"On the rocks, Ashima moved like a ninja," Pari Dukovic writes in the New Yorker. "When she climbs, it is as if she is merely walking." Ashima is Ashima Shiraishi, a giant in the climbing world despite being a 14-year-old, 90-pound girl from New York, Gear Patrol reports. In the seven years since she started scaling rocks in Central Park, Ashima has racked up accomplishments that few climbers can match—all while keeping up on homework. In March she became the first woman and youngest person to complete an incredibly difficult climb in Spain (the Guardian explained at the time it was rated 5.15a, a level no female has previously conquered; the highest level in rock climbing is a 5.15c). In South Africa, she conquered a bouldering route that only a smattering of people have ever bested.
Ashima is quickly running out of climbing challenges despite not being old enough to drive, Gear Patrol reports. So how did she get so good? It could be her strong fingers or impressively long arms, which Gear Patrol describes as having an elasticity "somewhere between a ballerina and a longshoreman." But Ashima has another idea. "Because my dad was a dancer, I feel like I have movement in my blood, and movement is a huge part of climbing. My dad says climbing is like dancing on the wall." In the coming year, Ashima wants to tackle a V15 bouldering route—the second hardest rating—something no woman has ever done, reports Discovery News. "Most sports, the men lead the way," she tells Gear Patrol. "But with climbing, who knows, maybe women will be leading?" (This 10-year-old girl is taking on the world's best swimmers.)