Ashima in Hueco Tanks

Posted on 04. Apr, 2011 by in News

Ashima Shiraishi is a 9 year old climber from New York City, New York who has recently been climbing very well. She impressively won her age group (11 and under) at the ABS Youth Nationals in Boulder, CO. According to the Big Up Productions Blog she visited Hueco Tanks this spring and had an outstanding trip. She climbed Chablanke V11/12, Rogered in a Shower V10/11, Mojo V10, Crimping Christ on a Cross V10 and flashed Mangum V9.

The most interesting bit of news from the trip, however, was her near send of Shaken Not Stirred V12, the classic and hard power endurance problem in the Martini Cave on North Mountain. This problem is not only the standard for the grade, it has a notoriously long move on it and many have wondered if a girl could ever make the reach. Ashima found a way, and climbed through the entire problem three times. Most impressively, she did not claim the ascent because she dabbed on the small tree that somehow continues to grow in the cave. Here is more from what Big Up had to say:

On her second day working the problem she sent through the crux but her feet swung out on the last hard move and banged a tree. She continued to the top, but the “dab” made the ascent invalid.  How harsh is it to have to tell a nine year old that the most impressive thing she’s ever done doesn’t count? Twice more she climbed through the crux and kicked the tree, virtually sending the problem three times in a row. It was painful, there were some tears, and she left without completing the official ascent. But it was still one of the raddest things we’ve seen in a while.

It is inspiring to know that there are climbers out there who approach their climbing with such lofty standards. Ashima is not the future of women’s climbing, she is already at the top, not only physically, but in her mental approach to the sport as well. Perhaps she will set new levels of bouldering difficulty. Perhaps she will be the first woman to make a substantial impact by finding and developing new boulders. Perhaps she will push women’s competition farther than anyone could have thought possible. It’s nice to know that if she does continue climbing, she will lead with high-minded ethics.

Remember, next time your foot kicks the pad, your spotter says, “You’re still good!” and you keep climbing, anxiously running home to update your scorecard, there is a 9 year old girl, probably sitting in her 3rd grade class in New York City, who left Hueco Tanks a dab shy of Right Martini.

47 Responses to “Ashima in Hueco Tanks”

  1. Maxim

    04. Apr, 2011

    bravo, Jamie. back to form with that last sentence.


  2. mike

    04. Apr, 2011

    I’m guessing this is the move she tree dabbed on? Given, it’s not a kick, it’s still a dab.

  3. Nate

    04. Apr, 2011

    Props to Ashima. I think we all know the anguish I am sure she is experiencing over a dab. She’s obviously a good enough climber to send the line and I’m sure she will. It is inspiring to see a 9 year old taking the high road.

    In regards to women in climbing I am surprised by the lack of attention Tomasina Pidgeon receives. She’s sent numerous hard lines but is rarely in the conversation of strongest female climbers. I wonder if it is a function of her not doing comps (that I know of).

  4. JamesO

    04. Apr, 2011

    Jesus, more important than the exact nature of the grade is the fact that she is managing this in what, 80 degree weather??

    I notice that an agenda, well I am not sure if that word has negative connotations, none meant, that you have been pushing is the need for more female first ascents. You expressed dissapointment when Lincoln Lake was being developed that all the First Ascents were going to Dave Graham, Daniel Woods etc. For one thing I think a lot of other climbers have a lot of other things going on in their lives. They cannot take time off from their jobs or school to go exploring far off talus fields. Hopefully it will be over another decade before Ashima is in a place where her priorities allow her to spend copious ammounts of time searching for boulders. I think on some level most climbers would love to go out and put up first ascents, but it is not a matter of “inspired vision”, exploring the wilderness and establishing climbs is a luxury not many can afford.

