Two V3’s in One Day || Road to V5

Since I haven’t written in quite awhile, I’m determined to write a post today. I’ve even made myself a cup of tea specially for this endeavor. I’m sitting in front of the laptop and all I have to do is type. All I have to do is type and not get distracted and go start watching YouTube videos or something. All I have to do is type. Type. Type. Type.

So, two days ago I went to Leavenworth. The idea was to climb on Friday, stay in a hotel in Wenatchee Friday night, climb Saturday morning, and then drive back to Seattle. And that’s what I did. I sort of had to FORCE myself to do it, because lately the inertia has been real. It’s hard for me to do anything that requires more than a half hour of driving. I wouldn’t say I’m CONTENT to sit around all day and watch YouTube videos and go on walks and do some work, but I’ve realized that flitting all over the place doesn’t make you content either, indeed makes you LESS content, so for now I’ve chosen the lesser of two evils. But I also know that I love bouldering more than anything in the world, so I was pretty sure if I hauled myself over the Cascades to Leavenworth I’d be glad I did.

And I was right.

And I climbed two new V3’s in one session, the first time I’d ever done that.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One of them, Giant Man, was a V3/4 in the guidebook, but a V3 on Mountain Project, and tall people seem to think it should even be V1 or V2. I can see the V2 rating from a physical perspective, but the danger factor definitely makes it harder to execute the moves. And I know John Sherman, when he invented the v-system, said the danger factor should not be taken into consideration when deciding the grade, but let’s face it, that’s not what’s happened in practice. Doing a V2 move 10-feet off the deck feels like doing a V3 move, or even V4. I’m all for the danger factor being taken into consideration with the grade, because I think the grade should be more holistic anyway.

Left foot out to the slightly-sloping but still good edge. Right food up to the diagonal edge. Reach the right hand over and grab the good hold just beneath the lip.

After sending Giant Man on like the third or fourth try (the V3 flash still eludes me), I went over to The Ferret V3, which I had just watched Random Crusher do before me, a dude who was at The Carnival Boulders with no pad, just his climbing shoes, chalk and dog. So I had the beta (I’d also just watched him do Giant Man [with no pad!!!]) and had the beta for that, too), which made things a lot easier. One of the hard parts of The Ferret is actually starting it out. You start on not a great edge on a slightly overhanging face, and have to do sort of a right drop knee to get your right hand out to the first hold. I then went through a forest of bumps, but most people, after latching the first hold, just reposition their feet and are able to proceed accordingly. But I’m still a bit of a novice. Not so good at figuring things out on my own. Or rather, I can figure things out on my own, but often my beta is wack and it takes me a LONG time to find the good beta.

After you get to the “ferret” hold you traverse up and left along a pretty good rail with some knobby holds on it. I did a right heel hand match at some point, but it probably wasn’t necessary. But it sure did feel cool. The top out was a bit gnarly ‘cuz there was a puddle in it, but easy once you figured out how to avoid the puddle and find the good holds.

I also did something on The Ferret that was extremely mature, and sort of had to force msyelf to do it in the moment. After I’d kind of puzzled out the start, and ALMOST sent it from the “ferret” hold (about three moves in), I figured I could probably send it from the ground up. HOWEVER, I forced myself to top it out starting from the ferret hold, and I think that move paid sweeping dividends. What could’ve easily happened if I hadn’t done this is I would’ve started at the bottom, gotten to the top out somewhat pumped, freaked out, not sent it (or fallen), and then spent subsequent attempts trying to redpoint it when all along I should’ve figured out the top out first. But what ACTUALLY happened is I topped it out from the ferret hold, and then on the very next go sent it from the ground up with relative ease.

Bam, two V3’s in one day, the first time that’s ever happened.

As a sort of dessert I then went over to The Washout Boulders, where I sent Slam Dunk V2, a boulder I’d tried in the past, in a couple tries. Slam Dunk is basically one big move from a huge ledge to a small edge just below the lip, and one thing you realize is that edge isn’t quite as good as you expect it to be. But I still sent it, and it was a great way to end the day. And by “end the day” I mean I sat there for awhile staring at Diry Dancing V4, bathed in waning afternoon sun, wondering if I should give that a go, too. It could’ve been glorious. But I didn’t; I held off, wanting to end the day on a good note.

My Second V4 (Dirty Dancing, Leavenworth) || ROAD TO ACTUAL V5 LET’S GO

Hello friends,

And welcome to Where’s Wetzler, the internet’s premier website for “How to Boulder V5,” or how to not boulder V5, or how to get injured doing stupid shit like the other day when I injured my hip flexor trying a V5 dyno that was, well, pretty dumb.

