Day 9 on Hard Boiled. Three redpoint burns. Three falls at the crux. Whatever. Here she is, the object of my frustration:
And here’s Phil on Buddhist Palm:
Thanks to Paul Dusatko for shooting these videos and putting them to rad music.
I’m not even going to try to think of clever titles for blog posts from now on. It’s just ‘day 8’ – the eighth day this season I have spent working Hard Boiled. Communists must love climbing routes. It’s cold, everything is blue/gray, everyone has serious expressions and rad facial hair, and at the end of the climbing day, before getting in line for communal potato soup, you get tattooed with a big government-standardized stamp marking your consecutive day attempting the same route you’ve been projecting since birth – ‘day 8000’.
I got on Hard Boiled four times on Saturday. That’s a lot. It felt like a lot. My middle 2 goes were redpoint burns and on both attempts I fell throwing out right to the crux crimp. Things felt better though. Every week is a little better than the week before. There’s a rythm I’m starting to feel and I’m changing little things like the speed of my footwork in the crux. Moving on the route is more natural and fluid. I feel a redpoint coming on. And I think my finger is getting better.
My seventh day of the season projecting Hard Boiled. I don’t know what to say about it. I’m where I thought I would be at this point. The only difference between this and my experience working Better Than Life is my attitude. This time I expected to suffer. So, whatever. Here it is. It sucks, obviously. But no more than usual. Which reminds me – big up to Phil Requist for introducing me to 5.13 sport climbing. I shouldn’t say that. Climbing routes is great. Honestly, what else would I be doing? And there’s a reward at the top of every route I work hard to redpoint. Probably this process builds character or some shit. It must do something. Every season gets a little easier. My capacity for suffering gets a little bigger every year around March. Suffering, I suppose, always happens before a meaningful accomplishment. Which brings me back to Saturday. About two-thirds of the way up a 5.13b in Santa Maria I found an opportunity to, once again, expand my capacity to suffer. My lesson in attrition begins after my left hand lands in a three-finger pocket twenty feet from the chains of Hard Boiled. Twice I got to this point. Twice I paused here to shake the lactic acid from my right arm, chalked up, got psyched, then reached right to a two-finger pocket. On two redpoint burns I reached that two-finger pocket with my right hand, reached far left to another two-finger pocket, and twice I fired at the first hold of the crux. This is where I fell twice. I can visualize hitting that next crimp. My vision of me firing through the crux section is clearer now. Basically, I believe I’m where I need to be to redpoint this season.
I’ve never done yoga before. Before last Friday, that is. The day before climbing at the Tor. Bad idea. Yoga kicked my ass. I don’t know what I was thinking. It must have been an arrogant moment when I thought I would jump in to this yoga class, dominate all their yoga stuff, then wake up the next day to crank at Santa Maria. So, I’m sitting in class, getting my hips all warmed up or whatever, while these tiny women start sitting down next to me. No worries – I bench press. And I climb. But I’ve heard stories – that these classes are gnarly, that these people are actually pretty leathery. And I’m believing none of it at this point. Fast forward through 45 minutes of ‘down dog’, and I am digging deep to not explode a testicle. There’s frickin’ sweat running off my face onto the little yoga mat, my everything is burning, I can’t stop shaking, I might have crapped my pants, and the chick next to me has looked like a marble statue for the better part of an hour (and by ‘chick’ I mean ‘hell spawn’). I felt them feeling sorry for me, like I had been in a horrible accident and was re-learning motor skills. Yoga is what I imagine Twister with Satan would be like. Fuck yoga.
I got on Better Than Life on Saturday. Felt pretty strong but energy was low. Go figure, maybe it was the 60 minutes of Hell-pretzel action the night before that made me feel like a chew toy. Note to self: no more of that business before Tor day. My finger felt not better, the left ring finger I’ve been nursing for a couple months, so I made a short day of it. After warm ups on Power of Eating and Chips-A-Hoy, I bolt-to-bolted Better Than Life, then redpointed Chips and Auto Magic. My weight is down to a little under 190 lbs and things are feeling pretty strong, but this finger has got to get better. So, my plan is to stop climbing mid-week, do what I can on Saturdays at Santa Maria until the weather shuts us down for the season, then take some time to heal this winter. Taping between my knuckle and first joint helps a bunch too.
Phil was absent on Saturday. No doubt, he was missed. But it was tons of fun nonetheless. It was me, Paul, Hawk and Elhanan – all friendly dudes, all psyched to be at the Tor on a good day. I had a lot of fun.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.