The world of climbing brings an immense array of incredibly talented climbers and the age range of those that are crushing routes that only the most elite climbers are able to accomplish, seem to be getting younger these days. Here is a list of some of the top youngsters under the age of 15 who are attacking expert climbing routes and boulder problems with skills and strength of a veteran climber.
Ashima Shiraishi solidified her standing as the future of American rock climbing during a trip to Red River Gorge last October. This 12-year-old, petite little gal that stands at four feet and five inches, flashed Omaha Beach (5.14a) which made her the youngest person in the world to climb a 5.14a from base to anchors without falling on her first try. In that same week she completed God’s Own Stone (5.14a) on her second try, as well as two 5.14c routes that made her the youngest person, male or female, to climb a 5.14c. Ashima was 11-years-old at the time of these ascents. She also made the first female ascent on the boulder problem, Crown of Aragorn (V13/8b) at Hueco Tanks when she was only 10-years-old. It’ll be exciting to keep up with her and the future accomplishments she achieves.
Brooke Raboutou is right up there with Ashima Shiraishi. At barely 12-years-old, Brooke has been climbing regularly since she was roughly four or five years old. She became the youngest female ever to send a 5.14a, God’s Own Stone, at Red River Gorge back on March 29, 2012. A few months after she sent the 5.14a, she climbed her first 5.14b, Welcome to Tijuana, in Rodellar, Spain. Brooke comes from a true climbing pedigree. Her mother, Robyn Erbesfield, was the 1995 World Champion, Lead World Cup winner, and Rock Master. Her father, Didier Raboutou, was one of the protagonists during the ‘80s of the sport climbing movement in France. He competed in the very first International Climbing Competition, Sportroccia 85, and competed for the French National Team through the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Her brother, Shawn, is also an extremely accomplished climber who will be 15-years-old this month. Shawn redpointed Welcome to Tijuana when he was 13-years-old.
Tito Traversa sent his first 8a/5.13b when he was only 8-years-old. A year later, Traversa sent his first 8b/5.13d, Je est un autre, at Castillon in France. Last year, in March of 2012, Tito sent his first 8b+/5.14a, Sarsifal, at the Tetto di Sarre in Valle d’Aosta, Italy at the age of 10. There’s definite anticipation to see what his next feat will be.
Cameron (age 11) and Jonathan (age 9) Hörst, aka “The Send Brothers,” are brothers that love the thrill of the climb. It might help a little that their dad is training guru and author of well-known books such as “How to Climb 5.12” and “Training for Climbing.” Between the two of them, these boys have sent 5.13a routes to 5.14a and have every intention of achieving bigger goals for their climbing resumés.
Drew Ruana has quite the impressive track record of climbs at the young age of 13. He has redpointed up to 5.14a climbs, his most recent being Scarface at Smith Rock in Oregon. Ruana trains 2-3 days a week and climbs for fun on the weekends. Drew is now preparing to take on Extended Evil at Little Si in Washington, hoping this will be his first 5.14b.
Mirko Caballero has sent over 30 boulder problems rated V10/7c+ to V12/8a+, and over 30 sport climbing routes rated 5.13a/7c+ to 5.14a/8b+. His latest redpoint on a sport climb was Übermensch (5.14a) at Pinnacle National Monument in California. Mirko is prepping for more big wall climbing (The Nose on El Capitan) after he climbed The Rostrum (5.11c, 8 pitches) with Jim Herson. He’s also training for Lucifer, 5.14c, and Pure Imagination, 5.14d, both located at the Red River Gorge in Kentucky.
With their unique strength, persistence, and determination, these young elite climbers are taking the climbing realm to a whole new level. There are, no doubt, many other accomplished young climbers that we may not know about that climb in the vast areas we have across the world. These kids will definitely be boggling our minds continuously with their dogged stamina. The future of climbing is brighter than ever, and none of it could’ve been possible without the veterans of climbing that paved the way for this challenging and phenomenal sport.
If you notice that your child is excelling in the sport of climbing, read this article, “Kid Crushers – Training for Young Climbers” by Eric Hörst.
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