Ashima Shiraishi: A Climbing Prodigy

By: Ashley Vitiello | Last Updated on December 22, 2023
Ashima Shiraishi is one of the best climbers at the world and has shocked people with her extraordinary climbing skills at such a young age.

Bio

Ashima Shiraishi is a rock climbing and bouldering phenom that was born and raised in New York City. At the young age of six, she began climbing at Central Park’s Rat Rock with no equipment or climbing shoes. She started visiting her local climbing gym at age seven and quickly became one of the world’s most prolific female climbers and a well known name in the community.

She first made news in the climbing world at age eight when she sent Power of Silence (v10), a boulder problem in Hueco Tank, Texas. A year later, she returned and sent Chablanke (V11/12) and several other difficult boulder problems. She climbed the Crown of Aragorn (V13) at age 10, becoming the youngest person to tick the grade. Her most difficult grade to date is V15, and she has two under her belt with Sleepy Rave and Horizon. With her V15 success, she became the youngest person and first female climber to send V15.

Stats

Height: 5’1″
DOB: 4/3/2001
Started Climbing: 2007
Highest Grade: V15

While she excels in bouldering, she is also excellent at lead climbing and held the record for the youngest person to climb 5.14c after sending Southern Smoke at age eleven. Since then, she’s added several other 5.14’s to her ticklist, and even a couple 5.15’s. When she climbed Ciudad de Dios in 2015, she became the youngest athlete to climb 5.14d/5.15a and the second female climber to succeed at this level.

Moving into a climbing gym, Ashima has also excelled at indoor climbing and won the IFSC World Youth Championships for both Lead and Bouldering in the Female Youth Category in the years 2015, 2016, and 2017. In 2017, she placed second at the USA Climbing Bouldering Nationals (ABS Nationals) behind Alex Puccio and won the female sport category at the USA Climbing Sport & Speed Open National Championships. She’s also competed in the Climbing World Cup and has six Youth World Championships.

Outside of climbing, she works closely with All Rise Climbing, which is a project that gives back to local communities by making climbing more accessible for everyone. She attends their All Rise Climbing Festival at a a Long Beach climbing gym each year.

You can follow Ashima on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube. She also has a great TEDx Talk that’s worth the 8 minute watch.

Notable Climbs

Jade (V14) – 2021

Ashima’s first V14 was back in 2013, and as of 2021 she added another V14 to her ticklist. On August 19, 2021, she sent the popular Jade (V14) boulder problem in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. This boulder was flashed by Adam Ondra in 2015 and was first worked by Daniel Woods in 2007 – since then it has seen many ascents by well known names and several females. According to her Instagram announcement, Ashima also climbed Riddles in the Park (V12), Golden Rows of Flows (V11), and Blood Money (V10) that day.

Second V15 – Sleepy Rave in 2016

With a scary ground fall in the summer of 2016, Ashima came back strong and sent the endurance test piece Sleepy Rave in Grampians National Park, Australia. The route links Dead Can’t Dance (V11), Cave Man (V9), and Sleepy Hollow (V12) inside of Hollow Mountain Cave. The same day, she also climbed Mana (V13). At the same time, she was training for the Youth World Championships, which she would win in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

First V15 Horizon – 2016

At only fourteen years old, Ashima Shiraishi sent her first V15 boulder problem, Horizon, which is located at Mount Hiei in Japan. The route was originally set by Dai Koyanada and she became the only female and the youngest person to have climbed V15. On her Instagram she posted: “My dream came true!!!!!!! 😍I just sent Horizon V15 in Hiei, Japan! I can’t believe that I have become the 1st female to do a V15 and the youngest person ever!!!!

Another V14 – Nuclear War in 2015

For Ashima’s second V14, she conquered Nuclear War, which is located in the Master Bedroom area of New York’s Harriman State Park. Not only was it the first female ascent of the problem, but it was only the second ascent behind Matt Bosley in 2006. It’s a sit start that takes six moves into War Cry (V11), which was first established by Ivan Green. At this point, Ashima was the only female to have climbed V14 and 5.14d routes.

Open Your Mind Direct (5.14d/5.15a) – 2015

In March of 2015, Ashima sent Open Your Mind Direct (5.15a) in Santa Linya, Spain, and was the first person to complete it after an upper hold broke. This made the route harder, taking it from a 5.14d (9a) to 5.15a (9a+). At the time the grade hadn’t been settled, especially since she was only the second ascent, but Climbing History still has this route listed as a 9a+ to this day. This classification made her the first female to climb a 5.15 route. Later in the week, she also sent Ciudad de Dios, which was also split between a 5.14d and 5.15a rating.

The Swarm (V13/14) – 2015

On the morning of January 1st, 2015, Ashima made an Instagram post that saluted 2014 and made hints that The Swarm was her 2015 goal. Just a few hours later, she posted again, this time saying “Sending has never felt this GOOD!!!!” with confirmation that she had indeed sent The Swarm. She claimed the first female and youngest ascent of this boulder problem. The climb couldn’t tire her out too much because the next day she flashed Swordfish Trombone (V12).

