What Am I Doing to Get to V7? | R2V3 #7

In early May I set a goal for myself: Climb V7 outdoors by the end of the summer. To many this might seem like an absurd and impossible (and just dumb) goal since I only started climbing last Christmas. And indeed, it’s very possible I won’t reach this goal. To date the hardest thing I’ve climbed outdoors is V2 (Eight Bit Slab V2 near Gold Bar). But I haven’t given up on this goal, and indeed it’s more present in my mind than ever. I’ve also started taking some concrete steps to reaching it.

What am I doing to get to V7??????? (like, what concrete steps am I taking):

1. Diet 

I’ve started transitioning to a ketogenic after being inspired by Dave Mccleod (and countless others) and his success with it. This isn’t something I decided on a whim. I’ve long battled inflammation problems and wondered if radically changing my diet would have a radical effect. So far, so good, but I’m only on like day three and I’ve still got carrots in my fridge. So not FULLY keto yet. But getting there. So far the little paunch I developed during lockdown is starting to disappear and I noticed a significant decrease in elbow pain after my last climbing session. And this is without even going fully keto! Today I’m going to count my carbs. I’m going to count the shit out of them.

2. Climbing as much as possible. 

I’ve been climbing every weekend Leavenworth and have even made some mid-week missions to Gold Bar. Notable happenings from this include: Sending my first V2 outdoors (Eight Bit Slab), projecting Summer Solstice V3, still not sending Beam Me Up V2 because the sit start makes me want to hurt myself, projecting U2 (V3) at the Beach Forest Boulders, feeling the majestic slopers of Fountain Blues V0, and chilling in Leavenworth drinking iced coffees. Aka chilling in the municipal pool parking lot. Aka being a bit of a vagrant.

The biggest thing I need to work on by far is not strength. It’s technique. So what am I doing for that?

3. Watching tons of YouTube videos of good climbers

Watching good people do a task actually makes you better. You internalize it. Which is probably why I watch a shit ton of bouldering videos on YouTube. My favorites are: Anything with Daniel Woods or Jimmy Web, anything with Paul Robinson or Lizzy Ellison, the wonderful videos the Badwater dudes make, Bouldering Bobat, and Eric Karlsson and Emil Abrahamsson videos (from Sweden). Currently my favorite female climbers are Nina Williams, Alex Puccio, Lizzy Ellison, Janja Garnbret and my friend Anya. Watching Nina Williams do highballs is so sick.

4.  Training

Now, when I say “training” I mean this very lightly. Sometimes I hang from the roof of my boat and walk my feet up the mast to practice overhangs and strengthen my core. I do stretching. I walk a lot. I do a little bit of yoga. I do have a hangboard but I’m still trying to figure out how to install it on my boat. Anyway, I don’t do much training. But that’s OK because you don’t want to get really strong when your technique is still shitty.

5. Listening to my body

Yeah, the goal might be V7. But that’s not the real goal. The main goal is just to boulder as much as possible, have fun, and enjoy the movement. The other day I went to the UW crag and literally the only thing I wanted to do for the first 15 minutes was just stand on the ground and feel the holds. I didn’t do this because I was self conscious. But I should’ve. If I want to climb a V0 slab 15 times over and over because it makes me happy, I’m going to do it. If I want to drive to Leavenworth and project a V3 for 20 minutes and then give up because I’m over it, I’m going to do that, too. I’m not bouldering for anybody else. I’m doing it because it makes me feel good. And so what that means as far as listening to my body is that when I can feel my elbow starting to fail (my tendons and flexors are still adjusting), I stop. Or when I just see myself not making any more progress, I stop. I stop when I know it’s time to stop. I don’t make myself top out on a highball if I don’t feel comfortable. I just do whatever feels right.

6. Thinking about beta

I think about beta a lot. I write the beta down. I visualize the holds in my head. I love thinking about beta. It’s one of my favorite parts about bouldering — not being able to do something and then thinking about a way you might be able to do it. Beta is also closely tied to technique. Which, as I’ve said, I really need to work on.

So those are the concrete steps I’m taking. I’m not forcing myself to take these steps, they just seem like a natural part of becoming a better climber. A natural part of getting to V7. But for now, time to concentrate on those V3’s. Aka V2’s. Aka V0’s.

Try hard!

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…

A Time for Poetry and a Time for Fists: R2V3 #4

Hay momentos para recitar poesías y hay momentos para boxear. – Roberto Bolaño

I have become obsessed with the V3 slab “Rocksteadeasy.” It is dominating my life. If you google “Rocksteadeasy V3 Gold Bar” nothing comes up, because this is not a notable boulder problem. It has one star in the guidebook. I don’t think it gets climbed all that much. And yet it is dominating my life. Fifty percent of my waking thoughts are directed at the holds on this problem. I think about the valley that makes the first good foothold for several minutes everyday. Which might not sound like a lot. And indeed I could probably do it more and still not be satisfied.

Start with your left foot on the point at the top of the ledge at the bottom of the boulder. This is a great foothold. If you’re doing this problem the way most people probably do it, you start with your right foot here and then put your left foot on the mini ledge about a foot and a half up, and then stand up from the ensuing pistol squat, using the waist-high crimps to aid you. But this beta wasn’t working for me. I couldn’t trust my left foot, and I kept dabbing on the tree. So after many frustrated attempts I changed tactics. I now go right foot high — way high — to the little valley crimp that’s about two feet up. At first it was hard to get to. Now it’s easy. Am I more flexible? I doubt it. I think it’s a mental thing.

Then the hard part comes. Get all of your weight on your right foot and somehow stand up from this one legged squat. You have low crimps to help you. You have a high seam that’s not great. And of course you have the face of the rock. Despite this, I feel much more confortable in this position. It’s a better foothold and I feel more comfortable trusting my right foot than my left, despite the fact that I’m left handed (if you play basketball you’ll understand; think about how you use your opposite foot to go up for lay-ups).

This is as far as I’ve gotten so far, and yet I am much heartened. I think at this point it’s all about having the strength in my right leg to push myself up, and getting my hands on the face/seam to support myself, since they’re higher up than the crimps. You can sort of crimp the seam with your right hand. Sort of. And then from there it’s easy. Once you stand up after that initial lunge, it’s a piece of homemade rhubarb pie. Left foot up to the crimp your left hand started on. Grab the crimp below the lip. Grab the lip. Top out. Your first ever V3 outside.

Last time was (I think) my third session on this boulder. It has become a project. Granted, I don’t spend the whole session on this boulder. I usually only give it a few go’s each time. That’s how I operate. I don’t usually stay on one problem too long. If I can’t do it, I move on, and then come back later. This allows the beta to crystallize in my mind while being away from it. This is the best method for me. It’s how I play the piano. It’s how I do anything, really.

Hay momentos para recitar poesías y momentos para boxear. Me parece que en este boulder hay momentos para los dos.