Metacarpophalangeal | R2V4 #10

Waking up on the boat drinking mate. Isn’t that pretty much exactly how I started the last post? I feel a bit like I’m in some sort of purgatory waiting for the next climbing session, but like I’m also TERRIFIED for the next climbing session because of the state of my fingers, see: finger. The swelling has finally gone down in my hands to where I pretty much wake up with no swelling, except that I still can’t close the middle finger on my right hand and there is definite pain in the MCP (metacarpophalangeal) joint, aka the joint closest to the finger tip. This is distressing. Is it a stress fracture? Partial tendon or ligament tear? Micro tears? Strain? I obviously have no idea. All I know is that there is pain. One thing that is GREAT is that now I’ve at least figured out where the pain is, since I’d previously thought the pain was actually in my index finger. Which caused me to leave my index finger out every time I had to crimp, locking off my MIDDLE finger a la Tommy Caldwell, and this is probably what actually led to the injury in the first place. I thought my index finger was messed up, so I start using my middle finger instead. And now my middle is effed. And I’m not sure what to do. I’m not going to STOP climbing. That would just be ridiculous. I have to figure out ways to still climb and let this heal while still pushing down the illustrious, silky, Mesopotamian, mate-laden, ROAD TO V7.

The most distressing thing is that I’m legit kinda scared to go climbing tomorrow. Scared of the pain, scared of hurting myself even more, and also scared of getting up there and not being able to send at all because one tiny little joint on ONE of my fingers is messed up. There’s gotta be a way around this. I will find a way around this. The only thing I know for sure is that just NOT CLIMBING would be the worst decision possible (or possibly a great decision).

Plan: rest one more day (today). Do some hanging/core training today, see how it feels (no crimping involved, obviously). Tomorrow, when I climb, do not do a single closed crimp. Not a single one. Not even if I’m about to send V7 and the only thing between me and the lip is a tiny little chip that’s just begging for the tip of my middle finger. Nope. Stay away. No right hand closed crimping. Maybe a half. Certainly open. And try to leave that middle finger out of it. Here’s the deal about bones: they get stronger when they’re put under stress. Unless the stress is too much, in which case they break. I have broken fingers in the past and it wasn’t a big deal. I broke one of my fingers in high school and didn’t even know it until I broke it again. Rest if you HAVE to. Sometimes rest can be the best decision. But if you rest and then go right back to doing the same exact thing that was hurting you, you’ll likely just hurt yourself again. But if you keep going in a MODIFIED way, then you can climb forever, and send V7, and everyone will love you. But if you quit climbing no one will love you.

Should I splint it???

This Road to V4 is dragging on, isn’t it? Maybe tomorrow I’ll just send The Enigma V4 at the Index River Boulders and be DONE WITH IT. Move on to V5! Start projecting Piano Man V5 at the Morpheus Boulders! Or maybe I’ll just send Mr. Smooth V7 tomorrow and be done with it completely! Although I was thinking: Ideally I should send at least three V7’s to really be able to claim the grade. One crimpy V7, one slopery V7, and one wildcard V7. Because sending one V7 might just mean that you found the EXACT boulder suited to your style, and on a perfect day you were able to send. But you still can’t send V5. And you’re an overall V2 climber. Or something.

I feel like I wanna talk about other stuff in my life, not just about bouldering. So what can I talk about? Well, the weather has been gorgeous in Seattle lately. I’ve been swimming everyday. The climbing gym is also open, though this week I haven’t gone at all due to wanting to become un-injured. The blackberries are starting to get ripe. I have coconut meat in my fridge. I’ve been drinking a TON of yerba mate. I’m going backpacking with my friend Dan in August for a few days and also hope to sail up to the San Juan’s at some point.

One thing I would LOVE to do is come up with some sort of detailed plan for the next few months of my life. So I’ll try a rough esquema right here:

1) This week: don’t climb more than twice (once outdoors and once indoors). Try not to get more injured (but also try to send V4).

2) Next week: Try to climb three times (twice outdoors and once indoors)? Continue to be mindful of fingers on right hand.

3) August: Boulder my ass off, go backpacking, go on a sailing trip to the San Juan’s, surf a little bit, eat really really really healthy.

4) Late August early September: Start prepping for the long voyage. Buy dinghy, Garmin InReach, solar setup, and fix the jib.

5) Late September: Leave south.

Something is still lacking. I can’t figure out what it is. Meditation, maybe. Yoga. Quality time with Quality people. I’m not exactly sure what’s lacking, but I plan on figuring it out.

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!