The Road to V7, Part 4: Run for the (Foot)Hills

There is a little bouldering area just outside of Gold Bar, WA, called the “Reiter Foothills.” You probably haven’t heard of it unless you’re into riding dirt-bikes/being from Monroe. The thing about this area is the following: A few years back some people discovered that there were big-ass boulders there, and that “problems” could be found on these boulders, and that these “problems” could even be rated on the quote unquote “V scale,” and that using this scale people from all over the world (but mostly the Seattle area) could come to enjoy the grand outdoors and test their climbing mettle.

Which is exactly what my friend Barold and I did on Friday.

Some sources compare Beam Me Up to pitch 15 on the Dawn Wall.

Barold and I drove separate cars to the Reiter Foothills. We stopped at the Safeway in Monroe to stock up on provisions/people watch. I love people watching in places like Monroe because, though it’s just 40 minutes out of Seattle, the culture is completely different there. This is huntin’ culture, goddamnit. This is, “Hey baby, why don’t we go down to the that Mexican restaurant later and get a couple margaritas and some of those fajitas,” type culture. These people are real “salt of the earth” types, whatever that means. I think it mostly means they have less of a problem with eating multiple meals a week at McDonald’s and with xenophobia.

But I’m not here to judge, damnit! Who would I be to judge? I’m here to get my hands in some granodiorite holds. I’m here to get exercising while having the time of my life. I’m here to see some new blocks. I’m here to send V2, damnit.

If you read my last post you know that on this trip I fully expected to send V2. You might say I took it for granted. I even had the perfect V2 scoped out, “Beam Me Up,” located in the Rubik’s Cube cluster. I had even watched videos on how to do this boulder. I had beta. It was a (insert expletive) V2. That’s mostly the reason I fully expected to send it. I climbed V5 at the gym once, right? So V2 outdoors should be a walk in the dog park.

But I didn’t send it. In fact, I didn’t even really come all that close, in that I couldn’t even do the start.

The start of Beam Me Up is a table-sized jug that you could serve dinner for six on. The problem is it’s a sit start, and since I’m kind of tall I had to splay my feet out wide. The other problem is that the holds after the start are good but not that good. I mean, to Daniel Woods and Jimmy Webb these holds would be veritable craters that you could camp in, let alone fix your hands on. But to me they were the razorest-thin crimps. So I got my right hand up to the first little crimpy rail, and then..had no idea what to do with the left. I would just kind of collapse onto my pad like someone kicking a deflated soccer ball. I tried multiple times, and Barold even pulled up a video — SO I HAD THE BETA RIGHT THERE — and still couldn’t do it. Too weak, too slow. It was a rude awakening. It was how I might imagine it to be to fall off your bed into a Finnish lake in winter.

The only upside? I flashed the V1 next to it, “Scotty.” Woooooooooooooooooo….

L’Hotel du Chemin.

After this it started to rain, so Barold and I made our way to other boulders to check them out. I tried Summer Solstice (V3) and failed even harder. We went to climb a V0 crack and the only other people out at the boulders that day were already there. Then, after sort of bushwacking, we happened upon a beautiful V2 called “The Container.” This one was actually fun. We could actually do some of the moves. And it didn’t even matter that it was raining, because it was slightly overhanging and the holds were roughly the texture of Harrison Ford’s voice in “The Fugitive.” So at this boulder we felt a little better about ourselves. Granted, we couldn’t top out, because sending V2 just wasn’t in the cards for us, but we still had fun. Barold took some vids and pioneered the beta. I took my shirt off. The rain continued. And at some point it was time to call it quits, not so much because of the rain because both of us (or at least I) were completely wasted. Time to head back to the cars. The V2 Bombers would have to wait for their day in the sun.