Skin has been an issue this season. I believe a fairy princess switched skin with me while I was sleeping. Alternatively, I could be convinced a diabolical pediatric surgeon grafted fresh foreskin onto my fingers. It’s super frustrating to cut short a climbing day because my stupid skin hurts, is on the verge of splitting, is fully split, whatever. So I’m attacking my digits with finger nail clippers, a pedicure sander thing, and stupid lotion all the time. At least one person per climbing session will ask me how the manicure is going. I know what’s causing Skinageddon. Route projects, by definition, demand a lot of repetition. I’m getting on harder projects this season. The holds are smaller and I pull on them harder. Their little features are wearing down my skin with specific intensity. The shallow mono and 2-finger pockets one finds without exception on Owl Tor cruxes is chewing up the ~1/2-inch of dermis around the distal interphalangeal creases of my ring and middle fingers. That stuff has to be healed to continue quality redpoint burns.
In the past I’ve noticed a correlation between climbing better outside and improvement in the gym. That is, after focusing on real route projects for a while and seeing some progress on that front I would also feel a bit stronger when I would drop by the gym. I do not recall the reverse holding true. That could be because I just never noticed, is the theory I’m working with lately. The local climbing gym really is a resource, I’m telling myself. I know strength acquired there does not strictly transfer well to climbing outside but there has to be some transference. I’ve been increasing my time at the gym in hopes the type of general fitness I know can be improved on plastic will provide a boost to the focused effort my route projects require. And my local gym just installed a campus board. I love campusing. It’s the purest form of climbing.
My fingers are crying. They’ve been in pain all week from last weekend’s Joshua Tree excursion. And I’ll be returning to JTree today. I’ve left a project there: Desert Shield. This will be the first time I make the three hour drive two weekends in a row, so I’m hoping for some magic. Realistically though, a redpoint probably isn’t in the cards, but if Colonel Sanders had thought like that, we wouldn’t have KFC now would we? I also want to finish Avant Chain, perhaps the most painful 12a I’ve ever seen – my skin can hardly contain its excitement.
Last night I climbed with Justin and Kristy and Andy and Marcela and Bob and Lala and Tuto at Lizard’s Mouth. It was pretty good. Andy did the sit start to Gangsta Hippie and a couple rad-looking problems on the Top ‘o the World, Ma boulder. He looked strong. Justin and I spent most of our time on Gangsta Hippie – I did it twice but could not motivate for the sit start. It was cold up there, which seemed to suck everyone’s motivation. Afterwards, I drove to the Shed and campused for ~90 minutes. Campusing went alright, certainty an improvement over last week, as my focus was on technique – no more swinging around like a slapper. There’s just no use in squirming your way up stuff, I feel. If I’m going to finish a boulder problem or a campus move, I want to know I arrived there because I pulled harder, not because I lunged more femininely. Anywayz, that’s what I thought about while campusing yesterday, and I feel better for it.
By back feels like somebody hit it with a truck. It’s not even really an injury though – I’ve always gotten these excruciating cramps through the meaty part of my back, right in the belly of my lattisimus dorsi. It feels like an exaggerated version of a cramp that could appear in some other muscle, only this one is spawned from Hell and typically posts up for half a week. So I climbed through it Saturday and paid the price Sunday… and Monday… now it’s just annoying. But there’s a second problem with my back. There’s this sharp pain that shoots down my left leg when I move in to certain positions (like sleeping, conveniently). It feels like a nerve thing because I’m not able to stretch or massage it away, or even point to a specific location that is affected. My swimming schedule is suspect. All the butterfly kick, I’m theorizing, could be to blame. My evidence is occasional, quick bursts of pain during laps in the pool, always when I’m in the middle of a flutter or butterfly kick. Had these sporadic moments of pain not presented themselves while swimming, I would have blamed bouldering – all the jumping off problems I’ve been doing this winter. Whatever the cause, the combination of these two ailments prompted me to skip swimming and climbing Sunday. Saturday, however, was epic. Justin and I got up at 7:00 to begin the day; started bouldering at Painted Cave by 8:30; I hit the pool from 1:00 to 2:00; then got together with Justin, Marcela, and Bridget for boudering at Lizard’s Mouth from 3:30 to 6:30. That’s like seven hours of boudering. It was great but my body was not psyched the next day. The decision before me now is wether to take some time off, from everything, and see if things normalize – or are these acceptable aches and pains one should expect from an increase in training volume or intensity? I haven’t decided yet.
