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.

Toe Hooks and Happiness

I’m sitting on the  boat drinking a FocusAid. I just got back from Whole Foods Greenlake where I got a hop tea, eggs and sausage, and then after sitting in my car chatting with a friend on WhatsApp went BACK into Whole Foods and got the FocusAid and an Urbn Remedy matcha bar. Why all the decadence? Well, when you don’t drink you can justify just about any amount of dietary decadence. And today marks two weeks of my newfound sobriety. I fell off the wagon a bit there in July. I don’t regret it. It was a good run. It was fun to experiment with alcohol again and have some drinks with friends, but it also served to remind me why I don’t drink. Getting back on the wagon felt like returning to an old friend. I value my health and my body and I want to be my best self. For the forseeable future, alcohol has no place in my life.

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

How’s everyone feeling today?

I climbed at SBP Poplar yesterday with the crew, and it was wonderful. My body is completely wrecked. By the end of the session I was bleeding from my hand, my knee, my left ankle, and had bashed my right hip against a volume on my way down from a slab. Wonderful. When I got back to the boat I was talking to a friend about the sesh and said, almost without thinking about it, “I’m so happy.”

Which got me thinking: How often when we’re happy do we actually know we’re happy? So many times in my life I haven’t realized I was happy until I look back on the given time period and think, “Wow, that was so great.” Take when I worked in Alaska as a housekeeper, for example. It was one of the greatest summers of my life. But I didn’t think every day, “Wow, I’m so happy.” I was too busy laughing and playing ping pong. Only when the summer was over did I look back and think, “Holy shit, that was pretty much perfect.”

Hindsight also has the strange (but welcome) effect of diminishing the bad times. It’s not like every moment of that summer was perfect. But I also don’t think happiness consists of every moment being perfect. In fact, I think a lot of happiness has to do with Type 2 Fun (the kind of fun that’s only really fun retrospect).  The other time I worked in Alaska (as a lodge helper/fishing guide) also perfectly illustrated this. I spent half of those three weeks wanting to quit. It was hard work. Our boss was a despot. But now I look back on it almost as a formative experience. It was like being in the military. Getting up early, getting yelled at a lot, and from time to time handling firearms. I wouldn’t trade those three weeks for anything in the world.

Anyway, back to the SBP sesh. It started off real slow. Since I’d climbed the day before, my arm and finger strength felt low. The motivation was there — at the beginning I was basically prancing around and yelling — but my body was not quite on the same level as my psych. After really warming up, though, I started to climb a bit better. I sent one new black, which is always a plus in a session. Sent some oranges. Some purples. Didn’t really try any blues. There was a black that had a TOE HOOK to start out, and I desperately wanted to crank on it, but toe hooking requires a bit of hip flexoring, and my hip flexor still isn’t 100%.

Today I’m going to go to REI and look at climbing shoes cuz I noticed yesterday that the Miuras got their first microscopic hole in the toe. This hole will grow until they’re unclimbable. I estimate they have two to three more sessions left in them. Which sucks since they were just starting to get really worn it. Maybe I should’ve had them resoled. Where do you resole shoes in Seattle? The top shoes I’m looking at right now are the La Sportiva Solutions, Evolv Shamans, Scarpa Instincts, and the TC Pros for slab climbing. Or maybe just the TC Pros for all-around climbing? Or maybe just say screw it and get the 5.10 Moccasins and never look back?

Also, THE CANADIAN BORDER OFFICIALLY OPENS TONIGHT AT 12:01AM. Holy shit. It’s been so long since I’ve been to Canada. I love Canada. I want to live in BC. I want to live in BC and stroll the waterfront in Vancouver and go to the beaches and make little trips up to Squamish and Whistler and, hell, maybe even boulder in the Kootenays. However, I can’t pull the trigger on going up to Canada quite yet, because I might have dogsitting obligations down here first. And I’m not sure whether I’d drive or take my boat up there. Either way, I’m stoked.

And now it’s time to enjoy the sun.

 

 

Walking Fremont at Night | Road to Recovery

Not even 9am and I’ve put a General in. Really seizing the day. My knee feels significantly worse but that’s due to self massage. I’ve been massaging the shit out of it. The stiffness worries me, though. It’s still quite stiff and it’s been over two weeks since the injury. God, I want an MRI. How can I get them to give me an MRI. Maybe today I leave for Mexico?

