First Order of Business

Alright friends, how’s everybody doing today? Good? Great? Amazing? Good, good. I’m glad. Well, I’m not that glad. I don’t really care. But I’m kinda glad. I’m kinda glad you’re doing well but to be honest I’m more focused on myself and don’t really care about you. That’s not to say I feel DISDAIN for you, it’s just that I’m much more important in my world than you are. You don’t take up much of my mental space, whereas my plight, my welfare, are two things that take up a LOT of my mental space.

First order of business today, April 7th, two thousand and twenty-one: Alex Honnold has a podcast.

You of course already knew this, but what you maybe didn’t know is that there are already a couple of episodes out. I’m not going to link to it. Links are so 2018. Just google Climbing Gold Alex Honnold.

Good.

Second order of business. I need to crack a mate.

Third order of business: I had my interview at Seattle Bouldering Project today, and it went….OK.

From an honesty perspective? It went great.

From a, did-I-get-the-job are-we-vibing is this going to be what I dedicate my life to perspective? Not so great.

And that’s because I was honest.

The guy who interviewed me was wonderful. I instantly felt rapport with him. But when he asked me how would you stay motivated after having the same interactions with customers over and over I couldn’t be anything but honest. That was actually my whole goal for the interview: to be honest. So I said something along the lines of (excuse me while I take a sip of my mate) I don’t know how I would stay motivated in that situation. I guess I would have to see.

Terrible answer, right?

Wrong. Honest anwer.

Because in my head I’m thinking: Fuck customer service, fuck the overprotective shitty Seattle moms that have jack fuck to do all day and bring their kids into Seattle Bouldering Project and then are assholes to the employees. Fuck ’em. I don’t have time for them. So if I had to have similar interactions with them over and over? Yeah, I don’t know how I would stay motivated. I probably wouldn’t.

Fuck ’em.

Fourth order of business: Yesterday’s climbing session.

I almost sent my first ever non-stemmy blue. I sent an orange that had been plaguing me since the last session, and made progress on a couple other things that are now “projects.”

I’m hoping that the blue will go tomorrow during tomorrow afternoon’s holy shit sick crew vibes super sesh. I’m confident that it will. I would like to start projecting some blacks, too. And keep projecting oranges. And maybe try some moves that slightly challenge the confidence in my left knee. Nothing crazy heel-hooky, just some stuff that’s not straight up climbing a ladder.

Fifth order of business: There is no fifth order of business. I’m going to drink my mate and wait until I can watch the Chelsea game on Paramout Plus. And then I don’t know what I’m going to do with the rest of the day. Oh god, what am I going to do with the rest of today? Why are you just bringing that up now?????? I hadn’t even thought about it!!! Fuck!!!! I have no plans!!!!!

I’m not climbing, that’s for damn sure. Weather isn’t great. I could go to Bainbridge. Hmmmmmm, what am I going to do.

I’ll figure something out.

Arrivaderci,

Mark Thomas Wetzler I

Seattle Bouldering Project Fremont: A Preliminary Review

Hello, friends, and welcome to a preliminary review of Seattle Bouldering Project’s new Fremont location. Why “preliminary?” Well, because I’ve only climbed there a few times and since I’m still injured I haven’t been able to push it too hard, PLUS I still haven’t climbed upstairs on the beautiful aretes and freestanding walls. But I have used most of the facilities. I’ve climbed downstairs. I’ve used the fitness area. I’ve used the hangboards. And so at this point I feel adequately qualified to give a preliminary review.

Let start with……location. The location of SBP Fremont is, in a word, spectacular. Right off Stone Way. Walking distance from downtown Fremont. Walking distance from Gasworks. And even closer walking distance to Upper Walls (SBP’s OG Fremont location that opened pre-pandemic). So, when you’ve sent all the hard blocs at SBP Fremont you can hop skip and toe cam over to Upper Walls and send all the hard blocs there. And then when you’ve sent ALL the hard blocs and ripped your shirt off and screamed at passerbyes you can walk to downtown Fremont and get a ridiculous matcha latte at Milstead, and then keep walking to get the best pizza in Seattle at PCC (bold claim I know but don’t fight me on this). Or, in the summer, you can project pinks till your fingers bleed and then go wash them off with a nice swim in Lake Union (provided you’re cool with getting typhus). In short, the location is good.

But who really cares about location, right???? I mean you want it to be easy to get to, but when it comes to a climbing gym what really matters is how are the blocs, right? How is the setting? What are the walls like, the holds like, the ground like, the movement like? You want to know all these things and more, because you’re a discerning boulderer.

