If You Don’t Mind, Sir… | R2V3 #10

Welcome back to whereswetzler.com, everyone’s second favorite guide to bouldering…moderates. And by moderates I of course mean V0 climbs, my current specialty, though my other current specialty seems to be sitting on the bench seat of my boat devouring coconut flakes and watching YouTube videos of a Scottish soccer fan commenting on hockey fights.

Yes, folks: I worked three hours today.

I’ll be the first to tell you that the 9am to 12pm shift can be grueling. Yes, you read that right: 9am to 12PM. Though today I logged on and started battling my inbox at 8:45am, just to stay one step ahead of the game.

I’m contemplating whether to go climbing at the UW crag right now or just make dinner and laze the night away. There’s a slab problem I’ve been trying at the UW crag that actually reminds me a lot of Rocksteadeasy V3 at Gold Bar. Basically I just really don’t know what to do with all this time. I got off work at 12pm, walked several miles to Fremont, walked another couple miles to the U-District, got Chipotle, almost fell asleep on the UW campus, and then worked my way back to my boat. Where I’ve been sitting drinking tea thinking I should be sitting outside. That’s basically it.

Another thing I need to decide is this: Am I going to leave on another mini climbing trip tomorrow, or am I going to leave Wednesday? Tomorrow around midday it should be clearing up in Western Washington, and this high pressure zone should last us for the foreseeable future. It feels like I haven’t climbed on this side of the mountains in a LONG time. Remember when I was “obsessed” with Rocksteadeasy V3? Well, now I’ve almost completely forgotten about it. My thoughts have been taken by U2 V3, Briefs V3, the beautiful slab climbs at The Sword, and everything that’s gone down with my job. Get it together, Mark.

One thing I can say is this, and I don’t care about jinxing because I don’t really believe in jinxing: I’m really close to sending V3. Not just U2, but Rocksteadeasy and Briefs. As in, I’m becoming a V3 climber. I wouldn’t say I’m a V3 climber yet. No sir. But I’m getting there. My fingers are getting better at crimping. I don’t LIKE it, but I don’t hate it either. And I think in the near future I will like it.

So that’s the plan for the next climbing mission. Well, actually, I haven’t really told you the plan. So I’ll do it now. Boulder at the Clearcut Boulders if it’s dry on the way out to Leavenworth. Possibly sleep at the Money Creek Campground, wake up and get a quick session in at the Morpheus Boulders or the Zelda Boulders. Work my three hours. Then either check out Upper and Lower Devil’s Club Forest, or drive straight to Leavenworth, probably straight to The Beach Forest, where I do the following things: Warm up on the warm-up boulder, hopefully sending Fountain Blues V0 with my new beta. Go over to Brickwork V0 and enjoy the ridiculously fun moves. And then….and then…U2.

If I send U2, I might weep.

For now, it’s a beautiful night in Seattle, my succulent is soaking up delectable rays of sunshine, I’ve got delicious chai tea from Trader Joe’s, and I’m probably going to mess around a bit on the UW crag.

Like, right now.

Leavenworth Days (R2V3 #????)

Well here I am in my favorite parking lot in the whole wide world: the Howard Hopkins Memorial Pool parking lot. Yes friends, this place has it all: a tranquil setting without too much vehicle traffic (at least on weekdays), the shade of trees, and — the kicker (but don’t tell anyone) — free WIFI. You see, most people head to the public library in Leavenworth when they want free wifi. But not me. I post up at the Howard Hopkins Memorial Pool with an iced coffee and a bouldering guide on my lap, ready to daydream the day away.

Why am I not on blocs right now? Because I’m working.

Sort of. When work is slow I can do other things.

Like drink iced coffee.

And think about the beta for U2 (V3).

Speaking of the beta for U2, I’m going to go back there today, and I’m going to try the following things:

  1. Grabbing the right side of the undercling gaston but by rotating hand clockwise instead of counter (a reverse gaston?), and then trying to get my right foot up high.
  2. ONLY USING MY LEFT HAND on the undercling, grabbing the right side of it palm up, and then using the big-butt rail on the right side for my right hand and also some kind of crimp just above it.

I’m also really excited to try Fountain Blues V0 again, even though I basically sent it yesterday (I might have dabbed ever so slightly), just because the slopers are so gorgeous. And what I love about the slopers is figuring out how to grab them in just the right way so you get maximum traction. For example, on the sloper as you move up and right, the last sloper before right hand to the jug, there’s this little nubbin on the top of it that you can get one finger on and thus get much more traction. It’s little things like that, sort of micro beta, that can help so much in a send.

