide by Pablo Zuleta, the mythical pebble wrestler himself. But climbing slab is of course not like wrestling! No, climbing slab is a dance. It’s like hanging out with that guy from Game of Thrones who always used to call “Arya” boy. Be like water! He said. Or he might’ve not said that. I don’t really remember.

I don’t really remember much about this climb, either. All I was thinking was, “Don’t fall.” The great thing about this boulder is it has a pretty good landing, and a beautiful seam running right up the center of it. It’s also high enough to get your heart beating irregularly, but definitely not a high ball. It’s a “middle ball.” Or maybe a “middle to high ball.” If it were a human it’d be that guy named Ryan who’s 5’10”, drives a newish Subaru, has a good paying job, and has never done anything remotely original in his life. No, no, no. It would be nothing like that. It could never be human. If this slab were animate it would be a whale, rolling in the deep. A mythical beast with perfect handholds.

So now this blog will be called “Road to V3,” and you can bet I’ve already got my sights on some V3’s. There’s the V3 slab I was trying with Terri the other day, Rocksteadeasy V3. There’s Summer Solstic V3, a tantalizing delight of slopers and meathooks and overhanging posterity. There’s the Regatta de Blanc V0 version that traverses into BMOC V2, thus becoming V3. There are the V3’s on Hate Rock in Leavy. The cool sloper one and the two campus ones.

And this is getting a bit ahead of myself but of course I already have my sights set on V4’s and V5’s. You’d have to, right? Today I went and checked out the Beach Boulders in Leavenworth and stood humbled and fairly wetting myself at the base of Beached Whale V3, one of the most epic, horrifying slabs I’ve ever seen. And then there’s Dyno 101 V3, which I know I can send, but unfortunately it’s currently three eights underwater. And as for the the V4’s and V5’s I mentioned in the topic sentence of this paragraph before instantly changing gears, today I started off the day by going to Forestland for the first time, where I sent a V1 called XXXXX and checked the infamous One Summer V5, which looked impossible until I later realized I had been looking at a V6 variation. There was also The Real Thing V4, which doesn’t look completely impossible.

So yeah, I have reached the end of Road to V2, though of course the road doesn’t really end but rather bifurcates in countless directions as you continue to try and fail on other V2’s, project other ones, flash other ones, and generally become a “climber.” I never thought I’d say this after the past 2.5 months of lockdown, but I actually need a bit of a respite from climbing. I’m going to climb tomorrow, of course, weather permitting, in the illustrious East Miller River Valley, on the rainy side of the Cascades. And then on Sunday I might go pick up my hangboard from my parents’ house. Once that gets mounted on the boat I’ll be a crimping machine. And maybe I’ll even lose the belly I’ve been complaining about for the past two months.