Well, so far, the walls and setting and holds are pretty much exactly like SBP Poplar, just, like, newer. As I’ve said, I’ve only climbed downtairs, so I’ve yet to sample the roof upstairs or any of the spire-like aretes. Also since I’m injured I can’t just walk up to blues and huck my carcass at them; I basically stick to the reds and greens, the occasional purple, and today I even tried an orange. But so far I’m super stoked on the setting and the climbing in general (I mean, it’s exactly like SBP Poplar, which is amazing). Great movement. Interesting climbs. One thing I MIGHT say, and maybe this is crazy, is that at least in the downstairs of SBP Fremont things seem a LITTLE easier than SBP Poplar. Maybe that’s just because I’ve gotten better from watching so many bouldering vids while being injured, or maybe it’s because it’s actually easier. I tend to think it might be a little easier since right now I’m basically hucking myself at the wall like a one-legged bonobo. But I could be wrong. I could very easily be wrong.

Next we’ll talk about the fitness area and the hangboards and moonboards and the overall layout. Fitness area? Smaller than SBP Poplar. Hangboards? Less of those, too. Moonboards? Fucking gorgeous and brand new and one day I’ll get on them but for now it’s like I got all these brand new blocs why am I going to go to a climbing gym and get on a fucking moonboard?

One thing I love about the layout is the viewing area up above, since I like to go up there and just kind of watch people climb and snatch beta and just generally be around bouldering. And this viewing area is great for that. They have a viewing area at SBP Poplar, too, but the Fremont one is way better. I’ll be up there with my litte notebook writing down things like, “Right hand out to the tiny crimp, then bump to the better jug,” etc etc.

One question I do have: Are there no bathrooms downtairs??? Did I miss them? Because that might be a slight oversight. At SBP Poplar there are definitely bathrooms downstairs, and they definitely come in handy.

Lastly, what’s the VIBE like at SBP Fremont. What’s the AMBIENCE like. How do you feel when you walk through the doors? Well, if you’re me you feel pretty fucking great, because you always feel pretty fucking great when doing anything even tangentially related to bouldering. And the vibes in SBP Fremont are good. I can’t decide if there are more crushers there or at Poplar. I feel like it’s a wash. There are a lot of lower-level boulderes at SBP Fremont, but there are at Poplar, too. There’s a lot of sitting around, chilling, laughing, talking. For some reason SBP Fremont seems a little less familial, for lack of a better word. Like, it seems like people are kind of less homies at SBP Fremont. Maybe that’s because Poplar is the OG SBP or maybe it’s because Poplar has (had) the cafe or maybe it’s just because of the pandemic! Who knows. Doesn’t really matter.

In conclusion, SBP Fremont is awesome and I’m happy I renewed my SBP membership so now I have access to all of their wonderful locations. I do wish the hangboard area was a little bigger at Fremont and I do wish they had another warmup bike, but hey, small potatoes.

I mean, when you just wanna project polyurethane perfection it’s all pretty much small potatoes.

Happy crushing.

The Island Behind

O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland a’fore ye.

– Traditional Scottish Song

–The word of the Lord.
— Thanks be to God.

– Popular Church Refrain

I’m on the ferry coming back from Bainbridge, where I spent the afternoon/evening at my parents’ house. As I said yesterday, my original plan after physical therapy was to drive to Leavenworth, but then I thought, I don’t want to drive out to Leavenworth. But I do want to get off my boat. So I went to my parents’ house.

The seagulls are preening themselves this morning. They have such brilliant, white feathers. They are perfectly clean. No one is speaking on this ferry. Everyone is quiet. Everyone is wearing a mask. And now there’s a crow next to the seagulls, cawing. It’s just flown away. The seagulls did not bat an eye, so engrossed are they in their self-care. I wish I had a cam with which I could follow these two particular seagulls for the next 24 hours. What would they do? Where would they go? Will they spend most of the day on this piling next to the ferry? Where do they sleep at night?

Two Canadian geese drift into the picture on the water below. The geese have been very active around my boat lately. I don’t know if it’s mating season or what, but they’re always honking ferociously and a fight seems to have always broken out. Meanwhile the heron stand on the pier, in groups of 10-20, impassable. They look like old businessmen hunched over in grey suits. They fight too, and their fighting is hilarious. They rear their necks back but never seem to touch each other. Theirs is an elegant, capoeira style of fighting. And then they go back to being hunched over, looking out at the horizon.

The ferry leaves and the island recedes into the distance. We’ll be in Seattle soon, with all that that brings. The honking, the homeless, people generally seeming stressed out. I’ll get off the ferry and walk the two miles up the waterfront to my car, passing the strange tourists who at 8:30am are out walking the Seattle waterfront. There are always a few. Families. Sometimes masked, sometimes not. You wonder where they’re from. Renton? Yakima? South Dakota? I don’t understand what they’re doing, their thought process. But I prefer not understanding what they’re doing. I’m sure their explanation wouldn’t make sense to me.

