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Kids Crushing It

Posted on: June 5th, 2012 by Abbey Smith

AAC Past President Steve Swenson emailed us about twelve-year-old Drew Ruana of Seattle, Washington. He’d just joined the growing list youth who have climbed 5.14 by redpointing God’s Own Stone (5.14a) at the Red River Gorge. (Learn more Drew and watch his impressive ascent of Vicious Fish (5.13d) at Smith Rocks in the embedded video below.)

It got me thinking: Before learning to drive, youngsters are using their tiny hands and feet, high strength-to-weight ratio, natural elasticity, wild imagination, boundless courage and pure excitement to find unconventional holds and sequences to climb some of the hardest routes in the world. I picked a few of my favorites—some AAC members, some not—and hope that you enjoy their exploits…if you think I’ve missed someone that should be on this list, please let me know in the comments. The little ninja Ashima Shirashi (11) is the best. Two other pre-teens—Brooke Raboutou (10) and Carmeron Horst (11) have climbed God’s Own Stone (5.14a). Sean Raboutou (14)—yes, related—has climbed both 5.14b AND V11. Finally, the entire Hueco youth team is pretty stunning. 

Previous pint-sized prodigies like Tori Allen, Emily Harrington, Katie Brown, and Beth Rodden have all gone on to do some amazing things when not-quite-so-pint-sized. In fact, keep your browsers tuned here for an upcoming talk with Emily Harrington when she gets back from Everest…