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The Best Female Rock Climber in the World Is 14 Years Old

At 14, Ashima Shiraishi was winning national championships. Ashima was the first female to climb 5.15a grade routes and the youngest to ever boulder a V13 grade problem. Oh, and, you know, she was still going to school and everything. Many consider Ashima the best female rock climber in the world, and it’s not hard to see why.

Ashima started climbing at just 6 years old, when her parents took her to Rat Rock in Central Park. Just a year later, in 2008, she started climbing competitively alongside her coach Obe Carrion, one of the climbers who brought bouldering to the forefront of popularity in the ’90s.

Ashima has shown her skill in many ways—mainly by being the youngest or first female to climb several higher-grade climbs. At only age 10, she become the youngest person and one of the few female climbers to successfully scale a grade V13 bouldering problem.

At age 14, Ashima completed the boulder problem called Horizon in Mount Hiei, Japan, becoming the second person ever and the first female climber to send it. She has won over six Youth World Championships in both lead climbing and bouldering and a USA Championship in bouldering. She was featured in the 2012 documentary “Return to the Red” as well as several episodes of “Reel Rock.”

Today, at 18 years old, Ashima resides in Tokyo, where she is training for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics—the first year the sport will be officially recognized at the games. She’s been sponsored by companies like Coca-Cola, Clif Bar, Evolv and The North Face. But for Ashima, it’s always been about the climbing, and it always will be.


Queens, NY, USA

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