The ferry groans slightly as it turns right to leave Eagle Harbor. It begins to shake. Everyone is still preturnaturally quiet, still wearing their masks except for one guy who has his mask off to eat and drink his coffee. Naturally, I despise him for this. Who are you to have your mask off, asshole? How is your coffee drinking somehow more important than the safety of those around you? I am a spectacular hypocrite, of course, because if I had a muffin, if I had an americano with just a little bit of heavy cream, if I had a latte and a scone, if I had a large earl grey tea with just a little bit of heavy crean, if I had a mocha, if I had a green tea, if I had a drip coffee, if I had whatever this guy is drinking, whatever this guy is eating, I’d be doing the exact same thing.

And there, look, he just put his mask on. Maybe he isn’t Satan. Maybe he’s actually a great guy.

Now we’re fully in the sound named after Peter Puget and the island has lost its grip on us. Not that it ever had a grip on us. But it was caressing us, and now the caress of the island is gone, the caress of tranquility, and the city and the skyline and the dirt and the noise spring ever more into view. The ferry is gathering speed now and shaking ferociously. Screws are coming loose. We sound like we’re about to take flight. We must be doing 20 knots now. The wake we’re putting off is tremendous as we round the last buoy and head straight toward Seattle, straight toward the metropolis, straight toward our destinies. What are my fellow ferry riders up to today? Are you all off to work? To visit friends? To conduct business transations? To go shopping? I have no idea. I imagine the first guess is the most accurate. This is, or was, a full-fledged commuter boat. Thousands of people would ride it every morning. The atmosphere then was always lively because anytime you have that many people in an enclosed space the atmosphere becomes lively. Groups of people who ride the boat together everyday, having the same conversations, gossiping. This was their last respite before working 9-5. And then in the evening they’d do it all over again, and when they got to the island everything would be quiet, or at least in comparison to Seattle, and they’d have dinner, and they’d hang out with their families, maybe do a little extra work, watch some TV, go to bed, get up and do it all over again.

But that was then.

I wish I had a coffee.

But I’m done with coffee.

Should I stop by Whole Foods on the way to my boat?

I have therapy at 10am.

Today is Tuesday, the year of Yaweh two thousand and twenty-one, the ninth day of March. Today the sun will set at approximately 6:06pm and there will be civil twilight until 6:36 and then nautical twilight for another half hour after that. At 7pm there will still be some vestiges of sunlight. And then in four days the clocks will change and at 8pm there will be some vestiges of light. This to me is always a bigger marker of spring than the actual day spring starts. Spring to me is a smell in the air. You’re walking one day, maybe in February, maybe in March, and a smell hits your nostrils and you think, That’s spring. That’s when spring arrives. It doesn’t have much to do with the official day.

I see Magnolia off to my right and I long for the island behind me.

I’m Not Your Friend || Matcha Lattes at Woodland Coffee

I just got back from Woodland Coffee, where I got a matcha latte with oat milk and a LITTLE bit of honey. This was the first time I’d been to Woodland Coffee, which has a pretty horrible location, tucked on a sidestreet behind Safeway just off 15th Ave NW. Dastardly location. Closed to McDonald’s. I mean, there are some other businesses right next to it, and the building it’s in (brick) is actually sort of comely. But, I mean, it’s in Safeway’s shadow. It’s literally (figuratively, since the sun comes from the south) in Safeway’s shadow.

Now, how was their MATCHA LATTE????????? And why did I get it with oat milk, if I’m trying to keep the carbs down. Simple: I’m obsessed with oats. Oh, and their matcha latte is pretty bomb. I’m not sure what kind of matcha they use but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s ceremonial grade. Wouldn’t be surprised at all. Also, I liked that they ASKED if I wanted any kind of sweetener, to which I said, “A little bit of honey.” Unfortunately, all of the honey sank immediately to the bottom, which meant the first 7/8 of the matcha latte were basically unsweetened, and the last 1/8 was like sticking my head in a worker bee hive.

And then I walked to Ballard Market where I got an Ashwagandha Spicy Chai. And an Epic Bar. The Epic Bar was 100% grassfed venison, seasoned with thinks like celery and garlic powder. It was delicious. The texture was a bit gnarly, but it was delicious. 1 carb. Bomb.

Now I’m back on my boat wondering if I have a belly. I have physical therapy in a couple hours and then I’m gonna walk around Greenlake. Maybe get a matcha latte at The Retreat, everyone’s favorite Greenlake hipster cafe. The sun is glorious in Seattle today. Today the sun sets at 5:50pm!!!!!! Civil twilight till 6:21pm!!!!! What kind of tropical paradise are we living in????? On the way to the boat I noticed all the mallards were in the shade under the docks and I thought, Hmmmmm, that’s weird, I wonder why they’re in the shade and not enjoying the sun. But then I realized: They probably have winter plumage. Right now they’re built for temps in the 30’s and 40’s, so on a day like today in the sun they probably overheat. Poor, beautiful mallards. God, I love them. They keep me company everyday. And today I saw a flock of herons flying around the locks. A flock!!! It’s one thing to see one heron, it’s another to see a flock of them. It warmed my sternum. It warmed my aorta.

