At just 19 years old, this month’s girl crush, Anak Verhoeven, has already gotten in more climbing than most of us. With climbers for parents, she started climbing age 4 and the sport has since been a defining feature of her life. Not only has she podiumed at many world competitions, including taking gold at the 2015 World Youth Championship in Arco, but she has also accomplished plenty on real rock.
Earlier in 2016, Anak earned a title that very few (if any?) women in climbing have – she made the first ascent of a proposed 9a/5.14d, Ma belle ma muse. Anak tells us about the project, “A French climber got me excited about this project in the south of France, so I decided to give it a chance. I first spent some days trying to find the best methods and memorizing the holds. When I knew everything by heart I started making attempts and I quickly made progress on the route. One of the biggest challenges for me while doing attempts was my skin. The holds were still very sharp and extremely painful, so almost all of my fingers had cracks. I learned how to tape and, especially, how not to tape them. Even though I fell about 4 times at the last difficult move, I knew that it was within reach. In my 9th attempt I finally stuck it and topped the route!” Just like that Anak accomplished something that very few female climbers have yet to do.
For a complicated combination of reasons women aren’t earning nearly as many FA’s of hard routes and boulders as men, making this accomplishment that much more meaningful. When we asked Anak what it means to her to she said, “For me, doing the FA of a hard route was a very unique experience because I know how uncommon it is.” And humbly added, “I like climbing hard routes and pushing my limits. It is not a specific goal for me to do FA’s or FFA’s. The time I can spend on real rock is too short for that. It just happened that Sébastien Richard invited me to come and try an unclimbed hard route in his neighborhood. I guess I was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time.”
Currently Anak is focused on competition climbing, as she plans to participate in all the World Cups and the World Championship this year. After that, she has a pretty open and peaceful sounding game plan, telling us, “Some desires of my heart are to become wiser and more faithful in everything I do and to get married and have a family one day.” Follow that heart and keep climbing strong!