Tuesday, May 10, 2016

From Crawling to Walking to Running to Climbing

Progress is a funny thing.  It can seem so transparent, so clear and abundant and comfortable.  But when you feel this way it’s actually not progress that you’re feeling, it’s the outcomes of progress.  Actual progress is embodies in those times when you’re emotionally overwhelmed, frustrated, confused, depressed, or even angry.  Progress presents itself when you least expect it, and most of the time when you don’t really want it.  Progress is monotonous and unrelenting; it’s constantly poking at you, prodding you to do one more rep, or shaming you into not eating that last slice of wedding cake.  Progress is the determination to hold on even though your fingers are unfurling before your eyes; progress is the feeling that you should have done one more burn as you’re packing up your rope.  The outcomes of progress on the other hand, well, they can be seeped in anxiety and self-doubt.  They can be fidgety and unsure.  They can also be weightless, carefree, exhilarating, joyous. 

I’ve just returned back to work from a beautiful and inspiring weekend of sport climbing.  The weather was flip flopped (Saturday high of 81 and clear as a bell, Sunday high of 64 and cloudy) so I conjured up a plan that would cater to both weather patterns.  Saturday Ruth and I headed up to Bob’s Area, a small cluster of crags found near the top of Mt. Washington at Exit 38.  I have a slightly involved past with this crag and you can read about it in this post here crawling.  Roughly 6/7 years ago I fell in love with a route (or rather the idea of climbing a route) that had the magical grade of 5.13a.  At the time I had never climbed a route graded 5.13a and it seemed like a big deal to me as well as my peers.  It represented strength and skill and some magnitude of ability that I whole heartedly believed would lead me to gain the respect of said peers and procure for me…what exactly I’m not sure.  All I can say is I wanted climb 5.13a so I could impress other people.  It was as clear as that.  And maybe that’s exactly why I got smacked down so hard by this route so long ago; when you climb for the wrong reasons it’s easy to find yourself face to face with an oncoming wall of failure. 

Returning to this sub-alpine sport climbing mini-paradise was pretty damn awesome.  It was such a nice break from the well-traveled trail to World Wall and it also has some nice views (although marred by clear cut scars and an unaesthetically pleasing quarry) if you can look past all of that and take in the rise and fall of the wandering ridgelines of neighboring mountains, breathe in the refreshing taste of clean air, and just enjoy standing on the precipice of a rocky outcropping as you gaze over the I-90 corridor, you’re in good shape. 

My intentions were pretty transparent, I wanted to get back on Crawling from the Wreckage with my newly acquired skill and strength and see if the tables had turned.  For Ruth, I just wanted to get her on some new rock, new routes, and test her onsight ability.  Bob’s area is really perfect for this because the routes are somewhat cryptic and technical, and there is hardly a trace of chalk on any of the holds.  For the 5.10+ to 5.11b/c climber, Bob’s is a perfect testing ground of this skill.  Not to mention, for a sport crag, the setting is remote and it can really allow you to feel engaged with the climbing in an somewhat adventurous way.  There are a variety of small crags scattered about this small area and the main wall we climbed at see’s shade all day and I knew it was going to be a perfect get away on a hot day. 

As we approached the wall and I got a glimpse of Crawling I got really excited and then really nervous at the same time (progress!).  Staring up at the route I could remember the moves but the holds from the ground looked all wrong and I couldn’t really make out my old sequence anymore.  We warmed up which involved some scary slab climbing at the top of a 5.10c covered in moss, and I actually had to take on a 5.11b because I could absolutely not find any holds (they were there, they just blended into the rock so effortlessly I had to pretend I was looking at a magic eye poster in order for the holds to reveal themselves).  I rapped down Crawling to hang draws and re-acquaint myself with the old girl and got even more excited as I felt the holds.  I laced up my boots and gave it a day-flash go.  Fuck, I was so nervous; I wanted to do it instantly and on my first try to prove (what? I’m not sure) that I was above this little 50foot run up.  I actually stuck the first crux and it felt kind of hard, but I pulled through the next few lock-offs and made it to a small rest, then launched into the next crux sequence and linked to the exact hold that I kept falling off of so many years ago.  “I’ve got this” I said to myself, but wait, is my hand slipping?  Shit!  I grabbed the draw.  Oh no!  I’m right back where I was.  The shame, the self-doubt, the feelings of inadequacy all came rushing back in as if someone had just opened the floodgates on the dam housing my insecurities.  I took some time to really figure out what was going on and it all came down to body positioning.  My feet were too high (historically and just now) and once I dropped them and centered my weight under my right arm (which was latched onto a sloping shelf) the clipping stance felt easy. The top crux is pretty sweet, two small crimps and some very interesting pinches with a stand up finish to one of the most bizarre and interesting sloping jug huecos.  I re-hashed the beta, brushed some holds, and then it was time to rest and get psyched. 