Saturday, I did Gangster Hippie (V6) at Lizard’s Mouth, toward the end of the day, after working it for about an hour. This is pretty good for me, considering I’m not much of a boulderer lately. That problem is rad. It even looks rad.
By the way, I’ve determined the two best shows on television are Extreme Loggers and Ax Men. I’m sure a logger will punch me in the face for saying this, but I used to do timber work. Yeah, I said that: timber work. I was super psyched when I put Ax Men on at my Dad’s place last March and he walked in the room to say, "You remember doing that work?" Yes, Dad, yes I do. I hated it. But I’m proud to say now, I used to be a timber professional. Maybe all that is irrelevant today, especially in the mind of a true logger, because I work in front of a computator. Well, whatever – it’s a free country and I’ll reminisce with delirious fondness on my timber days all I want. Do yourself a favor and tune in to see what a real mustache looks like. Think your back hurts? Did your back break 37 times when a beaver attacked you with your own ax yesterday? Before you schedule your sex change, maybe you should CC someone who cares and get the fuck back to work. Those guys… they do men’s work. They are men. And they are rad.
Today’s post title is courtesy of Brian Spiering. Inspired by The Temptations’ The Way You Do the Things You Do, Brian’s instinct to connect a powerfully emotional song with a collection of routes typifies the Owl Tor pathology – which I’m positive will lend it self to a rad conjunction (ex. path-Owl-ogy). I’ve not had a relationship last as long as my infatuation with the Tor. And infatuation is a horribly inaccurate word for it – more like conciliation. So yes, I fell on Atreyu this weekend, two more times. I was so pissed I got on Better Than Life and one-falled it from the long two-finger pocket. That eased the pain a little of what would otherwise have been a thoroughly disappointing day. Then I did some work on Rubble, ate a delicious ribeye, and hiked in to Pine Mountain. Not the most pleasant 2 hours of my life but worth the experience, Pine Mountain’s 6.5 mile approach left me fairly knackered Saturday night. Bosco was not knackered. In fact, I don’t believe Bridget’s dog has ever been knackered or ran at a speed less than full-throttle insane. Fed a strict diet of Kibbles and crystal meth, Bosco’s energy level is frightening, and his effortless skill at connecting paw to scrotum is astonishing. Micah and Bridget also enjoyed the bouldering Pine Mountain offers – just not as much as Bosco. And I frickin’ loved it. All the exercise and altitude kinda wore on me but the time I spent on a couple classics in Pine’s near-alpine setting made the whole deal more than worthwhile. But I’m not going there next weekend. Unless they open the road.
Instead of Tor Saturday, I had Shed Sunday. Marcela cranked with me at the Shed in the evening. It was good. I felt strong, got on a couple projects, made progress. This two, and now three, days a week at the Shed is hard on the old tendons. Hopefully this makes a stronger, better me.
Because it’s one of the few local bouldering spots not touched by the Gap Fire, Painted Cave was my best option for a quick evening session after work yesterday. And it reminded me how far I have yet to go to be a good boulderer. I’m maybe the wussiest person I know when it comes to topping out high stuff. It’s pathetic. Heavy Traffic, or whatever the variation I got on is called, had me bailing out at the mantle. Yeah, the mantle, just like the mantle that sits on top of almost every boulder problem in the world. And because of a little height, that really wasn’t even that bad, I didn’t finish the thing. Then I bailed off the top of whatever V-jugs is accross the road. Impressive, No? Note to self: stop being a pansie. You promised Mom you wouldn’t go back to the hospital this year and that’s fine. Don’t fall. You won’t fall because it’s not hard, you’re just being a pansie.
This was the first week in months (like 6 months, I think) that I trained twice at the Shed. No agenda, just wanted to get adjusted to the Tuesday/Thursday thing again. So, I took things real slow, kept the volume low and had fun. Both days felt good, Tuesday better than Thursday, obviously. But after a slow warm up on Thursday I got things going a little. I put up a new route, at least. And today my hands are feeling it. Good training but a volume to be cautious about.
I didn’t make it to the Tor this weekend. And I’m actually OK with that. Ordinarily, when someone bails on me for the Tor I’ll pump hate at them for a couple weeks but this time I felt the break was good. Rather than punish myself in Santa Maria, I slept a bunch, swam a bunch and went to the Shed. My climbing for the weekend was laps at the Shed with Micah and Elhanan. For the first time in years I played add-on, which resulted in Micah and me working out a mega-rad problem that could help to alleviate my bouldering directed boredom. Note to self: add-on is as fun as the people you add-on with. For example, Bob would not be fun to add-on with. For years I thought the problem was with the game itself. Not so.