Last Climbing Trip Before Mex | Road to V4

My sister and her son — aka my nephew — and I went on a walk this morning-

Hold on, let me start over.

I went on a walk this morning with my sister and her son, aka my nephew, to “Poo Poo Point,” a short little jaun-

OK, I don’t like that one either.

I’m sitting on my boat drinking matcha this afternoon and what’s different between right now and when I USUALLY sit on my boat is that I’m sitting outside, in the cockpit, feeling the breeze and watching my boardshorts sway in the br-

Damnit.

OK. Sitting on my boat drinking matcha. Boarshorts swaying in the breeze. Sunny. Crows cawing. Tired but feeling ok since I just jumped in the water. Maybe should jump in again to wake up even more? Mellifluous. Not very comfortable. Ducks pissed at each other. Plant looks like it’s dying. What am I gonna do tonight?

OK that’s MUCH better now that I’m sitting on the ground and instead of on that pad. Though the ground is dirty.

Why am I so TIIIIIIIIIIRED right now? I have no good food on my boat except apples and peanut butter, but I’ve already had two apples today. I have kale. What am I going to do with the kale? Eat it plain? Disgusting. Eat it with some olive oil and salt?

OK I’m ready to start.

Good afternoon, faithful Where’s Wetzler readers! My name is Mark Wetzler and I’ll be your host for this afternoon’s blog post. We’ve got a lot to talk about today, including but not limited to: Me going bouldering tomorrow, my hike today, why I feel so tired–

K, sorry, can’t do that either. Can’t do a real post.

Stephen King said: Don’t go lightly to the page. I’m going to lightly to the page right now, Stephen. Light as a feather. Light as one of the leaves on my calathea plant that’s dying. Light as my humor. Light as my right toenail which is becoming slightly ingrown. Here’s the problem with reading books on how to write: It’s like reading books on how to paint pictures. They can only take you so far. At some point you have to launch yourself off the diving board and think: OK, I’m gonna do my OWN thing now. And if people hate it then fuck ’em. I’m going to make the stuff that I know is good, that makes me happy, and if people don’t like it well then they’re the ones with no taste. You don’t tell me what’s good art. I tell YOU what’s good art. I tell you what to like. People don’t know what they like anyway until someone has already given it to them. They say, “Well, I like light comedies,” and then someone makes a horror film and they love it cuz it’s well done and someone says, “But you don’t like horror films,” and they say, “Well, I guess I like that one.”

I’m going to be a piece of shit for the rest of the day and I’ve made peace with that. Go to Whole Foods. Read Pride and Prejudice. You know what I might do tomorrow? I might go session Serenity Now V4 FRESH. I’ve never sessioned that boulder fresh before. Only after a pretty long sesh. So maybe I’ll go there tomorrow, I’ll warm up on the slab a bit, I’ll climb the V0, and then I’ll give Serenity Now some fresh burns. Give it everything I got. And maybe make it past the crux.

K just watched a few videos of people getting up Serenity Now V4 (+!). I think I can do the crux now. And by crux I mean the low crux, there’s also a fairly gnarly deadpoint up to the hold on the lip. God, I got this. I need this. Come on, Mark.

A Sesh at the Camp Serene Boulder | R2V4

OK I’ve held off on doing this for awhile, but I’m going to vent for a second about how this blog has no readers and it’s really frustrating to be churning out top-level omg on a daily basis only to get like two views. So. Frustrating. But in the past when this has happened I’ve given up, or I’ve decided everything I’ve written is shit and then I delete it all or let the domain expire or do SOMETHING that essentially makes me have to start at 0 again. So no matter what I just need to fucking stick with it. And now that no one reads this blog AT ALL it’s actually kind of freeing. I can just kind of vomit all over the keyboad and post whatever comes up. I can say fuck this and fuck that and motherfucker and not really worry about swearing because NO ONE FUCKING READS THIS BLOG, so like, it doesn’t matter right???????

EXHALE. 

Ok. I feel better now. Just give me a second, though. 

Two days ago Barold, Carolyn and I went on a mission to the Gold Bar area and as you know from a PREVIOUS post we hit up the Morpheus Boulders aka the 420 Boulders and then afterward stopped at the Camp Serene Boulder on the way back and I didn’t blog about it cuz, well, a lot went down at that boulder, and it’s an epic boulder, and it garners its own post.

