Anak Verhoeven reports on Instagram that, on December 10, she made the first ascent of an extension to Ciudad de Dios, a 9a/+ (5.14d/5.15a) in Santa Linya. “I reclimbed Ciudad de Dios (which I had done some days before), but this time I continued into la Novena Enmienda,” Verhoeven writes. She christened the new link-up the intuitive Ciudad de Dios pa la Enmienda.
Verhoeven goes on to say that, although her new line is certainly a step up in difficulty from Ciduad de Dios, the latter is considered by some a grade easier than it was at the time of the first because of better beta.
“The guidebook calls Ciudad de Dios a 9a/+,” Verhoeven writes. “That would certainly make the extension I climbed yesterday a 9a+ [5.15a]. However, [Edu Marin] thinks Ciudad de Dios might have become 9a [5.14d] over the years due to new methods. And then the link-up would be a 9a/+.So what should I say? think I know…I’ll call it a 9a/++.”
Preempting the inevitable debate and controversy that her decision will inspire, Verhoeven finishes in a diplomatic tone: “Please, people, don’t make a controversy about this particular grade again. Is it really that important? It’s a route in the 9th grade and I’m glad I’ve been able to climb it after a long and tiring season and with some pretty uncomfortable circumstances: an aching elbow, some humid rock and frozen toes halfway up the route. And now I guess it’s time to relax a bit.”
Icy, but beautiful landscape while walking towards the cave of Santa Linya.
Yesterday, one day after these photos were taken, I reclimbed Ciudad de Dios (which I had done some days before), but this time I continued into la Novena Enmienda.
It could be the FA of this combination and the name will be ‘Ciudad de Dios pa la Enmienda’.
Yesterday, on December 5, Anak Verhoeven, the 21-year-old Belgian climber who earlier this year became the first woman to establish a 5.15a route, snuck in another brilliant send before the new year with a quick repeat of Ciudad de Dios, a 9a/+ (5.14d/5.15a) in Santa Linya, Catalonia, Spain.
“I topped it in my first attempt, after having tried and memorized the moves the previous days,” Verhoeven reports on Instagram. She continues, “Right after, on the same day, I also climbed ‘La Fabela’ (L1) – 8c+ [5.14c].”
Edu Marin made the first ascent of Ciudad de Dios in 2009 in Santa Linya’s Cova Gran sector. The line begins with a few bolts of bouldery climbing before entering a long pumpy section typical of the Santa Linya cave. Dani Andrada repeated the line in 2010, followed by Tom Bolger, in 2011; Jakob Schubert, in 2012; and Magnus Midtbø, in 2013.
In 2015, then 13-year-old Ashima Shiraishi made the first female ascent of Ciudad de Dios, just a week after redpointing Open Your Mind Direct, a 9a/+ that for a time was thought to (and may very well still) be the non-slash grade of 9a+.
Verhoeven’s ascent of Ciudad de Dios comes after she established Sweet Neuf, at Pierrot Beach, in the South of France, on September 11 this year. Sweet Neuf was the first 5.15 opened by a woman, and came in the middle of a flurry of similar firsts: On February 26, the 19-year-old Margo Hayes became the first woman ever to cross into 5.15 territory by sending La Rambla (9a+/5.15a), in Siurana, Catalonia, Spain;and on October 22, the 31-year-old Austrian Angy Eiter became the first woman to climb 9b (5.15b) when she ticked Adam Ondra’s La Planta de Shiva, in Villanueva del Rosario, Spain. Hayes also went on to repeat the world’s first consensus 9a+, Biographie, on September 24.
In her Instagram post, Verhoeven marvels at how it’s possible to climb in shorts and a t-shirt in Santa Linya even in December. If the good weather continues, there very well could be more sends coming out of the cave—from Verhoeven and others—in the concluding weeks of 2017.