Ashima Shiraishi sends Crown of Aragorn V13

Posted on 22. Mar, 2012 by in News

Ashima Shiraishi has made the FFA of Crown of Aragorn V13 in Hueco Tanks. Remarkably she is only 10 years old! Very well done! Crown, as it is known locally, is a four move sitstart into Better Eat Your Wheaties V8. Fred Nicole has the first ascent, and John Sherman lists it as a standard for the grade (although he never climbed the line himself) in his bouldering guide to Hueco Tanks.

There has been much talk of whether or not the line should get downrated now. I climbed the line myself in 2007 (it was the subject of my very first post). It is one of the most classic and often repeated V13s in the world, and in the 20 years or so since Fred did the FA, no one has ever downrated it. I don’t see a reason to now. It’s a great problem and I commend her commitment to going after classic problems.

Climbers can, do, and should find things that fit their body style, if they are trying to climb difficult things. A more well-rounded boulderer would choose things of all styles, but there is always something to be said for pushing ones limit on a very specific climb. I look forward to hearing more about this phenomenal climber in the years to come.

36 Responses to “Ashima Shiraishi sends Crown of Aragorn V13”

  1. James O'Connor

    22. Mar, 2012

    Things are graded based on general consensus of those who have climbed it. This consensus is also based on what is the easiest beta for the climb. When new beta is found problems often get downgraded based on the difficulty of the new, easiest beta.

    The beta for Crown of Aragorn has not changed. The beta if you are a 10 year old child is different however. But downgrading based on this is senseless. First, the standard, easiest beta is still what has been considered V13 for 20 years, so nothing has changed. Secondly will it likely be the arbitrary downgrade to V12? This is also pointless because it is incredibly hard to quantify exactly how hard it was for Ashima, which is what has raised this question. We cannot try to incorporate, at least not as a major factor, “personal grading” where A Tale of Two Gabors is V8 for Gabor and V13 for Nalle.

    I do not believe Ashima’s ascent has any bearing on the grade of the climb. She climbed Crown of Aragorn and deserves the full respect this ascent has garnished. However she did not climb Crown of Aragorn with the beta that has established it as a V13.

  2. Andy

    22. Mar, 2012

    Really? What’s her beta?

  3. Joaq

    22. Mar, 2012

    “However she did not climb Crown of Aragorn with the beta that has established it as a V13.”

    Interesting, it seems like this statement is implying that Crown of Aragorn V13 and Crown of Aragorn are different. Maybe Crown of Aragorn V13 refers to the set of betas for Crown of Aragorn that constitute the V13 grade? Would Ashima have license to name and grade her beta? Crown of Aragorn (Ashima variation) V15, that is, if it is V15 to climb Crown with Ashima’s beta.

    People talking about a downgrade seem to assume that the way Ashima climbed Crown must be easier than the standard beta. What if it is another V13 beta, or a harder variation?

  4. James O'Connor

    22. Mar, 2012

    When on the two standard crimps she moves left hand to a very very small pocket, moves the right hand in and then bumps to the standard into Wheaties hold.

    Holy God. . . . . The way Ashima climbed Crown is OBVIOUSLY easier for her or she would have not have done it. That way however is IMPOSSIBLE for a normal sized human being. It is not “new” beta per se; it is very very specialized beta. This beta cannot realistically be graded because we do not have a swarm of 10 year olds that have climbed established V12-V14s to grade this beta. The easiest way to climb the Crown of Aragorn is V13 for 99% of climbers. It is silly to change the grade of the boulder because of the 1% who can use this specialized beta.

    In Hueco a few years ago there was a German fellow whose hardest ascent was V9. He was very very tall. He climbed the V13 Li in a handful of attempts because he could keep his foot on the skirt and bypass the crux. Li is a very hard V13 with a similar number of ascents as Jade. This was not in the “news” and he did not go about spraying that he was a V13 climber because he understood the situation (not saying Ashima is spraying).

    Because this tall fellow who climbs V9 pissed Li should it be downgraded to V9? No that is stupid.

