How I broke through my biggest climbing plateau

One of the most frustrating things about advancing as a climber is the inevitable plateau one reaches between grades. As a novice, most hit their first big challenge when advancing beyond V3, and after that, you’ll pretty much find yourself struggling between every other grade – except perhaps the V5-V6 transition (I hope).

I sent my first V4 nearly two years ago; The Mane Event at Stone Fort in Tennessee. It was a big milestone for me, but I had no idea that it would take me so long to beat my next big challenge.

This weekend, I finally broke the plateau.

Over the past few weeks at Tally Rock Gym, I’ve noticed a significant advancement in my indoor sends – but nothing counts until you make it happen outside. I started sending my V5 bouldering projects at the gym, and was determined to solidify it with a big outdoor send during my final summer trip out to Tennessee and Georgia.

My first V5 send was Steam Roller, a burly little roof problem that comes over a lip to a sloped top-out. At first, I couldn’t get past the first moves where I had to lift my toosh off a pesky boulder beneath the climb to pull out over the lip – but a little crafty footwork helped me out with a high heel hook that kept me from smacking on the slab below. Personally, the biggest accomplishment on the send was sticking the finishing moves. Slopers are NOT my thing, and yet with Niko’s encouragement I conquered the holds and achieved my first outdoor V5.

The second big moment for me came when I sent Sunnie Rose on the second go. Admittedly, this route feels pretty damn soft for its grade – but considering that it wasn’t downgraded in the guidebook like The Wave (which used to be a V6 and is now a V5); I’ll take it. The route was suggested to me multiple times by both Tally Rock Gym climbers and the fellas at The Crash Pad hostel in Chattanooga – so I figured it was worth the attempt.

When you first take a gander at this boulder, it doesn’t look like a cake walk. The holds are unassuming from afar, but once you get on the sweet sandstone, everything falls into place. My send of Sunnie Rose was only successful because I was full of one of the most important factors in climbing: confidence.

So, how can you propel yourself to the
next level in climbing like I did?

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