First V14: Golden Shadow (V14) in 2014

In Rocklands, South Africa, Ashima sent Golden Shadow, claiming her first V14. It was also the first female ascent of this problem and only the second time for a female to climb V14. This route had several ascents from some of the world’s best climbers, all of whom have confirmed the grade to be V14, meaning Ashima didn’t have to worry about it being downgraded.

Digital System (5.14b) – 2014

Ashima is known for her bouldering but she has also completed some significant sport climbs over the years. While on vacation in Spain in 2014, she sent Digital System (5.14b). This route could be added to her impressive 5.14 ticklist even though she was only twelves years old at the time.

Two More 5.14c’s: 24-Karats & Fifty Words for Pump – 2013

Almost one year after her previous visit to Red River Gorge, Ashima returned and sent 24-Karats at the Gold Coast and Fifty Words for Pump at the Bob Marley crag (both 5.14c). These two routes brought her 5.14c list to a total of four, all of which are located in the Red.

V13 in Magic Wood, Switzerland 2013

While on a European summer vacation, Ashima spent some time in Magic Wood, Switzerland, where she climbed several hard problems that were on her to-do list. This included One Summer in Paradise (V13), which is one of many climbs of that grade on her ticklist. She also sent The Left Hand of Darkness (V12), Pura Vida (V12), The Right Hand of Darkness (V12), and Super Supernova (V11).

5.14b’s in Ceuse, France – 2013

As part of her 2013 summer European trip, she spent three weeks in Cuese. Not surprisingly, Ashima took advantage of her time there and flashed Dolce Vita (5.13c), sent Slow Food (5.14a) on her second try, and also sent Dures Limites (5.14b) on her second try.

Southern Smoke and Lucifer (5.14c), God’s Own Stone (5.14a) in Kentucky – 2012

At only eleven years old, Ashima Shiraishi climbed Southern Smoke (5.14c) and became the youngest climber ever to tick the grade. It took her only two days of work and seven tries, and she sent it in the last hour of a six day long rip through Red River Gorge. During this trip, she climbed her first 5.14a second try (God’s Own Stone), flashed another 5.14a (Omaha Beach), then spent days working two 5.14+ routes (Lucifer and Southern Smoke). Just one day after Southern Smoke, Ashima sent Lucifer as well, claiming her second 5.14c ever in just 24 hours. You can watch a video of her RRG trip here.

Ashima sending Southern Smoke

2nd and 3rd V13 – Fragile Steps in 2012

For her third V13, Ashima sent Fragile Steps in South Africa, claiming the second female ascent behind Dorothea Karalus. Just a few weeks prior, she claimed her second V13 with Steady Plums Direct, and a few months prior she got her first V13. She was the youngest person to tick the grade when she climbed Crown of Aragorn in Hueco Tanks, Texas. She’d also recently been the youngest person to flash V11 with Black Demon.

Crown of Arragorn (V13) – 2012

On 3/20/2012, almost exactly one year after her previous Hueco trip, Ashima became the youngest person to have climbed the V13 grade with her ascent of the Crown of Arragorn in Hueco Tanks. It was her first V13 and she was only 10 years old! Adam Ondra’s first V13 was at age 15, so to see Ashima send it at age 11 gives you perspective on just how much of a prodigy she is.

Red River Gorge in – 2011

At the Dark Side Crag at the Red, 10-year-old Ashima sent Swingline (5.13d) and Table of Colors Direct (5.13b), and she also onsighted The Return of Darth Moll (5.13b). According to Mountain Project, to this day Swing Line is rated 5.13d and is the ultimate “power endurance” route – crazy to think that a ten year old sent it back in 2011! She was quoted saying she’d like to come back for God’s Own Stone, which she did end up doing almost exactly a year later.

V11 and V12 in Hueco Tanks – 2011

Only two days into a trip to Hueco, young Ashima Shiraishi sent both Chbalanke (V12) and Roger in the Shower (V11). She still had four days left on this trip and was out filming a segment for the Reel Rock Tour with coach Obe Carrion. It was during this trip that she really started sending boulder problems and shocking the climbing community with her young success.

8 Year Old Ashima & Power of Silence (V10) – 2010

At only eight years old, Ashima sent Power of Silence (V10) in Heuco Tanks, Texas. It was her second V10 behind The Wave, and she had just won ABS Junior Nationals for Girls D (under 11).

References:

  • New York Magazine
  • Climbing.com
  • National Geographic
  • Cover photo by Parker Alec Crossfrom Ashima’s Facebook page

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About The Author

Ashley is an adventurous soul who loves all things nature, especially warm sunshine, wildflowers, scenic snacking, and mushrooms. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent years enjoying time outside doing things like hiking, camping, and rock climbing.
Her goal with Know Nothing Nomads is to make these hobbies easily accessible through knowledgeable content and how-to's based on all the stuff she's learned on her journey. If she isn't writing an article, she's probably in a forest looking at big mountain views and tiny pieces of moss on the side of the trail.

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