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14-Year-Old a Rock Star in Climbing World

January 21st, 2016

Veteran rock climbers are calling her one of the strongest in the world. She flies up, pinching the rock, lunging gracefully for practically nonexistent holds. And she’s only 14.

Meet Ashima Shiraishi, the New York teen who’s shaking up the climbing world. After becoming the first female and the youngest ever to climb one of the most difficult routes known to rope climbers, her goal for this year sounds nearly impossible.

Last year, when she was 13 years old, Shiraishi achieved that first ever climb on a 5.15 route. For most of us, the rating almost doesn’t matter after a certain difficulty level, but to give you an idea: the world’s toughest roped climbs are currently rated 5.15c. They taunt climbers with crimpy moves, dynos, underclings, and extreme awkwardness.

The route, called “Open Your Mind Direct” in Spain, had been suggested to Shiraishi by American Chris Sharma, one of the best in the world. Originally a 5.14d route, the path up became more difficult after a hold broke off near the top, turning it into a 5.15a, Rock and Ice reported. My arms burn just looking at the overhang.

But like a veteran climber, Shiraishi manged to “send” it on her fourth day.

Shiraishi first learned to climb on rocks in Central Park as a child. At age 9, she went on a bouldering trip to Texas. Falling prompted some tears, but she didn’t give up and held her own with the adults.

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