Ashima Shiraishi : “As a kid, climbing was an extension of the playground”

Meet Ashima Shiraishi, international climbing phenomenon since the age of 8. Between her creativity, her struggle to diversify the climbing world, her fight against preconceptions and her high-flying climbing adventures, the 22-year-old author of a children’s book looks back on her years of competition and her clothing choices.

Early afternoon in a small climbing gym in the town of Banff, Alberta, Canada, “bouldering phenom” Ashima Shiraishi accompanies a few lucky climbers on a bouldering session. As part of the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival, she takes the time to share a few climbing tips and photographs. We then sit down in a corner of the room from which she observes the climbers with one eye. 1.54 metres tall, with straight bangs and an overflowing creativity, Ashima is only 22 but entered the climbing world 14 years ago, setting a string of youth records in the process: at the age of 10, she was the youngest person to complete an 8B-rated boulder: Crown of Aragorn at Hueco Tanks (Texas).

She was also the first woman to complete a 9A+ route in 2016, a week before celebrating her 15th birthday, and the first female climber to validate an 8C boulder. But Ashima Shiraishi is much more than that: with her unique style, both in climbing and in her clothing, and her boundless creativity and sensitivity, she has paved the way for a new generation of climbers and artists. Author of the children’s book How to Solve a Problem,