Ashima Shiraishi Climbs Open Your Mind Direct

13-year-old Ashima Shiraishi continues to add to her incredible resume, this time by repeating the route Open Your Mind Direct in Santa Linya, Spain after just four days of work.  Since this is rock climbing the grade of the climb is not 100% clear, but the route is at least 5.14d and likely 5.15a after a key hold apparently broke.  Shiraishi has now climbed multiple V14s and hard 5.14s before even turning 14 years of age!

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39 Responses to Ashima Shiraishi Climbs Open Your Mind Direct

  1. Jared March 18, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    Assuming the grade is indeed 9a+, does this make her the youngest person to climb that grade in addition to the first female? Just curious.

    And major ups to her for the send!

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    • Narc March 18, 2015 at 10:15 am #

      I believe that is correct

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    • James March 18, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

      Ramonet who did the first ascent graded it 9a+ even before the hold broke. Ondra listed it as one of the routes he cannot climb.

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  2. J March 18, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    “Youngest” ascents aren’t really that notable anymore. Now that a few generations have been reared and groomed in the current gym training and coaching era, it is quite clear climbing is a young person’s sport, and it will continue to move even further in that direction as the sport advances.

    “Oldest” ascents will continue to be notable however.

    -john

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    • J March 18, 2015 at 3:54 pm #

      I should clarify what I mean by “climbing” . . . as in, high-level sport climbing and bouldering.

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    • Owen March 18, 2015 at 5:15 pm #

      I think youngest ascents are notable, because Ashima is still likely to continue improving, baring an injury or loss of motivation. What this shows is just how much there is ahead of her! I do agree that oldest ascents should get a more attention too though! Maybe the Narc is keeping track of those for us?

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  3. J March 18, 2015 at 8:25 pm #

    Ashima IS notable for providing fantastic evidence that young children may likely be the future stars of the sport of outdoor, high end climbing.

    This probably sounds needlessly pessimistic to some–and it is only a mere speculation–but I could see Ashima seriously plateauing as she becomes an older teen/young woman. Just because she has went to the very top of the grade scale so quickly doesn’t mean she will push it much farther. She will be at here prime for these sort of routes very soon.

    I believe another youngster, male or female, will come along and it will be these children that will be doing some of the hardest sends in the future. All they really need are parents that have the means and knowledge to scope out and equip lines for them.

    The only constraint will be routes that have seriously long throws/moves. Barring that, there are plenty of unlicimbed routes out there waiting for the proper youngster; ones that no older, current climber could do today.

    -john

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    • TGS March 18, 2015 at 9:18 pm #

      Whatever, man

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      • J March 23, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

        TSG obviously excelled in his high school debate class

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    • Van March 19, 2015 at 10:40 am #

      Ashima is so awesome! While you bums are pontificating on the internet she’s crushing! And it’s not just about the grade, she seems like a nice kid with a good head on her shoulders, glad she’s a public ambassador for our sport and not you you buddy

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  4. Jesse March 19, 2015 at 7:27 am #

    In my (limited) experience, what holds most people back from climbing hard is not their skill or their strength but their attitude. Ashima is as good as she is, not because she’s crazy talented, or because she has tiny fingers and weighs hardly anything. Ashima is as good as she is because she is absolutely, totally, 100% psyched on climbing and psyched on continuing to improve.
    Anyone with this level of psych is highly unlikely to plateau. There are plenty of young children who started climbing at a younger age than Ashima and have been climbing full time but not come close to her level. Even climbers like Brooke Rabatou, who grew up in a climbing family, training facilities in her home, mother is one of the best youth coaches in the world, are being left behind by Ashima (not to downplay Brooke’s phenomenal achievements). It may be unfair to say that the reason Ashima has surpassed Brooke is that she want’s it more, but you can’t discount the power of someone who is psyched, driven, and dedicated. I highly doubt we will see Ashima plateau as she becomes a young woman. It may start taking her more than a few years to bust into a new grade, but that doesn’t mean plateau.

