Day 41: Boogie ’til You Poop

Sadly, my phone ran out of storage space before I could explain my personal connection to the climb formerly known as “Boogie ’til You Puke.” It’s 5.11b offwidth, which ordinarily would be a red flag that I shouldn’t even attempt the climb (on top rope or otherwise). 

Before I arrived in Squamish, the word “offwidth” meant little to me. It meant a crack that was wide enough that I couldn’t use fists to climb it. What was the big deal? Oh my God I was so wrong. I’m not the strongest of climbers, but I can send most 5.10b climbs on the first try. Split Beaver, a seemingly friendly 5.10b offwidth, is one of the three climbs this trip that I got on and bailed off of because I couldn’t finish it on top rope (the others were 5.12s) Offwidth now means sticking random body parts in a crack and flexing them, praying they stick as you feel yourself sliding out of the crack, hearing your flesh tear as you detach from the wall. It means wedging your knees in the crack  side-by-side, feeling momentary relief because the sliding has stopped, only to have that sense of peace turn to despair when you realize the way you’ve wedged your body parts, while it’s halted your movement downward, prevents all upward movement. It means working really, really hard, sweating and grunting, and abraiding every surface of your body in exchange for a vertical gain of zero inches.

So why was I getting on Boogie ’til You Puke, a full number grade above the offwidth I’d bailed off of, a climb I’d watched Mico reach the top of after spending 1.5 hours belaying him, a climb Ben and Sylvan (both stronger climbers and especially stronger offwidth climbers) lowered off of after making it 1/3 of the way up the wall? I was desperate. The video Sylvan showed me, Boogie ’til You Poop, had scarred me. Since watching that video, every time I’d start climbing a route, I’d be overwhelmed by an intense urge to poop. It didn’t matter if it was a single pitch route or a 13 pitch route, the feeling would stay with me until I was back on the ground. At first I thought I was just timing my poops badly with when I was choosing to climb, but as the feeling became a perennial part of climbing no matter how many times I pooped immediately before a climb, it dawned on me that I had a psychological issue on my hands. The theory I developed (based on a  thorough grounding in psychology thanks to my degree in Film and Media Studies) was that the video had made pooping myself on a climb seem like a very real possibility (previously I’d only been   vaguely aware such atrocities could happen), the only way I could get over this fear that was giving me the psychosomatic urge to poop was by making it to the top of Boogie ’till You Poop without pooping.

With no alternative, I wedged myself into the smooth, wide chimney that slowly dwindled to a disgustingly sized offwidth. I chicken winged my way up the offwidth for a while until it dwindled to a size that rendered this impossible. It was here that Sylvan and Ben had lowered, and it was here that I’d planned to throw in the towel, consoling myself with the thought that I’d successfully exorcise a third of my demons. After watching me struggle for a while and prepare to give up, Mico, knowing how important this climb was for my sanity, suggested I try laybacking the crack. If nothing else, climbing The Opal repeatedly has given me the chance to hone my right facing layback technique, exactly what this climb necessitated. This can’t be any worse than the second pitch of The Opal, I reasoned. This thought, combined with the need to exorcise my pooping demons, pushed me to the top of the climb.

An incoherent, sweaty mess, I reached the anchors of Boogie ’till You Puke, and felt a cool breeze lifting my sweaty locks and purging the psychosomatic urge to poop from my body. Healed, I lowered to the ground, ready to begin climbing in Squamish with bowels on solid footing.

For the curious, less suggestable beings who want to see the video that started it all:

Day 38-July 12: Adventure Strikes

Sylvan and Ben rolled into camp late Saturday night (Day 34) and brought with them energy and enthusiasm. Over the last few months they planned a week long trip to Squamish. They knew a week wouldn’t be enough to pack in all their adventures so they decided to share. Perhaps together the four of us could have a summer’s worth of adventure within only a 7 day span. Sunday we climbed at the Smoke Bluffs. I’d sworn never to return to the crowds and death by top rope that lies in wait at the bluffs, yet Sylvan and Ben had a plan. Three climbs they said, Flying Circus, Crime of the Century, and Split Beaver. Two long delicious finger cracks and one hands to off width crack. Arm bars and finger jams awaited. While the bluffs weren’t high on my list, Ben and Sylvan are. We followed them, like chicks trailing a chicken, through the maze of crags that make the bluffs and found that our routes were free.