But FIRST a quick history of the Camp Serene Boulder aka Zeke’s Boulder according to Pablo Zuleta’s Western Washington Bouldering (aka the guidebook):

camp serene boulder aka zeke's boulder
The Camp Serene Boulder aka Zeke’s Boulder aka tall as fuck.

In 1985, Bob Buckley cleaned the highway side of the boulder and sent Highway Crack V1 and The Arete V0. Then, in the 90’s, Bob and friends established more difficult problems like Serenity Now (a V5 in the guidebook but now widely considered a hard V4) and Climax Control V6. In 2002 the boulder appeared in an “elusive” guidebook, then was later rediscovered by Kelly Sheridan (author of Leavenworth guidebook) and friends and has (presumably) seen regular traffic since.

It’s called the Camp Serene Boulder because it has Camp Serene graffitied in big letters on the west side. It’s also called Zeke’s Boulder because it’s just down the street from Zeke’s Drive-in and across the valley from Zeke’s Wall, the huge cliff above the Clearcut Boulders in the Reiter Foothills. Also, it’s worth noting that (at least in my limited experience), this is one of the best single boulders in Washington. It’s got at least five quality lines on it, and Serenity Now V4 is one of the most iconic boulder problems in Washington. It’s also kinda highball, and epic/terrible because it lies right off highway 2, a main thoroughfare connecting Eastern and Western Washington. Anytime you go to Index or Leavenworth or Steven’s Pass, you drive by this boulder. It used to be surrounded by luscious trees, but was clearcut sometime in the last few years and now stands there bald for all to see. What a shame. But still a sick boulder.

(for a great video of the Camp Serene Boulder showcasing most of its lines, watch this beaut by Jake and Kyle Love of Badwater Bouldering)

ANYWAY, on to our session. As we were driving out to Morpheus I prepped B and C by asking, “Do you guys mind if I take a few burns on Serenity Now on the way back?”

They said that was fine.

So, we went to Morpheus and sessioned, and it was wonderful, and a good warm-up, and bla bla bla. Then, AFTER our Morpheus sesh we headed BACK to Camp Serene, where I thought I might warm up on Insanity Later V2 (even though I’d never sent it) and then go for broke on Serenity now. But, Barold and Carolyn turned out to be really psyched on all the lines on the boulder, so we started out with a few burns on Insanity Later (Barold sent it second try!!!! with only a tiny pad at the bottom. he was a man possessed) and then moved on to Highway Crack V1, which shut all of us down. It’s a gorgeous line, a sloping crack that ascends some 20 feet into the air. We all found it dastardly hard and eventually gave up, feeling a bit bad but not that bad when I later found out on Sendage Jake Love called it “the hardest V1 I’ve ever done” and rates it a V2. After this went to Serenity Now so I could give it my burns, but I was feeling weak, had trouble even GETTING to the crux, and just did the same old shit I’ve done every time when trying it, i.e. not knowing how to get my feet higher when getting to the dihedral. I’ve since re-watched the Badwater Bouldering video I linked to earlier in this post, and now I think I might be able to crack it. But that’s what always happens. The eternal optimism. Probably the reason we keep bouldering. We always think we’re going to be able to send it next sesh even though half the time we get there and get absolutely shut down.

Lastly, Carolyn and I wanted to give Insanity Later a few more tries, since we’d both made good progress at the beginning of the sesh. I hadn’t gotten to the lip yet, but I’d slipped from the crux a couple times, which is pretty high and terrifying, but the falls had been fine so I was pretty much ready to go for broke. And go for broke I did. On one of the attempts (Barold was sitting there totally ready to leave and complaining about how hungry he was) I actually TOUCHED THE LIP but bailed because I felt unstable. So I asked if I could give it one last burn even though that’s exactly what I’d said about the previous burn. I’d found a bit of micro beta for the high right foot to make it a bit more secure, and also realized that I needed to get my left hand higher after getting the feet on the crux holds. And that’s what I did. I also went faster. I chalked up and just sent it. I didn’t dilly dally before going for the crux hold. I got my right foot high, trusted it, slapped my hand up the arete, got my left foot up, slapped my left hand up once more, and then could easily grab the lip with my right hand. Wonderful.

