Tonight the NBC news show Rock Center with Brian Williams featured a piece on diminutive 11-year-old Ashima Shiraishi, a boulderer from New York City coached by Obe Carrion, based on the 2011 film "Obe and Ashima" from Sender Films. It's an inspiring film about the simple joys and fun of rock climbing through the eyes of a child prodigy. Watch a trailer of the film at OutsideOnline.
Ashima started climbing after her parents, Tsuya and Hisatoshi Shiraishi, who had immigrated from Japan in 1978, took her to a slab on the back side of New York City's famed urban crag Rat Rock in the heart of Central Park at age 6. She saw climbers bouldering on the steep front side and was immediately captivated, showing an amazing talent for climbing. Local climbers encouraged her father to take her to a climbing gym where she eventually hooked up with Obe Carrion, one of the country's best boulderers, as her coach.
Ashima's persistence and aptitude for bouldering have made her another child climbing prodigy, following in the footholds of other great kid climbers like Chris Sharma and Katie Brown. This past March she became one of only a handful of females who have cranked a V13 boulder problem. Ashima took two days to climb the testpiece problem Crown of Aragon, a consensus V13 at the bouldering Mecca of Hueco Tanks in Texas. The first female to climb V13 was Angie Payne, who repeated The Automator in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Of course, with Ashima's success comes the naysayers and detractors whose egos feel threatened by being upstaged by a mere 11-year-old girl who easily cranks all the hard boulder problems. I hope she doesn't pay any attention to all that petty jealousy and just keeps on climbing for the sheer love and exuberance of the vertical dance. If she is at all like any of the other past whiz kids, Ashima will climb some astounding routes in the future.
Read more about Ashima Shiraishi in the New York Times article Tiny Hand Over Hand by Julie Bosman on May 12, 2012.
Photographs above: Ashima at her hometown boulder Rat Rock in the heart of Central Park, New York City. Photographs courtesy Ashima Shiraishi/Facebook.