Eleven months and seven days ago I did something unwise that prevented me from doing what I left “default” life to do. Life in a boot meant time for reflection, and it was fairly easy to assess what went wrong on Saigon Direct that put me on crutches for 6 weeks.
Yesterday I did something that is preventing me from taking advantage of the best conditions we’ve had since we arrived in the south. In fact, the weather is just getting more and more sendy as the days go by, but I’m worried that I won’t be climbing anything for a while.
On Tuesday, Vikki, Niko, Katie, Walker, Hammie, Greg and I all went to the Apartment Boulders so that Niko and I could finish up a cool little compression problem that we’d tried a few days before. Walker was just in town from Sweden, and we hadn’t climbed together in about 6 years. Greg is just another local crusher, the kind you hate because they’re stronger than you and (seemingly) care about half as much. I was psyched. It was cold, the compression thing was going down for sure, and then there was the gorgeous creekside boulder that we were going to finally bring enough pads to try. Read more…
Thinking back, I definitely needed about 2 days to recover post-challenge (mentally & physically). Then, the rain came and we booked it out of Squamish and begin our charge across the US, seeing who and what we could, but mostly just driving.
What was the rush? I had a date I couldn’t miss: meeting five of my best college girlfriends in Charleston, SC for a reunion weekend. I’m officially back and settled in Boone, NC, nestled between two tabby cats-who-act-like-dogs (my favorite). After reading the latest The Morning Fresh post today, I realized I was out of excuses so here it goes!
27 kilometer bike ride. 27 (all new) V-points. 27 Polaroids.
For this post, I was planning on taking a cue from my dear friend Alana and get straight to the good stuff: Highs, Lows, & Heroes. Bam. Then, as I was re-writing my ticklist into this post, I realized something that I thought was impossible: I only did 26 V-points. I read my notes over and over again and, sure enough, there was 1 point missing… I ran (seriously) out to the trailer and asked Spenser if I was crazy. How could I have F-d up the counting? Even more silly, I clearly remember Sloppy Poppy bringing my V-point count up to 13 (a memorable number). This means I messed up the count in the beginning of the day, before I was even mentally exhausted enough to have an excuse! Also of note, I’m pretty proud of my math capabilities, so this counting blunder hit me pretty hard.
We’ve been talking about getting a new header for the website for months. The conversation has gone something like this:
“you know, we don’t have that big trailer anymore…kinda weird to still have it in the header on the blog.”
“yea, we should do something about that…”
Since our last post was as graphic as we’re ever going to get, this short conversation was followed by: [Silence]
A few weeks ago, there was a new development.
Last night, as Spenser was walking back from the toilet to our trailer, a pair of inconspicuous slugs caught his eye. As we sat mesmerized, we were not prepared for the other-wordly experience we were in for… This further confirms our supposition that Squamish is undoubtedly a magical forest.
Enjoy the weirdness of nature- you just can’t make this sh*t up! 🙂
I’m in the Chief Stawamus Municipal Campground in Squamish, British Columbia, sitting underneath a large redwood, the thick branches obscuring most of the sky directly above. Thanks to their cover, I’m able to type this blog post outside during a rain shower, while boulderers stream back to the campground for shelter. In front of me is a beautiful mural painted on the side of the trailer, an inquisitive elephant gazing out through a drippy, bright, scribbled jungle of color. Just beyond our trailer I can see the end of Lord Howe Sound, where kiteboarders are zipping about and leaving fleeting white trails of wake. The waters, multicolored from two rivers meeting the ocean, are contained by forested slopes with granite outcrops that peak at thousands of feet, a vaguely fjord-ish juxtaposition that reminds us of the glacial past.
A couple of weeks ago I did the impossible. I sat down at the bottom of the Trojan Arete, pulled on, got to the top, and walked off the back.
You may not have heard of this climb. It’s a V8 (or 5.13b, according to Ocean’s 11, the best bouldering guidebook ever written). It’s at the Painted Cave area in Santa Barbara, which consists of two boulders straddling a windy road. The problem in question was created in part by demolition equipment widening the road so that trucks could pass. The landing is AKA a road, and the pads must be moved when a car drives through.
All this is to say that the climb is not 5 stars. It doesn’t suck, that’s for sure. But it’s not High Plains Drifter, Easy in an Easy Chair, See Spot Run, Speed of Life, or another boulder problem good enough that you’d heard of it before you visited. It is, however, one of the harder and prouder problems in Santa Barbara, and therefore it was on my bucket list.
I began my climbing life in Santa Barbara, and Painted Cave is an obvious bouldering spot because of its accessibility. The Trojan Arete was one of those climbs that we looked at and figured we might one day be qualified to try. Still, that day seemed forever away. We worked Heavy Traffic (V3) instead.
One day, a few years ago, Daniel Kovner and I were there while our local legend Bernd Zeugswetter calmly ran a lap on the climb. I think we were able to do a combined total of three of the moves. The top didn’t look easy, either, and I put my own send of Trojan Arete even further into the future, somewhere between “yeah right” and “never.”
When we stopped in Santa Barbara this time around, I called up my buddy R Tyler Gross. He came out to Bishop when Daniel Woods was trying Lucid Dreaming, and is one of the finer photographers I’ve encountered. Our first day in SB, he came up with us to Painted Cave and we worked the bottom section of Trojan Arete. I was able to do the bottom half reasonably solidly, but the top was too daunting. Tyler was able to do a few of the moves for the first time. He’ll send it if he decides to project it (wink wink, buddy).
I was feeling a little scared by the climb, but a few days later I wanted to try it again. Tyler met me again and this time set up his flash and camera. I got on a rope, cleaned the top, felt the holds, and figured out a key piece of beta. I took one practice effort to dial in the bottom section, then took my shoes off and prepared for a serious send go.
The climb itself is amazing. It has an obvious sit-start that leads immediately into 6 powerful yet subtle arete moves, right-left-right-left. At about the height where you want to be done climbing, you have to flip from hard, powerful movements to delicate, balancy climbing for another ten feet. The holds on this final section get better and better, thankfully, and the top out is what Isaac Caldiero might call an “easy mantle.” The hardest part might be avoiding grabbing the bolt at the summit.
After setting up all the pads that we have, I pulled on and executed every move perfectly. Several shouts of celebration ensued. Serendipitously, not a single car came by while I climbed the problem. Here’s what it looked like:
We’ve all got these climbs. It doesn’t matter when you started climbing, or where, or with whom. It doesn’t matter if you started in the gym or outside, aid climbing or bouldering, or if your cruxes are mental or physical. The first few times you ever go climbing, you probably sucked and more importantly, you felt like you sucked. Now, you probably warm up on routes that, to you, seemed impossible not too long ago.
There’s that “impossible” word again. I would say that the best moments in climbing are when we flip the script. And as long as you push yourself just a little bit, then the impossible of yesterday becomes the very very possible of today. This incredibly simple concept is reason enough to keep climbing. It’s also, clearly, a lesson with far-reaching implications. The best way to travel 1000 miles is one step at a time. I applaud whatever shoe company began using the slogan “Impossible is Nothing.” Conversely, nothing is impossible. Except faster-than-light travel. And Blue Suede Shoes.