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She Made History With 5.15a and Now Sends Another 5.14d

Anak Verhoeven is one of the world's leading sport climbers. She just ticked two classic hard lines in Spain

Belgian Anak Verhoeven is one of Europe’s top climbers with a number of hard routes to her name. This week she sent Joe Blau 5.14c and Joe Cita 5.14d. The 25-year-old has climbed at least a dozen routes 5.14+ or harder.

Verhoeven told 8a.nu, “I first spent some time figuring out the beta for the upper part — a slab with a deadpoint move. The first time I managed to do the deadpoint was in the dark with a headlamp. Once I had that dialled, I made sure I knew exactly how to climb the lower part of the route. The day I did a first attempt, I was pretty tired, but decided to give it a go anyway. I passed the hardest sections as well as the slab crux at the end, but fell at the very top with a foot slip, right before going to a jug. I rested for two days and on my next try (my second redpoint attempt) I topped the route. As for the number of sessions: I can’t really tell, because I had already figured out the beta for the first part when doing Patxitxulo last October. But it’s somewhere around six sessions during this trip.”

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.

Sweet Neuf 5.15a FA