I was at Leavenworth with a solid crew and we were at Barney’s Rubble in the alcove area and there were all those dumb V3’s and that one V3 that becomes a V5 if you dyno and Pablo, this semi-crusher I was with, was getting close, and I was sort of getting close and at one point I specifically remember thinking: OK, my body is done, and then I give it another go and feel my hip crunch and by the next morning couldn’t lift my leg out of my car without using my hand.

So.

Sick.

HOWEVER, despite having a hip that felt like shit I got up at 5:30am the next morning, couldn’t get back to sleep, and drove to The Washout where I was determined to try Dirty Dancing V4 if my body would allow it. To give you an idea of how determined I was let me say two things: 1) I was pretty injured, and 2) I got coffee. Why is the coffee significant? Well, because I don’t usually drink coffee. Coffee makes me insane. Coffee makes me less moral. Coffee also makes me have emotional crises. But, BUT!, one of my biggest sends ever came after waking up really early, driving to Leavenworth, and getting coffee, and the morning I wanted to try Dirty Dancing it just felt right. Coffee has been shown in studies to boost athletic performance, and I’ve certainly felt that. You feel invincible, or at least less scared, or at least like you can do more than normal. And being injured, I knew I needed every edge (pun intended given the nature of Dirty Dancing) I could get.

ANYWAY, I warmed up on Unknown V2 at The Washout, called Slam Dunk on Mountain Project, and that was fun, though I didn’t do the problem. I couldn’t quite grip the crimp just below the lip, and I also didn’t want to. I just wanted to pull on some damn stone, get the shoulders going, get the fingers going. I also did some jumping jacks. And once I was more or less warmed up I said to myself, “I’m just going to see if I can establish on the boulder. Like, I’m just going to see if I can hold myself on the wall.”

Establishing on Dirty Dancing is not easy. You either have to use a weird undercling or a high right hand and a terrible left hand crimp. But! I did establish, and then I decided to just try and see if I could bring my left foot up to the first dish, since lifting my left leg was what hurt my hip flexor.

And I was able to do that, too.

Now I was really established.

Next step, bring the right foot up to a small edge.

Reposition the hands.

Bring the left foot up.

Reposition the hands again.

Oh god, you’re getting close to the good holds now.

Bring the right foot up. Look for an edge. How did I never see that edge before? Put the right foot on it. Stand up. Now look for the good hands. There they are! Oh god, now just to get my feet up.

And I thrutch and squirm a bit and the next thing I know I’m sitting at the top of the boulder with my head between my knees feeling a bit emotional.

I’ve just sent my second V4.

I was able to enjoy the ride back to Seattle despite the ailing state of my hip. I basked in my send. I put a snus in. I watched as the clouds became thicker and darker as we (the Subee and I) approached Steven’s Pass. It started raining just before we crested Steven’s pass and despite the clouds I was able to look out over the Skykomish Valley and experience some more emotion, almost equal parts foreboding, optimism, and melancholy, but in a good way, if you can imagine that, and then we descended the curving road to 2600 feet, 1800 feet, 1600 feet, 1000 feet. When I got back to where my boat is moored in Seattle I screamed as I tried to get my leg out of the car and realized I definitely needed to use my hand to assist it every time. Now, almost a week later, I’m still using my hand, but I could probably do it without. I just got a book called A Guide to Better Movement by Seattleite Todd Hargrove and he says to NEVER MOVE INTO PAIN. Like, never make something hurt on purpose, just to test it. And I’ve gotten into a bad habit of this because I always want to test injuries and ask: Has it gotten better? Has it gotten better? Even though constantly testing it can just reinforce to your nervous system that, yes, you have pain in that area. Pain can become a habit, and you don’t want that habit.

Or at least I don’t.

So, last weekend involved a conflicted couple of days. On the one hand I injured myself (though not terribly, I don’t think), and on the other hand I sent something that meant a lot to me. I experienced that mystical experience of being alone, in the forest, climbing on granite, moving up, up, up, not as if being pulled by some invisible cord toward the sky, as some have described it, but more as if each time I moved my feet up the entire world beneath them disappeared, and the only thing that existed was where I was and the rock above me, until eventually there was no rock above me and I was sitting on the top. In other words, at one point I knew I was fairly high and probably not above my crash pad, but it was almost as if that world didn’t exist.

It was a wonderful feeling, and exactly the reason I boulder. It is an experience unlike any I’ve had in any other discipline. And even though I’ve just kind of tried, trying to describe it would be folly.