And so that was the session. Barold and I were super hyped to get Insanity Later, and I’m sure Carolyn will send next time she’s there, but being shorter she wasn’t able to do the high right foot and will have to smear in between, which makes it much harder. But I’m sure she’ll still get it. And I’ll be back for Serenity Now V4, and someday get that, too. Someday. Like, maybe, today?

– Wetz

The Soggy Waffle Traverse | R2V4 #24

Yesterday we went to the 420 Boulders. At the Morpheus Boulders. And we thought it was going to be wet, at least I thought it was going to be wet, but we went anyway. First we went to the Car Door Boulder, home of Car Door Traverse V1, one of the easiest V1’s out there and consequently the first boulder I ever did outdoors, way back in March. We had a full-on squad yesterday! Three people and three pads! All of us with a pad on our backs, bouncing through the forest like happy little squirrels. At the Car Door Boulder we all sent Dee Dee V0, which was actually pretty fun, and then made up an extension of Dee Dee that traversed right that was even more fun that we dubbed the Soggy Waffle Traverse V0/1. I have no idea where this name comes from. Well, it was wet outside. But I don’t know what was going on in Barold’s head that prompted him to proffer such nomenclature.

After the Car Door Boulder we went to none other than the Landjager boulder, home of Girlfriend Slab V0 and Slabjager V2, both of which were completely and utterly wet. Not a problem! All of us subsequently sat down and easily cranked out the heinous first move of Miller Lite V5 and then proceeded to crush the other…..just kidding. Screw that first move on Miller Lite V5. I mean, one day I’ll probably be able to do it. And maybe I’ll even say, “Damn, that was a cool bloc.” But right now I try to do it and just think, “Man, screw this thing. This thing is not fun.”

The author testing his arete skills on French Arete V0 (V1 in the guidebook but pretty damn easy). Photo: The Barold B Photography Dream LLC.

After the approach boulders we continued on to….we continued on to…..we continued over to….we continued down the trail to….we continued UP the trail to….we decided to check out….we decided to have a look at….the 420 Boulders, which the guidebook said were “22 minutes from the parking lot.” In reality they’re about 5-7 minutes from the Landjager Boulder (which is probably about 15 minutes from the parking lot so there you go). You’ll see them on your right up a bluff and there is (currently, at least), some fluorescent green tape on a tree that marks the short trail up. You got it? Think you can get there? I include this information because FINDING boulders can sometimes be just as difficult as climbing them, and there’s nothing worse than getting super psyched to project primo granodiorite kiddie-blocs and then realizing you don’t even know where they are, or, like I did one time, traipsing all the way there, FINDING them, and then realizing you’ve forgotten the Tao Te Bouldering (aka the guidebook).

The first bloc you see when arriving to the 420 boulder is the majestic Wise Man’s Fear V6 (V5 on Mountain Project [really kinda over how there’s a different rating for everything depending if you consult the guidebook, Mountain Project, or Sendage]). After getting your breath taken away by this hunk of geologic wet dream, your eyes will inevitably be drawn to the hypnotic Diamond Engagement V6, which might even be more aesthetically pleasing despite the slight feeling you get when looking at it that you may never be able to look away, that you might just camp out in the little nook below the start holds, spending the next few years of your life shivering and soiling yourself but somehow still happy just to be in the presence of this beautiful bloc.

We were looking for easy blocs though, so we headed over to French Arete V1 and French Slab V2, which were KIND of fun but also just….kinda not. Well, ok, French Arete is legit fun. It’s a perfect arete. It’s kinda highball. It’s not contrived in the least. But French Slab V2???? What are you supposed to do on this thing? Going straight up seems like a V3 at least, and going up and then grabbing the arete is a V0. So. I don’t know. Like. Try hard?

