After a winter trip to Thailand, I returned to Squamish for the remainder of winter. I arrived back just in time for the January dry spell that seems to always occur here each year. It’s a shame that most people experience Squamish in the hot, slightly humid days of summer. It really is the only predictable time to visit, but they miss out on the small windows of stickiness that occur when temperatures hover around freezing during the winter. So much of Squamish’s friction dependent climbing is more enjoyable on these few, sticky and cold days. During this time I did a few new climbs, such as Agoraphobia (V11?) and Resurrection, a beautiful, tall V9 in Squamish’s North Walls.
Spring in Squamish and Summer in Seattle - Jesse Warren
During this time period, my friend Mike and I began trying Room Service, a new V12 located up an amazing prow feature in the Cacodemon room, underneath Dreamcatcher. This climb is my direct anti-style – wide pinches with steep compression moves. Like many people, I’ve always had an aversion to trying climbs that are my anti-style. However living in Squamish, where most of the bouldering is my anti-style, has really forced me to try climbs outside of my comfort zone. It’s often extremely frustrating, but definitely the best way to improve as a climber.
After an unusually rainy April in Squamish, I returned home to Seattle for two months. I spent much of May on weekend bouldering trips around Central Washington, where I picked up a number of new projects, most notably Turbulence (V12) in Leavenworth, and All of the Above (V12), an amazing compression climb in Index. Both these climbs sit on rivers, and are some of the most aesthetic lines I’ve seen in Washington (and for that matter anywhere really). I think Washington gets overlooked a lot when it comes to bouldering, but the quality of granite there, especially in Index and Goldbar is unmatched. Despite Index not yet having a large amount of developed boulder problems, the ones that have been climbed are all extremely aesthetic, interesting, large, and on perfect rock. Everyone loves to talk about how good their home climbing areas are, and how much potential there is, so this all may sound cliché, but Washington is definitely more of a bouldering destination than people realize.
Turbulence, V12, Leavenworth WA. Photo by Sam Wolff
All of the Above, V12, Index WA. Photo by Alex Fritz
In May, I began to train ropes as I transitioned to the summer rope climbing season. The yearly transition from bouldering to sport climbing is something that I started doing because of youth competition seasons, where half the year was only sport climbing, and half the year was only bouldering. It’s something I want to stop doing, as ideally I would always be an equally strong boulderer and sport climber. This is a new concept for me, and is something I just started working towards now.
After a month of feeling weak both bouldering and sport climbing, I began to get some endurance back. I started going out to Little Si, the summer haunt for Seattle’s sport climbers. This summer, my goal was to send Pornstar, an almost 35 meter long 13d. Pornstar is a classic Little Si line that goes up the beautiful, polished white rock there. Like most of Little Si, it involves a number of hard boulder problems punctuated by rests. After working on it all June and July with my friend Sam Conard, my time in Seattle began to dwindle. I was heading off for a 2 month trip to Israel, Spain, France and Switzerland, and I knew if I didn’t do it this summer it would be at least a year until I had an opportunity to try it again. In my final week in Seattle, I was getting two moves from the finishing jugs, but temperatures were fairly warm, and the final powerful, sloping pinch hold felt too greasy to hold on to.
A picture I took of my friend Alex Fritz on Pornstar, 5.13d, Little Si WA
With only one day left, I had almost resigned myself to not doing Pornstar. The day before I left, I decided to forgo packing for my trip and to head out for at least two more tries. Knowing that I was leaving in just 10 hours added a sense of urgency that I hadn’t really felt on the route before. Fortunately, there was a good wind that evening, which made all the difference. The final sloping pinch felt like a jug, and Sam and I both dispatched Pornstar back to back. It’s very satisfying to send a project, but sending it with a close friend that you’ve shared the process with is much more gratifying.
After I sent Pornstar, I decided I might as well try Pornification, a linkup into Pornstar that goes at 14a, at least once. I really surprised myself in almost completing it on this go, especially as it was my first time trying the whole linkup. Unfortunately it was getting dark, and my time in Seattle was done, but its definitely something I’ll come back to in the future.
My next blog post will cover the rest of my summer, focusing on my trip sport climbing in Spain, Switzerland, and France.