One of the world’s strongest climbers is a 13-year-old with a message for people facing problems all over the world.
“One of my favorite parts about climbing is that no matter what your size—small or big, light or heavy—the problem is never going to change. But you can approach the problem differently.” –Ashima Shiraishi
Below is a recording of the TEDx talk Ashima Shiraishi presented this past fall. But first, here’s her story:
When she was just six years old, Ashima discovered rock climbing in one of the country’s least likely places: New York City, her hometown. After finding a sport that made her tick, Ashima accelerated—rapidly—to climbing at the professional level and to drawing national media attention.
At age 13, Ashima became the second female in the world to scale a V14. She did it by training at indoor gyms in New York City and traveling to climb during breaks in her academic calendar.
“I would fall and fall and fall but always hop back to my feet and reposition myself,” Ashima says. “My dad suggested I find a new project. But I knew I had to try at least one more time. So I put my shoes back on and chalked up my hands. It just happened. I seemed to just execute.”
Like every other teenager, she likes cake and dislikes homework, but she sees everything as a problem she has to solve.
“From climbing, I’ve learned that nothing worth doing is going to be easy. But the effort that you put into it is going to pay off. It’s important to endure and climb through your problems.”
Ashima’s not that different from any other teenager (or any other female, for that matter) and she has a unifying message for others like her: All of us are rock climbers everyday facing our own V14’s. Just climb through it.
“99 percent of climbing is falling. That success is only 1 percent. It’s so worth it.”
*Ed. note: An update from a report in Climbing magazine—Aisha, now 14, is the first woman to climb a possible 5.15 route, Open Your Mind Direct, a 9a+ (5.15a) in Santa Linya, Spain. Aisha sent the route in four days, during her spring break from school.