Aside from kittens and food, the hobby E and I probably spend the most time on is climbing. We love rock climbing because it’s both a full-body workout, and a mental workout — many of the routes or bouldering problems are like puzzles you have to do with your body! We’re fortunate to have a few great gyms in the area, and when time allows we boulder and top-rope 3-5 times a week. I’m terrified of heights, so top-roping is an exercise in facing my fear, as well as actual exercise!
Top rope routes in my area are graded on a scale of roughly 5.3 to 5.14 or higher. The ‘5’ indicates that it’s a vertical wall, and the decimal tells you how hard it is. A 5.intro, 5.3, or 5.4 is essentially a ladder; a 5.14 is something spiderman would probably not be able to climb. Bouldering paths or “problems” are graded from V-Intro (the easiest) to V12 or higher. V-Intros are usually doable for people who have been climbing for only a few weeks, and are sometimes equated to being a 5.9 or 5.10 when compared to top-roping paths; but their brevity makes them more doable. There is also lead-climbing, which is when you climb a tall route with a belayer, but you bring the rope up with you and clip it to the rock as you go. This is a more advanced way to climb.
E and I have both been climbing for about a year and a half. For the first month or so, we were working on basic top-roping routes, discovering back and fore-arm muscles we didn’t know we had, and working on balance, movement, form, and other basic climbing techniques that you learn just from going up and down the wall.
Once we had the basics down, we switched to almost solely bouldering for more than a year, mostly due to my fear of heights (I’m convincing 🙂 )
This summer, E and I decided to switch back to primarily top-roping to break through a perceived plateau in climbing ability Also, we began incorporating free weights (kettlebells!) into our routine this summer, which gave me a huge boost in upper-body strength (my weakness)! All this combined has led us to break past our plateau in the 5.9/V2-4 range, and in the last month we’ve done paths in the 5.10a-d range (harder paths start getting more specific ratings) and even a few 5.11a’s!
Our ultimate goal, aside from simply being strong and flexible, is to be able to do this activity outdoors on real rocks, and seeing an increase in the level we climb at means we’re a few steps closer to learning to climb lead.
And now, kitties: