I Need a Proj: R2V6

I need a proj.

Like, a proper proj.

I need the kind of proj where you go back time after time and obsess about the moves and learn the moves perfectly and start obsessing over micro beta — like, what if I turned my thumb over slightly there? Or, what if I brought my left foot in slightly here?

The kind of proj where you make incremental progress, that’s perfectly at your limit — or actually perfectly just beyond your limit, that forces you to become a better climber so you can reach that limit.

The kind of proj you want to just sit next to and breathe in the air.

That’s the kind of proj I’m looking for.

Because it’s been too long. That’s the way it was with U2 V3, that’s the way it was with Toto V4, and Dirty Dancing V4 and even Zelda Rails V4. But I haven’t had a project like that in awhile, and I’m desperate for one.

So here are a few I’m thinking could be some candidates, just based on the amount of moves they have or watching people try them on YouTube or in real life or how aesthetically striking they are:

Slingblade V6, Leavenworth

Dope line that’s not super long and can either involve a huck to a rail or some tricky bicycle/outside flag beta that lets you crimp your way to the rail, and then after that a somewhat tenuous topout.

Slice of Cake Right Variation V7, Leavenworth

I love underclings, and this one starts off with a sick undercling. Plus the top must be about V3, since the problem was V3 before the big flake broke, creating the undercling. Or did that flake have lots of bomb footholds that made it V3? I don’t know. Either way, the problem looks sick.

Black Slabbath V7, Squamish

Oh wait, this one’s in the rockfall closure area under the Grand Wall. Bummer.

Sobriosity V6, Kombucha V7, Five Star Arete V6, Gold Bar

I’m lumping these three together because I think I could do them all (with some projecting of course) and because they’re all on the 5-Star Boulder in Gold Bar, and they’re all majestic problems. Like, the kind of problems where you look at them and get goose pimples a bit. Like, the kind of problems where you look at them and get gooseBUMPS a bit. Like, the kind of problem (Kombucha) where you look at it and your left shoulder hurts just contemplating the first move.

The Engineer V7, Index

Not putting the V9 guidebook grade in here, because I’ve heard it’s about V6 physically. The thing about projecting this one is….are you gonna project it and take a bunch of falls from way up high? Because that doesn’t sound very fun. But are you gonna project it on top rope? Maybe. I don’t know the answer to these questions. All I know is it’s one of the sickest blocs in Washington and it’s on my lifetime tick list and I need to get on it soon.

Other candidates: Water V6 (Gold Bar), World’s Best V7 (Gold Bar), The Doja V7 (Gold Bar), Road to Zion V5 (Gold Bar), Mosserati V7 (Skykomish), Metroid Prime V6 (Gold Bar), and probably some in Leavenworth, too (and hopefully in Squamish!!!)

Right now my proj is to rest. I climbed in Leavy yesteryore and got absolutely THRASHED. Consolations from the sesh: gonna have some bomb callus buildup in a few days; sent a new V3; re-sent my first V3 (U2) for the first time; and still had some fun despite feeling hecka weak and getting thrashed. This project will see me resting AT LEAST two days, but ideally three. Because I just read an interview with Katie Lamb who recently sent The Penrose Step V14, Washington’s hardest bloc, and she said she often rests FIVE days when she’s projecting something.

We should all be more like Katie.

Slash I am not a volume climber.

The Two V6’s I Think I Can Send by the End of Summer | Road to V5

Now, you may be asking yourself: Why are you writing a blog post about sending V6’s when you’ve only sent one V4 outdoors and haven’t sent any V5’s. And that’s a valid question. It’s an annoying question, but it’s a valid question. And the answer is that I as a boulderer you’re drawn to certain problems, and so far I haven’t found any V5’s that I’m particularly drawn to, but I have found a couple V6’s, and the two listed in the title are probably not only the two V6’s I’m most drawn to but the two V6’s I think I have the best chance of sending by the end of this summer. And not that I like these 6’s just because I think I can send them, I also like them because they’re beautiful lines. They call out to me. It’s impossible to look at these lines and not think, “Golly, that is a beautiful line. I want to get on those crimps.”

The boat was so warm this morning but now I’ve had to turn off the heater because I’m charging my laptop. I can do both at the same time but it’s kind of annoying. A lot of wires. So I’ve just turned the heat off. Plus turning the heater off might motivate me to get off the boat. And get some caffeine.

Here’s a video of local crusher Marque Benion sending Climax Control V6:

Now, I don’t think I’d use this beta. I’ve gotten about two thirds of the way up this bloc and the beta I used was quite different. This bloc doesn’t look that high, but the crux is reaching for the crimp at the top (at least I think) and once you’re up that high you’re up really high. Which means I’m really gonna need to rehab the LCL. Luckily, the landing is bomber. Perfectly flat, dirt. One thing about this bloc is that the wind tends to whip through the valley, which can make it really cold. I wish I’d seen it when it still had trees.

The second bloc I think I can send by the end of summer is the 5-Star Arete, located at the 5-Star Boulder in the Reiter Foothills. This is one of the most famous blocs in Washington, and if you haven’t been there I suggest scheduling some kind of field trip in the next couple weeks. Maybe bring a picnic lunch and some rain gear just in case it’s raining or wet and you’re not able to climb but still able to sit in the shadow of this granodiorite fantasy for a few hours gazing at its gorgeous lines. The most famous of these lines if probably the 5-Star Arete, and a must on any Washington boulderders tic list. This thing has it all, but rather than describe it just watch Lisa Chulich crush it:

Fell in love, right? With the line, you weirdo, what’d you think I was talking about. God, what a gorgeous line. This video doesn’t show the top-out though, which is definitely up there on a the spice-o-meter, especially when the rock is mossy. There’s definitely a no-fall zone. But the holds also look pretty bomber.

Of course, before I can climb V6’s I need to start stacking some V4’s, and more V3’s, and V2’s, and some V5’s. But also sometimes you just find blocs that are your style, and both of these blocs seem to be my style. I know from experience that Climax Control is my style, because I’ve already been on it. And I just have a hunch about the 5-Star Arete.

These blocs will NOT be the focus of my spring and summer once I can start climbing. Hell no. My focus is going to be climbing a shit ton, training more, eating better, meeting new people, having fun, and just building a deeper connection with the rock and nature. That’s what brings me joy, anyway. The grades don’t bring joy. I mean it’s fun af to chase them, but they don’t reliably bring joy the way just touching stone can.

If you have any suggestions about other sick V5’s and V6’s to try this spring and summer, please list them below. Keep in mind I’m located in Seattle but am basically down to boulder the entire American West, so that means places like Squamish and Bishop and maybe even RMNP are on the list.

K now it’s time to actually get caffeine. And maybe even get something to eat.

– Wetz

 

From Sandstone to Granite | The Road to V4 with your host Mark Wetzler

The ground at Salt Point State Park, California.

I am back in Seattle, back on the boat, back to freezing my ass off at night even though the heater I have right now is approximately 70 times better than last year’s. It has a thermostat, it oscillates, and it looks somewhat chic, too.

I’m going bouldering today out by Gold Bar. The weather for the next six days looks uncommonly glorious, and I plan to take advantage. I also plan to take advantage of the fact that I’ve been climbing more than normal over the past two weeks, and that I feel stronger than usual (maybe not stronger than ever. I still don’t feel like dynos would be a great idea but they don’t sound like a completely terrible idea, either. My climbing right now is probably on par with what it was back before my shoulder injury, though now hopefully with better technique and footwork).

I can’t leave for a few hours this morning due to various engagements. In about an hour I’ll go over to my sister’s to pick up my plants, and then I have a video appointment at 10am. Which means I’ll LEAVE For the boulders at around 11am. First stop? I’m not really sure. The goal for today is to send Serenity Now V4+. But I also want to climb up in the clearcut, and that could interfere with my first goal. The reason I want to climb up in the clearcut is because there are more boulders up there, I want the hike, and I also want to continue projecting Cabin Stabbin’ V4, Summer Solstice V3, and maybe even suss out the moves on No Chaser V5. There are also so many other “hard” boulders I could start trying, like: Stinkin’ Slopers V5, Midnight Lichen V4, Samurai V5, Fern Crack V3, Water V6, and Obesity V7. I am very much into the idea of trying boulders right now that are way “beyond” my ability. Because sometimes on these boulders you can do a move, or two moves, and you feel awesome about yourself and visualize yourself one day sending it. This is how it was in Red Rocks the other day with Hyperglide V4/5. I could do the beginning moves. I could get to the beginning of the face climb. And I could almost do the hard move on the face climb. Which gave me tremendous confidence, even though I didn’t really come that close to sending it. Now, for instance, if I go to Stinkin’ Slopers V5, I think there’s a very good chance I’ll at least be ABLE to do the sit start. Maybe even the first couple moves. Which means I can start projecting it. Which means I’ll be projecting V5.

Aka projecting V16.

Aka I’m back in Seattle and it’s so fucking cold and I might need to leave here soon.

Aka I need to shave.

Aka I have a slight mullet.

Aka Joshua Tree.

Aka Stem Gem V4.

Aka failing on V0-‘s.

Aka the nicest AirBnb I’ve ever stayed in in my life.

Aka once it starts raining I might need to bust out the hangboard.

Aka this black tea is making me nauseous.

OK, just had some carrots so I’m OK. Moderation is the name of the game right now, folks. Also, doing the crux on Serenity Now V4+ is the name of the game. I’ve gotten to the crux so many times. And I just kind of stand there, paralyzed. Which is why today I’m going to try a couple new things: straighten my left arm and lean out over the right-hand sidepush thing. Force myself to get my left foot up, and then right foot up even if it pushes me off the wall. Lean into the wall to the point where I’m literally lying on it. I feel like any of these three things could be critical, though mostly the first one, letting my left arm go straight and leaning more over my right hand, possibly while letting my right leg dangle.

Enough talk for now. Time to take action. It is officially 65 degrees in my boat right now. I’m wearing a bikini. I’m contemplating jumping in the lake to cool off. I’m also contemplating drinking a yerba mate right now. From Trader Joe’s.

Aka I’m going to do that.

First Time at the Paradise Boulders | Skykomish | Road to V16

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, that first sip of coffee in the morning. And by “coffee” I of course mean “earl grey tea,” and by “earl grey tea” I of course mean earl grey organic from Trader Joe’s mixed with one of their special non-dairy milks, aka almond mixed with cashew mixed with macadamia. I was hoping it would be hella creamy but it’s not. It’s KINDA creamy. Like, about as creamy as tap water, aka lake water, aka the rain water currently dripping from everywhere on the boat.

But (and check this out), the spiders are gone! I have no idea why. Actually I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the smoke. I haven’t seen a spider in several days (knock on formica), and I assume this has to do with the smoke but it could also just be hibernation season for them. Last time sometime around this time they also decided to peace out. I have no idea where they go for the winter. Maybe they get depressed. Maybe I’m starting to get depressed because of this fucking smoke that I constantly say doesn’t affect me but when you look outside your house to try to enjoy the view and all you see is everything ensconced in grey it starts to wear on you. Which is you why you need to focus your energy in other places. Like shoulder rehab. And meditating. And shoulder rehab.

The above photo is Barold crushing, no, mauling, one of the first V0 slabs we tried (Bunny Lebowski). We both flashed this and then we both flashed Red Fish V0 and were thinking, “Damn, we kinda crush. We’re probably gonna send V2 today and maybe even V3 and maybe even V8.” Which of course didn’t happen. After the slab we went up to the King of the Hill Boulder where we failed. I mean, failed as in didn’t complete any climbs (except Solaxsis V1). Not failed as in didn’t have a great time and didn’t learn a lot about ourselves and didn’t enjoy nature. Because all of those things we obviously did. Even though King of the Hill Slab felt like V3 to me because I had the beta COMPLETELY wrong, and even though I kinda felt like I cheated on Solaxsis V1 by not staying on the face the whole time, I’m still pretty good at taking positives from a session. And the positives here were I’m pretty sure I’m gonna be able to do the Unnamed V4 next to King of the Hill Slab fairly soon, and I’m pretty sure I might even be able to do Bushy Tail Traverse V5, since it might be a really soft V5.

You might be wondering (and I hope you’re wondering this), “Mark, what are you gonna do to take care of your shoulder?”

And my answer is: I’m moving to Guam.

Kidding.

Sort of.

No, my answer is: I don’t really know. I’m maybe going to make an appt with the doc today to hopefully get a physical therapy referral, I’m going to do eccentric strengthening exercises I find on YouTube, and I’m going to roll the shit out of it with a roller I hopefully get today at REI.

Ok I’m getting distracted this morning. I mean to blog and then I end up checking my email or trying to figure out how the whole unemployment thing is going. Also I probably shouldn’t be talking to people on WhatsApp.

What are my impressions of the Paradise Boulders, you might be wondering? I’ll tell you: First of all, know that the bridge at mile 5.5 up the forest road is closed, so you have to stop at 5.5 and hike up to 6.5 where the trail starts (you can see the boulders from the road once you get to 6.5). Second of all, know that this hike isn’t bad. It’s a one-mile hike up a shallow forest road, and it’s almost kind of nice to have a nice warm-up hike before the boulders. Third of all, know that this setting is absolutely stunning. I’ve never seen a more stunning talus field. Usually you see a talus field and you’re like, “Damn, that looks really unorganized and chaotic and I wish I was back down in the valley drinking an iced mocha.” But you see this talus field and you’re like, “Damn, was this place made for bouldering? Was my body made for bouldering? Am I a sculpted greek god who was put on this earth to send V7?”