    Second point as to why there may be a lack of female ascents. Yes yes, I do not need people telling me how untapped rock climbing is. But I think at this point many popular and famous areas are pretty thoroughly established. If you look at the people and climbs that are being put up that are noteworthy, the large majority of them are either very hard or very commiting. In Europe Daniel and Paul got to put up first ascents that were too hard for the locals(in both cases Bernd Zangerl); Ill Trill and In Search of Time Lost. The other ascents still being put up in classic areas are lines that require a great deal of commitment, such as Kevin Jorgeson’s Ambrosia, the Beatiful and the Damned, the Duel, Footprints and Flight of the Honey Bee.

    I think that this leaves a pretty small and difficult niche for female climbers to break into.

    There may also be some level of a viscous cycle. Male climbers like Chris Sharma and Dave Graham are known for establishing good areas and climbs. So if they ask their sponsors “Hey, can I go with a film crew to put up climbs in Madagascar?” they will be much more likely to recieve a positive answer than, if say, Alex Puccio asked Five.Ten if she could go explore Madagascar.

    I think that everyone would be pleased to see the top female climbers establish their own climbs but it seems difficult for me at least, to envision the scenario where it will occur. They will have to be stronger than Daniel Woods or have a better head than Kevin Jorgeson.

  5. Adam M

    04. Apr, 2011

    Great write up! That girl is wicked strong. Her beta is so damn good!
    “dab shy of right maritini.” So funny…

  6. Chris

    04. Apr, 2011

    I was going to post something but I think JamesO said it all perfectly.

  7. polaropposite

    04. Apr, 2011

    ” Male climbers like Chris Sharma and Dave Graham are known for establishing good areas and climbs. So if they ask their sponsors “Hey, can I go with a film crew to put up climbs in Madagascar?” they will be much more likely to recieve a positive answer than, if say, Alex Puccio asked Five.Ten if she could go explore Madagascar.”

    Except that a team of females already did go with a film crew to put up routes in Madagascar…the route Bravo Les Filles on Tsaranoro was put up By Lynn Hill, Beth Rodden, Nancy Feagin and Kath Pike

  8. colin

    04. Apr, 2011

    I’ve watched Ashima climb in the gym, in Central Park, and up in the ‘Gunks, and she’s absolutely amazing. Flawless technique that’s a pleasure to behold. She often has to use completely different beta and mind-bogglingly small crimps to get around long moves…not to mention that she can lock off down to her freakin’ bellybutton!

  9. B3

    04. Apr, 2011

    James, Ben Scott works 4 days a week, full time, has a wife, and has done the first ascent of hundreds of boulder problems from V0-V10 here in Colorado in the last 10 years. I myself have made many sacrifices to make the time to have to put up new boulders here in Colorado (The Ghost V1 at Guanella Pass comes to mind as a moderate, The Red Hering at Lincoln Lake as well). Will Lemaire and Jeremy Bisher are other weekend warriors who have established new problems that aren’t at the upper limit. And as a matter of fact, Justin Jaeger has established a number of new problems, is a full time lawyer, is married, has a child etc. It is hard to have the time to put up new problems, you are correct, but there are a number of examples of climbers who are weekend warriors and still make time for it.
    As to your second point, there were many many “moderates” established at Lincoln Lake this summer. I also know the climbers like Ryan Silven have established quality moderates in Chaos Canyon. People can and have done what you say that haven’t (or at least in a niche you say is difficult to get into). Perhaps a new V3 highball in Red Feather by Jason Nadeu doesn’t grab the attention of the news media the way Ill Trill does and it shouldn’t. But that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. It is. And there are still hundreds of first ascents waiting to be done in Front Range areas like Camp Dick, RMNP, Lincoln Lake, Vedauwoo, The South Platte, Newlin Creek, etc etc

  10. B3

    04. Apr, 2011

    Adam, many of the setters were wondering what is her beta? Do you know?

  11. JamesO

    04. Apr, 2011

    Ha ha ha, man, at this point, it is seeming full on improbable that you disagree with me on this many issues! : ) But there, I added a smiley face to show that I appreciate discussion, and that you have no need to be defensive.