We hiked up to the upper crags so I could show Ruth some of the classics of the area like the stemming corner ‘Green Buddha’,  the perfect slab climb ‘Stemming Out Beyond the Grey’, and the powerful and unique face and arête climb ‘Aperture Ecstasy in a Nocturne Divine’.  All 5.11a/b and all worth the hike and the time, most developed and bolted by Leland Windham back in the late 90’s.  All these routes are all so good and pay homage to the dedication and love the climbers of that generation had for Washington climbing, good rock, and their sense of adventure.  We stared out over the Snoqualmie valley, the sun igniting the low lying clouds on the horizon into a wispy tangerine of ethereal cotton candy.  The haze from the city added to its presence, Mt. Si lorded over the smaller Little si and it was funny to me how small World Wall looked from where we stood.  A breeze whipped around us and the bizarre sub alpine furs stood still amidst the abundant salal and fat black ants that busied themselves amongst the dry dead wood scattered everywhere. 

It’s hard to know when you are ready to send.  For me, I squeeze my forearms and if they are squishy and relaxed, I’m ready.  I also get anxious and want to just get it over with, the unsettling anticipation in my stomach goads me to take action and I can no longer wait for full recovery but want to embrace and harness that nervous energy and use it to crimp my way to the top.  This next go I drew upon all of the previous times in the last two years I had been faced with a situation like this one.  A route I wanted to climb, the doubt that maybe I wouldn’t finish it, the desire to have it under my belt, the fear of failing.  I’ve been here before, I thought.  Just climb and breathe and relax.  I fired the first crux (about V.4) nearly missing the slanted crimp crux hold, but regaining my composure.  I locked off on the next few holds (all good incuts) and made it to an incut crimp and a chunky side pull, I traded hands shaking each one out and thinking about the next sequence.  “Just get on with it!” I kept saying to myself, “You’ve done harder routes!”.  The thought of this made me hesitate, and shoo out one last time.  I was ready.  I cruised through the next sequence involving to slopey pinches and dead pointing to a slopey shelf.  I kept feet low, I felt secure and strong.  I made the clip and without hesitation cruised through the last bit of hard climbing with one last grunt to grab the weird hueco jug.  It was done.  I’ve sent harder and much more involved routes, but this was somehow much more meaningful.  This had been an absolute battle for me years and years ago; a battle I initially lost.  But now, to be back on it, to be back in this area, on a perfect Pacific Northwest day, clipping the chains on a rather beautiful piece of rock with some great movement; I really couldn’t be happier.  Redemption, learning, and overall progress.  Not only was I able to put it down quickly, but I was also able to enjoy the route more.  I really love it when things come full circle like they did on this day. 