We tried the first moves of the slab many times but were not able to get our feet up on the ice cream cone shaped hold at about shoulder height due to lack of hands up high. Our only solace was the fact that the sun came out and started roasting our dermises. I immediately took my shirt off and started flexing to take advantage of the situation. I wanted to try Dinosaur Skin V4 but was warded off by the wretched crack between the base of this boulder and the boulder that forms the landing. Do people shove stuff in there before putting pads down? Or do they just ignore it like true crushers? One day I’ll know. Either way none of us were able to go straight up on French Slab, so eventually we peaced out and walked back mostly because we were over it and also because I wanted to have strength to try Serenity Now V4 on the way back, which would be my FIRST EVER V4 if I were able to send it, but that’s a subject for another day, another post, aka tomorrow, aka sometime soon.

PARTY!!!!!!!

-Wetz

 

A Modified Bouldering Goal | R2V7 #23

camp serene boulder aka zeke's boulder
Zeke’s Boulder aka The Camp Serene Boulder. Gold Bar, WA.

Autumn 2020 in the Northern Hemisphere will begin on September 22, 2020. This is earlier than I thought. I thought it was September 28th, or something like that. But that’s besides the point. The point is this: I have very little time to accomplish my goal, which was to send V7 by the end of the summer  (hence The Road to V7 that has dominated this blog for much of the past few months). There’s still a hail Mary chance it could happen. I COULD go to Mr. Smooth next week at the Skykomish River Boulders and somehow send it, but at this point I don’t really care. I wouldn’t consider sending Mr. Smooth really sending V7 since it would be such a fluke. So I’m going to concentrate on a modified goal, one that is actually achievable by the end of this summer (aka in the next four days): Climbing V4.

Yes, that’s right friends, you heard it here fifth: My goal has changed. I have modified my goal. Does this mean I’m going to give up on climbing V7 altogether? Of course. In fact, after I climb V4 I’m probably just going to give up on life. I’m going to let myself become obese and I’m going to start drinking again and I’m going to spend the majority of my days railing on about the “ills of society.” I’m going to move to Italy, and by Italy I of course mean New Hampshire. I’m going to buy a little cabin in the woods and fester there. I’m going to start talking to animals. And maybe, when no one’s looking, I’ll head out in the middle of the night, naked, to try to relive my bouldering glory days, a bottle of Fireball in one hand, a tube of liquid chalk in the other. Some Birkenstocks on my feet. And I’ll climb V0.

I’m kidding, of course. Guys, I’m not done bouldering. I’m just getting started. Yesterday I had a conversation with the doctor about my shoulder. It went a bit like this:

“Yoooooooo, Marko, what is cracking?”

“Hey doc, still running from all those malpractice suits?”

“Ha ha! You know it, dog. So tell me about your shoulder.”

“Well, doctor, it really does seem to be a classic overuse injury, I’m just not sure exactly which tendons/muscles it’s affecting. Apparently the most used muscles for climbing are the lats, but judging merely by its location it seems like it could also be the teres major.”

“Interesting, interesting. So, basically you’re just a huge pussy?”

“That’s right, doc. Haven’t even sent V4 yet.”

“Jesus.”

“I know.”

“I can literally send V4 using only one arm and one leg.”

“Doc, I’ve only been climbing for less than a year.”

“By the end of my first year I was already sending V10’s. Of course, there was a lot of coke going around those days…”

“Bishop?”

“God no. Red Rocks.”

“Cool.”

“OK. Here’s what to do about your shoulder.”

“I’m 78% ears.”

“First of all, stop complaining about it. Second of all, do some damn stretching. And third of all, send V4.”

Doc hangs up.

OK, so that was slightly different than the actual conversation, but I had to paraphrase because I don’t remember most of the real conversation. Basically it ended with the wonderful doctor giving me a referral for physical therapy. The thing is, I’ve already started doing my own physical therapy. I’ve found some killer videos on shoulder and hip mobility made by a guy named Tom Merrick in England. I’ve gotten a foam roller for my back and shoulder and IT bands and adductors and hamstrings. I’ve started doing chest exercises to strengthen the muscles that oppose the shoulder muscles. And lastly, I haven’t climbed in two full days. I’m resting. I’m a good little patient. I want to get better. I want to get strong. I might not even climb tomorrow. Or Sunday. I could possibly get three or four days of nourishing, unadulterated rest! Or I could just get in my car right now and drive to Serenity Now V4 and possibly send it. Or I could just leave my boat and walk to the grocery store. Or I could meditate. Or I could drive to REI and return the stupid therapy cane I bought which is completely superfluous now that I have a foam roller.