    Hmmm I do not think we actually disagree(except perhaps how many stars Red Herring gets). I think our discussion comes down to two things: you misunderstood my point and/or I am incorrect about your agenda. I know people are out there putting up V6s. I am not saying that that is not a worthwhile pursuit. However my impression of your goal for female climbers is that you would like them to do hard, impressive first ascents that represent the ability of the top female climbers.

    See this could be where I am wrong and this discussion is moot, but I did not think you were encouraging Angie and Alex to go out and put up moderates.

    I thought that you wanted their efforts and climbs to be recognized.

    For those who do not live in Colorado, I doubt they would have heard of many of the climbs and climbers you mention putting up first ascents.

    All I was pointing out is that it seems like it will be quite a task for female climbers to put up climbs that do garner great attention and become the testpieces of an area.

    Ellen has put up a reasonable quality boulder in Rocky Gorge Reservoir. I just did not feel that you were encouraging Ashima to go to Maryland and establish V5s.

  12. Amy

    05. Apr, 2011

    Well said Jamie. Reading about that kind of integrity coming from someone of that age gave me chills. Thanks for sharing that.

  13. Adam M

    05. Apr, 2011

    You mean her beta on martini? No. I just mean that when she goes up to a boulder problem, she does the exact same thing that I’ve seen Thomasina do when I climbed with her. She will start at the bottom and try the problem. If she falls off somewhere, she steps back, fixes her beta, finds something that works (quickly), makes sure it works again, rests, then goes back to the beginning and climbs right through the sequence without changing a thing.

    It’s really smart climbing. Ashima is so young and she does this very well. Her beta is always so…appropriate…for the problem she faces, or reason she can’t progress through the move.

    Her over all climbing “beta” is just so good. I haven’t seen her attempts on Martini, but i’m sure it fits the description I wrote above.

  14. John Meget

    05. Apr, 2011

    James said, “For those who do not live in Colorado, I doubt they would have heard of many of the climbs and climbers you mention putting up first ascents.

    “All I was pointing out is that it seems like it will be quite a task for female climbers to put up climbs that do garner great attention and become the testpieces of an area.”

    I don’t understand why a woman who does an FA of a V12 will not garner as much attention as one who repeats a V12.

    Ashima looked incredible in that short film about indoor climbing. Would love to see more videos of her doing these more recent boulders. On reachy moves, I take it she finds intermediate holds?

  15. joeyjoejoe

    05. Apr, 2011

    Ashima campuses my v6 projects during her warm-up.

  16. michael

    05. Apr, 2011

    We can do anything with God, so I go climbing with the big baby G.

  17. joeyjoejoe

    05. Apr, 2011

    I’ve been thinking about this since P-Rob kicked that tree during his near-send of The Story of Two Worlds… Nobody here has mentioned the video ‘mike’ linked to, of Ben Moon clearly bumping a skinny branch of the tree while sending Right Martini:

    Jamie, would this be an illegitimate send in your opinion?

    It seems to me like these incidents – brushing your shoulder on a tree branch, etc – would, if anything, be a distraction and make the send even harder. Plus, climbing outdoors is about being a part of nature. If some leaves fall off a tree and brush against your face as you stick the crux, do you have to start over? What if the wind blows in the right direction at the right time and gives you a little nudge in the right direction?

    I guess it’s cool that she’s adhering to what is considered an ‘ethical’ standard in bouldering, but the standard seems stupid to me. If you were doing a free ascent up some giant face and accidentally brushed against a tree branch, nobody would give a crap.

  18. Matt

    05. Apr, 2011

    “James said, “For those who do not live in Colorado, I doubt they would have heard of many of the climbs and climbers you mention putting up first ascents.

    “All I was pointing out is that it seems like it will be quite a task for female climbers to put up climbs that do garner great attention and become the testpieces of an area.”

    I don’t understand why a woman who does an FA of a V12 will not garner as much attention as one who repeats a V12. ”

    I think James is saying, if a hard problem is out there, say a V12 or harder, a female climber will have issues establishing and getting that first ascent (especially in the more popular areas) because a male climber will more than likely get to it first. Whats more likely, first ascent of a V15 by a girl in Magic Wood, or a first ascent of a V12 by a guy?