    If I were a betting man I’d certainly place money on her being one of the first women to climb 8C, probably 9b as well.

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    • Wex March 19, 2015 at 9:19 am #

      Hmmm, not sure I fully agree.

      I think to reach the top percent you’re born with the natural ability to progress among your peers. What separates that top 0.5% where all the athletes are gifted, will come down to work ethic, psych etc.

      People with psych may not plateau but even amongst themselves will have a different m in y = mx +b 🙂

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      • Jesse March 19, 2015 at 9:39 am #

        Maybe I’m missing something but it sounds like you’re saying the same thing I was. Psych and work ethic (I said “Psyched on continuing to improve”) are what separates the top athletes.
        Am I missing something?

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        • Wex March 19, 2015 at 11:24 am #

          No, but I am missing some brain cells today.

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    • J March 19, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

      Ashima is certainly uber talented and motivated, there is no question, and my point does not take issue with any of this . . . big fan.

      To further explain my point: There are limits to what a human body can accomplish and endure (physically) and I believe modern sport climbing and bouldering is nearing them, especially for adults. Tendons can only take so much strain before they fail and older tendons pulling more weight will generally fail before younger ones pulling less. It’s speculative, but I’d also guess that young bodies are better equipped to develop and deploy high level endurance than older ones. And yes, finger size on tiny crimps is relevant as well.

      I believe that in the future the push forward toward routes and problems of higher than the current highest level of difficulty will be driven by the very young, male or female. The level can go higher, but barring grade inflation, it will likely take highly gifted and very well trained and guided participants who are of the ideal body type and can physically endure what the average (adult) climber cannot. Again, these will be kids.

      The point has likely been made many times before, but to reiterate, top performers in gymnastics peak at around 16 years of age, often earlier, and there are obvious reasons for this. Imagine a scenario with the same number of children currently receiving extremely rigorous, professional gymnastics training at a very young age, for years on end, but in climbing. Take the elite from this group and we will have Ashima.2. There is little doubt, and such a climber could likely be the one to establish the most difficult sport route in the the world. Of course, climbing isn’t near this yet (maybe a good thing) and might not ever get to this level, but as more children are groomed in such a fashion, more will excel, and at the highest levels.

      I’d love to see Ashima climb a first ascent, a route bolted for her specific strengths and style. This might be her ticket to break yet another barrier in her young career. Again though, I believe that her prime may be now/soon, and not later, so ideally, the time for this is now. This is not a jab at he at all; just consistent with what I stated above.

      FYI Van (above): It’s somewhat ironic that you’re name calling people here for commenting here when you’re commenting here to do so. I’ve climbed or trained 24 out of the last 30 days, so I guess I have time to pontificate as well as actually do something you might deem valuable.

      -john

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      • I wish people would stop "speculating" March 19, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

        “Older tendons pulling more weight will generally fail before younger ones pulling less.”

        This is a flawed statement that is not applicable or relevant. Tendons rarely, if ever, rupture/fail in climbing. Pulleys are the issue. Pulley strength is not a static measure. It changes depending on intensity and duration of activity over time. “Younger” pulleys could be described as “weaker” than “older pulleys” in many cases. What a person does with their pulleys over time can strengthen or weaken them. We don’t know what the upper limit of this strength is yet, but considering climbing is still relatively young, and the subject of very little research, it is possible that we are just beginning to see what the body is capable of.

        “It’s speculative,…”

        You’re right. It is. Do some research eh?

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        • Ian March 20, 2015 at 9:13 am #

          Strains of the flexor tendons of the fingers are extremely common among climbers (usually from pockets), but I presume John was the using the term “tendon” loosely to refer to all relevant connective tissue in the hands.

          Sure, connective tissue strength is a trainable quality, but I don’t think you’ll find any physiologist in the world who would claim that this trainability doesn’t decline with age. As well, hard climbing causes micro-damage to these structures–that’s why we need rest days. Older bodies are slower at repairing this damage than younger bodies: a 40 year old cannot handle the same volume and intensity of training as a 25 year old counterpart with the same basic strength and skill.