Before I go, I’ll leave you with a list of the most likely V4’s that could go in the next four days, thus completing my goal. One criteria! They must be listed as V4 in the guidebook AND ALSO ON MOUTAIN PROJECT! This means no I Don’t F$#ck with Cockroaches or French Tickler at the Paradise boulders. Anyway:

Zelda Rails V4 (Index)

Serenity Now V4 (Highway 2 just past Gold Bar)

Fridge Center V4 (Leavenworth) 

Unnamed V4 (on the King of Hill Boulder, Paradise, Skykomish)

Bushy Tail Traverse V5 (Paradise Boulders, near Skykomish)

(Side note: I walked to the bathroom right now and tried to think of more on the way but couldn’t. And then there was someone in the bathroom and I wanted to murder them. AKA I need to finish this post and go back. All caps AKA is way too aggressive. Aka is much better)

All right, so that’s it, that’s the goal. Send V4. I will be pretty happy if in the first nine months of my bouldering I’d already sent V4 outside. I feel like that’s not terrible. I’m already fairly happy just with V3, but V4 sounds way more badass. If you’re reading this and have any suggestions for V4’s that are ALSO V4’s on Mountain Project but on the softer side (see: Egyptian cotton pillow), please let me know. It’s gonna take some cooperation from the weather and my shoulder and my psyche for this to happen.

That said, a quiet confidence lingers throughout…..

Stay happy, stay healthy!

– Wetz

(pardon the intermission)

Hello friends. As you may or may not have noticed it’s been awhile since I blogged. This is because I haven’t been bouldering and this blog is currently, ostensibly, dedicated to stone-wrestling. However! Do not despair, because I am not only back in the United States of America, I am also probably going bouldering pretty damn soon. Like, maybe even tomorrow. Like, I might just drive to the Camp Serene boulder tomorrow after my call with my life coach and try to send Serenity Now V4 once and for all, a prospect which terrifies me, like actually terrifies me, because once you get past the crux of this boulder (which I’ve never done), you’re, well, pretty damn high. And I don’t really know what to expect up there. I do know there is a gorgeous hold which basically looks like a brick. I do know that at the top of the boulder there’s a juggy seam which, once you grab, should make it pretty easy to top out. But I only know all of this in theory. I don’t know it in practice. I would like to know it in practice. I would like to know what it’s like to send V4.

But also, once I send V4 it doesn’t make me a V4 climber. You could give someone a basketball who’s never played the game before and tell ’em to shoot half-court shots and sooner or later they’re probably gonna sink one. Which is kind of like me projecting these V4’s right now. I still struggle with plenty of V2’s. Hell, I struggle with some V1’s. But also I feel like Serenity Now is within my wheelhouse. I feel like I’m pretty close to sending. I feel like it’s more mental than anything. And here’s the thing: I’ve never gone to this boulder fresh and just dedicated a session to trying to send Serenity Now. Like, given it my all.

Which I still might not do tomorrow because even if I do go bouldering I don’t know if I wanna just go to one boulder and have that be the whole session.

I’m sitting on my boat right now and one thing I’ve noticed since getting back yesterday evening is that the temps are starting to drop. We’re starting to get into the fall season. Leavenworth is going to be game on very, very, very (very) soon. This Saturday looks great for Leavenworth, but sadly (happily) I think I’m going surfing. Because that’s what I was doing the whole time in Mexico and I actually have surf muscles right now and I want to take advantage of them while being on the Olympic Peninsula with friends.

I hope you all have been well. Yesterday was a bit of a gnarly evening because I got back and drank a Focusaid and smoked a rollie and then had a hell of a time getting to sleep. I probably slept about five hours. If it weren’t for a wee nap around 12:30pm I would’ve been completely frazzled all day.

Friends, I’m having trouble once again finding purpose in life. I didn’t find it in my last job. It’s not completely there with bouldering or surfing. Something’s missing and I’m not sure what it is. It’s not a woman, though I would love to have a partner right now. It’s not a job, though actually it might be a job, just the right job. Maybe it’s writing? Maybe it’s blogging? Has that ever been enough? Have I ever dedicated myself in mind and soul and body to the blogging life? Maybe I should.

