Go Climb (or don’t)

I’m back on the boat. The road trip is over. All in all it was about 10 days, and not a ton of climbing happened.

One reason not a ton of climbing happened is that my body didn’t feel up to it. I was sacrificing my body to the V5 gods, and the V5 gods said, “We don’t want this.”

There was one specific day in Bishop where everything changed. I was in the Sads. I was by myself. I was trying to warm up on some easy stuff, and then basically wrenched the crap out of my body establishing on a dumb, V3 slab. I got to the top. It wasn’t satisfying. And I thought to myself, What am I doing? Why am I doing this? Do I even like climbing?

Enter: the time since that, up until present day, sitting on my boat, burning incense to ward off bad energy, listening to the drone of my heater, thinking about how I should probably be doing my Booking work right now, NOT doing my Booking work right now, wondering what I’m going to do with the rest of my day.

But first, rewinding to the end of the trip, in Bishop, California, the eastside of the Sierras, the Year of Yaweh Two Thousand and Twenty-One:

I’d thought that I’d give Molly V5 a few burns before I left Bishop. And then, if I was getting kind of close, I thought I might stay an extra day in Bishop so I’d have a chance to possibly finally send my first V5. What ACTUALLY happened, however, was that I drove to a spot just north of Lee Vining and looked for first ascents. I found a beautiful egg-shaped boulder that I dubbed The Dragon’s Egg that you can actually perceive with your very own retinae right here:

(The boulder almost right in the center of the frame.)

Anyway, this boulder had a nice looking line on it, probably somewhere in the V0-2 range, but I JUST WASN’T FEELING IT. So I pressed on. I got to Tahoe, and DIDN’T CLIMB THERE. Or actually I sort of climbed there. I checked out some boulders on Kingsbury Grade Road as I was getting in, specifically one that had a high right hand pinch, a crappy left hand, and a right heel hook, that was somewhat overhanging, and I tried for a bit just to see if I could heel hook with my right heel to free up my right hand. Which I couldn’t. I tried no other moves on the boulder. I didn’t WANT to try other moves on the boulder. And then I left.

And that, friends, is how my sessions have been lately. I show up. I look for lines (or just moves) that inspire me. I don’t look in the guidebook until after the sesh, or before the sesh for directions on how to get to the spot. Basically, I just do what feels good. And you know what? Hardcore trainers would probably say that’s the worst way to approach a session, the worst way to get better. But I don’t care. A) I know they’re wrong, B) It makes me happy, and C) I realized in Bishop that I had to start completely over. I had to re-learn my love for climbing, and I had to learn, once and for all, HOW TO CLIMB. I’m not really sure how to do that, but I think it involves approaching climbing the way I did when I first started bouldering outdoors. I didn’t try to do things like “train my weaknesses” (unless I wanted to). I didn’t make myself try a boulder over and over if I wasn’t feeling it. I basically didn’t do anything I didn’t want to. I would basically roam around the hills of Gold Bar, taking a burn on something here or there, and then move on. I wouldn’t sit at a boulder for three hours making no progress and hurting myself. The only time I would stay at a boulder for awhile is if I was making progress, having fun, and feeling like I was sort of getting close to sending. And you might be saying to yourself: Well, that approach to bouldering isn’t the right one. And the thing is: You’re absolutely wrong. Because it’s right for me. And if it’s right for me that’s all that matters.

OK, and now I sadly have to do some ACTUAL work at my ACTUAL job, because I’m a working stiff (see: semi-rigid) now. I wish you all a glorious day. Go climb. Or don’t.

– Wetzler

 

 

Already Seven Days In

Today is already day seven of my road trip with my friend Darren to the Southwest. We’re in Bishop, California. There’s a cat sitting on the table next to me and it’s only 6:45am and I wish I’d slept longer but I couldn’t. I don’t know what’s wrong with me this trip. I went to bed at 11pm last night and this morning woke up at 5am. I need rest so my body can recover and I can boulder hard. And yet I wake up early and lie there and don’t feel that tired and after an hour or so of lying there think, Well, I might as well get up.

