With Moses away in Colorado for a couple of weeks, I’ve been doing some of the things I love that he isn’t too interested in. Hari Krishna Temple, popcorn for dinner, alarm clock at 5am. Also, going to Santa Barbara. Maybe it’s the Houston girl talking, but I can’t get over the Santa Barbara views and vibe. Everyone has a dog, the beaches are small and feel local, the summer surfing is very mellow and the boulders go on for days. Mo grew up with this stuff and wrestling crumbling sandstone in the heat never seems quite the best option, and I totally respect that. But it’s new to me still and so I went. If you can imagine climbing out of a mud walled well in a rainstorm, that is trying to get from south of Los Angeles to north of Los Angeles anytime other than between the hours of 1-5 am. But I got to Santa Barbara. I stayed with R. Tyler and his housemates and their dogs, and hung out all with my Bros including R.Tyler, Sam Cody and Jackenz, now NoSend Nate (hopefully an up and coming bro). Check out Jackenz and Nate’s newest Rawk Tawk video.
After a few hours in the water at Emma Wood, where the waves come from all directions and it kind of feels like that Spinning Tea Cups ride, Tyler humored me with a trip to the Creamery – an area up Rattlesnake Canyon that I had heard about as having a few fun lines. Every time I’ve asked the bros about it in the past it’s gotten a response like “you should just go there and form your own opinion” (Read:”We hate it”). And yeah, it was a death march-y hike, and tops of the climbs were baking in the sun. But I was pretty excited and managed to top out I think 2 problems, and do lots of moves on a couple of others including the standout First Come First Served. While I worked on that one, Tyler and I got into a conversation about Austin and I got a wiff of my old Austin Anxiety feeling, which I had been altogether free from for the last couple of years. I feel flummoxed and confused and wildly misunderstood and unpopular. I’m not sure what brought it on, maybe too many different references at once. I managed to breath through it and do well on the problem. It’s great moves, reminds me a little bit of all the lines on the East Spur Mark of the Beast tour – Alf, UNcut Yogi, and That High Pro Glow. This line reminds me of all of those. Tension, sloper jugs, huge feet, weird swings that seem avoidable but take more imagination than I have, and mostly just really good fun on orange rock. Perhaps in the dead of winter I will go and try First Come First Served again.
It is really hot up in the hills right now, so we spent the middle part of the day in hammocks then headed to the Brickyard, where I was eager to give more attention to the notoriously difficult but seemingly simple line Grotesque Old Woman. Rumor is that the line used to be much more doable and has broken, which is easy to believe since this stone is basically dissolving before our eyes at a very, very slow pace. And not that slow at other times.
GOW is a hard move, some fun moves, then a pretty scary mantle. My goal was to stick the first move. This stone is so featured and bumpy, it’s hard to accept that there isn’t a perfect foot for you somewhere. And if you just stick your foot on the rock and brush it a bit, a foothold will likely erode into being. I played with the traditional backstep beta. The some weird high foot flag back tricks, all shorting me, and finally settled on this weird double high foot frog out the knees and stand up method. The top is quite daunting, one of those stand up on a bad foot and just keep standing and slapping, standing and slapping maneuvers. It took a while to have the vision of my perfect method, but I love it and I’m going to remember it. People much more capable than me have eaten it on both moves, and the line doesn’t see very many ascents especially considering how much attention it gets.
I rested and surfed and hit the thrift store the next day, determined to give GOW some send goes on Monday. We went back out in the morning, but were too late to get the early shade. Quick warm up and we ran back to the hammock and the beach.
Around 5 we went back for the unvarying perfect conditions that roll off the ocean and up to the Brickyard every day around then. I flogged the living hell out of Groteque Old Woman until it was too dark to really see the footholds, and retreated. Hopefully I will make it back soon and give it some more of what R. Tyler calls, ‘positive work’. I’m pretty happy to have figured out the moves in a way that works for me, and I know it’s going to go.
What a weird frame of bouldering mind I get into in Santa Barbara! The climbs are very hard for me but not in the ways that I’m used too, and it’s hard to find my focused grrrr try-hard on these problems. Probably because the feeling of the place is not very grrrr focus try hard for me. The bros have sworn off grades, I never see other climbers and certainly never strangers, and rather than dial in beta and executing it, I spend a lot of time experimenting with moves. Maybe it’s just inexperience on fragile sandy sandstone. I feel my fingertips moving a little bit and I just bail, I’m not sure what “bad but good enough” feels like on these holds. It’s also hard for me to just buy into the choreography, with so many little edges and bumps and options on the rock, I hesitate to settle on my beta and want to change my approach constantly.
I’m not sure when I will get back up there. It’s a full calendar for August and September, and I have a Tram project I’d like to get back to at least a couple of times, 5 weeks of Steve Maisch training, another trip or two to Bishop (waiting for a rainstorm :)), a quick trip to Texas and lots of planning to do for my 35th birthday celebratory month in Switzerland! More on that to come. I kind of want to live in Santa Barbara, but there are so many reasons to not. It is in the hopper. Going to have to see how life feels after the winter season. Thanks!!