Avocado or Climbing?

A late TR as I’ve been extremely busy at work (covering for my manager) and planning several things on top of that (dragon boat, 5k, baby shower). But somewhere in between all this I’m determined to climb!

Two weekends ago we went to “Levy”, climber lingo short for Leavenworth and an awesome place to boulder in central Washington.

Icicle Canyon in Leavenworth, WA.

Bouldering outside has always been a challenge for me. Obviously there’s the landing fear factor. Let’s see: flat, padded gym mat vs. rock. Yup, pretty sure rock wins. But what’s even more challenging is that climbing outside forces me to think–and thus climb–differently because I don’t know where I’m going.

Yeah, yeah…to the top. But in the gym, the hand and foot holds are marked (with tape, usually) for you to follow a route. One could argue that this way constrains you to climb the problem in only one intended way, so even if they’re cool moves, you didn’t come up with them yourself.

Outside, there is no beta. You need to climb up and over the boulder with what’s available, and often you’re not sure what that is until you’re 10 feet off the ground. Add in no rope and one crash pad to break your fall, and it gets spooky. You start to get desperate as you scramble around looking for anything to smear your foot on. I need to learn to trust the rock; my feet will stick.

Sending a painfully crimpy V4. Forestland, the Real Thing.

We climb in popular areas so most of the boulders end up being ‘ticked’, i.e. marked with chalk. And we follow a guide book, which describes and rates the problems on difficulty, preference, style, that sort of thing. Since it’s written by climbers who’d rather be climbing, the jargon is in top form. Here they describe Drugstore Cowboy, an awesome V3:

Start sitting with two shallow pockets just right of the wild bulge of The Peephole. Climb up and right with a big foot ledge to rough jugs in the crack, finishing up the pumpy steep jugs between the boulders.

This time at Levy, I became much more comfortable. I enjoyed the freedom and responsibility of figuring out where to put my feet. I worked on problems and grades I normally wouldn’t touch outdoors, and even started to prefer the ones that topped out rather than just reaching a certain point and jumping down. Sending a problem really felt like an accomplishment, and thus we’d do the Dillon victory cheer.

Multiple crashpads and spotters are a plus. At Twisted Tree on the crux move of a V3 (?). Sent!

We climbed normal, instead of hugging the rock, which is rookie mistake #1: bent arms. Here Couch Potato demonstrates good technique. Mad Meadows, Hueco Route, V1.

We even got creative. Barneys Rubble, Alcove Left, V3.

We even got creative. Barney's Rubble, Alcove Left, V3.

Now, you’re wondering where does avocado come into all of this? Right. We camped and everyone was assigned a meal (best way to camp and share food, btw). All the meals, with the exception of our dinner, involved avocado. Yes, that includes breakfast; Couch Potato will successfully sell you on bagels and avocado. We sensed a theme and played the game “Avocado or ???”. If ??? wins, we’d move on to comparing that to something else. But avocado continued to win.

Avocado or ...? Avocado!

Avocado or ...? Avocado!

Then I threw out avocado or bacon.

“Avocado!”, TC the vegan immediately responded.

“Bacon.” Dillon, the guy who brought 2 lbs of lunch meat…for one lunch.

“Avocado…” decides Couch Potato, after some thought.

Slow Boy and I were torn. Slow Boy surprisingly went with avocado; I panicked and chose bacon, but later wanted to switch. By then, the game had become more philosophical and abstract: “swim in the ocean like a fish or fly in the sky like a bird”.

Anyway, throughout the weekend, we consumed maybe almost a dozen avocados. Back to climbing.

Hello climbers!

We hit up four spots, all in Icicle Canyon: Twisted Tree, Forestland, Barney’s Rubble, and Mad Meadows. I recommend them all, though Barney’s Rubble would be a short visit just to try some of the classic V0/V1 favorites, a slopey V4 traverse, or a V3 with a hard heel hook. Twisted Tree was shady (a plus) and a good warm-up area with lots of exploring. Forestland had good landings and super crimpy routes. My favorite was Mad Meadows: the V1 Hueco problem, a V3 overhang up a crack, a high ball V4 with huge moves to pockets, and a pinchy V5 that I didn’t finish (next time). Plus there is the famous V9 Pimpsqueak that we didn’t have time to see (not try!).

Cool Hueco-like formations

Cool Hueco-like formations in Mad Meadows.

On Sunday, TC and I ran/explored the area and found a secluded campsite down by the river, only a 1/2 mile backpack. We cannot wait for the next time (maybe this October?!) to stay there. As we were driving out on the last day to boulder, Dillon asks “avocado or climbing?”. Can you guess? Stick it, stick it!

I love this shot. Oso is perfectly jumping in the air for a stick.



  1. Dang. You make climbing sound fun! Up til now, I think I would have gone avocado.

  2. […] house—Chippy and Tara included—has been climbing strong. Two exciting trips were to Leavenworth, WA and an epic road trip down to Bishop, CA where we drove overnight both ways. For her big 3-0 […]

  3. […] to the next fun thing: a birthday weekend climbing trip in Leavenworth, WA with the house + Dillon (you may recall last year’s). We are getting a lot better at climbing outside! We knew where not to go (Barney’s rubble, […]

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