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climbing difficulties

Learn to Climb: Tackling V3s and V4s

by Kerrin Sheldon

I’ve reached the point in my rock-climbing progression where my forearms aren’t tender for three full days after climbing. Where hanging onto the wall doesn’t feel like I’m one tendon-snap in my finger away from plummeting to my death (or 3.7 feet to the soft, cushy mat below). Where getting to the top of a wall (on a V0-) doesn’t make me cling to the top for safety.┬áNow, I can go climbing on back-to-back days, and my forearms don’t die on the first climb. I can hold onto most holds without feeling like I’m contracting early-onset arthritis and leap off the top of the wall like Batman (cape not included).

With this new found confidence, I decided to take my climbing up a notch this past week. I completed my first V3 and nearly snagged my first V4.

For those who don’t know, bouldering has a difficulty grade that starts at V0- and can rise all the way to V16. V0s have large holds, small spaces, and obvious routes, while I’m not even sure if V16s have holds – I’m pretty sure by that point you have plungers for hands and just make your way up the wall like Spider-Man.

As you progress to V1 and V2, you’ll notice the holds get a little smaller, the gaps between holds a little wider, and the moves a bit more technical. V3 seemed to be the next big hump to get over. While I was successfully completing V2s, V3s tended to elude me. The holds seemed smaller, the problems more complex, and the routes more difficult than they should have been. But, after a couple of weeks of trying a few different V3s, I tackled a traveler that stayed low along the wall before shooting up the wall. After 3 or 4 tries, I got the move down to shift up on the wall and snagged the top. Beautiful.

This week, I went for a leaping V4, which may not the be the easiest to accomplish as a first V4, but it’s damn fun. Wish me luck!