is the failure technical skill, or lack of strength, e.g. fingers for instance?
Well, let's go back in history. In my 30s, climbing was my sport. I was leading 5.11 comfortably, and pushing 12. Started the decade doing trad climbs, finished on sport. I'm tall, thin and wiry, and overhangs were my strong point. Forward 30 years, my 23-year-old daughter has a gym membership, and I started climbing with her, adding myself as a family member and the cost-splitting makes sense.
It's interesting, but it seems like my finger strength has come back fastest. Of course, the first few weeks I could hardly hold on to anything, but at this point, I can grip small holds on vertical faces, but I have trouble pulling the big overhangs.
So to your question, The 11a was an overhanging route with big holds that were less than positive and at difficult angles. I ran out of gas at the lip of the overhang, and that was that. By contrast, the 11b was more straight up with thin holds and tenuous balance, which I sequenced reasonably well. A technical route. I'm not ready to think of myself as a face-climbing specialist, I figure I just need some time to build up my pencil-thin arms and shoulders.
I do have a goal. I want to climb the small set of 5.10s and 5.11s at Great Falls, on the Virginia side. There are a half-dozen sublime short top-rope routes that I learned and trained on years ago. I remember them well, and I want to get back on them at least one more time, and introduce Addie to them. Warm summer afternoons with the kayakers on the Potomac below, hikers on the Billygoat trail across the river, and the particular smell of the quartzite schist mixed with climbing chalk.
Thanks for the history. Quite an accomplishment. I came to it much later in life. Went with a group to toprope at Great Falls once, forget the circumstances, but it was fun.