I have decided that in addition to looking for apartments in Leavenworth I should also be looking for apartments on this side of the mountains, but closer to bouldering. Places like Index and….well….Index. I don’t want to live in Gold Bar. I don’t want to live in Startup. And I certainly don’t want to live in Monroe. Why not? Because I don’t want to have to get tattoos and develop a drug problem. But Index I could definitely do! And Skykomish. The problem is finding a rental in these places, since they each have about 200 people. Maybe if I just show up on someone’s doorstep with my naked body wrapped in Tibetan prayer flags? Or I could just buy a van and live in the Index parking lot. Be a a true dirtbag. A true climber. But then I might have to start “sport climbing,” and we can’t have that. We can’t have ropes and carabiners and helmets and all that crap. That’s not climbing. That’s aid climbing. Clipping in??????? Give me a break. But living out of a van is actually not a 200% terrible idea. But still, Leavenworth.

My succulents are on the back of the boat enjoying the sunshine. The new one I got from Trader Joe’s seems to have integrated well with the others. I think they have accepted him. He is undoubtedly male, and possibly a bully. If he does not behave I will have to throw him in the lake. I have not watered him yet, nor do I intend to. Nature will water him when it sees fit, i.e. when I forget to bring him in overnight. Until then, he can wait patiently like all the other succulents.

Back in the Stirrups || Road to V5

OK! I would like to welcome all the boulderers out there who have sort of been following this blog, waiting for my recovery so they can start reading about the Road to V7 again, aka Road to V5, aka Road to VB. Why Road to V7? Becuase the goal of last summer was to send V7 outdoors before the summer was over. Which didn’t happen. So then basically the blog just became Road to X (x being whatever v-grade I was currently working on). And before my LCL injury that was V5. In fact, about a week before my injury was when I sent my first V4 outdoors. Here’s the video in case you don’t watch it every day before you go to bed:

Ahhhhhhhhh, the pleasures of watching a 37 year old man climbing a lowball while huffing like a musk ox. I forgot how enjoyable that video was, the feet cutting loose every four seconds, the red Patagonia fleece that I wear (literally) every day (though I did just get a new fleece). So yeah, I climbed that boulder, which I’d been working on a long time and gotten super close tons of times and finally did it just before Xmas, and then a week later I mangled myself climbing a V3 in California. Fuck.

But today! Today, friends! Today. Today something happened. Today I ran a mile. OK. I didn’t run a mile. I jogged a mile. OK, I didn’t jog a mile, I walk-jogged a mile. My official time on today’s mile was 10:57. As you can see, this time is mildly Olympian. And there was discomfort in my knee while jogging. Plenty of discomfort. But I imagined a physical therapist sitting there talking to me saying, “As long as there’s not like SHOOTING PAIN, like as long as it doens’t hurt really bad, if it’s just some slight discomfort, then keep going. Because keep in mind your body hasn’t run in a month and a half. It’s not going to feel great.” This was the physical therapist that was talking in my head while I jogged. Let’s call him Todd. Todd drives a 2018 Subaru Crosstrek and lives in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. He’s dating a girl named Danielle (actually, they just got engaged a month ago). They own a golden doodle. Todd is also a climber, which makes him uniquely adept at giving me physical therapy advice. Danielle and Todd will get married. They’ll divorce after 15 years. Todd will move to Nebraska and become a pipe fitter. Danielle will get full custody of the kids and remarry a guy named Rick who sells used Subarus in Ballard but lives in Kent. They’ll never speak again except when coordinating seeing the kids.

After jogging my mile (which I did at Greenlake) I got a matcha latte from Milstead and then came back to my boat where I promptly injected Body Protective Compound #157 into my knee. Right by the LCL. And now I’m sitting here thinking regenerative thoughts. Not thinking about bouldering, cuz that just makes me sad. Driving back from running I had to go by SBP, and that made me sad. I want to be there so bad. I want to work there. Maybe I should drop off an application. I am actually filling out job applications now, which is weird.

So, what are the goals for this summer, bouldering-wise? Well, to be perfectly honest, right now the goal by the end of this summer is V6. I hope to send Climax Control (Ryan Problem’s) V6, and The 5-Star Arete V6. I know I can do both of these boulders. I know it deep in my soul. But I need to get healthy in order to be able to send them. Not just my knee. My shoulder. My fingers. My psyche.

OK, time to rest for a bit, let this BPC 157 take hold. Any soccer on today? Not really. One Bundesliga game, one Premier League game.

God my succulent is beautiful.

– MW