Home > News

Retired Comp Champ Anak Verhoeven Sends Another 5.14d

In 2017, she made the first ascent of Sweet Neuf 5.15a

Belgian climber Anak Verhoeven is one of Europe’s top climbers with a number of hard routes to her name. This week she sent Jungfrau Marathon 5.14d in Switzerland. The 26-year-old has climbed at least a dozen routes 5.14+ or harder.

“I enjoyed it very much,” Verhoeven said about Jungfrau Marathon. “It starts with a sequence on slopy holds, followed by a decent rest. Then comes the crux which ends with the hard move. The route finishes with a fun-to-climb top part.”

Verhoeven spent two days climbing in Gimmelwald with local climbers showing her the route. “On my third climbing day I went for the redpoint,” she said. “I fell twice at the crux move, every time feeling a little better than before. On my third redpoint try I climbed through the crux and the upper part and clipped the chains.”

In 2017, Verhoeven would become the second woman to climb 5.15a and the first to make a first ascent of a route with such a high difficulty. Her route, Sweet Neuf, was established in Vercors, France, and combined the 15-metre 5.14d Sang Neuf with the 25-metre Home Sweet Home 5.14b/c. This ascent is just as ground-breaking as Margo Hayes’ La Rambla 5.15a as first ascents into new difficulties are difficult to establish.

In 2019, Verhoeven sent the 30-metre Joe Mama in Oliana, her second 5.15a. In 2017, she won the European Championship and made the first ascent of Sweet Neuf 5.15a before getting a serious elbow injury. The first woman to climb 5.15a was Margo Hayes in February 2017, a few months before Verhoeven sent Sweet Neuf. Ashima Shiraishi had climbed Open Your Mind Direct 5.14d/15a in 2013 and Josune Bereziartu had climbed Bimbaluna 5.14d/15a before that.

Before Sweet Neuf, Verhoeven had already climbed 26 routes 5.14a or harder, including Era Vella 5.14d, La Reina Mora 5.14+ and Broadway 5.14+. In 2019, Cédric Lachat did the second ascend of Sweet Neuf and confirmed the grade at 5.15a.