The AT50: Kid Climber Ashima Shiraishi (#50)

She's the tiniest rockstar of the climbing world
Staff Writer

Age: 11
Sports: Rock Climbing
Highlights: Completed two 5.14c’s at Red River Gorge; youngest-ever person to climb 5.14c; youngest person to ever flash (that is, successfully climb on her first try, having received beta on the route) at 5.14a;
Quote: "I'm an ordinary 11-year-old girl, except for when it comes to climbing."
Fact: One of Ashima's favorite subjects in school is woodworking.
AT50 Point Total: 27.5

Ashima Shiraishi began her climbing career in the most unlikely of places: New York City’s Central Park. When she was only six years old, Ashima and her parents were wandering through the park, when they came across Rat Rock—a boulder 15 feet high and 40 feet across. Ashima joined the amateur climbers and scrambled easily to the top. Seeing his daughter’s talent, Ashima’s father Hisatoshi (also known as Poppo) took her to Rat Rock almost every day. When winter came, Poppo enrolled Ashima in a climbing gym where he worked with her as her coach. She was a young and unlikely candidate for stardom, but Poppo is a professional Butoh dancer and choreographer who knows how to teach graceful movement. With his help, and an abundance of natural talent, little Ashima's reputation quickly grew huge in the climbing community.

At the age of 11, Ashima is one of the best climbers on the planet, a veritable rockstar. With encouragement from her now-coach, climbing legend Obe Carrion, she has become stronger and more graceful on the rock, sending a long list of impressive routes and winning numerous competitions. Last year alone, she set records in both bouldering and free climbing, becoming the youngest person to send a V13 boulder problem (Crown of Aragorn in Hueco Tanks, Texas) and the youngest person to free climb 5.14c (Southern Smoke and Lucifer, both in Red River Gorge, Kentucky). To nobody's surprise, she won the 2012 American Bouldering Series Youth National Championships. From here, it's a given that Ashima's talent and reputation will only climb higher.
—Brian Berkovitz

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