I’ll let you know tomorrow, or the next day, if I end up going bouldering tomorrow. I’ll let you know either way. If I don’t go tomorrow it will definitely be sometime next week. I’m thinking the Morpheus Boulders. I’m thinking the Clearcut Boulders. I’m thinking Fern Crack V3. I’m thinking Fridge Center V4 in Leavenworth. I’m thinking Fountain Blues V0 over and over and over.

Fall is coming and I’m not even mad about it!

 

Hellfire Burns (and Climbing Everyday) | R2V4 #16

If someone had a gun to my head today and said, “Send V4 or I’m gonna pull the trigger,” what would I do? Honestly, I don’t know if I would get in my car right now and go right to Serenity Now V4. I don’t know if that has the best sending potential. I DEFINITELY wouldn’t go to Zelda Dyno V4, since you gotta be able to rag on some decently small crimps for that one, and I don’t want to do that right now. I’d need something that I sort of have the beta on, and that’s sort of my style. Maybe The Enigma V4, at the River Boulders? Maybe Dropping the Chicken V4 up at the Devil’s Club Forest Boulders, though last time I wasn’t really even coming close to getting the first move? Maybe Fridge Center V4, though the high today in Leavenworth is supposed to be…..dear jesus…104?

Anyway, just some fun morning thoughts. I guess in the end I would realistically drive straight to Serenity Now V4, mess around on the slab a bit, maybe climb up the downclimb to warm up, and then give it a few balls-to-the-wall burns.  Like, hellfire burns. Like, scream burns. Like, pretend-you-don’t-have-a-pad burns. Like, actually take your pad away to make falling less of an option? burns. Or something like that. The question is, would the dude (I’m assuming it’s a dude) with the gun ride shotgun with me to the boulder, holding the gun to my head the whole way? Would he drive his own car? Would that car be something vaguely pathetic, like a newish Mustang? Would he be the kind of guy who wears a leather coat? And why would he care so much about me sending V4? Why wouldn’t he want to just support my progression as a climber? Or maybe he WOULD be supporting my progression as a boulderer, just in ways beyond my comprehension.

Is this the lion’s mane talking?

For the time being I’m going to do one of two things: Not write posts for awhile, until I can start climbing again. OR, ALTERNATIVELY, write posts every damn day. Because since I’m not working right now I have more time to write, and I kind of like starting the morning in this way. I get up, I prepare myself a cup of matcha bacopa lion’s mane sludge, and I pull out the laptop. I think about bouldering even if I’m not really trying to. I think about going climbing that day even though I definitely shouldn’t. Or maybe I should climb everyday. Maybe I should legitimately figure out a way to basically be climbing everyday. Like, put myself on a schedule where I’m climbing two days on, one day off, and it doesn’t matter how hard I send, it doesn’t matter how long I climb or what I climb, I just have to get out there. Though that’s a lot of driving. And I JUST froze my gym membership. Not that I really feel like climbing in a gym right now anyway. But if I DID do that, and my body were to adjust, then I’d get really damn strong, really damn quick. I’d be sending a message to my body that says, “Hey, dickweed, we’re going to be doing this (almost) everyday. So get used to it. Maybe help me out with those tendon flexors a bit? Thanks.” But instead the message I’m sending to my body right now is, “Ohhhh, are you hurt? Are you feeling bad? I’m so sorry. Take a week off. Take two. Wouldn’t want to overdo it….”

No, the answer is: overdo it. Be a gladiator. Be a warrior. Send V4.

Fly Like an Egret | R2V4 #6

Waking up on my boat, indigestion, listening to the rain outside, watching the rain drip down the plexiglass. Takes me so long to get out of bed. Boat smells like farts from eating a pound of cherries last night after “dinner,” aka a spicy falafel wrap from Trader Joe’s. Trying to SORT OF fast this morning, aka you’re always fasting when you wake up, aka breakfast, aka I wish I could just instantly be teleported to Leavenworth right now so I could climb. Where would I climb? Honestly, I just want to repeat Fountainblues V0 over and over and over, savoring the silky slopers (they are somehow soft even though they’re made of granite), savoring each move, never topping out, just practicing the new foot beta I learned which makes the problem so much easier. I would argue though, and I would argue vehemently, that if you start on the bottom sloper on the arete that there’s still no WAY this problem is a V0. More like a V1. But then again my Loser Beta from before was making the problem so much harder. Now that I have the Crusher Beta the problem is so much easier. Crusher Beta. Loser Beta. Fountainblues.