Sunday was a perfect day for rock climbing.  The clouds moved in, the temps dropped, and the rock at World Wall was dry and cold.  Ruth and I had just come from an incredible breakfast in Seattle and even after the drive out and the hike up I felt kind of heavy.  She gave me the first lead so I went up my usual warm up, Softliner.  The rock was so sticky, everything felt effortless.  I got to the usual lowering place just beneath the start of the crux on Flatliner but instead of saying take I felt so good at this point that I thought why not just climb into Flatliner and fall at the crux?  So I shouted down to Ruth that I was probably going to fall soon and to keep an eye out.  I climbed up to the crimp pinch and felt even more solid, reached out to the gaston, rolled into it, grabbed the credit card with relative ease, and to my absolute surprise stuck the small three finger undercling, reached out to the pinch and then bumped to the juggy undercling.  Soon I was at the chains and lowering down from the hardest warm up of my life!  I was in shock, definitely confused, but overall excited and filled with confidence.  All of a sudden I felt like maybe this was going to be the day that Pornstar was going to fall!  (Turns out it wasn’t, but it was still a very good day)  The story turns to Ruth now who has been leading outside for a month.  Her hardest lead had been a 10c a week ago, and today she had 11b in her sights.  After a rough start on a cryptic slabby 10d and a bit of a break down and then breakthrough, she was ready.  A quick re-visit of the route, a rest, and then she made her way up to the crux.  A false start going to the crimp had her coming back down and then launching through her sequence and nailing it.  She got to the last crux and with zero hesitation snagged the last ledge beneath the chains and pulled up to the victory jug.  It was not an easy road to get here (progress), but she pushed through and enjoyed her hardest lead to date, Psychowussy (5.11b).  Amazing!  So proud of her and really excited to see her get on some of the other fabulous 5.11’s at World Wall.  I think I will point her in the direction of the Bad Guy next, a great crimpy face climb, get psyched Ruth!

The day spread on and out.  Drew Ruana (maybe in the top ten of American sport climbers??) showed up with visions of crushing the ever-loving piss out of hundreds of small crimps up a 125 foot tall piece of rock.  And he did not disappoint.  After a quick warm up he got on the Boy Meet’s World project.  We all watched with suspense as he approached ultimate (but not the only) crux of the route, the exiting sequence of the new whore of Babylon boulder.  A wild pogo that he figured out last weekend propelled him through this crux and all of a sudden things were looking good.  He crimped, flagged, locked off, grunted, lunged, stuck to tiny holds with some kind of demonic fervor, and soon he had done about 75% of the route (which he reported being 9a on its own!).  He got to the ‘red point crux’ an absolutely heinous drive by snatch to what can only be considered a ‘razor blade’.  Now, it’s one thing to see your friends or your buddies trying hard on a climb that you are projecting as well.  You get their try hard and you understand why it’s necessary. But when you see a climber of Drew’s caliber trying really fucking hard it’s not just awe inspiring and motivating it’s almost unfathomable to understand exactly how hard he is trying in order to stay on because he is literally doing something that you cannot conceive of doing, the impossible if you will.  I got to witness this as Drew loaded up and stuck this incredibly hard drive by cross over on razor blades.  His foot swung out wildly, his body barn doored and he let out a guttural yell from the depths of everything that propels us forward; desire, intensity, passion, anger, joy……LIFE!  To our as well as his amazement he stayed on, clinging to holds I have been on before and know are bad.  His task: daunting to say the least.  Just a mere 14 moves of V.10 to do before a 5.13 exit.  No big deal.  He tried to get into the last bit of climbing which starts on the flatliner cux but at this point, 90 feet of 5.14+ under his belt, it just wasn’t the right time.  He slumped out of the gaston and fell.  It was a proud link, we were all amazed and highly impressed. 

He wrapped up his day by making a very nice link and a wonderful contribution to the now 4 or 5 14a’s at the crag by making the FA of Chixalub which starts on Psychosomatic and then cuts just slightly right into the new bit of climbing on the Mega Proj and ends on Pornstar.  He said it felt to be 5.14a.  The first half is quite easy and the second half is sustained crimping in an overhang ending with the Pornstar crux and little rests.  It’s quite a nice line and a perfect route, well done Drew.   



Thursday, April 28, 2016


Ruth definitely feeling the pinch on 'Feel the Pinch'(V.4)
Not much to say really.  It was another gorgeous weekend in Leavenworth and yet another reminder that bouldering is just one of those great activities that fall under the umbrella of climbing.  Each trip it gets harder and harder to pull myself away from the boulders, and easier and easier to lose focus on the monster projects at Little si.  Our pseudo participation in the Icicle clean up yielded results in sends, and I even got to meet my Pro-climber doppelganger Chris Shultes who made a very random appearance at Forestlands before disappearing up the trail surrounded by an entourage echoing sentiments about getting on the Practitioner.  Oh how I wanted to follow…

Jeremy reaches for the slopey lip on his send of 'the Drill Sergeant' (V.8)

Ruth getting so close on 'Feel the Pinch'

The perfect way to walk your dog.