    First ascents of any sex under some arbitrary grade, in general, lack media attention.

    For example: There could be an undone line in say RMNP. In the guidebook, it is listed as a project. EVERYONE will be trying to get the first ascent of this project. Odds are, if it is extremely difficult, Daniel Woods or Paul Robinson will nab an ascent before Alex Puccio or Angie Payne or whoever. Say Woods sends it first. It’s a test piece now and Daniel Woods established it and Puccio or Payne or Johnson or Shiraishi or whoever will be listed in the news as first female ascent.

    Sure these female climbers can go to an area and develop new moderates. However, this is not as highly noted as the big first ascent of a long standing, hard project.

  19. Matt

    05. Apr, 2011

    Ashima is ridiculous. Watched her climb at regionals and it was a jaw-dropping experience.

  20. big poppa chosscrush

    05. Apr, 2011

    “[E]xploring the wilderness and establishing climbs is a luxury not many can afford.”

    note, this is why certain wannabe FAists keep in contact with their more exploratory friends and demand to be included in sessions at places like lincoln lake with non-compliance punishable by stabbing, or as wade so elequently said it, “burning [their] dick off.”

    in sum, the poor-man’s way to afford this luxery is simple: enslave the young and motivated to do the finding, then, chose the easy, chossy, lame, and contrived lines to FA.


    semi-related fact: i ate 3,000 calories in doughnut food today. i haven’t done even a basement climbing session in over two weeks. all you kids and motivated explorers better find me some goddamn moderates to FA this summer, cause ‘riddles’, ‘clear blue…’, and ‘eternia’ ain’t getting done again.

  21. Brian

    05. Apr, 2011

    Bouldering ethicists make 9 year old girl cry about kicking all their asses at climbing, news at 11.

  22. B3

    06. Apr, 2011

    If I dab on a climb, I would step off immediately. I wouldn’t say that Ben didn’t do the climb, but it would be better to have a clean ascent.

  23. joeyjoejoe

    06. Apr, 2011

    But better why? His shoulder brushed against the tiniest of tree branches. It couldn’t have given more than an ounce of resistance (which, again, would have made the climb harder, not easier). If somebody walks by and slaps your ass lightly just as you’re about to top out on your long-term project, would you re-climb it?? Come on! There have to be reasonable limits. If you clearly drop/drag your foot on something and it truly affects your climb, then, sure, start over. All this little stuff just seems silly.

  24. B3

    06. Apr, 2011

    how do you decide what is little and silly and substantial? 1 ounce is ok but not 2? how do you define a reasonable limit?
    It is better to climb something clean than to dab, regardless of how light.

  25. Elliott

    06. Apr, 2011

    Her beta for the huge move is to grab a non-existent pinch that thomisina had been trying to use, and then dynoing off of it, and then campus matching.

  26. Marc

    06. Apr, 2011

    a dab, should be a dab if it’s obvious, not if a person was very solid on all the holds he was holding, and just his feet his something while swinging… it’s stupid, yea… rules, when they don’t serve us, become really stupid !! a rule that becomes contra-productive, must be changed, or at least have exceptions.

    as for the Ashima, it’s for her own good, she climbed a V12 3 times, that’s a very good training!!

    and for everyone that didn’t notice!! she will not only lead female, she will lead males too…

    she’s at the same age of Tito… and he does 8b+, she does V12, that’s harder than 8b+… but anyway… they are both still young…

    we’ll wait and see…

    for the meantime, you can visit my blog and vote for me to get a free DVD to watch for a totally new area

  27. g

    07. Apr, 2011

    I’m glad to know that when you send a problem you run home to update your scorecard.

  28. polaropposite

    07. Apr, 2011

    “she’s at the same age of Tito… and he does 8b+, she does V12, that’s harder than 8b+… but anyway… they are both still young…”

    The hardest move on Realization used to be V9 till the bottom hold broke…so by your logic V12 is harder than 5.15a too

    And the dab thing is beyond silly, next you’ll be talking about wind-assisted ascents

    Also the whole thing about using the same starting holds as the FA…wouldn’t that apply to the rest of the problem too, and using ANY different holds than the FA invalidates the ascent?

