A Day at Vantage || Road to 5.12???

Good morning, all. How is everyone doing this morning? If you’re like me you’re sitting on your boat thinking about what caffeine you’re going to drink next, reveling in the incredible forecast for Seattle, Index and Leavenworth for the next week. Take a gander at the Seattle forecast:

That’s a lot of yellow orbs, if I’m not mistaken. A lot of sun. Highs right around room temperature. Lows around the sending range. A good time to get out on your project, if I dare to say so myself.

AKA.

Vantage?

Yesterday was only my second ever rope-climbing experience outdoors! I repeat: second ever rope-climbing experience outdoors! The other time was in Red Rocks in Vegas where I might’ve top-roped 5.8? I’m not sure. That experience has been lost in the sands(tone) of time as I no longer remember what the route or even the area was called. Something about a Wizard’s Hat? Calico Basin? The Kraft Boulders? Sorange V3?

A senhora entende?

Honestly I don’t remember. I do remember I got an earl grey with heavy cream from the Starbucks on the way to that rope-climbing expedition and instead of just giving me a LITTLE heavy cream they gave me all heavy cream. No water. It was just a wet sock in a bucket of cream.

And it was kind of delicious.

But anyway. Vantage.

Yesterday Adi and Wyatt and I and a MASSIVE (see: like seven people) crew went to Vantage to do some good ol’ rope dangling. Some hangdogging. Some cragging. If you didn’t know I’m HUGE into cragging, especially the part where you sit at the base of the crag minding the dogs and hopefully eating the chocolate chip cookies. Every other part? Not so much. I mean, I guess the APPROACH to the crag ain’t so bad. I guess the climbing itself ain’t so bad. And even belaying ain’t so bad. So why don’t I like cragging more? Why do I kind of regard cragging as a stressful, windswept, sunburnt shit show? I don’t know. I think the main reason is I don’t feel comfortable doing all of the things surrounding rope climbing. I don’t feel comfortable with the climbing itself. I don’t feel that comfortable belaying. I always feel like I’m gonna be in someone’s way or do something wrong or do something that’s going to hurt or piss someone else off. Add to this the fact that in this already stressful situation you’re usually perched AT THE BASE OF ONE CLIFF AND AT THE TOP OF ANOTHER and it’s all kinda just like…stressful.

Not to say that there weren’t wonderful moments yesterday.

AKA I almost sent 10c.

AKA I almost top-roped 10c.

AKA I had to ask Spencer, the guy who belayed me, to take, and I was so bummed about it even though my elbow tendonitis had flared its ugly head like the Lernaean Hydra come to devour an unsuspecting sailor, and even though I was also pumped as balls because I was climbing like dog shit — perpetually locked off, arms not even close to straight or efficient, basically cruxed and gripped out of my mind. I sat there for a second after he took, thinking about the next moves and wishing I could just lower down, but then when I actually went for it it wasn’t that bad and next thing I knew I was at the anchor and all I could think was, Why didn’t I just climb better so I didn’t have to ask him to take? Why is my technique so bad? Why can’t I just spend all day in a perpetual outside flag?

Aka flagging.

Aka outside flag.

Aka back flag.

After trying Professor Pogue’s Precarious Pinnacle (the 10c) I was basically done and went into support/dog watching mode. I found a nice little niche under where people were climbing and chilled with the dogs, who spent much of the time either crying or lying on a dirty sweatshirt. I, alternately, spent much of the time squinting/wearing a dirty fleece. Behind me I could hear belayers talking to climbers and vice versa, and people (possibly) sending. Wyatt went for broke on a 10b called Steel Pulse and Adi stemmed the shit out of an aesthetic trad line called Tangled Up In Blue 5.9. There was also a dude with us, Kyle, who had never climbed before in his life, and who kind of rocked a 5.7 or 5.8 (can’t remember) called The Chossmaster and who tried his damndest on Tangled Up In Blue. I was stoked to see him try hard, and also stoked to get tons of top rope belay experience holding someone tight since I basically yarded on the rope after having him ever so slightly too loose at the beginning and letting him mini-deck.

Wyatt on Steel Pulse.
Adi high up on Tangled Up In Blue.

As things were winding down Wyatt started to really crank on a (I think) 5.11b/c mixed route called (again, I think) Crossing the Delaware with Your Pants Down. At this point I only had one thought on my mind though: Get back to the car. Eat. So I skedaddled while the people with dogs took the  long way home and we all met at the cars, where I was sitting in the back seat drinking energy drinks and generally not reflecting on the day but rather just staring out at the stunning vistas, plains, mesas and buttes that are Frenchman Coulee. Then people got back to the car, we ate some sour gummy worms, and drove home.