We spent the first night in Bend. I wanted to climb a V3 called Widgi Face I was convinced I was going to be able to climb, but got shut down for the third straight time. Well, I shouldn’t say shut down. I got shut down in that I didn’t climb the boulder, but made progress, and you can never really call it getting shut down when you make progress. The crux is getting a high right foot and then rocking your way over onto that foot while holding a tiny crimp with your right hand, and then reaching up with your left to a thin crimp ledge. Last time I was there I had trouble even getting to the tiny crimp, let alone holding onto it. And this time that was easy, and getting the high right foot was fairly easy, and rocking some weight over onto it and point my knee to the sky made all the difference. Also, just actually trying made all the difference. Like, sometimes you just have to say to yourself, I’m going to do whatever I can to get up this boulder. Screw technique, screw the beta I think I knew was right — just try to get up it. And so that’s what I did, and made some progress.

One of my goals for this trip was climbing V5 but I’m wondering if I need to reevaluate that. I wonder if my goals to just climb hard numbers are holding me back at all, preventing me from having fun and from becoming a better climber. Though maybe the goals can coexist with the less tangible stuff, too.

Our second and third nights were spent in the town of Likely, California. Not really a town, actually. More a group of a few houses and some ranches and a general store. It’s about a half hour south of the town of Alturas, which is more of a town. Alturas supposedly has about 2,000 people. We went to a Basque restaurant where when you sit down they bring over a caraffe of wine, some semi-questionable bread and chicken noodle soup. We both ordered steaks because we were in cow country. I told Darren, “There’s no way this meal is gonna cost more than 20 bucks. People would never pay more than that here.” Turns out Darren’s cost $32 and mine $27. Who are these rich cowboys.

The fourth and fifth nights were spent in South Lake Tahoe, where I finally bouldered for the second time. I met a guy named Jay at Sport Ltd in South Lake Tahoe and he lent me some guidebooks and then it turned out he was actually in the guidebooks. He was one of the developers of the area. We went to the Zephyr Boulders the next day and promptly got semi-wrecked by some V0’s. There was a fairly fun arete called Home Wrecker, but not the greatest warmup for someone with a wrenched shoulder. Then there was a tricky V0 called (I think) Chalkaholic, another arete at the Red Hut Boulder that was tricky until we figured out you could grab both aretes, and then we went over to a V2 called Ooh La La.

And Ooh La La was amazing.

But not V2 in a million years.

But still amazing.

But more like V0 climbing.

And now we’re in Bishop and there’s this guy at the table next to me in the common area where I am and all he does is talk and talk and talk. He’s pro gun and yesterday he was talking about how when he goes on business trips he leaves a loaded gun on his nightstand so his kids can defend the house. This was right about when I got up and exited the room, despite the fact that I had a cat on my lap and was loathe to disturb the cat. There’s something very comforting about watching a cat sleep.

Today I’m going to (I think) climb at The Sads, and the only reason I say “I think” is because my body doesn’t feel great and I didn’t sleep that well last night. God, why is it only 7:07am. I should probably do some work. I should probably not drink coffee, but I’m tempted to drink coffee. I should probably have some kind of sustenance because drinking tea on an empty stomach makes my stomach feel gnarly.

If we do go to The Sads I’m going to try French Press V6, and probably get shut down. They say you should always believe in yourself and be optimistic, but I think there’s a place for realism too.

 

Tahoe Days | Cali Road Trip #4

South Lake Tahoe.

Today the proverbial rubber will finally hit the proverbial road. I’ll go to Bishop, California and two things will happen: 1) I’ll figure out if I want to climb, and 2) I’ll figure out if I can climb. My stoke on bouldering hasn’t been LOW lately, but it’s certainly been lower than it was a few months ago, and it’s all because of this shoulder injury which isn’t really a shoulder injury. You see, I don’t even really know what’s going on. I’m pretty sure it’s my teres minor, but it’s not the kind of thing where I wake up in the morning and can’t lift my arm over my head or can’t even imagine climbing. I can totally imagine climbing, it’s just that certain moves aggravate it. It’s hard to imagine doing dynos, for instance, and I love dynos. Dynos are one of my favorite things, and one of the few things in the bouldering world I’m good at. But doing a dyno right now just seems like murder.

