NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Manhattan teenager has become the most accomplished female in rock climbing. Now, at just 15, she’s got the potential to become rock climbing’s first breakout star.
As CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reported, a star of rock climbing has ascended, all the way to the top.
“I never thought I’d become famous in rock climbing. At first I was just running on the rocks as a 6-year-old,” Ashima Shiraishi said, “That’s where I began, on rocks at Central Park.”
Now, the 15-year-old has become rock climbing’s media darling. She’s even featured in a new film where her rise to rock climbing royalty was captured.
“Climbing is something I’ve found a special talent and an IQ of climbing. I think of a move and try to execute them and then I do it. So, I feel like it just comes naturally,” she said.
That includes hanging upside down and hanging on with her toes.
“Just like anything else in life when you face a problem and fail it’s disappointing, but when you tackle it again and again and finally make it to the top it’s satisfaction,” she said.
“When you see her climb it just looks like and it feels like magic. You think she might not be able to make this move and then she does it with power and grace and technique through the sequence and style and you’re just like, wow!” The Cliffs head coach Randi Alegre said.
Aishima’s style is one of a kind, perhaps because she looks at a climb like a work of art.
“I feel like it’s just the movement that I love. It’s really so unique from anything else,” she said.
Her coach is her father, and you can see his influence in her approach. He’s not a climber, but a famous Japanese butoh dancer.
“In climbing you really need this sense of gracefulness to climb well. It’s almost like climbing is like dancing. You dance on the rock,” she said.
Ashima became the youngest person, and first female to ever beat a V-15, the most challenging graded rock climb in the world.
“When I got to the top of the V-15 it was the best feeling I’ve ever had. I felt like all the work I’ve put into it all the tears and blood and skin I’ve lost from trying that climb over and over again, it was worth it. That’s why I climb,” she said.
The film featuring Ashima debuts next month.
Rock climbing will be an Olympic sport in 2020, so Ashima is hoping in 4 years she’ll be wearing a gold medal.