So, second rope-climbing experience was MORE successful, but comfort and full-on stoke for rope-climbing is still a long way off. I need to ease into it more. I need to get my own equipment, go with a friend to a baby crag, and just mess around. None of this long (see: normal) pitch stuff. I need to get comfortable being on a rope. I need to get comfortable belaying.

Or I just need to stick to bouldering.

 

Sport Climbing at Marymoor Park

It turns out after my try hard day last Monday my body needs a break. I know what you’re thinking: real climbers don’t take breaks. Real climbers fall asleep with one hand on a quarter pad crimp. So maybe I’m just not a real climber. Cut me a little slack.

Speaking of taking breaks, yesterday I went…..sport climbing. Yes, you read that correctly. I actually went sport climbing, and led my first ever pitch. I had always heard leading was cool, and that it was significantly harder than top roping. And I would say this: the coolness factor somehow makes up for the difficulty/danger factor. What I mean is, when you lead you feel like you’re actually climbing, like you’re the one doing the work, making the progress. But when you toprope you feel that the goal has already been accomplished, and not by you. You feel as if everything has already been done, and you’re blazing no new ground. Also, I loved the first few feet before you get to the first bolt on lead, because then you’re bouldering. And actually, the climbing BETWEEN all the bolts felt like bouldering, too. So it’s like every bolt you get to you get to momentarily feel completely secure, and then between the bolts there’s a bit of thrill. Whereas with top rope there’s no real thrill at all. Or rather, there is a thrill, but it’s an empty thrill.

Either way I had a great time, and was really happy to lead for the first time. Now I just have to take it to real rock, since we were at Marymoor Park.

IN OTHER NEWS, I think I finally figured out what shoe I’m gonna get. The Tenaya Mastia. Or the Tenaya Oasi. Or the Tenaya Iati. Or the Tenaya Mundaka. Slash I have NO idea what show I’m going to get, I just know it’s gonna be Tenaya. I think — THINK — it’s gonna be the Mastia, since it’s only sale on Backcountry.com and it’s also got the raddest heel of the the Tenaya shoes and is a little more rigid than the Mundaka. It’s also supposedly just the next step in the Tenaya evolution, and also Jimmy Webb wears them when he sends Lucid Dreaming V15, so like, I should probably get them, right? I mean if Jimmy Webb can send V15 in Bishop in them then I’ll probably have no problem sending Ketron Classic V4 when I go to Bishop next time. This logic is fullproof. In fact, maybe I’ll even send my first V5 in Mastias. Wouldn’t that be something? Maybe I’ll send The Pearl in Red Rocks, or Pentaphobia in Leavenworth. Or maybe I’ll become a sport climbing machine.

Slash my back hurts and my hip flexors hurt and I don’t know what to do about it.

I think today’s post may be a bit on the short side, since I don’t really have much else to talk about.

When will I go bouldering again? Back and body permitting, probably next Wednesday. Temps are looking good for the Skykomish Valley. I don’t really have any projects I’m super jazzed on trying now that I’ve done Zelda Rails V4. Usually it takes awhile to find the next project. What I would like to do is just go send a bunch of easy routes and maybe send something a little harder, like a V3. A new V3, though. I would love to send The Jewel V3, at the River Boulders, but you need two pads for that. I guess I could always rent a pad from REI, though that seems a little kooky for some reason.

OK time to do some activities I’ve been putting off and possibly go swimming for the third time today.

– MW

No Rest Days for the Weary || Road to V-Tranquility

I have settled into a routine of bouldering every other day, and my body is deteriorating because of it. Detoriating or preparing to get really freaking strong. This is what happened last year: I started bouldering almost every day when my body just could just baaaaarely handle it.

I’d be at work and say to my coworker Bea, “I think I’m gonna climb today.”

“Didn’t you climb yesterday?”

“Maybe.”

“How’s your body holding up?”

“It’s hanging in there. Barely.”

And then I took a rest for a few days or a week or maybe the pandemic hit and suddenly I felt so good, so strong.

These are the things I need to keep in mind on a day like today, when I go to the gym and don’t send my project and if anything feel like I’m making negative progress. Because even when you’re not feeling strong you can still work on technique. In fact, when you’re not feeling strong may be the BEST time to work on technique, cuz that’s when you need it most.

Still kinda wish I’d sent that blue today, though.