I could of course GET IN MY CAR and drive to Leavenworth, aka the modern day version of teleporting, a trip that on horseback would’ve taken a week and now takes 2.5 hours, but I’m not going to do this. Unless I carpool with someone or unless I’m DEFINITELY camping there tonight, it seems wasteful. Drive all the way out there just so I can NOT send Briefs V3, get an iced coffee, and then drive all the way back? See? Wasteful. So wasteful. It makes way more sense just mope around on my boat and watch bouldering videos, like this one I was just watching from Colorado:

That arpeggio is definitely V4. At least. Probably more like V6.

OK, sorry, now for an ACTUAL bouldering video:

I actually have an ENTIRE BLOG dedicated to Pulisic. Hold up a sec, let me find the link: https://www.straightouttahershey.com/

As you can see, it’s been a while since I updated this blog. Not that I’m not obsessed with Christian Pulisic anymore, or anything Christian, really. Watching the Sheffield United vs. Chelsea game yesterday was one of the highlights of July so far, even though they lost and and even though Christian played terribly (touches were just a bit off).

But BACK TO BOULDERING. BACK TO THE ROAD TO V4.

Despite whinging a bit, I’m actually very well established on the road to V4. I feel good about it. My diet is decent. I’ve already started projecting some V4’s, most notably Serenity Now V4 at the Camp Serene boulder. Yesterday I hung out there for a few burns on my way back from the Index River Boulders, and the session went really well. It has to be one of the most fun climbs that exists, and I’ve only done the first half. I can’t imagine what stringing it all together must be like. I can’t imagine what wrapping my hippo paw around that brick at the top is going to feel like, and then reaching for the dorsal fin, and then topping out like an egret and just flying away, flying off the boulder, out over the Skykomish Valley, and beyond, beyond.

Ups and Downs | R2V4 #1

Look at it. Look how it glistens in the sun. Look at how much cooler the “4” looks at the end of R2V4 than the “3” looked at the end of R2V3. Yes, friends, we have moved onto a new chapter: V4.

Of course, this isn’t the only bouldering milestone I look forward to in the near future, nor even the only milestone I look forward to grade-wise. I’ve still only climbed ONE V3 outside at this point. I’ve only climbed ONE V2 that wasn’t a slab. So there are tons more grade milestones to achieve that don’t even involve climbing V4. Flash V2, for instance. Climb a bunch more V3’s. Flash a V3. Flash a V16. Move to Finland. Get a tattoo of a spider on my abdomen. Get a tattoo of an eye…on my neck. Get a horrible almost bowl cut mushroom thing. Get ripped as fuck. Start sport climbing. Wait a minute, no on that last one. Never start sport climbing. Sport climbing is lame.

Why is sport climbing lame? Because you have a rope…

Why is bouldering rad? Because you don’t have a rope…

I mean, that’s pretty much it, isn’t it? Sure sport climbing is probably thrilling. But, like, you’re strapped into a harness. That goes around your upper inner thighs and fits all snug. Probably causes your boxers to roll up. And then you have bolts drilled into the rock? Um, cool, that sounds totally natural. Let’s go up on that beautiful granite face and just start drilling shit into it. Awesome. Good idea. Sport climbing is totally rad.

Anyway. I actually did go climbing today. Sort of. I took my sister’s dog up to the boulders, and I tried the sit start on a V3 for like a half hour, sort of learned how to do the first move — maybe? — and then went to Serenity Now V4 where I definitely made some advances. I was able to get my left fingers into the little slot thing and actually hold the position, just hold it there, and prepare to move my right hand somewhere to stabilize myself so I could stand up. After that you’re ESSENTIALLY at the top, except that the top is still (or at least feels) several hundred yards away. What a beautiful dihedral though, right? Have you ever seen a more perfect dihedral?