On Tuesday we climbed Angel’s Crest with Ben and Sylvan. The name meant nothing to me, it was just a climb that they’d added to their tick list. Now it’s a 13 pitch 5.10 on an arete formed by the North Gully and The Sheriff’s Badge. Ceri lead pitches under 5.10 and I lead the 5.10 pithes. Well, except for the 10c slab/crack that she unknowingly climbed. Uh-oh. But it worked well. No falls. Complete success (unlike on Vector when ceri took a fall/slide off a vertical hand crack onto the crag below). There were a few hairy parts. We lost the trail to the Acrophobes, two spires mid route, the first which we later successfully climbed then rapped off the back. The 3rd class high exposure that followed was mildly traumatizing. Unfortunately no photos or videos of this climb. We kept our hands on rock/rope. You’ll have to settle for another pre-opal video. Tomorrow we go back for the third attempt. Hopefully the first three pitches will be climbed without falling.

Day 34: The Opal

It takes great effort to accomplish hard things, sometimes more effort that you’re capable of. The Opal is rock-hard proof of this. I thought climbing 5.11 was challenging. I didn’t realize how much harder it would be when climbing with a backpack filled with a 70 meter rope and water for the day. I thought 5.12 layback sounded nearly impossible but couldn’t have imagined how hard it would be on a route that appeared not to have been climbed since 2015, where ever foothold on the pitch was coated with black algae. I witnessed my first ever fall on trad gear when Mico’s foot slipped (before this, I’m not sure I truly believed the gear would hold). I thought bolted 5.11 slab would be a little more possible for me until I realized we had to downclimb the 5.11 slab and watched Mico fall repeatedly on a single section. I don’t know what the last three pitches of the climb are like because we didn’t make it that far. The plan is that once Mico sends the 5.13 pitch, I’ll ascend on a fixed line, and we’ll finish the last two pitches together. I’m confident that Mico will be able to send the entire route if we put in the time. I’m less confident that I’ll survive the experience, but that’s part of what I like about climbing–the chances it gives to surpass your own expectations.

Day 14: Pig in a Can

Please excuse the lapse in posting. It was difficult to keep up the blog while Mico was recovering from his severe bed bug mauling. We concluded that the source of the bed bugs was likely Mico’s sleeping bag. He’d received similar bite marks before on other backpacking trips but, perpetually riddled with bug bites as he is, he’d never thought much of it. We isolated his sleeping bag in a large black trash bag and went to the local consignment store to buy him a warmer, less vermin-infested bag. Over the next few days, we continued to find isolated bed bugs on our things, but Mico’s now no longer waking up with new bites on his legs, so we’re hoping that did the trick/biding our time until the eggs hatch. After a somewhat disappointing day of climbing (Independence Pass climbs seem to be rated with a rubric similar to the Yale grading system, so we kept ending up on four star climbs that probably only deserved three), we returned to our base outside Leadville to drown our sorrows with food. We had lovely spam pizza. Turns out the veggie slicer we got can turn spam into pasta form.

Day 11: In Which We Learn Life Is Finite

Despite the crusty shell I’ve worked hard to cultivate over the years, on the inside I’m a girl who loves daffodils and big yellow butterflies. I reveal this not because I want you to think I have a softer side, but so that you can fully appreciate the tragedy that occurred when I hit one of these big beautiful butterflies while driving. The butterfly went splat on the windshield and peeled off as I continued driving. It left behind a mustard-colored trail of what I imagine were butterfly innards. I wanted to stop the car and see if we could offer the bug any medical assistance, but Mico was worried about running out of gas, so we continued on. I consoled myself with the fact that there was probably little we could have done for it. I had been driving about 60mph. As with every sad event, there was a silver lining. The butterfly tragedy afforded me a moment to contemplate myself  and my place in the cosmos. I realized that life was finite and precious and that I could not afford to waste it climbing routes that got below a four star rating or eating healthy food.

 
 
 

We’d like to take a moment to thank a couple of our sponsors who made these videos possible. The Jon Chen Frypan Company for providing us with the cast iron skillet (we still have not figured out how to use the other thing which we think might be a griddle) and Archangeli Oils for the quality canola oil which we nearly finished during our fry everything bonanza. We hope these videos inspired others to follow in our footsteps and dream big because it is possible to fry anything you put your mind to!

Day 2: Ceri has 4 meltdowns and 1 realization

Apparently feet are really important. Missing feet makes you angry. When you find them things become easier but until then life is a frustrating challenge. 
Squeeze chimney plus helmet plus massive 6inch cams digging into your back. Pretty bad time and then you remember you are mildly claustrophobic. That sucks.

Walk uphill in the Arizona sun. 

Bouldering. 

Shipping is derived from relationships, not the postal service. Such words make conversation difficult. 

And words from the wise:

“I imagined they’d need to pour peanutbutter down the slot to free me ” – Ceri Godinez