The sun has just peeked over Heavenly, which means I’ve got a little more time to kill till the roads warm up more and my car warms up more. I could of course just get in my car right now, but I don’t want to. I want to enjoy the warmth of this hotel room a little longer, the softness of the sheets, the sun streaming in through the window. I want to sit here sipping my venti English Breakfast with a little bit of heavy cream that I just got at Starbucks. I want to write this blog and alternate between googling all the things I normally google: SHAK, NIO stock, Pulisic, US Canada Border, Chile border open, etc etc. Now I have added the Pfizer vaccine to that last, at least for the short term. The idea of life returning to “normal” here on planet earth is tantalizing, but it makes me think about how even when things go back to normal our larger problems will remain unsolved. We’ll continue wrecking planet, we’ll continue our unbridled consumption, and more depressingly, we’ll continue letting this unbridled consumption be our number one ideal. Just about the only constant in history seems our fate to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. I am a victim of it, too. The first thing I did this morning when I woke up was go to Starbucks. Yesterday I combatted loneliness and doldrums by spending money, by consuming.

Another good reason to go to Bishop. Less to consume there.

It’s incredible how quickly things dry out. The thin veneer of frost on the Subaru is already gone. The roads are mostly clear following last weekend’s snow storm. I’m not sure how long I’m going to stay in Bishop. That all depends on how well my body does and my overall stoke levels. At one point the plan was just to cruise back to Seattle right after Bishop, but now it’s looking like I’ll be making a stop in the Bay Area on the way back. I have to remind myself sometimes that one of the reasons I left Seattle to go on this road trip was get to away from the rain and gloom, and indeed I just looked at the week forecast for Seattle and there’s rain six out of the next seven days. So I shouldn’t be in a hurry to get back. In fact, I COULD go south from Bishop and loop around through Bakersfield, and then surf up the coast to the Bay Area. I don’t know. I feel like it will all become clear very quickly.

Another thing that’s become clear to me involving this winter: I can’t stay on the boat this winter in Seattle unless I get a job. That’s the only way. Sitting around on a 27 foot boat wallowing amidst the constant rain and clouds does not sound like a good time. And this job has to involve getting off the boat. Which could be tough to find right now. If I don’t stay on the boat I’ll probably go south somewhere, maybe Mexico, maybe Central America, maybe further south to Colombia, Peru, or Chile and Argentina if they open. Argentina is showing signs of life in the tourism industry but Chile remains staunchly closed. We’ll see.

For now it’s time to enjoy my tea, check out the news a bit more, and pack my things. I’ll be climbing in Bishop today!

The Drive to Tahoe | Cali Road Trip #3

The view from the illustrious Blackjack Inn, South Lake Tahoe, California.

8:17am in the Blackjack Inn in Tahoe and the heater is blessedly on but will turn off in just a few moments. My room is small but nice and clean. The mattress is firmer than the one at the hotel in Sacramento. I look out on a beautiful hillside covered in snow. And as much as I’m scared I’ll freeze to death camping tomorrow in Bishop, that’s still the plan. The plan is to go to the Pit Campground at Bishop and, provided there are campsites, set up shop. I mean I guess this is the plan. The high tomorrow in Bishop is supposed to be 61. Which is perfect. But the low? Twenty-four. I have a sleeping bag I think is rated to around 40 degrees, and then I have a down comforter, and then of course I can just layer some clothes. Sweatpants, wool socks. Sounds pretty fun, right?

The sun has finally come out in Tahoe. The high today is JUST over freezing. What am I going to do today? I have no idea. Probably walk to a coffee shop at some point. I’m drinking a Guayaki Blackberry Mint right now. The grocery store here, Raley’s, has an insane collection of every weird beverage I like. They have all the low-calorie Guayaki options, including the 5 calorie powerhouse Lima Limon, which is (drumroll) unsweetened. They ALSO have every kind of Tejava variety you could imagine. They have the lemon variety, which until yesterday I didn’t know existed, and also an ORGANIC OOLONG VARIETY THAT OH MY GOD…I haven’t tried it but today could be the day. There’s so much to do around here. Is there anything to do around here? I could walk to the lake, walk into Nevada, maybe…go to some hot springs? Maybe….sit in my room all day and meditate? Maybe…sit in my room all day and mediate? Maybe…plan what’s coming next in my life after this road trip?