The power did not go off on the boat last night. The heater stayed on. I slept well. Yesterday was sunny in Seattle and today promises more of the same. In fact, it’s only supposed to rain two days in the next week or so. So not a terrible time to hang around a little longer. Wait to see if the MRI referral gets approved. Check SHAK every 15 minutes. Revel in the glory of its meteoric rise. Feel the heater buzzing at my feet. Hang out with friends. Walk to Whole Foods. Read good books. Watch my succulent become increasingly healthy. Watch my green queen become increasingly not.

Yesterday I went to Fremont for dinner, aka PCC, aka I bought a bunch of goodies and then went to Ophelia’s bookshop with the idea that I wasn’t leaving there without buying a book. I bought three: Emotional Alchemy, by Tara Bennett-Goleman, Manuscript Found in Accra, by Paulo Coelho, and The Greatest Treasure-Hunting Stories Ever Told, edited by Charles Elliott with contributions from such heavy hitters as Edgar Allen Poe and Jules Verne. I did not deliberate long when buying these books. The whole escapade took about 10 minutes. The bookstore was packed, which I was happy to see. People do not read enough.

After Ophelia’s I walked over to the new SBP in Fremont, which was an experience both amazing and traumatic. Traumatic because it pained me to see such beautiful blocs, such a beautiful climbing facility — the lobby glowing in the night winter air — and not be able to climb. Amazing because the gym looks amazing, and because I climbed up a set of stairs on the outside and just stood there, looking in like a boy looking at a Christmas tree display in a department store, watching two crushers climb in the corner. One of them flashed an orange. One of them flashed a pink. “Enough, Mark,” I said. “Enough.”

I’ve been sleeping well ever since I gave up caffeine. I’ve been feeling more creative. It is important to let your mind rest if you want to be creative. There is nothing more creative than an idle mind. I don’t mean idle in the sense that it’s not working. Our minds are always working. I mean idle in the sense that you’ve given it some time to just wander. Sometimes my mind is my greatest enemy, but ultimately it’s my dearest friend.

Giving up caffeine was hard. The first day was fine because I was coming down off a wicked yerba mate high, my neurons still sizzling far into the afternoon. But the next day I woke up with a headache, irritable. It felt good to be irritable and not be ashamed of it. I felt more like myself than I had in a long time. My mind becomes more my enemy when I abuse by doing things like drinking too much caffeine. With caffeine when I get irritable I have a tendency to discount my irritable feelings because I think they’re coming from the caffeine. But with no substances governing my brain I know that the irritability is real and needs to be respected. It’s easier to respect and honor your shadow when you know it hasn’t been provoked by a substance. Much of my twenties and thirties have had me ashamed of my shadow, constantly trying to suppress it or sweep it under the rug. Anytime I felt jealous or angry or insecure I told myself these feelings were unacceptable. When you read lots of books on Buddhism and Zen and Taoism you start following an unachievable ideal. Would the Buddha be jealous? Of course not. The Buddha sat by a river for 16 hours a day watching the ripples and eating rice. Would a Zen master be perturbed by someone calling her a name? Of course not. She would only smile. But I am not a Zen master, or even remotely enlightened. I experience all of these feelings, and sometimes to a deafening, heart-wrenching degree. And to want to rip them out of myself, to want to excise them, to want to slice them out of my brain like a surgeon might do with a scalpel — that’s not healthy.

SHAK seems to be finding some support at the 112 mark.

My boat is littered with books but because space is a premium they don’t last long. Most of them come, stay for awhile, and then get shuffled off to one of the little lending libraries so common on the Seattle streets. Some of them have stayed — I’ll never give them away, titles like Book 5 of My Struggle and The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli. The bouldering guidebooks will also stay. Bouldering guidebooks are something I’m happy to accumulate. Even if I’ve never bouldered in Tennessee or have any intention of going there soon I wouldn’t think it a terrible idea to buy a guidebook for that region. You buy a guidebook and next thing you know you’re planning a trip there. Motivation doesn’t breed action, but the other way around.

I washed my hair with distilled white vinegar last night.

It’s time to get off the boat now. It’s time to do a long walk and see how my knee holds up. And by “long walk” I of course mean walk to my car and drive to Whole Foods. Because I like to be amongst the things, the commerce! I like to be amongst the bars…