Less than a week after sending Open Your Mind Direct (9a+*), becoming the first female and youngest person to send 5.15a, Ashima is at it again. We’d barely had time to pick our jaws up off the ground, when Ashima posted her ascent of Ciudad de Dios, (9a/+), and in only three days. According to her Instagram, she actually fell on the last move after just one day of working the route, evidence that despite being only thirteen years old, this young lady is a force to be reckoned with. Ciudad de Dios links two routes Ashima is quite familiar with: Open Your Mind Direct and La Fabela (8c+), which Ashima sent last year.
Of course with breaking world records and claiming “firsts”, must always come controversy. While most cheered Ashima’s ascent of Open Your Mind Direct and welcomed her being crowned the first woman (girl?!) to send 5.15a, many questioned if the route was actually 5.15a. (Ashima is not the first female to send 9a/+, as our alert and knowledgeable readers pointed out: in 2005, Basque climber Josune Bereziartu climbed Bimbaluna, 9a/+). Locals speculated that after a high hold on Open Your Mind broke that the route would be upgraded from 9a to 9a+, which is what Ashima graded it after being the first person to send the route with the broken hold. Critics questioned if Ashima could make this claim, having skipped climbing 9a altogether. And others on 8a.nu and similar forums, believe that since Ashima did not climb the last 15 meters of 8b+ on Open Your Mind Direct, or because other lower holds have broken making some parts of the route easier, it actually remains 9a. On the flip side, I have to wonder if these same criticisms would be made had someone other than a 13-year-old girl made the ascent. According to 8a.nu, the last person to send the route prior to Ashima was Mateusz Haladaj in 2013; he gave it the grade of 9a/+. According to the unwritten laws of climbing, if Ashima calls the route 9a/+, it’s hers to grade until someone else comes along and climbs it.
Oh, consensus on climbing grades! How much easier would it be if climbing were as simple to measure as distance ran or goals scored?! But then again, perhaps that’s what makes climbing so uniquely wonderful! I can sit here in front of my computer screen in Boston and speculate all day about Ashima’s sends in Spain, but at the end of the day, all I know is that girl can climb and our climbing community is inspired and better for it! Thanks Ashima for pushing us to climb harder, stronger, and younger!
But hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m always up for a little debate! What are your thoughts on Ashima’s send of 9a/+?
Climb on! ~Cate