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Belgian climber Anak Verhoeven has just ticked another 5.15a, with No Pain No Gain, in Rodellar, Spain.
Verhoeven began working the line for a few days at the end of September. After a quick trip away, she returned in October to continue the process, sending it on the eighth day. No Pain No Gain is a 40-meter endurance test piece first ascended by Daniel Fuertes in 2017. It’s since seen several notable repeats, including by Seb Bouin and Jorge Diaz-Rullo.
On Instagram, Verhoeven described the process, saying that after working out the beta and training links, she went for a redpoint attempt. “I had an encouraging first send attempt in which I fell high up, right before coming out of the roof. Sending felt within reach. But then a weather change was predicted… and I felt some extra pressure because I knew the rain was coming.”
The conditions weren’t great when she went for her next redpoint attempt. There was no wind and the air felt heavy. With the weather window closing, Verhoeven took her shot.
“I was focused, but not as nervous as during my first try a few days before. Lots of things could make me fall, but I tried to climb in a relaxed way. When I reached the end of the last crux, I fought to stay on and managed to keep going. A big rest brought relief and gave me the energy for the last tricky boulder. And then I clipped the chains.”
Her send was just in time. Hours later, it started raining.
Verhoeven, 26, is no stranger to the 9th degree of grades. In 2017, she achieved the FA of Sang Neuf (9a/5.14d). After adding an extension to that line, that same year she then became the first woman to establish a first ascent of 5.15, with Sweet Neuf. Verhoeven also FA’ed Ciudad de Dios pa la Enmienda (5.14d/15a) in Santa Linya, Spain and Joe Mama (5.15a) in Oliana, Spain. In July of this year, she ticked Inferno (5.14d/15a) and, in September, added one more: Las Meninas (9a/+, 5.14d/15a), both of which were in Rodellar, Spain.
Verhoeven is evasive in answering the question, what’s next. “I want to keep pushing my limits in sport climbing,” she told Climbing in September, but added: “The first challenge is always trying to find projects in which all the moves are possible for a female body. Not easy, but challenging in a good way!”
So far, only three women—Angela Eiter, Laura Rogora, and Julia Chanourdie—have climbed 5.15b. We’re predicting Verhoeven will be the fourth.