Leave it to wunderkind Ashima Shiraishi to conquer yet another astonishing feat before her 15th birthday by becoming the first woman and the youngest, male or female, at 14-years-old to climb a V15 boulder problem. The climbing phenom defeated Horizon in Mt. Hiei, Japan on March 22, 2016 during her spring break trip to Japan, which also happens to be less than two weeks before her 15th birthday.
Horizon is located on a large boulder in the mountainous Buddhist enclave of Mt. Hiei which is on the southern island of Kyushu. As mentioned in Andrew Bisharat’s “14 Year Old Achieves Hardest Boulder Climb Ever Done by a Woman” article, the climb Horizon is a large granite rock that is perched across the terrain deep in the woods and creates a natural tunnel that goes straight through. The climb follows a tapered, jagged crack splitting the tunnel’s ceiling, challenging the climber with holds on slick, rounded edges of rock for 30 moves. Ashima is the second person to have ever climbed Horizon, and the first person was Dai Koyamada, age 39.
It’s not the first time Ashima tried climbing Horizon. She visited this region of Japan last December during a winter break climbing trip. Koyamada is the one that suggested she try Horizon because he thought it would suit her. Due to wet conditions, Ashima wasn’t able to send it back in December, but she almost did. This time around, Ashima sent it on her third day during spring break.
Just last year during her spring break, Ashima climbed Open Your Mind Direct in Catalonia, Spain in the Santa Linya climbing area, which was originally graded at 5.14d, but a hold broke near the top which made it more difficult. She was the first one to send it since the hold broke, and with the new 5.15a grade in debate, many climbers believe that it definitely is a 5.15a.
“I know a lot of women haven’t done a lot of first ascents of the hardest rock climbs,” Ashima said. “But if we keep repeating the hardest climbs that men have already done, then I think eventually women will start to lead the sport of climbing.”
If you’ve ever seen Ashima climbing whether it’s in person or on a screen, the concentration and dogged determination of this young climber is evident. She makes these difficult climbs look effortless and her technique is fluid and graceful. You’ll get to see Ashima’s ascent of Horizon in this year’s Reel Rock Tour as well as other incredible sends she has under her belt. Congratulations to Ashima on another awe-inspiring climb!