  29. B3

    07. Apr, 2011

    @polaropposite I already explained my views on this here

  30. peter beal

    07. Apr, 2011

    @ poppachoss, I will carry the pads for you to Clear Blue Skies so you can send, doughnut food and all

  31. Kaelen W

    07. Apr, 2011

    Jamie, subjectivity isn’t the horrible thing you make it out to be. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people discussing things on a case-by-case basis and coming to agreement as a community. The world is complex and varied; that’s what is beautiful about life, it’s not all black and white.


    07. Apr, 2011

    peter, i accept.

    i’m concerned however, because though my mind has told itself that this will be a banner albeit concentrated summer, my body suggests otherwise.

    i’ll do my best to be up to the task when evans dries out and we can find a mutually agreeable time to slay old demons.

  33. B3

    07. Apr, 2011


    “”It is one of the most characteristic and destructive developments of our society that man, becoming more and more of an instrument, transforms reality more and more into something relative to his own interests and functions. Truth is proven by the consensus of millions; to the slogan “how can the millions be wrong” is added “how can a minority of one be right.” Orwell shows quite clearly that in a system in which the concept of truth as an objective judgement concerning reality is abolished, anyone who is a minority of one must be convinced he is insane.” -Erich Fromm on 1984

  34. Kaelen W

    08. Apr, 2011

    “Men must think and know for themselves. What censure doubting thus of innate principles may deserve from men, who will be apt to call it pulling up the old foundations of knowledge and certainty, I cannot tell; – I persuade myself at least that the way I have pursued, being conformable to truth, lays those foundations surer. This I am certain, I have not made it my business either to quit or follow any authority in the ensuing Discourse. Truth has been my only aim; and wherever that has appeared to lead, my thoughts have impartially followed, without minding whether the footsteps of any other lay that way or not. Not that I want a due respect to other men’s opinions; but, after all, the greatest reverence is due to truth: and I hope it will not be thought arrogance to say, that perhaps we should make greater progress in the discovery of rational and contemplative knowledge, if we sought it in the fountain, in the consideration of things themselves; and made use rather of our own thoughts than other men’s to find it.” -John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

    Yes, I realize how contradictory it is to quote someone saying you should think for yourself, but I thought it made sense to answer your quote with another quote. It’s not that hard to find an authoritative person saying something that supports your argument. We could go back and forth like this forever.

  35. B3

    08. Apr, 2011

    Ok, fine. Here are my thoughts. I think looking at things objectively gives answers, and I think looking at things subjectively gives no answers. If I were to bolt holds on the Dark Waters Cave, like a nice big Pusher Boss hold, would this complexity and variety of brought by this addition be a positive thing? What if I chipped “B3” into the rock and made a sick new hold that “99%” of the people approved of? What if I was “super-psyched”, “fun-loving” and “well meaning”? I think looking at things in a subjective way (as the novel 1984 demonstrates and critic Fromm illustrates) is a dangerous path.


    08. Apr, 2011

    jamie, i understand your desire to strive for black and white when the alternative is so amorphous.

    however, i would suggest that right and wrong is determined by consensus. if 99% of climbers approve of something and that something does not harm other humans or disrupt ecosystems, then the consensus has made that something ‘right.’

    sympathizing with the insane man or woman is made possible through literature becuase the insane person is NOT alone in his/her mentality. the reader is his/her kindered spirit and through the reader, the ethics and morals ofthe reader’s world flow.

    perhaps if the reader of 1984 lived in a world substantially similar to the story, the insane person would truely be percieved as insane and the entire social commentary intended by orwell would be lost.

  37. B3

    08. Apr, 2011

    Jaeger, I would argue that this “something” is made right because there are reasons (it does not harm the ecosystem, or it does not harm other humans), and NOT because other people feel it is ok.

