Brooke Raboutou, 8c at a mere 11 years of age
At Rodellar in Spain 11-year-old Brooke Raboutou has repeated Welcome to Tijuana. In doing so she has become the youngest climber in the world to master this grade.
The trend, as we stated years ago, is rapidly heading towards ever-younger climbers capable of sending incresingly harder routes. In some respects this tendency must be interpreted as a natural progression of this sport. Evidently this phenomenon is here to stay yet it seemed like only yesterday when word was all about the "new kid on the block", Chris Sharma who aged 14 had freed Necessary Evil, at the time the hardest climb in North America. And it seems like only yesterday that we wrote "the future belongs to the new generation" in reference to the first 8c of a certain young Czech climber who was a mere 11 years old (no prizes for guessing who). At the time these seemed isolated cases, but then as unstoppable wave of other youngsters surged through sport climbing and included and still include, in no particular order, David Lama, Enzo Oddo and Zhenja Kazbekova to name but three of whom we've often talked about in the past.
But as you know there is more to come. We could talk, no better still, we should also talk about many other young climbers on the rise. Such as Ashima Shiraishi, the small American climber who last March at Hueco Tanks sent the boulder problem Crown of Aragorn. This feat was truly exceptional, not because it was the first female ascent of this V13/8B but rather because Shiraishi was only 10 at the time... old enough to capture the attention of the prestigious The New York Times.
And then we also need to mention Shawn Raboutou, a true climbing pedigree seeing that his father is called Didier (alias one of the protagonists during the '80's of the sport climbing movement in France) while his mother happens to be Robyn Erbesfield (1995 World Champion as well as winners of the Lead World Cup in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 as well as the Rock Master in 1994). Well, a year ago the 13-year-old made headline news thanks to his redpoint of Welcome to Tijuana at Rodellar in Spain. A route which weighs in at 8c and which is now in the limelight once again as his sister Brooke Raboutou has just repeated it, too, at a mere 11 years of age. If you count the months then she's the youngest in the world to master this difficulty. Yes, even younger at the time of his first 8c than Ondra who is - there's no point denying it - everyone's benchmark for climbing progression. Well what can we say? We're certainly curious to watch these great young climbers grow and see where there climbing will take us... towards a future which is here already.