In other news yesterday also saw my first attempts on Fridge Center V4. In fact, here’s a video of one of my first attempts:

What a beautiful, beautiful problem Fridge Center is. Gorgeous. I spent about 15 minutes just watching other people try it. The crux is definitely once you get to the bulge at the top, navigating that. Left hand up to the bottom left of the bulge. Nice and juggy. Slap the right hand up high. Hug the bulge! Hug it! I wasn’t going to try this problem because there were a lot of people at it but then they all left and I thought, Why not? And I’m glad I did. Just to be able to do the first few moves gave me so much confidence, just to be able to get to the left facing rail. The next trick will be getting all the way the top of the left facing rail, and making sure my feet are solid. Then you just gotta reach for that jug…

Back at the Howard Hopkins Memorial Pool. Things are pretty breezy here. Breezy in the literal sense and also just care-free. These lazy, almost summer afternoons. Strolling the streets. Sipping iced coffee. Gazing up at the ridges, the clouds, the blue sky. And thinking about beta, always thinking about beta.

I’m in a Funk (R2V3 #5)

After a great climbing session yesterday I find myself in a bit of a funk. Yesterday I was supposed to go to Gold Bar, boulder there, then cross the pass and sleep at the Nason Creek rest stop, but instead it started dumping in Gold Bar so I kept driving straight to Leavenworth and went straight to the Beach Forest boulders where I basically went straight to U2. Actually, that’s not true. I climbed a lame slab to start and then climbed Brickwork V0, which is a fantastic problem even though I got pretty scared and felt completely out of my element on the top out. So I did it again, and the second time felt even more useless on the top out. But the beginning moves! Oh, the beginning moves, the beautiful side-pull jugs, the mini drop knee. Wonderful. Next time I’d like to the experiment with the V3 variation out to the right, aka F*ck the Crystal, and also the V3 that has the same start as U2, aka The Crystal Method. There’s something alluring about that huge slab of of quartz. Kind of makes you want to touch it. Kind of makes you want to gaze at it. If you gaze at it too long you might be transported to another dimension where you don’t live on a boat that smells like mildewy gym sock and where you actually have people to climb with.

But I transgress.

How has it not rained in Seattle today? It was supposed to rain today. But instead it’s been beautiful all day and sure enough when I head out tomorrow morning to Gold Bar it will probably start dumping.

The plan yesterday was originally to stay in Leavenworth, but then my friends said they were going surfing and after projecting U2 V3 for a bit, which was nothing sort of sublime, it started to rain and I thought, I don’t want to sleep in my car tonight at a rest stop in the rain. If they’re actually going surfing I’m going back to Seattle to go with them. So that’s what I did. And then we didn’t go surfing. So now I find myself back in Seattle and in a bit of a funk. Caffeine withdrawals? Possibly. Social contact with withdrawals? More probably.

So the plan is to go to Leavenworth tomorrow. The plan is to give U2 V3 all of my soul. Yesterday I made a critical advancement. I realized that if I grab the right side of the undercling not as a pinch but as a gaston I feel much more solid, and I was even able to — wait for it — hug the wall and get my right foot up. Like all the way up, to the ledge. This is almost the crux! Or at least it feels like it’s almost the crux. I haven’t worked the top part yet because I haven’t gotten there yet. I think the crux is the following: once you’ve stood up, still grabbing the undercling, to switch the grip of both hands so you’re grabbing it with your palms facing upward with the full force of your arms. I don’t think this will be THAT hard, it will just be a question of which hand to switch first, if I can go into it actually with one of the hands already switched — basically I just need to figure out the beta for this part. And then it’s moving right to the sloper, and up to the perfect lip.

God, I want this problem so bad.

The movement on this problem feels fantastic. It feels like a problem set at the gym, except about 6,000 times cooler because you’re not in South Seattle surrounded by a bunch of dudes from Amazon who just started bouldering and whose idea of fun is to go out to overpriced dinners at places like “mbar.”The height of this rock is perfect. The landing is perfect. The setting is perfect. I am falling in love with this boulder, and just how I’ve noticed when playing the piano, sections that once seemed hard are the ones that become the most fun. I feel like I could write a book about the undercling, with a chapter on the left heel hook, and the feeling as you inch your body upward to get the right foot to the ledge. The only thing I don’t understand about this boulder is the name. Were they listening to U2 during the FA? God, I hope not. It’s a beautiful day….

If it’s somehow dry tomorrow on my way out, that will change everything. I’ll either try Serenity Now V4/5 at Zeke’s Boulder just to see if I can do a couple of the moves, “check out the positions,” or I’ll make a quick stop at the Zelda Boulders in Index to check out Zelda Dyno V4 and just gaze up at The Engineer V9 (and maybe even try the start????? [why the hell not….]), or if it’s really dry I might even go up to the Clearcut Boulders and get on Rocksteadeasy V3, my first love who now that Leavenworth has entered the picture I’m quickly forgetting about. Though do you ever forget about your first love?

Not that it’s going to be dry tomorrow. If it IS dry tomorrow, I promise to post a shirt off to send video, half because it’s kind of funny and half because it actually does kind of work. The best attempt I had yesterday on U2 was my last, right after I said “F*ck it,” and took off my shirt to dry my shoes.

But for, let’s see what we can do about this funk…