day 7, I mean 1

What would have been my seventh consecutive Saturday of the season projecting Hard Boiled at Mr. Lee’s turned into my first day at Owl Tor. No complaints here – I frickin’ love the Tor (and by ‘love’ I mean ‘love/hate’). Truth be told, I was a little disappointed because I had spent the previous week working myself in to a nervous redpoint frenzy in anticipation of a day on my project. On the other hand, I passionately loathe my project. Phil, Paul, Brian and myself met Chris at the Tor. The gate across the road leading to the Tor, then on to Mr. Lee’s, was closed due to ‘Fire Danger’. It was raining and, though I am a responsible patron of our public lands, decided along with everyone else this was an inappropriate declaration by our natural resource custodians. The sign stated no one was to enter these lands, whether in a vehicle or on foot. Probably this is a symptom of the wildfires ravaging Southern California and the commitment of resources to that cause. But it was raining, we’re responsible folks, we really wanted to climb… So, we parked outside and walked to the cliff. The Tor is a 10 minute walk in this scenario while Mr. Lee’s is attained only after about an hour. Walking is not my thing, nor is it Phil’s. Owl Tor it would be.

First things first, Brian sent Power of Eating. Redpoints at Owl Tor are a big deal. Power of Eating is not the most glamorous route on the wall, and some will marginalize Brian for this reason, but I’m as proud of this redpoint as any I’ve seen. Brian performed exactly as I expected. The thing is, my expectations are ridiculous. He dispatched this route very quickly – third day on I believe, first day of the season, fourth attempt of the day. To redpoint on the fourth go, refusing to leave the cliff without the send, takes massive motivation. I have never sent anything noteworthy after my second attempt of the day. Four redpoint burns is epic.

Meanwhile, Phil, Chris and I got on Better Than Life. It’s been a while since any of us have redpointed it but we all looked strong, I felt. Although, Phil and Chris looked far better than I. It was motivating to get on a route as hard as Better Than Life, the hardest route Phil and I have ever sent, and feel as strong as I felt, and see Phil perform as well as he did. Chris, of course, dominated. But he’s Austrian.

Paul top-roped Chips Ahoy. I was psyched to see him finally get on Chips. This is the Tor’s version of Smith Rock’s Churning In the Wake, the introduction to hard climbing here. Chips climbs in a style similar to Better Than Life and Strictly Ballroom. I won’t say a person can’t send those harder adjacent routes without Chips under their belt, but it would be difficult. While he was working it I tried not to say anything. I’m of the theory that whatever I say, Paul will do the opposite. He seemed to not hate the route. There was no flood of love for Chips though. I think there are other routes in the world he likes better.

Anyways, my weight was down to 190 lbs this day. Next week’s theme: lose more weight. It helps. I know it.

I don’t deserve to climb

Saturday at Mr Lee’s sucked. Hard Boiled felt totally impossible. I ended up getting on two other ‘gems’ instead, White Lotus and Pork Chop Express. Both routes sucked. This week’s goal: LOSE WEIGHT. I don’t care if I have to smoke a pack of cigarettes every 10 minutes – this belly has got to go.

In other news, Chris is dominating on Hard Boiled. His redpoint is imminent. He does not know when to let go, making his attempts entertaining and inspiring.

couches make Austrians stronger

Phil, Brian, Hawk and I met Chris at Mr. Lee’s Saturday. This was my fifth day projecting Hard Boiled and, as expected, I have begun to loathe its very essence. Although, I did make progress. My right hand exceeded my previous high-point by about 18 inches, which by my calculations puts me on track to realize a redpoint within 30 years. Chris also has cultivated a relationship with Hard Boiled so I was interested to see how his day would go. Apparently, if you’re Austrian you can sit on your couch for months until you feel like cranking, and your strength is increased exponentially. Frickin’ Chris. Either he’s hustling me or he’s just a freak (read: Austrian). All I hear from him is how much he’s been working (at a desk, in a chair), dominating Sizzler everyday for lunch and generally kickin’ it in Valencia. So imagine my surprise when he shows up to Mr. Lee’s and ravages Hard Boiled. My fifth day, his first and he just cranks up to my high-point like it’s boring. What a dick. Anyways, genetics aside, I believe next weekend will produce some impressive redpoint failures. Chris, Paul and I are linking from the ground to the crux, which is slightly run-out and known to produce photogenic catastrophes. I should have video to share next week.

Refugio at dawn

I dove at Refugio this morning, real early. Judging from my current pseudo-comatose state, maybe too early. This is minute 19 since my arrival at work and I feel no amount of coffee can save me now. Ben and I met at 6:30 AM at the Bacara to get in the water by 7:00, aka. sunrise. Haskell’s Beach looked gnarly so we drove to Refugio. And Refugio was pretty good, protected from the swell that came in last night and relatively clear. Diving at dawn was a genius move. It’s real nice out there with the sun coming up and visibility seems best at this hour. We wanted lobster but that didn’t work out. I’m sure they’re down there but they aren’t making it easy.

finger problem

My ring finger on my left hand has been hurting lately. It doesn’t hurt to climb or stretch it. Only touching it between my knuckle and first joint is painful. So, I haven’t taken it too seriously and it’s been getting worse for a couple weeks. It might be time to cut back, take it easy and let this heal. Taping over the tender area seems to help as well.

and then…

No ‘and then’. Still taking it easy. Slow flat bench press reps at 185 lbs for sets of 10-12. No close-grip. No incline. I’m doing dips though. I did three sets of 25 – kind of a lot for me. The focus now is to lose weight for climbing, rest my chest and shoulders, and keep hitting triceps.

day fo’

Day frickin’ four. Four days on Hard Boiled. My relationship with this route has blossomed I feel. And I believe we are on the verge of a meaningful transition. Next weekend, on my fifth day courting its redpoint, I foresee Hard Boiled and I progressing into what I consider TOTAL HELL. I’m talking big falls, big screams, lots of cursing.

Last weekend I climbed from the ground into the beginning of Hard Boiled‘s crux. Then I one-falled it. This was possibly my best go ever on this route. I got a little taste of the crux. From the ground, I reached from the first right-hand two-finger pocket to the next two-finger pocket from hell, whose next move is the first of Hard Boiled’s two-move crux sequence. At that instant both my hands exploded from their respective two-finger pockets. Subsequent goes will put me within range of Hard Boiled‘s infamous crux. No doubt, things are getting interesting.

same route, different day

Saturday, day three of Tor season, felt like the first day of true Santa Maria rock climbing. Phil, Paul, and myself are all well into our respective projects. Phil is working on Buddhist Palm, and Paul and I are working Hard Boiled. Temperatures have been good. I need to lose weight. A lot of weight. Paul is already micro. I did, however, get a couple good burns on Hard Boiled this week. Good for day three anyways. Which is particularly amazing when one considers I weighed 194 lbs that day. This whole being huge thing has got to stop.