Anak Verhoeven sends "Joe Mama" 9a+

The Belgian Anak Verhoeven send her second 9a + route with “Joe Mama” 9a+ in the Spanish climbing crag Oliana. It was also the 7th ascent of Klemen Bečan’s route from 2016. Anak is with Margo Hayes and Angy Eiter, one of only three women who could climb a 9a + route. On this trip she also on-sighted “Gorilas en la Niebla” 8b+, a nice and long Oliana classic.

I came to Oliana without having a particular route in mind that I wanted to try. Arriving at the crag, I made a quick decision: Joe Mama.

In the time that followed, I went through the whole process of taming a route:
Finding the exact beta that suited me. Accepting hot temperatures and wet rock. Treating painful skin and taking extra rest days. 
I quickly felt at home in the route, but it wasn’t conquered yet!
There are almost no places to shake out or take a breath. The crux is intense on tiny holds, followed by move after move of body tension and endurance. Quite a project… but abandoning didn’t feel like the right option.

My first redpoint attempt came and I fell high up, in the crux. Two attempts later I chose a beta change which worked: I passed the crux move shortly after. But then I started falling at the crux move again. And again. And again. I just felt blocked every time I reached that spot and couldn’t move my body up. So, it was time for another change of beta. Just one extra foot movement made the difference and I was ready to keep going! But… the end of the trip was drawing near. Only 2 more climbing days were left. And I felt so close to sending… .

Another attempt. I passed the crux this time, with my new foot beta, but I fell some moves further, on a tricky deadpoint. Nooo… Again, I had to search for one more detail that needed to be changed. And I found it.

My 10th redpoint attempt and the last one of that day.
I taped a finger with a bloody cut. I felt more tired than before. But I was determined to fight. I passed the crux and the deadpoint move too. Only one more risky move awaited me, right below the chain, but I didn’t want to let go. And I stuck it!
What a feeling to clip those chains!!! .

Most of the trip was spent on Joe Mama, but during a day off my project, I also on-sighted Gorilas en la Niebla – 8b+, a nice and long Oliana classic.

Photo: Ezra Byrne

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