Hurting my hip flexor has made it abundantly clear that my well-being needs to be the primary focus. Screw being able to climb, I just want to feel healthy, limber, strong. If I feel these things, then obviously I’m going to be able to boulder. I’ll be able to do a host of other things, too: play soccer, run, skydive. I would so much rather be healthy and boulder less than boulder all the time and have my body be destroyed. But this is a realization that has taken precisely that — destroying my body — to come to. My knee, my hip, my fingers, my elbow, my shoulder. The moral of the story is: Bouldering is hard on your body. It’s harder on your body than sport climbing. Why do you think the natural progression is to go from bouldering to sport climbing, and not the other way around? It’s because sport climbing you’re doing less intense stuff, just a lot more of it. If you can climb a V3 boulder over and over and over, you’ll be a killer sport climber. You might be the best at the crag on a given day. If you can climb V7 over and over and over, you’re going to be world class. Or at least national class. Or at least county class. Or at least city class. Or at least neighborhood class. Or at least street class. Or at least household class.

I’m tired. I was riding a high from mate about an hour ago but now I’ve come off it. I’m basically waiting to have dinner with friends. Not really sure what to do. It’s cloudy and cold outside. I could take a nap. I could clean my boat, but it’s already pretty damn clean. I could work on my writing project, but I’m taking the day off. I could apply for jobs, but I’m not ready for that, yet.

Maybe I’ll just do nothing.

 

 

Unnamed V3 aka A Day in Index | Road to V4!

Good morning, Friends and Lovers. Friends of course, in the platonic sense, and lovers also sort of in the platonic sense, i.e. lovers of bouldering, lovers of good literature, lovers of good tea, lovers of getting lost in foreign lands, lovers of Vancouver, lovers of crossing borders, lovers of Leavenworth, lovers of Index, etc. etc. You are all my friends and lovers. We are lovers. Lovers of life. Lovers of yerba mate and earl grey tea.

Etc., etc.

(Etc.).

OK, sorry, I really am just waking up right now, and I am having a cup of earl grey tea mixed with coconut/almond creamer, but my brain still hasn’t woken up. I actually woke up at a like 8:30am today, which is WAY past when I normally wake up, and I credit this to the fact that I’m sleeping MUCH better now that I’ve moved the fan further away from my person, and also because of what will be one of the subjects of today’s blog, a somewhat dastardly fall I took while bouldering yesterday at the River Boulders near Index.

That’s right, friends: I fell.

But it’s OK. Honestly, I’m kinda glad it happened. And while I rolled my right angle and gently sprained my right wrist and almost hit my head, I’m just glad it wasn’t worse, because it could’ve been much worse.

But it wasn’t worse.

It was fine.

Let me start at the beginning of yesterday, though. Let’s walk through the whole damn day, step by step. You don’t have anything better to do, right? You’re sitting at home “working remotely,” aka mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or watching YouTube videos or trying to figure out why your damn sourdough isn’t rising. So just take a second and let’s take a little stroll through my day yesterday. Because these fall days are beautiful, and yesterday, despite the fall, and even BECAUSE of the fall, was gorgeous.

OK. The beginning. I was at coffee in Queen Anne with Carolyn. Storyville. This place has AMAZING coffee but is expensive AF and apparently owned by Christians. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Just something to note. The insane prices are most noteworthy.

Carolyn (bless her right ventricle) treated me to a DECAF soy latte, which hit the spot in so many ways. We sat there at the table on the sidewalk, watching people walk by, talking about our lives, a scent of fall in the air and leaves turning colors strewn about the sidewalk. A slight bite to the air, if you know what I mean, and the sun, which doesn’t rise quite as high, leaves a light that is distinctly fall-ish, enhancing the already beautiful colors of the leaves. In short, there’s nothing better than drinking good coffee outside a cafe with a friend on a beautiful fall day.

Then, I drove off alone to go boulder Index, and Carolyn went off to go sportclimb Exit 38, but 20 minutes into my drive she called and said her friend had bailed and could she come bouldering with me? I of course did a backflip inside my car and then calmly said, “Yeah, that sounds good. Where do you wanna meet?” We met at the Wal-Mart in Monroe, Washington, and I went inside to get some deodorant and browse, which was a singular experience. Take back our freedom!!!!! Don’t take our guns!!!! Build that f$#$ing wall! These are the rallying cries of the Monrovian. The best part is in the next town over, Startup (you can’t make up these names), someone has a banner on their fence that says (wait for it): “Viva la revolution. Take back our freedom.”