          I think John has to be right that there is some age-range on the younger side in which elite level athletes peak. But I suspect that it will turn out to be something more like the early to mid-twenties as it is with men’s gymnastics or cycling or running.

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          • J March 20, 2015 at 11:55 am #

            ^what Ian says! Ha! Yep, I see now my physiology speak is too fast loose and uneducated. But yeah, early 20’s makes sense.

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  5. czd March 19, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

    Someone should ask Jean Baptiste Tribout if he wants to reconsider his prediction that no female would ever climb 5.14.

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    • J March 19, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

      And a better question for the future: Will a 30+ year old (male or female) even climb “true” 5.17?

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      • mr T March 20, 2015 at 3:04 am #

        Doctors wrote scientific articles how fast man can run and then comes Jim Hines running 100m under 10 secs. And then some other guys and then Usain Bolt. Why on earth this wouldn’t happen in climbing (= sport / boulder / trad / big wall / solo) too? Who knows the limits?

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  6. the menace March 19, 2015 at 4:22 pm #

    I agree with J. While it is cool to see youngsters crush it is more inspiring to me to see headlines like what the Anderson brothers have done lately. They started climbing later in life and have jobs and responsibilities. Yet they still crush at the high end. And wrote a killer book on training. There will always be a new young hot shot cruising the unsent project. So as climbers we can get over that.

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  7. Van March 19, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

    It’s just funny how a post about Ashima doing something cool turns into “Old people can climb hard too.” I think it detracts from her accomplishment.

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  8. J March 19, 2015 at 5:46 pm #

    Van, Ashima can climb whatever she wants, Narc can report on what he chooses, and users/readers are free to focus on whatever floats their own boat’s (within reason) in their commentary. Can you suggest a better system? Should only accolades and “you go girl” type comments be allowed, and Narc use up the numerous extra hours he has in his life reviewing, judging, and deleting? On what basis should any thinking person believe that an online discussion about age and climbing, read by a few dozen folks, in any real sense of the word detracts from what this girl just did, or what 100% of the people aware of it think about it?
    -j

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    • mowz March 20, 2015 at 9:40 am #

      “read by a few dozen folks”
      I think that figure is a bit high.
      😉

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      • J March 20, 2015 at 11:04 am #

        Ha! But Narc has the stats. Bet you’d be surprised the traffic passing through this place.

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        • Narc March 20, 2015 at 11:07 am #

          Indeed. More people read these comments than people realize.

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          • the menace March 20, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

            comments are one of my favorite parts of this site! this is the best climbing site going! good job Mr Narc!!

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  9. Van March 19, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

    “Youngest” ascents aren’t really that notable anymore. Now that a few generations have been reared and groomed in the current gym training and coaching era, it is quite clear climbing is a young person’s sport, and it will continue to move even further in that direction as the sport advances.

    “Oldest” ascents will continue to be notable however.

    -john

    ^^positive attitude man keep it up, you’re probably really fun to climb with

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  10. Wex March 19, 2015 at 9:39 pm #

    When did trying to have a thoughtful conversation about climbing become negative you bongo playing, bong hittin hippy

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    • mr T March 20, 2015 at 3:06 am #

      Wex, It happend when all of us realized that we and our idols climb “worse” than a little girl =DDD

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  11. czd March 20, 2015 at 5:12 am #

    This thread is full of salty grown men with bruised egos. I would be very surprised if children took over climbing. It is a highly skill intensive sport and skills like those required of climbing take decades master. Kids definitely have some physiological advantages over grown people but grown people have some over kids. I don’t know much about gymnastics but it seems like the relatively smaller range of possible movents would make it easier master the necessary skills in a short amount of time. Building a vast repitpoire of climbing movements and mastering those movements takes decades. If this is where ashima is now, it’s a good bet that she’ll be better in the future.

