Ashima Becomes First Female, and Youngest Person, to Climb V15

posted by dpm on 03/22/2016

If you’ve followed 14-year-old Ashima Shiraishi’s astounding progress, it’s no surprise that she’s climbed her first V15. In doing so, she has become the first female, and the youngest person ever, to climb the cutting-edge bouldering grade. Her ascent is also just the 2nd ascent of Horizon, a beautiful problem that climbs out the belly of a suspended boulder along a granite crack system.

Ashima climbed the problem today and reported the news on Instagram. “My dream came true!!!!!!!” she wrote. “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!!!!”



A photo posted by Ashima | 阿島 (@ashimashiraishi) on


Ashima first tried Horizon a few months ago at the turn of the New Year. She wrote on Instagram that she “spent a few days on [Horizon] but fell 3 times from the last hold that was wet. I definitely cried myself to sleep on my last night. I hope to finish projects like these in #2016!!!” This was her second trip to Japan to climb the problem and this time she took the Reel Rock film crew with her, so there will definitely be some footage of the ascent.

Ashima’s ascent of Horizon leaves little doubt about the legitimacy of the difficulty. The stunning problem was established by the legendary Japanese boulderer Dai Koyamada in May of 2015. At the time of his ascent, Dai had already established 21 V15 boulder problems around the world. Comments on his blog at the time hinted that he believed the problem to be possibly V16 or at the upper end of the V15 grade. Speaking with 8a.nu, Dai said that Horizon was “the hardest problem I’ve ever done and that probably means it’s a V16 (8C+). However, I'm not quite sure because I don’t have enough references to compare with.”

Prior to Dai’s ascent, he spoke with UKClimbing about what was, at the time, his “Super Project.” The author of that article wrote that, “the three sections [Dai] has done are all, as independent problems, at the limit of what he can do." Considering Dai's track record, that equals three sections of at least V14, back-to-back.

Ashima has continuously broken barriers for females and youth climbers of both genders. She climbed V10 at the age of 8, V11 at the age of 9, and V13 at the age of 10. As a sport climber, she climbed her first 5.14c at the age of 11 and went on to climb the grade of 5.14d at the age of 13. On the same trip, to Santa Linya, Spain, she climbed the route Ciudad de Dios, a 5.14d/15a route, making her the youngest person to achieve the grade and the second female after Josune Bereziartu.

Now at the age of just 14, Ashima has progressed once again with an ascent of one of the world’s most difficult boulder problems. Perhaps most impressive is that all of Ashima’s outdoor achievements have taken place on short trips, usually week-long breaks from school. There’s no telling what she’ll be able to accomplish in the future, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see her take the sport of climbing to levels previously unattained by men or women.