But we chose the solace of the Pretty Boulders and it was a great choice.  The area itself was deserted, the granite was just as good as I remember it, and the scenery was stunning.  It’s easy to get sucked into four or five moves on a small piece of rock, until you turn around and try to absorb the staggering chasms, haunted groves, roiling river, and rocky breasts half covered in snow pack that make up this enchanted canyon called the Icicle.   

Ruth gets into the dihedral on 'Pretty Girl'(V.3)

Climbing 'Pretty Hate Machine' (V.7/8)

Two days in this wonderland appear and begin to thin into distant memory like the smoke from a fire, but the smell resonates and clings to you with the strength of a vivid memory.  Your skin stings, your muscles are sore, but you want to stay.  You want more.  Being in this canyon, soaking your hands in the frantic lapse of the river, smelling the pines, and watching the lizards bounce through breaks in the boulders; it’s entrancing and enchanting. 

Ruth wins the No Skin Left award on our last day in the Icicle.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Chronic Delivery

Time to re-visit the garden.

So proud of my friend Zi for sending his project Chronic (5.13b) this last weekend!  And his first of the grade.  That brings the toll of people I have seen climb their first .13b on this route to 6, myself included in that number.  Zi has been following a pretty logical path of progression at Little si since last season, taking his time to tick off the big four(Propaganda, Californicator, Technorigine, and Psychosomatic) and now he is starting off the season in good form sending Californication and now Chronic.  Funny how things seem to just fall in place after putting in your time here.  I was psyched to have arrived at the wall just in time to watch him lace up his boots and get to work.  He glided effortlessly up the first half resting well at the typewriter before launching into the red point crux, sticking the sidepull and watching his fingers dance across the juggy surface of the gaston horn jug.  I glanced over to see him resting casually at the sloper jug, 'one more boulder!' I thought out loud, and I'm sure the same thought was going through Zi's head as well.  The tension built at this point, the last few times Zi has worked this route his heel has blown off unexpectedly on a somewhat precarious and technical move (the heel hook shown above).  He launched off the last jug and flew up the final boulder problem guarding the chains.  It was quick and dramatic and an amazing moment to have witnessed coming to a close.  It was over in seconds and I think we were all expecting more of a struggle but I'm quite sure Zi was relieved that there wasn't one.  Well done my friend!

Abo top rope: destroying photos of chronic since 1997.

The day was just ending for some and just getting started for others.  I had purposefully gotten to the wall late in the day (typical summer start at 2:00pm) hoping to avoid crowds, fat day hikers, and the dreaded parking fiasco that has gone from kind of ridiculous (last season) to absolutely desperate (sort of like the Republican campaign as of late) this season.  I found a spot in the upper lot, which is a win, but the trail was more crowded than I have ever seen.  I don't need to go into it.  The wall was actually pretty busy as well.  Two pitches in two hours?  C'mon!

World Wall 1, an amazing summer crag and a wonderful place to shoot poorly lit photos. Eleanor on Chronic (5.13b)
The magic happened on my second burn of Pornstar.  My first burn was a disaster when I decided to throw all of my previous foot beta out of the window, make a stretched out clip, and then skate off the holds with a sinking feeling of ‘long-term’ in the back of my mind.  I revisited some of the changes I had made previously engraving them in my mind and then took a long rest.  My second burn was truly one of the best I’ve had.  I got into that ‘floating’ mind state, moved quickly and efficiently, took good rests, and found myself shaking out at the brick and crimp rest just before the last boulder.  I launched into the sequence and got one move farther than I ever had falling trying to perch on the brick.  I pulled back up and cruised it to the finish.  Break through!  I wasn’t sure I could repeat this kind of performance but ended the day doing the exact same thing but feeling just a little more tired.  This is so huge for me.  All of sudden this project is now in the closing stages and I didn’t really spend a lot of time on the struggle bus yet.  But I don’t want to jinx myself.  I just want to focus on this progress and use it to get a little further.  I’m positive that once I can perch on the brick I should have it done, but I’m not naïve to climbing’s little tricks, I know that once you think you’re golden another move you never thought would be a problem starts to make itself known. 

