At just 14 years old, Ashima Shiraishi is breaking new ground for female climbers and widely considered to be one of the best rock climbers in the world.She is the first female — and youngest climber of either gender — to complete a sport route with a difficulty grade of 9a+ (5.15a).
Ashima grew up in New York City and trains at the Brooklyn Boulders indoor climbing gym. She first began climbing at age 6, clambering up boulders in Central Park.
At age 12, she has broken new ground after conquering what is likely the toughest rock climb ever done by a woman “Open Your Mind Direct” in Santa Linya, Spain. The route required Ashima to climb a portion of it feet first, hooking her toes on tiny outcroppings on the craggy cliff.
So psyched for the article that the @guardian wrote about me climbing Open Your Mind Direct!!!!! It's up online (link is in my bio) so go check it outtttttt! And I'll be in the newspaper this upcoming Monday, I believe….. @petzl_official @evolvusa @thenorthface @clifbarcompany | Photo: @crossroadstudios
This year she was named one of TIME’s 30 Most Influential teens of 2015. She’s also arguably one of the most humble.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#00EBC0″ class=”” size=”15″]
Since I started climbing, I had this natural… not talent, but just this thing where I would go up a wall without thinking about where I was going to put my feet and hands.
— Ashima Shiraishi, on her climbing skill[/pullquote]
Ashima has aspirations to perform in the first ever Olympic climbing competition at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. With five more years of climbing experience under her belt, she will be a prohibitive favorite to stand atop the medal podium.
In case you haven't heard, climbing will be in the#2020olympics in #Tokyo!!!!!!! THANK YOU to all of the athletes and THE WHOLE CLIMBING COMMUNITY for the hard work you put into for this to happen!!! @stonerideryuji @noguchi_akiyo My dream was to one day compete in the Olympics as a rock climber since day 1 of my climbing journey. I will work hard to realize that dream! @olympics #climbingolympics
In “The Cusp,” a just-released video from VICE Sports, a film crew follows Shiraishi to The Cliffs climbing gym in Long Island City, New York, where she trains up to five days a week under the supervision of her father, a former dancer — a bloodline that Shiraishi credits with her graceful movement on the wall.
Check it out above.