  5. Rob

    22. Mar, 2012

    One reason why Crown has not once been subject to downgrading could be the fact that it was established as the standard for the V13 grade, like Jamie points out. And a bit off-topic, Gabor graded A Tale of Two Gabors V12 on his scorecard.

  6. Joaq

    22. Mar, 2012

    @James I agree the way Ashima climbed Crown is obviously easier for her and impossible for normal sized adults. “This beta cannot realistically be graded because we do not have a swarm of 10 year olds that have climbed established V12-V14s to grade this beta.” That is what I was getting at in the first place. Because it’s impossible for normal sized adults to evaluate the difficulty of what Ashima did all the talk of downgrading is ridiculous.

    My other thought (which I’m not settled on) was that the name Crown of Aragorn refers to the line, and the grade V13 refers to the consensus easiest beta for that line. The (obvious but necessary) observation that Ashima didn’t climb the line with the established V13 beta seemed to imply that news about the accent should read “Ashima Shiraishi sends Crown of Aragorn.” It seemed to also imply that downgrading of a grade for a line and associated beta. should be contingent on alternate betas being accessible to normal sized adults (here I agree).

  7. Scott Strong

    23. Mar, 2012

    I think a call for a downgrade is purely ego driven. And I see some delicious irony in the call for a downgrade on this problem because Sherman downgraded Better Eat Your Wheaties after Bobbi Bensman climbed it, solely because she was a woman. Now a 10 year old as done what is considered to be a test piece of the grade, and it’s gotta sting egos a little bit.

  8. B3

    23. Mar, 2012

    I think it is worth reiterating. Again, if the problem is defined by the starting holds (those used by the FAist) and by finishing on top of the boulder (as long as it isn’t a contrivance, which in this case it is not) then Ashima has unquestionably repeated Crown of Aragorn. While the grade is an interesting part of the equation, it is difficult to define. What is not difficult to define is whether or not she climbed a specific boulder problem. Whatever the grade (and again I think it IS V13) Ashima repeated Crown of Aragorn and that is the real achievement in my eyes. Again, congratulations!

  9. adam strong

    23. Mar, 2012

    when she’s 20 she’ll probably do it in roller skates

  10. Jabroni

    23. Mar, 2012

    She did it, end of story. Anything else is going to get into the kind of ridiculousness you see on

    “Oh, you went to the gaston move but didn’t match for 3 seconds, therefore it is not the same problem”

    “You need to have pads set at regulation heights”

    “Your arm was more bent when you locked off the crimp, therefore it is an invalid ascent”


  11. Alex

    23. Mar, 2012

    Whats interesting is that I remember reading an article/opinion about the future of the bouldering scale and how realistically the holds/crimps could not get much smaller, therefore anything beyond would require stacking the most difficult moves on top of each other. But now we have 10 year olds that can utilize such holds. If the general consensus continues to downgrade as the new wave of little folk take over, they would really only be defeating themselves. The technicalities of bouldering are obviously important, but at the same time quite ridiculous.

  12. abe

    23. Mar, 2012

    I don’t know bout you guys but, I’m getting tiered of hearing about grades.. shits getting plaid out …. Last couple of years have just been ridicules… You got some of the best climbers in the world second guessing themselves and at times just completely remaining silent about their accomplishments. Its like no one knows what to do with the grades anymore. Climber are no longer basing hard climbs on grades, there just compering each climb to the last and so on, and so on…. Very stagnate

    I mean can you imagine people back in the day telling Fred.N that his problems were soft or that he might have over graded them. People knew Fred was a badass dude and the community respected what he did and how he did it. This is part of the reason why you have a Sharma,Dave,Rob,Daniel etc. I think its time to pay a little respect to the next generation and bring back some of that old school mentality.

    I remember a time when boulders had this type of mythical appeal, especially the hard one’s. Its almost like this doesn’t exist anymore. A new boulder gets put up, then some punk comes along, climbs the shit out of it and decides he’s gonna downgrade the problem and calls it soft, completely disregarding the efforts and contribution of the first ascensionist . Yes, it is important to a certain extent to grade problems for progressive purposes, but, we must not forget, that the beauty of the line and the surrounding settings are what make these problems special NOT THE GRADE. Maybe some climbers just look at boulders as rocks, which they are, but what matters is how the individual expressed themselves and how they brought life to an old relic.

