Professional climber Ashima Shiraishi was born and raised in New York City. She started climbing at the age of six in Central Park. This past march, Ashima climbed a boulder problem with a difficulty rating of V15 in the mountainous Buddhist enclave of Mt. Hiei, Japan. A V15 is the second hardest boulder problem you can do, right below a v16 (of which there are only 4 of in the world). Bouldering involves climbing up a rock, often 15 to 20 feet tall with no ropes. Just climbing shoes and chalk that offer grip along with crash pads to catch you if you fall, making bouldering an extreme physical challenge. This may seem like an incredible feat on its own but knowing that Shiraishi is only 15 years old makes it even more impressive. Ashima is the first woman and youngest of either gender to have ever climbed a V15. Shattering records, Ashima Shiraishi is arguably the most talented young climber of all time.
The world of climbing has become increasingly more mainstream in this past decade, bringing in more young climbers each year. Ashima said, “One of my favorite parts about climbing is that no matter what your size, if you’re small, big or light or heavy the problem is never going to change, but you can approach the problem differently”, giving older climbers no advantage over younger ones. Ashima is able to break records the way she does by performing advanced moves and essentially dancing on the rock. Lynn Hill, an international rock-climbing legend–and all around bad ass–who was the first to ascend the Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in 1992 said, “Ashima is one of the most talented sport climbers I’ve ever seen”.
Ashima has expressed her eagerness towards pushing the boundaries in the sport of climbing and encouraging young female climbers to do the same “I know a lot of women haven’t done a lot of first ascents of the hardest rock climbs,” she said. “But if we keep repeating the hardest climbs that men have already done, then I think eventually women will start to lead the sport of climbing.”
Rock climbing will be in the next 2020 summer olympics. We will most likely be seeing Ashima Shiraishi along with many other talented climbers, young and old, competing for the gold.
By: Elise Carrell