    If there was someway then to determine, based on rock type, conditions, hold size etc an objective measuring stick for grading difficulty, you would still prefer then a subjective V- grade, because the consensus makes it right? Especially if 99% of the climbers thought that V-grades were more, for example, traditional, and therefore, better?

    Orwell’s writing serves as a warning, and he uses the extreme case to demonstrate where such emphasis on subject thought can lead.

  38. big poppa chosscrush

    08. Apr, 2011

    but ‘harm’ is a subjective human concept as well.

    ripping out foliage is ‘harmful’, unless that foliage is an invasive species and therefore ripping it out is beneficial. but why should one species be ripped out? what is invasive? why should the native population be protected with hitler-esque executioner tactics? why shouldn’t the snakehead be allowed to take over if it has darwin’s theoretical blessing?

    sometimes the distilation of collective subjectivity makes sense.

    sometimes an outlier’s unilateral subjectivity should be celebrated, nay, worshiped… like my spraysheet.

    i’m not educated enough to continue. my mind has been poisoned by means test spreadsheets and the calculation of commitment period and disposable income.

  39. Kaelen W

    09. Apr, 2011

    I don’t have much more to say, thanks to Justin. I don’t think that being objective isn’t always bad. There are certainly times where objectivity is very important. But there are other times where it just doesn’t work. Grading, for example. You describe a hypothetical objective grading system. The problem is that, for such an exact formula, it would have to include the person who is climbing it as well (height, weight, etc.) so there would be a different result for every person and the system would be pretty useless (not to mention difficult if not impossible to create). The best that can be done is try to come to a community consensus, although it will never be perfect.

  40. slabdyno

    10. Apr, 2011

    someone should cut down that tree. poor cleaning job by the fa’ist.

    nice job in hueco Ashima!

  41. Brian Kimball

    10. Apr, 2011

    If anyone cuts down that tree Texas Parks will close Martini Roof to climbing forever-they love that tree-bad to even talk about cutting down that tree-this is not like the Whispers Tree getting hacked this is SERIOUS!!!

    I watched some big euro guy fall onto that tree almost breaking it several times trying Nick Duttle’s new Brown Smurf V13 that climbs R.Martini all the way through the first Big Iron crux then finishing straight up and left on the Litz Problem finishing on the Esperanza drop. People should consider getting a better spot when attempting that line. Loosing Martini Roof would be HORRIBLE!!!

  42. slabdyno

    10. Apr, 2011

    this happens all the time, euro’s have no respect for trees.

    yeh, i was being facetious gymmo’s, don’t chop the tree.

  43. dr.shelznbrenner

    11. Apr, 2011

    …I watched some big euro guy fall onto that tree almost breaking it ….
    Thanks Brian for spot!,

    i must say almost breaking it is far away from reality.even though somebody said euros dont respect trees i do a lot.i actually studied forestry.i am sorry not sending this perfect line and sorry that Texas Park rangers can really do something so crazy to prevent climbing in that cave beacouse of one small tree.On the other hand USA is one of the largest CO2 producer in the world.

  44. mark

    12. Apr, 2011

    As younger kids get into outdoor climbing, more v whatever ascents will take place. This is the future. Light kids with enough technique, small fingers, ability to use small intermediate holds, and core strength, will be able to send v hard. But, then they will grow, and the finger strength does not evolve in a linear fashion. If they are female, they mature and have extra weight to pull up the hill, and it is over. Many examples of this, not to be named here.

    Great for Ashima a truly fantastic climber with a great future! But,this is why competition is king. Can you climb the same problem, in a few minutes on only the holds the route setter has on the wall? Competition is the great equalizer, and the reason many climbers don’t compete.

  45. Mattchew

    12. Apr, 2011

    awesome! looking forward to the future

  46. sidepull

    15. Apr, 2011

    I realize this discussion is probably done in your book, but I was interested to see Ben Moon’s send of Right Martini and noticed that he touches the branches of the tree as well when his feet cut (it looks like his right shoulder hits it).

  47. orwellwasareporter

    31. Dec, 2011

    objectivity. ha.

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