    So I hope that the next generation is ready to move things in a positive direction and I am excited to see what type of impact female climbers have in the coming years. I know that this news of Ashima has completely dumbfounded all of us, who better than a young girl to put all of us in are place and show us what is possible with an open mind and profound determination. GET SOME !!!

  13. pat

    23. Mar, 2012

    Shes a beast and it has nothing to do with her age or size. I know that this girl is pound for pound stronger then any climber i have ever seen in my life. i think you need to see it in person to truly understand. I certainly don’t think its easier because shes smaller, if anything it was probably much harder and she was just able to compensate. I think the only thing her size does for her climbing is make things harder and shes just strong enough to get through anyway. I think this girl may have more potential then ondra and that’s saying alot.

  14. DanielG

    23. Mar, 2012

    I think it will be very interesting to see Ashima 6 to 10 years down the road (assuming she is still climbing and assuming she has grown into a “normal” sized adult) come back to some of these problems. It will be interesting to see if she crushes them even easier or possibly struggles having to use different beta. She will probably still be crushing them…

  15. Dylin Cordova

    24. Mar, 2012

    Seeing the progression of pros we’ve watched grow up (Sharma, Caldwell, Woods, Puccio, Payne, Johnson ect..) I am sure Ashima will be nothing short of phenomenal when she has grown into her adult body.

    Great work Ashima continue to shine!

  16. andré várzea

    24. Mar, 2012

    to much talking…. let’s enjoy climbing! congrats to ashima and that’s it!

  17. Rick

    26. Mar, 2012

    Ratings are a guide. The ratings chasing going on now makes it like a competition to see who can do v-hard. If you want to compare, then compete. In competition, you get multiple styles and 5 minutes. Outside you get what fits your size and style.
    The difference between a 10 year old girl and 20 year old is technique. Unless the 10 year old has climbed long enough to develop technique. In that case, the 70 pounder has a huge strength to weight advantage over the 120 pounder and has smaller fingers so edges are better. It is that simple. The extra 50 pounds is mostly unusable and a burden to go up hill. As more kids climb at a younger age, this will be more common. Congrats on a great assent.
    Females(12 and under) regularly climb harder than males in junior competitions. They have better movement. Once puberty hits, the girls get unwanted weight and slow down. The guys get tons of testosterone, and their climbing takes off. Many young female proteges have disappeared at puberty for this reason, it is just harder.
    This will happen more and more, get used to it, until they grow….

  18. Michael Rathke

    28. Mar, 2012

    Jesus Loves You All

  19. Max K.

    30. Mar, 2012

    “I think it is worth reiterating. Again, if the problem is defined by the starting holds (those used by the FAist) and by finishing on top of the boulder (as long as it isn’t a contrivance, which in this case it is not) then Ashima has unquestionably repeated Crown of Aragorn.”


    To stress-proof your theory…what about Evilution Direct vs. Kehl’s Evilution? In this case both lines share starting holds, take different routes over the lip, and then re-converge on the slab, or Wet Dream Right vs. Wet Dream…in both these examples different problems start and finish in the same place, but are undoubtedly different rock climbs…

    Are these climbs contrived? Wet Dream Right is the path of least resistance up that boulder from those starting holds, so should Wet Dream proper be disregarded? Does Lamiche’s direct line over the lip (which is supposedly easier) undermine Kehl’s effort? Of course not.

    My point is that in order to define a rock climb, one would require more information then where it starts and where it tops out.

  20. B3

    30. Mar, 2012

    Of course they are contrived! I thought I had written a number of posts about this previously? Contrivances aren’t to be disregarded, they are less classic than non-contrived lines. Problems that aren’t contrived are better precicsly because of the complications you describe.

  21. Paul

    30. Mar, 2012

    Interestingly, if you start Wet Dream like I do (not that I pioneered the beta) it’s probably not easier to go into right. I use Ethan’s left hand for my right, and an undercling for my left. If I followed your rule though, would I have to call it something else? I also use some holds normally only used for the right version to help me get into the finger lock, and then I also use some different beta for the top, although I still finish in the same place.

