Tomoko Ogawa Raises the Bar for Women Climbers


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If Japanese climber Tomoko Ogawa looks like she's been practicing the problem in the video above for years, it's because, well, she has. Ogawa, 34, starting working Catharsis, a V14 in Shiobara, Japan, three years ago. At the time, no woman had ever climbed a boulder problem harder than V12. Angie Payne hadn't touched The Automator, and Ashima Shiraishi, who made news this year when she climbed V13 at 10 years old, was still unknown.

Ogawa leapfrogged them last week when she finally sent her project, in the process becoming the first woman in the world to climb a consensus V14. Success didn't come easy: Ogawa estimates she spent 30 to 40 days and “a few hundred attempts” trying Catharsis since 2009. In an interview with U.K. Climbing, she offered a glimpse at the intense training she went through to close the deal: 

“I thought, I need more finger strength and reach. I did 'finger pull ups' for a long time that I had seen Daniel Woods do in a DVD. It is like hanging on a campus board with open hand and close it to crimp, and open and close over and over again while you are hanging.”

Ogawa's ascent is the third known send of Catharsis, which climbs out a horizontal roof on small pockets. Dai Koyamada opened the problem in 2005; in February, Daniel Woods nabbed the second recorded ascent, confirming it at V14, though he called it “soft” in a note on

—Adam Roy