Ashima Shiraishi age 11, Conquers Crown of Aragon V13!

| May 13, 2012 | Reply
By Story in: NYTimes.com


HUECO TANKS STATE PARK AND HISTORIC SITE, Tex. — With a concentrated squint, Ashima Shiraishi silently sized up her first rock of the day, a menacing slab of jagged beige boulder 20 feet high, scuffed by white chalk left behind from bigger, older, more experienced climbers.

Ashima Shiraishi at Hueco Tanks in Texas on a climb known as Greasy Kids Stuff. In March, Shiraishi won the youth bouldering national championship.

A black crash pad as thick as a mattress was placed on the ground, and without a rope or harness for protection, Ashima shrugged off her purple jacket, hoisted herself onto the boulder and began to scramble up, her calf muscles bulging gently as she grabbed one nearly invisible ledge of rock after another. With a final stretch, she reached the top, her glossy black ponytail disappearing first, then one limb at a time, until she was out of sight.

A tiny voice floated over the top of the boulder. “How do you get down?” she said.

Ashima had just begun a two-week climbing expedition this spring at Hueco Tanks, a state park that is a mecca for bouldering enthusiasts, 860 acres of rock masses surrounded by endless desert and sky 30 miles northeast of El Paso.

Three days after she arrived, she stunned the bouldering world by climbing Crown of Aragon, an exceedingly difficult route that requires climbers to contort their bodies and hang practically upside down by their fingers as they navigate a rock that juts out from the ground at a 45-degree angle.

On the scale of V0 to V16 that governs bouldering, Crown of Aragon is a V13, a level that only a few female climbers had reached.

Watch video of Ashima


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