This 13-year-old girl is the new queen of the rock climbing world
Remember how tough it was to climb the rock wall in gym class? Now, imagine climbing one of the hardest rock walls in the world, repeatedly dangling from said wall on the edge of your fingers, conquering that wall, and then learning that not only are you the only woman to ever make the climb, but that you’re the youngest person, period, to do a climb of that difficulty. That’s real life right now for Ashima Shiraishi, who smashed one of sport climbing’s toughest challenges at the age of 13.
Shiraishi, an avid climber and otherwise ordinary teenager from New York, spent her spring break last week scaling Spain’s strangely named Open Your Mind Direct, which is believed to be a 9a+ (aka very, very difficult) by the climbing community. Everybody else who had made the climb before was an adult male, and no one had conquered the route since one of its holds crumbled, making it much more difficult.
The only other female climber to have possibly scaled a cliff of that difficulty is Josune Bereziartu, who had made a 9a/9a+ climb in 2005. However, if Open Your Mind Direct’s grade is formally changed to 9a+, Shiraishi’s legacy in the climbing world will be, shall we say, set in stone — and she’s not even in high school yet.
Despite her amazing skills, she’s a regular teen girl at heart; her Facebook page bio is short and totally sweet: “I am in 8th grade. I like to rock climb. I love sour candy and chocolate. Seriously though, I love chocolate.” When asked by The Guardian how she’d celebrate her record-breaking climb: “Ice cream!” Superheroes: Just like us.