    All this being said, this is the most impressive sort climbing ascent I’ve ever seen. Ashima is like the new sharma. (I wonder if people tried to Diminish sharmas young ascents in this way?)

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    • J March 20, 2015 at 11:00 am #

      We’re not talking about the Dawn Wall here. It takes decades to build “a vast [repertoire] of climbing movements” necessary to send such climbs? I see a bit of tension in this statement in light of the age and ascent under discussion here. 5.15 at age 13? Apparently, this girl is a very old soul. Check back here in 5 years and we can settle the matter if my prognostications about a posse of Ashima-like kids pushing the high-grade envelope comes to fruition . . .

      I don’t know. I’m older but have long ago realized I was no Micheal Jordan of the sport, let alone Mike Anderson. My ego is intact, I think. Like many/most climbers, I compete with myself, not the guy or girl next to me, whether they climb 5.5 or 5.15. I certainly am pretty much the opposite of butt hurt about a fabulous phenom 13 year old girl accomplishing such awe inspiring climbing feats.

      You can shoot the messenger or engage in ad hominem attacks on him, neither method serves as an enlightening critique of the point being made.

      -john

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  12. ky6er March 20, 2015 at 11:01 am #

    I think whatever happens to the future of climbing the right now is pretty rad. We have a couple youngsters that are pushing the envelope in ways that are pretty mind blowing, there’s a whole bunch of 20somethings climbing ridiculously hard on a freakishly consistent basis, you got Caldwell and Sharma in their mid 30s still making huge headlines on some of the hardest routes in the world and then guys like the anderson brothers and many others that are showing us that big numbers are definitely still obtainable with age. I really don’t see anyone dropping off anytime soon, Ashima will crush in her 20s, Woods, Puccio and Ondra will crush in their 30s, Sharma will probably continue to crush 5.15s into his 40s if not 50s and so on.. basically there’s gonna be a lot of crushing going on at all age levels from here on out, that first generation of gym climbers are getting into older age and are really about to show us that age doesn’t matter as much as we think it does.

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    • J March 20, 2015 at 11:26 am #

      I agree with pretty much everything you say but my hunch still is that the 5.15-5.16 range is pretty much that all that can and will be accomplished by older climbers, now and into the future and that any substantive increases will be the work of teenage/early 20’s climbers, and that will be the new norm fairly soon. I fully recognize that people such as Sharma, Caldwell, Moon, etc., (i.e., those who are or have been at the forefront of sport difficulty) are in ridiculously better position to comment on this than I am.

      My other–and likely the most loathed–prognostication, e.g., that Ashima will plateau fairly soon . . . I’m beginning to rethink. Damn, she’s only 13. A bit too early for this. She should project a style specific hardest climb in the world real soon though. With her unprecedented precociousness and the fact that further physical development could hamper rather than help her abilities, I still don’t see her being able to send harder grades at 23 than at 13. Ten years is a long time though.

      -john

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      • Adam March 20, 2015 at 2:37 pm #

        She’s mid puberty and nowhere close to as coordinated as she could be. Her body is growing too fast for her whole body to be in sync. There are plenty of other reasons I could give you, but this is the low hanging fruit I’ll take. Ashima will only get bigger, stronger, more technical, and more coordinated.

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  13. Jake March 21, 2015 at 10:12 pm #

    it’s awesome to me that while an online debate goes back and forth regarding her potential progress, Ashima is probably out and about climbing and having fun like thirteen year-olds do. Keep pontificating on her career while she crushes and has fun.

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    • ky6er March 22, 2015 at 11:58 am #

      Awesome indeed, welcome to this thing called sports, where people sit around pontificating about how badass star athletes are over the internet, in professionally written articles, over beers etc etc.

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      • J March 23, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

        And what’s really really crazy is that at least in rock climbing, they can do so AND actually participate. Sheesh, Narc even works full time, runs a climbing blog, MC’s climbing comps, AND actually climbs! Mind-boggling that there are 24 hours in a day.

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