There are legends, dark, yet compelling, that tell of a breed of curious, sinewy land-leviathans who once roamed these salty plains. With tails made of wire, eyes of broken glass, and hearts protected by tin sheaths, they were mysterious party animals. In fact, there was a cave they used to frequent and ceremoniously trash with bad graffiti, excrement, and beer bottles.
It was inside of this very cave where I found the boulder problem that became my summer project. Rumor has it this problem does have a name (Caveman v7), but my faith in humanity is preventing me from accepting that people are still naming cave problems Caveman, so I have dubbed it Lair of the Leviathan in humble tribute to the creatures whose sanctuary it was for so long.
This problem is 23 moves long and climbs out of a dirty lava tube, topping out onto the scrubby desert floor that is characteristic of Central Oregon. The first two-thirds of the climb traverses through a sequence making burly crossover moves on jugs, unwinding, re-crossing, while navigating slippery feet on the overhang of the cave wall. This leads to a “rest” where you get a heel-toe cam and an increasingly greasy jug (your own grease!) to shake out on. This “rest” (hardly less taxing than continuing to climb, but a good opportunity to chalk up) marks the beginning of the v4 which makes up the last third of the climb with an array of pinches, jugs, and the flat edges of a surprisingly heart-breaking top out.
I work on Lair of the Leviathan relatively intermittently, and I have it in two halves, but none of the moves are harder than v5. The v7 grade comes from the endurance aspect, which is a weakness of mine, and I can’t expect to send it without stepping up my effort. Unfortunately, this realization has come at the same time as a debilitating butt-muscle tear, and I have been zombie-dragging my leg around this town, unable to climb at all for two weeks now. There is no way I can send the Lair before we leave Oregon for the year. Disappointment has crept into my restless and increasingly doughy heart.
When you remember the Leviathan, questions flicker in and out like bible passages over radio static:
Who dares open the doors of his mouth, ringed about with his fearsome teeth? Will he keep begging you for mercy? Will he speak to you with gentle words?
It is yours to decide.
As in all the dark places of the world, there is light and warmth to be found if you look. At the risk of sounding dramatic (no but, like, non-ironically this time) I found this video as a moth finds your headlamp, crashing into the face of my own pathetic malaise. Our friend Dashiel Pare-Mayer put it together after a session at the Lair, perfectly capturing all the best parts of bouldering with friends. Moments like this are the oxygen in the blood of the sport, and when you focus too much of your passion on sending, the entire organism suffers.
Sending hard projects takes dedication and a depth of emotion that is so intense it can become a burden, a demon screech, or a chronic rambling philosophical monologue (Blog? BLOG. blogblogblog!). It can distract from the real reason we all started climbing. If left to run wild into the night, wearing only a pair of animal print underwear, bent on self-expression, it will steal your drink and disappear until you hear screeching tires in the distance and then nothing. Whether or not I can climb right now, I will always be grateful for all of the joy and purpose that the Lair has brought me this summer. I owe this gratitude to everyone, including my friends, my own butt, and the party animals who left this place to us.