Highlights from yesterday include:

1) Buying a hat made in Canada that is 50% wool, 10% alpaca, and 40% other stuff.

2) Realizing the wool rim on the hat made my forehead itch, trying to return it, and getting shut down.

3) Getting to the chain control checkpoint just past Kyburz (what a cool name for a town), stressing that I’d have to turn around, buy chains, figure out how the hell to put them on, and then get back in line, but instead just getting waved through because I had a Subaru.

4) Finally getting into Tahoe and not having to drive in snow anymore.

5) Meeting a dude named Jake at the Rocklin Quarry Park and talking to him (the only in person conversation I’ve had on this trip longer than 30 seconds).

6) The beauty of the fresh snow near Tahoe adorning the trees and boulders.

7) Getting a grande peppermint mocha at Starbucks at like 6pm.

8) Walking to the Nevada state line, feeling a bit like I was entering the gates of hell.

9) Getting a guidebook to Bishop and gazing at all the beautiful problems that could become my first V4.

10) Walking to the lake and seeing the steam rise off it.

My mate is gone which has been me feeling a bit distressed. There’s a cafe called Free Bird that apparently serves mate but it’s three miles away and I don’t know if I’m down to walk that far. And I’m not going to drive because my car is currently frozen and the next time I get in my car will be to drive down to Bishop. I hope my surfboard is OK right now. I’m a little worried about it freezing and then thawing out. I’m just so glad the sun is out. And that I don’t have to drive back toward the pass tomorrow to go to Bishop, but rather into Nevada and then south. It’s probably time for me to put some clothes on and leave this hotel room. It’s probably time to get away from screens. It’s probably time to go for a walk and find even more mate.

 

Cold Jimmy Dean | Cali Road Trip #2

Bald Rock, CA.

8:35AM at the Fairfield by Marriott Sacramento Expo. The heat is on since the temperature in my room got into the low 60’s last night. I can hear my neighbors across the hallway constantly opening and closing their door. I think they were partying last night. At least they were across the hall, though. Their next door neighbors probably had it much worse.

I’m watching the Manchester City vs. Liverpool game and sort of waiting till 10am when REI opens to leave so I can get the Bishop Bouldering Select Guidebook. Then the plan is to go to the Rocklin Quarry Park, boulder for a bit there, and then drive to Tahoe. Two nights in Tahoe, and then on to Bishop. Part of me wishes I were just going to Bishop today. Bishop was the whole point of this trip in the first place, and I feel like I just keep putting it off. At the same time the more my body has to adjust before Bishop the better. I want to get there and at least SORT OF be able to climb. I want to at least sort of have calluses. I want to at least sort of be able to pull down.

I’m waiting till there’s a goal in this game before I allow myself to eat. I hope someone scores soon.

The granite at Bald Rock, California.

So far I have only successfully climbed three boulders on this trip. I’ve only attempted five. Which is a bit strange considering this is a “bouldering” trip. But I’ve held fast to my ideal of not forcing things. If I don’t feel like climbing I don’t, and if I don’t feel like trying a certain boulder I don’t. This means that a lot of the time I’ll get to a spot, find a V0 or a V1 I know I can do as a warm-up, then set my eyes on something hard (for me) in the V3-V5 range, and try a few moves on that. Usually if I can do just one move on a V4 I’m stoked, so the session usually ends with me pretty happy. The problem is I don’t know when I’ll be coming back to these spots, so I can’t exactly project the boulders, but that’s OK, too.

Another reason I wanted to take this trip was to get some sun. And I’ve gotten plenty of sun. So far I don’t miss being on my boat in the cold and the rain. When I go back to Seattle I have to be climbing everyday at SBP, or surfing every couple of days if I want to stay sane. Or I have to get a job. I can’t just chill on my boat.

8:56AM and I’m thinking I should pack up. The cold Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich was disgusting. Good thing it was cold though or I probably would’ve eaten the whole thing. The tea is good. The apple was good. I’m officially addicted to caffeine, and one tea is not going to be enough. I’ll need to make a stop on the way to Rocklin. I need some mate. I need something. I need to send a freaking V4. I need to get a job. I need to write more. I need to eat better. I need to figure out what I’m doing with my life.

Or something.