Time to Project V5?

Ladies and gentlemen. Friends. What a beautiful day here in Seattle. What a gorgeous, mild, special fall day. Except it isn’t quite fall yet. What a beautiful, sultry, clear late summer day. A great day to be alive. A great day to drink caffeine. A great day to ride the ferry from Bainbridge Island ALL the way to Seattle, to disembark, to walk up 1st Avenue, to find your car parked on 9th and Republican in Lower Queen Anne, to drive that car to Whole Foods, to get a Hop Tea, to drink it, to be merry.

In short: Day.

(OK asshole just because you’re talking on your phone doesn’t mean you get to take off your mask).

Tomorrow I am PROBABLY going climbing at the Sasquatch Boulders. If I do go, I have several goals: 1) Send Where the Wild Things Go. 2) Send Goosebumps V2. 3) Check out Sun Sail V3. And 4) Check out The Network V5, Dreamscape V7, and Yin Yang V7. Because it’s time to start projecting harder blocs. It’s time to OFFICIALLY start projecting a V5, which means I need to first FIND that V5, which means I need to go to a bunch of different V5’s and caress the starting holds and look at the line and think, Do I see myself climbing this? I’ve now sent three V4’s, and thus think it appropriate to start projecting a V5 or harder. It’s all about finding problems that inspire you. The sight of them can inspire you, or the movement can inspire you. Or even just the grade can inspire you. But it’s hard to get psyched about something — to get obsessed with something — if it doesn’t inspire you.

Slash.

Is the ferry arriving?

Why yes, turns out it is:

Well, that means it’s time for me to skedaddle. It means it’s time for me to take a long walk. It means it’s time for me to get some caffeine (Whole Foods on Westlake or Whole Foods in Interbay??????). Or do I just go to REI right now and try on climbing shoes for the fourth time?

Fare thee well, friends! We shall talk soon.

 

To Sell or to Sail?

Friends! The Euro Trip is over. I am now back on my boat. I must say: I’m not entirely thrilled to be back on my boat. I mean, yes it’s beautiful. Yes, it’s peaceful. But I’m getting really sick of living on this 27 foot piece of fiberglass. Something needs to change, and something needs to change relatively soon. Which is why this fall I’m either going to A) Sell the boat (frowny face), B) Sail the boat south (if the boat’s in Mexico living on it suddenly seems way more attractive), or C) Leave the boat in Seattle, spend the winter OFF the boat and traveling (basically living in Latin America), and then in spring come back to the boat and finally sail it south. The moral of the story is this: Keep the boat and sail it south (now or in spring), or sell it. These are the two options.

This topic segues perfectly into shorter term plans. Regardless of what I do with the boat, what am I going to be doing for the next few months? Well, at first I thought about getting a job. But then I thought, No, that’s kind of lame. I don’t want to do that right now. The thing is, I’m much too excited about my fall and winter plans to get a job right now. When I think about living in an apartment in Seattle this winter and working some kind of “normal” job, even if it is a cool job like interpreting, I want to drown myself in Hood Canal. Seriously, I got an email from a hiring manager the other day about an interpreting job in High Point, Seattle (a neighborhood basically in West Seattle that would take 40+ minutes to commute to from where I live near the locks), and it felt like a death sentence. But then I think about the plans I had before I decided I needed to “get a job.” Sailing to the San Juans. Going to Canada to chill in Vancouver and boulder in Squamish and maybe hang out on Vancouver Island for a bit. Then possibly sailing south, and if not doing a shit ton of bouldering. Either way doing a shit ton of bouldering. In October going to Cabo for a wedding, then Mexico City, then possibly Bogota, and then definitely Chile. And that gets me excited. That I actually look forward to. And maybe it’s just me putting off “real life,” but at this point I don’t really care. I’ve put off “real life” for so long that I won’t be living “real life.” I’ll live my life. Other people can live “real life.”

I do, however, plan to take the Foreign Service Officer Test in October. Because I’m mildly interested in being a diplomat. And because last time I almost passed it.

And I also want to possibly take the legal interpreting exam, but it’s unclear whether that will be offered this year, due to the pan-de-mic.

If/when I HAVE to get a job I don’t really want, I’ll do it. I’ll do it with gusto. Every time in my life I’ve needed to work, like actually needed to, I’ve done it. But right now I don’t have to. So I’m going to do the things I actually want to. Because life is really short. And only getting shorter.

ANYWAY, it’s good to be in Seattle right now, for the most part. I’ve been climbing a ton, and my body is somehow hanging in there. I’ve been working on Leggo My Ego V6 at the Index River Boulders, but mostly I’ve been climbing in the gym. I’ve been stoked on gym climbing lately. It’s so social. It’s so easy (logistically). And it’s also so easy to work on your weaknesses. Granted, climbing outside is still cooler. There’s nothing like being alone in the middle of the forest standing before a hunk of gleaming granodiorite grandeur, puzzling out how to get to the top, but for whatever reason lately I haven’t felt like getting in my car and driving an hour and a half just to fail. I can get (basically) the same feeling of movement at the gym, which is a 10 minute drive. And at the gym I can watch other people climb, aka crushers, and I can meet people. I can still have projects. I can still get super excited about certain climbs. And it’s just so….easy.

That said, holy shit Leavenworth this fall is going to be fun.

Anyway, that’s more or less an update on what I’ve been up to since I’ve been back in Seattle and what I’m thinking for the next few months. The trip to Europe was (fairly) great. The flight back was atrocious. Twelve plus hours of ACTUAL flight time on a budget airline with a guy behind me who treated my seatback like his personal punching bag. At least I had an aisle seat. And the seat next to me was empty. When I sat in my middle seat and saw two empty seats by the window I immediately asked a flight attendent if I could move there if no one came. And no one did come. So when they said “boarding complete” I pounced on the empty row like a cobra on a naked mole rat. But the flight was still awful.

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week. It’s great to be in touch.

– Wetzler

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? 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 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 great, because you always feel pretty 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.