And then you realize you’re actually 37 and your shoulder is failing and you spend the majority of your waking hours walking to grocery stores to buy Focusaid and googling “US canada border.”

Other impressions of the boulders: The approach is easy (after the mile hike). Quick walk down a trail, crossing a river that is super low right now, and then you’re basically there. Also, the Paradise boulders have TONS of stuff in the V0-V4 range, and at least according to one girl on sendage all these boulders with the exception of Nuclear Mutation V2 are ridiculously soft. Which is great, since it means I might be able to get my first V4 there. Also, lastly, Naughty Corner V7 is about one of the most beautiful blocs I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more striking boulder problem. It looks like Jehovah was bored up there one day in the sky and was like, “Damn, I got this new laser cutter bout to see what kind of shit I can dice,” and behold, a boulder was born. With perfect crimps and perfect aretes and a perfect landing and a perfect top out. Can’t wait to start projecting that thing. Gotta have your crimps on lock, though.

So yeah, I’m chilling on the boat right now. Drinking my earl grey. Just finishing my first cup (still in the Starbucks cup I’ve been rocking for a few days now which is starting to disintegrate) and probably gonna have a second. Maybe gonna have some fruit. Maybe gonna do some dishes. Maybe gonna start the day with my shoulder exercises aka some yoga aka some light meditation.

If anyone knows how to take care of a calathea plant please god let me know because mine is slowly dying and it breaks my sternum.

– Wetz

First Sesh at the Sasquatch Boulders??? | R2Vi don’t even care anymore

First off, an injury update: Elbow? Doing freaking great. Shoulder? Not terrible. I was PRETTY worried about it yesterday, but it weathered the rather mild sesh and should be ready to party on Wednesday when Barold and I head back to the mountains. Middle finger on right hand? Ugh. Not doing great. In fact the first three fingers on my right hand aren’t doing great. I may have to start just using my thumb and pinky. 

And now, without further ado, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boyz and Gurlz, the SASQUATCH BOULDERS:

OK, OK, so these aren’t the Sasquatch Boulders. In fact, that’s me standing there with my crash pad and waterproof backpack on, getting ready to ford the north fork of the Skykomish River AFTER a sending spree at the Sasquatch Boulders. And by “sending spree” I mean a bunch of V0’s and one V1. And one V2 that should definitely be a V1 (Cougar Crack).

Speaking of sending sprees, here’s me on Giraffe V1. Look at that sidepull. Look at that calf flexion. Look at the moss covering everything but the holds. Barold and I both flashed this problem before heading to Goosebumps V2, which neither of us sent but both got kinda close on. It required a high left foot and trusting a small chip which in retrospect was actually really good, but I’m still learning how to trust small holds on slab, and still learning how the more you weight a chip on a slab the more secure it actually becomes. But more weight also equals scarier when your foot pops off. But LESS weight = your foot is definitely popping off. Anyway.

After Goosebumps we headed to Cougar Crack V2, both flashed it with minimal difficulty and then tried to figure out how anyone could ever think it’s V2. It reminded me a bit of Clef Crack V0 in Gold Bar, though Clef Crack is significantly harder. But maybe I’m missing something here. Maybe it was just a style of climbing that suited us perfectly. Or maybe we’re just bad at every other kind of V2.

Our last stop of the day was Where the Wild Things Go V2, located in the heart of the Sasquatch Boulders near such classics as Mr. Hollow Head V4 and around the corner from The Network V5. I hadn’t wanted to try WTWTG initially because it didn’t look that fun and also looked like it might hurt my shoulder. But it was fun as f$%k. It was great. IT was the first “roof climb” that either of use had ever done outdoors (even though it’s more of a traverse). Lots of heelhooking. Barold even threw in a DOUBLE heel hook. And though again we didn’t send this boulder either we could basically do all of the moves and just need to go back and link them together.

When we DO go back, I want to try the following: Mr. Hollow Head V4, Hollow Head Arete V5, Sun Sail V3, send Goosebumps V2, and maybe even get weird on something like Solaris V6.

Right now, though, I’m still focused on recovery more than anything. And braving the 90 degree Seattle heat. And drinking lots of matcha.

Bonus video: