Pretty amazing that shortly after I posted September 2020 climbing update last October, the climbing gyms were all closed due to COVID-19, and remained closed until May 2021. That's 7 full months of no indoor climbing, during which time I pretty much lost all my climbing strengths. The first time I went back into the gym in May, even a level 5 route felt hard to pull on. My legs struggle to make what felt like big steps up the wall. It took about 1 month of regular indoor climbing to feel like I am close to my strength levels last year. So here's the update, almost 1 year later.
I actually had several chances to go climb outdoors in March and April, 2021. My route reading sucked, so some 3s and 4s actually felt hard. Since my bf and I had no strength, we struggled on some 6-'s (5b's) routes, and left a quickdraw on a wall. Currently we are still climbing max 5bs outside. I hope before the end of this summer season, I can climb more 5c's and maybe try 1 or 2 6a's outside.
Shoe update: Mythos (size 38) are best for outdoor climbing. I don't know why, I am unable to use my slightly downturned Scarpa Vapors (size 39.5) outdoors. They hurt my feet and don't help with outdoor climbing. Same with my new La Sportiva Katanas. I bought a pair of Katanas because they are more flat than the Vapors, so I assumed they would be more comfy than my Vapors. I was wrong. I think I sized them too small (size 38). They tension my feet so that the toes and heels REALLY hurt, and I can't use them outside. Surprisingly, I am now able to use my Finale outside. Finale (size 38.5) has a flat sole, are sized pretty tight also kinda hurt, but there isn't a real foot tension system in this model and the soles are softer than Katana (maybe because they are broken in). I find the friction on the wall to be really good, so it's the right stiffness for me for easy outdoor slab climbs. Indoors, I am able to use the Katana on boulder walls for as long as I can stand the pain. So the performance is there; I'm just waiting for the toebox to mold to my feet. The Vapors feel pretty good indoors now. They are my perfect sending shoes for hard routes (7-s/6A+s).
Indoor climbing update: So now (7-s/6A+s) are my limits in terms of strength. I have gained some weight during corona lockdown (up to 68.9kg). So climbing has felt really hard. I am currently at around 66.3kg, hoping to go down to 65kg, which will be quite difficult for me. Currently, I don't climb too many hard routes per sessions, so I don't get bunion pains during climbing, which is a big blessing. Mentally, I feel more confidence now when I climb above a quickdraw clip. I often feel quite secure on my feet on the wall. My upper body strength are on their way back (getting stronger), and that makes me feel quite good. My hand skin can be a limiting factor for indoor climbing.
Bouldering: the other day, I went to a new gym to take advantage of their 15 class deal and to try bouldering. I could climb a lot of the boulders up to 5c/6a. I feel like I can struggle longer on boulders now, which makes bouldering more fun than before, when I felt tired so quickly that I couldn't really try a hard boulder multiple times.
I'm at a point where I don't feel like I will make much progress on harder grades. I just need to focus on moving better on the level that I am: shift weight better, breath better, stay calm on routes, stand up from pistol squats, assisted pull ups, handstands, push ups; lose 1-2 kg more.
It's funny that my bf likes to buy fancy (read: expensive) climbing shoes but doesn't climb much harder than I do. He wears them for his psychology (to "feel more secure" on harder routes). He laughs at me for still using my not so comfy/performance-based shoes (read: Taratulace [size 39... way too big], Finale). The thing is, for the easy warm up routes, I have seen people climb them with approach shoes or even runners. I shouldn't need to waste rubber on expensive climbing shoes to climb those routes. I try to save my "fancy shoes" on routes that do benefit from downturned, tensioned climbing shoes that cost more. I'm happy that I can tolerate the discomfort of my more basic shoes now. It means my feet are on their way to getting stronger. The advanced shoes definitely hurt the feet in a different manner. The bf is torturing his feet on easy routes where foot torture do not help improve his climbing, but he has a different philosophy than me I guess. I only want to submit my feet to expensive torture if they truly help me stand on tiny ledges or push harder on a foothold for those truly difficult, advanced routes. I will climbing a route even my shoes don't feel secure, as long as my feet don't slip off the footholds. The bf needs too-tight shoes to feel secure. He will move up only if he feels extremely secure with his footholds and handholds. That's totally not necessary for a foothold to keep your body on the wall. Just move up and use insecure holds as intermediate holds. My limiting factor is mainly strength and power. His limiting factor is his need to feel totally secure.