I’m headed back to Leavenworth this weekend for another little hiatus.  Rain is supposed to set in this weekend so I’m going to spend it in the sunny and crisp environs of the east.  And believe me, I would much rather be at Little si obsessing over my project, especially in the light of this new development, BUT I’m going to try and do some things differently this year and that includes not getting overly invested in something I want so dearly.  My emotions are turned up right now so I think it’s a perfect time to step back and do something different before returning to the project.  Bouldering is a great way to foster small successes while staying strong and refreshing the psyche.  The temps look great for this weekend in Leavenworth, and then next week the siege will continue.  Hopefully it’s a short siege, but if not, I’m ready whatever the wall has to throw at me.  I will say this, I’m pretty sure I won’t be doing anything else until Pornstar is done. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sprung on Granite

Spring arrives in Seattle
Washington granite: some have said it’s the best granite on the planet.  We have all types, from that dark slick Index granite, to the bright white and shiny black salt and pepper erratic granite.  We have the dark brown to bright orange granite, usually medium grained, to the black and tan fine grained, to the almost blue colored dark grey granite that’s rough and smooth almost at the same time.  Then we have that large grained granite that is almost exactly like the texture of monzonite and just as painful.  We even have granite that is so smooth and so similar to sandstone you would swear you were in Font.  We have granite so river polished and bomb proof the holds are almost nonexistent and the problems are like sun cupped snow, crafted by the delicate forces of time and elemental creativity.  We also have shitty granite; dry flakes, cracked foot holds, and crumbly sandy slopers.  It can’t all be good right?   But the range of movement, the quality, diversity, and perfection of the holds, these ingredients all coalesce and make something comparable to art; a natural subjectivity that conflates physical strength with the mental warfare of summoning solutions to the most intricate of three dimensional puzzles. 
I have now been living in Seattle for the last two years (starting May 5, 2016) and yet I haven’t once been out to this eastern paradise I used to know and frequent so well.  When I lived in Olympia it used to take on average approx. three and half hours to make the drive to Leavenworth.  So you could imagine my surprise when it took only 2hours and fifteen minutes before we were pulling onto the Icicle Canyon road and making our way up the canyon.  Memories of course started to flood back from the times when I first started to come to this place back in 2007.  They seemed so close to me, and yet now it was like remembering an entirely different life.  I blame Leavenworth for my addiction to these short yet intricate scrambles, an addiction that ultimately lead to living in Bishop for a couple of seasons.  Everything was where it was, the town has not changed a bit, and the only difference I could see was a little more chalk on everything.  The Wenatchee was roaring, the last two weeks had brought the heat to the upper elevations and as a result the massive amount of snow melt was now raging through the canyon providing us with some of the best white noise nature can create. 
With the increasing popularity of climbing comes the inherent increase of injury to someone.  A visiting climber (most likely a college student, obviously male between the ages of 19-24) had fallen off a boulder and broke his ankle.  We were 'lucky' enough to be on scene when the ambulances arrived.  Sad part was that he had at least 6 or 7 spotters and a lot of crash pads, ignorance breeds this kind of outcome.