In how many ways is this funny. We could probably break this little banner down over the next 10 or so paragraphs, but I’ll keep my questions short. First of all, why “Viva la REVOLUTION” and not “Viva la REVOLUCION”??? Why is “revolution” in English when the first part is in Spanish???? Also, to what revolution are they referring? I assume, and this is the best part, that they’re sub- consciously referring to the Cuban Revolution, i.e. the advent of communism in that country, i.e. in many minds the antithesis of freedom.  BUT WHO KNOWS. WHO CAN GET IN THE COMPLEX MINDS OF THE WONDERFUL FOLKS OF STARTUP. Maybe this is actually WAY beyond me, and I’m the idiot here. Maybe they’re referring to the French Revolution and some kind of agrarian takeover. I JUST DON’T KNOW. But either way, I’m so intrigued. You’ve done it again, Startup.

(ok let’s take a quick intermission. tea time, coffee time, whatever. just get up and stretch a bit and then we’ll continue talking about the day).

OK, back.

After Wal-Mart in Monroe we drove to Index where we checked out the Lower Mound climbing area. I was fairly non-plussed (complete wrong use of that word). I don’t really care about sport climbing but it was cool and inspiring to stand at the bottom of some of these routes, following the bolts to the top as your neck begins to crik. I could see myself climbing many of the routes and instantly see the main difference between sport climbing and bouldering. Sport climbing is endurance, bouldering is difficulty. Take a V3 bouldering problem and stretch that over many moves and you have an insanely hard sportclimbing route.

ANWAY. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes. Carolyn and I then drove over to the River Boulders, just a hop skip and a pas de bourre from the Town Walls, and we walked down the path saying, “Copper wires! Copper wires! Copper wires!!!” because on one of the paths leading down to the boulders there are a bunch of copper wires cris-crossing it, and it looks like they were almost put there by design to make someone trip. I would’ve already tripped on them many times if I didn’t have the reactions of a Thompson’s Gazelle. And I didn’t want Carolyn to trip on them, so thus began our rallying cry.

My whole GOAL, as you’ll know from yesterday’s post, was to climb Finger Crack V3. I had watched videos on this climb, thought about the moves, even PRACTISED THEM IN THE SHOWER so that I would be ready for this boulder. And what happened? Well, it was wet. There was water in the crack. Even though it had been dry all day, there was water in the crack. So we had to improvise. We warmed up (Carolyn sent it in amazing fashion) on Unnamed V1 around the corner, and then started having cracks at Unnamed V3, which is just down from Unnamed V1. Unnamed V3 (which I really wish had a name), is a pretty fabulous problem. You start with a right hand on a sidepull and left hand on an undercling with your feet on a sloping ledge, traverse left a bit, grab a ledge above you, and then proceed to haul yourself up onto that ledge while reaching for a decent hold just below the lip. I didn’t have that much desire to session this boulder, but these were the proverbial lemons that our proverbial lives had given us, and sessioning it meant making the proverbial lemonade.

We were both giving it good go’s, and I was getting somewhat close (I’d sessioned it once before with Barold), and then I tried a somewhat different beta where I moved even further down the sloping ledge before reaching for the lip, and the beta worked because I was able to grab the hold just under the lip perfectly, and PULL MYSELF ONTO THE LEDGE, and then grab the lip, and then, and then…..

This is where things kind of broke down.

You see, the ledge before the lip was kinda wet. So by the time I got to the lip my hands were kinda wet. And even though I felt tremendously unstable I just, well, went for it.

And that’s when I remember falling from somewhat great heights to the pad below, BARELY catching the edge of the pad, rolling my right ankle slightly, spraining my right wrist slightly to break my fall, and ALMOST, ALMOST hitting my head on a rock right before I tumbled to a stop.

I sat on the ground for a second clutching my right wrist and breathing. “I’m fine,” I told Carolyn. I was 80% sure I was fine. I just lay there for a few moments, in the rocks. “That’s the gnarliest fall I’ve ever taken bouldering,” I said.

Eventually I got up and surveyed the extent of my injuries. I knew the next few minutes would tell the tale. If things got worse, something was wrong. If things got better, then I was in the clear.

And thankfully I’m pretty much in the clear. Though my wrist and ankle are feeling a bit tender today.

Now, that was basically the end of that session, and HERE’S THE DEAL:

I’m not bummed about it. In fact, I’m stoked. The fall could’ve been WAY WORSE and was an eye opener. When you don’t have proper pad setups and things are wet, DON’T PUSH YOURSELF. Also, I came REALLY close to sending that problem, and know I will when I go back. Also, I made some beta breakthroughs, i.e. figuring out how to solve problems, and that’s huge and actually the subject for a different post.

We got back in the car and had a nice drive back. All in all it was a good day, and I was stoked on the session. Now I have a good excuse to rest a few days and then, well, I’ll be back. Ready for dry granite, ready to send, and ready to see some damn larches.

Viva la revolution!

– Wetz