Dihedral?

I would like to go climbing tomorrow. I would like to go WITH someone. This will not happen. Unfortunately.

What’s happening right now? I’m drinking black tea. And thinking about bouldering. And also thinking about not bouldering. I’m also thinking about taking my sister’s dog for a walk. And about watching Border Town. Honestly I probably won’t go outdoor, real bouldering again until Sunday evening at the earliest. Which is a bit of a bummer. But in the grand scheme of things matters not a whit.

Not a whit.

 

 

Serenity Now V4 | First Sesh | R2V3 #11

Morning, y’all.

I would normally never write a blog this early but I want to talk a little about yesterday’s sesh and if I don’t do it now I feel like I won’t do it at all. Or I’ll do it later tonight when I’m not as into it and when I’d rather just sit down and watch the latest episode of “Border Town.”

I knew it was a little bit dumb, but I did it anyway. Yesterday immediately after getting off work at 12pm I drove out to Gold Bar, where, guess what? It was raining. And then I drove to Index where, guess what? It wasn’t raining, but everything was wet. And then it started raining. And then I drove to the East Miller River Valley where, guess what? It was kinda sunny. But everything was still wet. And then it started raining briefly. And then it stopped and the sun came out but it didn’t feel like the stone was drying out anytime soon.

Now, keep in mind, folks, that I wasn’t trying to force anything. I wanted to climb but I was also content to wait until it was the right moment. And of course I COULD have driven all the way to Leavenworth, but I didn’t feel like it. Too much driving. Too many mountain passes. Too much Eastern Washington. So after the East Miller River Valley I got back in my car and started driving back towards Seattle, guided by my intuition like a moth to flame but in this case instead of flame we’re talking about moderate blocs. My intention was to check out the Camp Serene Boulder aka Zeke’s Boulder aka one of the most beautiful blocs in the great state of WA, and indeed, when I got there, it was….dry.

This was witchcraft.

The Camp Serene boulder lies just on the south side of Highway 2, a mere couple hundred feet from the highway, and is home to one of the most beautiful lines I’ve yet to lay eyes on, aka Serenity Now V4, which in the Western Washington Bouldering guidebook is graded a V5 but over the years seems to have been downgraded. Not that it really matters. I just wanted to check out this line. I actually checked it out last time I was out there, when it was completely wet, and was fascinated by it. It starts on some pretty juggy holds and then moves right into a sort of dihedral thing and is just a hot mess of sidepulls, open-palmed smears and smooth granite (or whatever its composition is). I was a bit mesmerized by it. And yesterday evening I was actually able to get on it.

My approach to starting this V4 was very different than how I’ve approached difficult (for me) boulders in the past. I didn’t try to flash it. Instead, the only thing I tried to do was THE FIRST MOVE. Aka go from being matched on a low ledge to getting my left hand up. That was it! And I could do that pretty easily. Then I got a bit stuck and “cheated,” aka sat down and looked for beta on YouTube. Of which there is an abundance. Using that beta I was able to get to the first crux, Which consists of having both hands on fairly juggy crimps and pulling your body weight up so you can get your right foot on the ledge you started on. Or your left foot. I’ve watched a ton of people do this problem, and some people go left foot, some people go right. Left foot makes a lot more sense to me, but then the hard part is releasing your left hand, bringing it across your body, and inserting it into one of the fairly tiny sidepulls in the dihedral. And then you either just stand up, or you smear your right hand on some knobby features and stand up. It LOOKS like it’s not too hard after that. But it could also be really hard. The people who I watched doing my “crux” cruised it as if it was nothing, so many the real crux is actually further up. And this is no lowball. I think you can do it with one big pad, but you gotta have some mustard once you get to the top. It would be nice to practice the topout, but without a rope that’s not an option.

So, I made some pretty good progress, and am fascinated by this line. After the sesh I just stood there looking at it for a bit. I can’t wait to go back. I have so many projects now! Fridge Center V4, Briefs V3, Rocksteadeasy V3, Serenity Now V4, and I’m sure there will be more to come.

But for now I must “go to work,” aka go to work. It’s almost that time. And tomorrow, back to the mountains. Hopefully straight to Gold Bar.