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5.15 Climber Anak Verhoeven Leaves Competition World

The champion comp climber will focus on hard outdoor projects

Anak Verhoeven has announced that she’s leaving the world of competition climber. She was a consistent presence on the World Cup circuit from 2013 to 2019, and is walking away with three gold medals, and a lot of top-three finishes.

About quitting the scene, she said, “A new chapter is about to start. I’ve always wanted to become a full-time outdoor climber at some point in my career. It has never been clear when exactly that time would come. After a lot of thinking, overthinking, pondering and journal writing, I have made the big decision to take that leap right now. I want to be fully dedicated to climbing on rock, in the same way as I’ve always competed. So consequently, I have to leave competition climbing behind. The closing of this chapter feels like letting go of something valuable. It is the loss of precious dreams. The leaving behind of a world that is near to my heart. It means starting to reflect on uncountable competition experiences, both sorrowful and beautiful ones. It is bittersweet, sad and exciting at the same time. It is the start of a new beginning, of new adventures and challenges. And in a way it feels like going back to my roots. Because rock is where it all began and where I did my first climbing moves as a little girl. But competing has meant a lot to me. And having been a competitor for a large part of my life, I know that deep down I’ll always stay one.”

In 2014, she became the European Junior Champion at the Edinburgh event. In 2015, she won the World Youth Championship in Italy, where she competed for the last time as a junior. In the same year, she finished fourth in her first open comp.

In 2016, she competed at the World Championships in Paris, where she finished in second after Janja Garnbret. She then won bronze at the Lead Climbing World Cup. Verhoeven ended the year as number one on the IFSC world ranking list. In 2017, she won both the World Games and IFSC Climbing European Championships.

In September 2017, she made the first ascent of Sang Neuf 5.14d at Pierrot Beach in France, becoming the first woman to make the FA at the grade. She then made the first ascent of Sweet Neuf, which links Sang Neuf with the 25-metre second-pitch of Home Sweet Home 5.14c/d and suggested 5.15a. She became the second woman to climb 5.15a after Margo Hayes and the first to claim a first ascent at the grade.

In June 2019, Cédric Lachat made the second ascend of Sweet Neuf and confirmed the grade. In December 2017, Verhoven established and made the FA of Ciudad de Dios pa la Enmienda 5.14d/15a in Santa Linya, Spain. In November 2019, she climbed her second 5.15a with Joe Mama in Oliana, Spain.