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Stretching & Meditating with Ashima Shiraishi

We got to hang out with Ashima Shiraishi a bit before she started a Sunday climbing session at BKB. As a relatively new climber, I was surprised to discover that one of the world’s best rock climbers is a thirteen year old girl. She first fell in love with rock climbing at age seven in Central Park, and has been on a steady ascent in the climbing world ever since.

Ashima Shiraishi stretching
Ashima, stretching pre-climbg.

When I asked Ashima what she wanted to be when she grew up, she just stared at me, blinked once, and responded: “a professional rock climber”.

Here’s how she does it:

So I heard you meditate before rock climbing – how do you do it?
Sometimes with my dad, I sit there and just close my eyes. Especially if I’m busy or stressed – it’s good to forget about everything else and to just focus on the climbing.

ashima shiraishi brooklyn

That’s awesome. I try to meditate everyday, and find that it helps my own climbing. How else do you prepare for a climbing session?
I stretch my arms, I stretch my shoulders. Climbing a lot can make my shoulders super hunched, especially from doing a lot of pushups.


What is your state of mind while climbing?
I don’t think while I’m climbing. When I’m sport climbing, I’m usually thinking about the next clip, but when I’m just bouldering – I’m in my zone.

What’s the hardest thing about climbing for you?
It’s frustrating when you try a problem and you fall again and again; especially at the same place. But at the same time, the best thing about climbing is when you eventually work through it and get through the climb!

The scariest moment of my life was at Psicobloc – that moment where I have to jump into the water, it feels like you’re falling forever and then when you finally hit the water, it feels like you’re underneath the water for at least ten seconds!



Do you ever dream about rock climbing?
Yeah, all the time! In my dreams I’ll be at a climbing competition or just climbing. Sometimes I’ll have a nightmare about falling, but then I’ll have dreams where I make the climb and I wake up and am happy, thinking about climbing.

Awesome. What are your favorite hobbies?
I used to figure skate. And in school, I have a woodworking class which is pretty cool.

Comparing ape indexes.
Comparing ape indexes.


Ashima and I, comparing ape indexes. She has a +4 to my -3. Post-stretch, Ashima went on to do what she does best: climb.

ashima climbs


Check out Ashima in this Clean & Clear commercial:

Next up: she’s going to be speaking at TedxTeen London on October 11th!

Follow her on Instagram @ashimashiraishi, and keep an eye out for her to accomplish even more in the climbing world.



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