I didn’t visit any of the new spots that have now been documented in Kelley Sheridan’s latest contribution to the climbing community, but opted instead for some of the more mellow and popular roadside spots.  We started at the Carnival boulders where I got to run laps on THE best V.4 in the canyon called The Rib.  We moved over to the Sword boulders for some shade.  The temps had soared in the sun and now we looked for solace amongst the trees.  The highlight of the trip for me was seeing so many friends everywhere we went!  At the Carnival boulders it was a group from Oly I hadn’t seen in years, at the Sword it was a group from Seattle I don’t see that often because I never boulder anymore, at the Forestland we ran into another group of friends from Seattle, and the next day when we returned to Forestland we ran into an SG group who I absolutely love.  It was like this great party that followed us everywhere we went.  The love and positivity were flowing in massive quantities and there was nothing but good energy bouncing through the spaces between the boulders.  This is what I miss most about bouldering and about traveling to old and new spots.  What a fantastic escape.  The snowcapped mountains only adding to the ambience and alpine feel of the environment, and I couldn’t help but gaze out across the valley from time to time and feel lucky to live my life. 
Ruth on a dainty little V.0 and a great backdrop just up from the Sunny and Steep boulder. 
Molly, ex-pat Seattleite now local Leavenworth high school teacher and granite crusher along with her husband Chris, crushing a new(??) problem on the Sunny and Steep boulder.  My GF Chris (V.5/6, FA me! maybe...)
Molly on the tricky press top out.
Gino trying My GF Chris on for size.
Gino having fun in the sun!
A weekend trip like this one feels like a high that is very hard to come down from.  Now that I’m at work and most of my raw tips have started to heal the trip already feels so distant, the memories vibrant and important but fading.  I understand why people go on the road and live out of their vans and dirt bag it in order to feel this high all the time.  Its living truly and presently, surrounded by beauty and challenge, friendship, love, danger, the unknown, nature and technology.  A combination of the man-made and the natural world that makes us feel strong and comfortable yet vulnerable and ambivalent.  At the end of the trip we stood on top of this little dome overlooking Barney’s Rubble; large black and grey boulders strewn haphazardly about the granite tableau like a child’s building blocks.  The setting sun just starting to make its way to the ridgeline, kissing our already slightly burned cheeks.  I sat on a particularly large block and looked down at the valley already ensconced in shadow, at the river stampeding its way over the white polished boulders that made up the stumbling riverbed, at the snowfields clinging to the crotches of north facing scree fields in the crotches of sheer granite towers, and at the faded twisting road that would eventually carry us home.  I thought about the laughter, and the picnic table cooked meals, about our sad little fire made of scrounged wood filled with sap and dying life, the blanket of stars that covered us at night and made me feel so small, about the success I had had and she had had, about how the feeling of sun burned shoulders, dry skin, and raw finger tips makes me feel so alive.  Of course I wasn’t ready to go home, but the thought of returning was worth the demise of that feeling of freedom these boulders in this canyon had made me feel once again. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Drinking the Koolaid


Zi on the first crux of Technorigine (5.12c)
I was lucky to spend yet another fantastic weekend at my favorite local crag World Wall 1.  These kind of weekends just don’t get old no matter how many times we end up in the same positions, playing on the same routes, or making the same dumb jokes and drinking the same overpriced IPA’s.  This shit is life, it’s beautiful, it’s imperfect and hilarious, frustrating and ego-destroying, painful, joyful, introspective and spacey.  It doesn’t really matter how many people are on the ledge or how long I have to wait to try a burn on my project, as long as I’m surrounded by friends who encourage me, make fun of me, promote me, and inspire me, it all feels like a family reunion at the end of the day.
I was having a hard time getting the motor started on Saturday; it probably had something to do with being endlessly frustrated with how many people consistently decide to hike this shitty little trail each and every weekend.  In turn it leaves me circling, like a shark, the upper and lower lots praying to Shiva, Buddha, Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Allah, Osiris, Jesus and anyone else who would listen, to get a fucking parking spot before my patience imploded and I was left in smoldering black circle on the side of the road. 
And that wasn’t the end of it either.  The walk up to the crag (sans headphones and music) was blisteringly aggravating as well.  The smell of dog shit wafting up from the sun baked ground, fat day hikers waving trekking poles about as if they were conducting traffic on a busy New York intersection, gobs of giggling teens immersed in the flashing lights of their tiny digital screens held aloft by weak wrists and an even weaker interest in their surroundings, snot gobblins strapped to the backs of sweaty overweight moms shoveling processed sugar at their ankle biting spawn with a look of exhaustion and sexual depravation so intense as to shrivel the girth of a hefty Virginia peach freshly plucked from the tree, and hordes and hordes of gawkers and bystanders and pseudo outdoor enthusiast in new lycra and enough synthetic material to make a new ‘breathable’ yet insulating toga for the Statue of Liberty.  Do these people not know about other trails?  Every weekend they descend upon my little paradise in numbers so great you would think they were giving away bags of money at the summit.  I don’t get it!! 
Warming up in my new shoes.  First pair of Miura's, they are pretty damn awesome.
I turned my anger into laziness once at the wall and sat around like a cat that just got out of rehab and was plotting their next move in order to properly re-pay its owners malfeasance.  That is to say, I was tired and not exactly motivated. 
When it all turned around for me was when I one hung Pornstar for the first time this season climbing into the brick sloper and incut crimp on link.  I hung briefly and then fired the crux and it didn’t feel that impossible anymore.  I know one hangs can be misleading but honestly, I know I can do this route now.  I don’t when exactly, but I know it will go and I know it will go this season.  It may take me all summer, hell it may take me well into Fall, but I know it will go and THAT, my friends, is one of the best feelings EVER.  I came down from that particularly good burn and was able to breathe in the feeling of renewed psyche once more.  I have my goal, it’s clear, I know what I need to do in order to reach it and that feeling of intense focus, of clarity and direction, well, it’s extremely freeing.  But I also don’t anticipate every session to be so ground breaking.  I know there will be ups and downs to follow, but I also plan on mixing it up this season.  I don’t intend on beating my head on the same route over and over until I develop some weird Freudian complex and end up fleeing to Tibet to become a monk in the face of failure. 
Sunday morning was like this weird yet amazingly light hearted gift.  As I sat on the deck overlooking not just my back yard but four others backyards as well, the sky framed by several towering pine, cherry, and London plane trees; I was ensconced by what could only be described as my own personal urban aviary.  Black capped chickadees sung and hopped from branch to branch, red breasted finches sat on baking roof tops and pondered their next meal, Rufus hummingbirds whizzed by and stopped in midair before sipping the nectar of the nearby blossoming cherry tree, and all manner of junco’s, house finches, and robins squawked and chirped with social delight as they plopped about the branches of the arboristic amphitheater plucking off fresh blossoms and chasing each other about the matrix of twisted branches and open air. 
I could do nothing but relax and observe, and this was EXACTLY how I wanted to spend my morning. 
Paul coming close on Psychosomatic (5.12d)
I got the itch around noon and scooped a good friend of mine up.  We headed to the World Wall with sore tips and muscles but it turned into one of the best sessions I’ve had out there.  Nothing cataclysmically mind-altering happened in terms of sends, but I was able to tap into that special place climbing takes me at times and hang from jugs effortlessly and gaze out over the valley that eventually spills out onto the I-90 corridor lousy with dark green conifers and lime green deciduous spring buds. 
I made another highpoint on Pornstar and somewhat of a breakthrough being able to actually shake out on the brick and the incut before launching into the last crux.  I fell two moves in but pulled back on and clipped chains again.  I think I’m in line for doing this routine quite a bit before anymore ‘progress’ can be made, but it’s a victory nonetheless.  I also cleaned up yet another ‘extension’ in the form of adding 50 feet of climbing on top of the original Californication by doing the Extendorigine extension.  I had actually been trying this line for the last few weeks giving it random warm down burns here and there and agonizingly falling just feet below the anchors.  This time I sacked up and burled through to the top which felt quite good.  It’s a weak FA, but still, it’s kind of a cool line.  Like everything at Little si, it grew on me in the end.  If the rock was slightly better it could be quite a good marathon route.  I have to give a shout out to E for the 45 minute belay.  As a thank you I gave her back to back belays on Californicator, she did it two times in a row without resting, I think her endurance is pretty good (wink wink). 
Now I’m going to take a small hiatus from the Wall to go and try my hand at bouldering.  As soon as I wrote that, horrible images of me falling off an easy top out and breaking my leg in three places flashed through my mind.  Yikes.  Wish me luck.