  22. B3

    30. Mar, 2012

    That’s certainly into some more gray area. Why not simply start as Ethan did, when trying to complete the line he did? I assume you want credit for climbing Wet Dream? Then do what Ethan did (at least it would be better to do what he did) Once you leave the ground you should have the right to use whatever you’d like, (unless it is a contrivance) Again, doing whatever you’d like is totally acceptable, but this will (it does time and again) encourage people to do less and less and giving themselves credit for doing the same.

  23. Paul

    30. Mar, 2012

    If your asking whether my beta is easier, of course it is for me. Although a taller friend likes Ethan’s way, so perhaps that is the distinction (Daniel used beta similar to mine, but switched hands from Ethan’s’).

    Personally, I just want to climb the line. I’ve wanted to ever since I first saw it several years ago. It’s an inspiring line, and in my opinion one of the best in the country. Props to Ethan! Truthfully, I was a little disappointed to find that the obvious line was an eliminate, and I am somewhat relieved that its not with my beta (even though the line itself still is).

    Am I climbing less than what Ethan did? I don’t think so, but I would have no problem with anyone claiming this, and I don’t have a problem with people climbing things differently in general as long as they are honest about it. On the other hand, I think it would be disrespectful to climb the line with different beta, and then call it something else. It is still the same line in my opinion.

    Also, there is no way I have yet found, where Wet Dream is only v12, for me. It is 1-2 grades harder than any other 12 I have ever done, including Atlas Shrugged around the corner (not considered to be an easy 12). So about the question of credit, I guess that isn’t really my motivation. Otherwise, I wouldn’t waste my time and energy on a boulder that suits me so poorly.

  24. B3

    30. Mar, 2012

    Paul, thanks for your comments! If more people responded in a thoughtful and articulate way (as you do) I would be more inclined to respond myself. We should continue this discussion next time you are in Colorado.

  25. Max K.

    30. Mar, 2012

    Jaime, thanks for the response. I guess my issue is with how we classify things as contrived. So to test your logic a bit further:

    In the case of Wet Dream Right and Evilution Direct, it would appear your main criteria for calling their counterparts contrived is their difficulty…a non-contrived boulder problem should always take the path of least resistance up the wall.

    So if difficulty is the key component here, it stands to reason that the method one uses to climb something can in of itself be a contrivance. Bad beta, using unnecessary holds, or creating unnecessary difficulty for oneself is in essence no different than grabbing the start holds, and then taking a different line up the boulder.

    There is no doubt that different betas lead to different results and different people prefer different beta. From person to person, some beta is doable, some is not, some of it is harder, some of it is easier.

    So realistically, it is feasible that Kehl’s Evilution is genuinely easier for some people, rendering Evilution direct the contrived line.

    If bad beta is unnecessarily difficult, and unnecessarily difficult means contrived, does that mean everyone who uses harder beta than Ashima on Crown is suddenly climbing a contrived boulder problem?

    Linking difficulty to the purity of a line seems problematic, especially considering different climbers with different styles, and different builds (i.e. Ashima) have access to different betas.

  26. Paul N

    30. Mar, 2012

    Sure. I much prefer real life conversations anyways. I’m getting psyched on whats left of the season at Horsetooth, Poudre, Boulder canyon, and the coming alpine. See you around.

  27. DK

    30. Mar, 2012

    Evilution is kind of an interesting example. Jason chose the left exit because, although harder, the crux was a bit lower and therefore not as scary/dangerous. The contrivance was not to make it harder, but to make it a bit more manageable from a safety and mental perspective. Does the direct line contrive risk just like the original line contrives difficuty? After all, we know well that there is often more to climbing a problem than being strong enough to do the moves.

  28. Battaglia

    04. Apr, 2012

    I like Rick’s post (3/26) about body weight and the progression of young climbers. I’ve seen this very trend that he speaks of many times. For this reason I’ve been arguing for a weight class in climbing, only somewhat jokingly. You dont have to change the grade you just have to say, 70lb send, or 130lb send or 200lb send (which I’m not sure has been done yet). There is no denying that the strength required to hold onto a crimp is radically different from this girl and myself, who weighs nearly 100lbs more. So if climbing is about difficulty and difficulty is largely about strength required to do a move then we need to add in weight unless you want to say that skinny people get less points because the power required to do the move is less.

