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Eight-Year-Old Is Youngest Ever to Climb 5.14

With her send of China Climb 5.14a in Yangshuo, Yunxi Chen breaks the world record for the youngest 5.14 ascent

Photo by: Jess Kuepfer

Last month, eight-year-old Yunxi Chen redpointed China Climb 5.14a at the White Mountain crag in Yangshuo, China. With this send, she likely becomes the world’s youngest person to climb 5.14. The 30-metre route overhangs by 30 degrees and features Yangshuo’s famous karst mountain limestone dotted with huecos, pockets, tufa pinches, and blobs.

Born in July 2014, Chen is a third grade student in Shenzhen. Last year she sent her first 5.12a, the youngest child in China to do so. Sending China Climb took her six months of effort. Between training sessions in Shenzhen, she travelled to Yangshuo with her father to work the route whenever possible.

Chen is not the first child to send China Climb, although she is the youngest. In May 2021, Meini Li, aged 10 at the time, became the youngest person to send the route. In early January 2022, nine-year-old Ziheng Qiu ticked the route, breaking Li’s record. Then, in May 2022, a young boy from Shenzhen, Wang Zishuo, sent the route at an age of eight years and nine months. Chen was approximately eight years and four months at the time of her send. After Qiu’s ascent, Logan Barber who equipped China Climb in 2006, had this to say about the route: “It was the first 5.14b in China but later downgraded to 5.14a. I never managed to climb the route. Its amazing how standards are rising so fast.”

Kids have been breaking into upper-5.13 and 5.14 grades at younger and younger ages. At nine years old, Angie Scarth-Johnson climbed 5.13d. American climber Cameron Hörst climbed 5.14a when he was only 10. Brooke Raboutou, Ashima Shiraishi, Adam Ondra, and Illya Bakhmet-Smolensky all climbed their first 5.14b at age 11. Théo Blass beat their record, climbing 5.14b at only 10 years of age. Bayes Wilder climbed 5.14c at 10 years old, and at 11, he climbed two 5.14b’s in a day. Blass was also the youngest climber to climb 5.14d (9a), doing so at 12 years of age.

To see what the climbing on China Climb 5.14a entails, watch the video below of Connor Dickinson sending the route:


Lead photo: Jess Kuepfer