At only 15 years old, Ashima Shiraishi has climbed her way to the top.
The rock climber and Chelsea resident has traveled the world, conquering the most complex expeditions. At 14 in March, she became the first female and youngest person to complete the most challenging level in rock climbing, the V15.
“Climbing is really like life. You fall a bunch, but then you just have to stand back up,” said Shiraishi, a sophomore at Professional Children's School in Manhattan. “I think it’s taught me how to be more disciplined, maybe. It’s helped me a lot with school.”
A concrete jungle such as Manhattan is not typically where rock climbers are bred.
“I think I really feed off of the electricity of the city, and it’s just so vibrant and so exciting there,” Shiraishi said. “It gives me energy.”
When Shiraishi’s parents brought her to Central Park as a 6-year-old, she discovered her gift while climbing the park’s Rat Rock.
She is featured in this year’s international Reel Rock 11 climbing film tour in “Young Guns,” which has footage from her V15 boulder climb at Mount Hiei, Japan. It’s coming to NYC on Oct. 13 and Nov. 9.
“It’s almost like dancing, I think, on the rock,” said Shiraishi, a member of the North Face Athlete team. “It’s like a mix between art and sports.”
Before climbing, Shiraishi dreamed of becoming an Olympian — as a figure skater. With the introduction of sport climbing as an Olympic sport in 2020, Shiraishi has her eyes on her next climb — making it to the Tokyo Games.
With falling a common occurrence in rock climbing, the greatest challenge for Shiraishi is persevering, she said.
“Maintaining that confidence that you can succeed is what you have to conquer, basically,” Shiraishi said. “The biggest obstacle is just falling and failing.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Shiraishi is a freshman at the Rudolf Steiner School on the Upper East Side, but she is now a sophomore at Professional Children's School.