    Last, I agree with Jamie that climbing your hardest you need to find problems that fit you and this girl may crush a problem like clear blue skies (v11/12 crimps) but get spanked on a climb like Gorillas in the Mist (v10, originally called v8!!) because of hold type and her reach.

  29. william

    04. Apr, 2012

    This is part of why there is an age minimum in the Olympics. In certain sports like gymnastics, the lighter females have an advantage before they grow, like climbing. They train 4-5 hours a day for many years. Coaches are praying their athlete does not hit puberty, because they know it is over because of the added weight. A young climber that trains 4-5 hours a day, maybe Ashima does, and she can crush much older heavier females. Weight classes make sense in competition.

    Ratings are really just a guide and not a good way to determine how hard you climb or compare you to someone else. It always depends on the style, strengths of the climber, if you feel great that day, the temps hot or cold, etc.. Outside of a flash, how many days weeks or goes did it take, two tries, 100 tries, one day, 30 days? How do you separate that? and what about the 25 other v-10s or v whatevers you couldn’t do until you found the one you could do. Nobody has to report there fails.

    I think it is great that she can climb that hard but it does expose ratings for what they are, a guide.

  30. joeyjoejoe

    11. Apr, 2012

    Battaglia, your suggestion is naive. Weight is not the only variable that can make climbing more difficult for an individual. You also have height, arm span, flexibility, and any number of other factors or conditions (deformed heels, ingrown nails, bad wrists, tendinitis…). Grades are meant to be estimates or averages based on consensus among those who have sent a problem, and that’s it.

    It might make you feel better to think that climbing is easier for Ashima because she weighs less than you, but you’re deluding yourself; she’s stronger and better than you because she works a lot harder than you.

    If you’re really concerned about your weight, see a doctor who can help you figure out a proper diet and exercise routine. Don’t go on climbing blogs and make excuses.

  31. Max K.

    13. Apr, 2012

    Sure, there are other factors, but I wouldn’t call his suggestion naive. Climbing is undoubtedly a weight-to-strength ratio based sport. No denying that.

  32. big poppa chosscrush

    17. Apr, 2012

    maybe the focus is too tight. no singular achievement makes a career in climbing. one event makes an interesting headline.

    what makes a climber legendary is the baseball concept of averages.

    based upon her limited duration on this earth, this little nugget has achieved legend.

    however, if she gets psyched on alcohol or video games or teen pregnancy or mathmatics or zoo keeping and strays from climbing, her legend will fade like so many other little nuggets when these exploits are surpassed by future contenders.

    those who stick around and make a habit of consistently sending difficult lines will more deeply etch their relevence into the annals of climbing.

    right now we are watching this rocket’s firestream into the big sky above. how high will she soar and how brilliant will her light become? only time will tell.

    what is the proper grade of crown for her?

    about as irrelevant as her kicking a tree last year has become.

    just as i have said.

    michael’s right: jesus loves you…

    …but wishes you’d share something on this board more poignent than your beliefs on grading.

  33. abe

    18. Apr, 2012

    I wonder wut everyone thinks about her projecting

  34. abe

    18. Apr, 2012

    I wonder Wut everyone thinks about Ashima projecting..

    Terre de sienne –

    ” subjectivity and variation in climbing style make it too difficult to reliably grade ”

    Fred. N

  35. Ian

    18. Apr, 2012

    Silly arguments… Am I the only one who’s felt a problem of one grade to be easier than that of one that is 4 grades lower? I have…. why? I think the biggest factor is that I am really short. It seems to be a general consensus that a general consensus gives more “truth” to a grade. The difficulty of a climb is subjective, and that is the truth. And it is not measured in a concrete or objective way. Furthermore, a line that is “contrived” for one person could be a true line for another- Say, one climber could not reach the holds that would be considered “off” for another to climb the same line. The crowd is the untruth. Yeah? No? ok.

  36. shu

    16. May, 2012

    the new york times covered it, its on their web site.

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