Rock climbing is a tough sport. It takes plenty of muscle, flexibility and guts to scale a towering wall. On top of that you need the mental strength to figure out tough problems and keep climbing at nerve wracking heights when all your brain wants to do is put its feet up at home with a nice cuppa and a pair of clean trousers. Child's play this isn't.

But actually it is.

It turns out that the vertigo inducing moments and physical punishment that climbers put themselves through is actually something that enthusiastic toddlers can handle too. It seems that for every burly, sweating beast of an adult currently destroying your local climbing gym, there's a quiet, sweet little kid calmly topping out on routes that you've been struggling with for months.

Tiny climbers can still teach you a thing or two - Photo iStock.com

A child rock climbing on a climbing wall

From babies still in nappies tackling their first wall to 13 year old girls who're already climbing grades way above you, there's a legion of mini climbers out there both willing and able to show us all how it should be done.

Zen Shimane

Having parents that climb definitely seems to help when you're trying to become a climbing prodigy. At just over one year old, Zen Shimane started copying his parents at the local climbing wall, grabbing onto holds and trying to lift himself off the floor. 6 months later the little guy could get his feet off the ground and now at the age of three he can already climb beyond the reach of his parents.

Thankfully for the little Japanese boulderer his parents are pretty chilled, not trying to push him but just letting Zen enjoy the sport, which seems like the perfect recipe for creating a future climbing legend.

Still In Nappies

This kid is one of the youngest entries on our list. We're not sure exactly how old this tiny Spiderman is, we just know that he's already tackling walls and he's not even potty trained yet!

At this rate junior will be outclimbing dad before he's even out of diapers and just imagine how good this mini climbing hero will be when his bulky pampers aren't slowing him down.

The kid might have a point though. There's plenty of times, halfway up a cliff when you're hanging by your finger tips, that a nappy might not seem like such a bad idea.

Brooke Raboutou

Coming from a long line of champion World Cup climbers, it's no surprise that Brooke Raboutou would try climbing at some point. What is surprising is how good she got at it.

Before she even turned 12, Brooke had set 7 world climbing records and won her first lead climbing competition. She's also currently the world's youngest climber to complete a 5.14b level climb, 7a on the British scale, which is a grade plenty of us still struggle with.

Brooke's coaches put her success down to a rare combination of childlike flexibility, extreme finger strength and a steely determination that has seen her continue climbing routes long into the night in order to beat them.

Now 13 years old Brooke is still as driven as ever and looks to be a fixture on the international climbing circuit for a long time to come. So the next time someone tells you that you climb like a girl, don't feel mad, it's the biggest compliment you can get.

Climbing No holds

Having trouble reaching that difficult climbing hold on your favourite route? Well try climbing without any holds at all.

Apart from his nimble footwork, smearing to toe hook over and over, the compression strength on this little boy must be insane. He's basically chest pressing all the way up a pillar that's about four times his height with no positive edge in sight.

If an adult tried a stunt like this, they'd have to make 24ft up and down with some of the most pec punishing moves ever. The kid's strength to weight ratio is really impressive and the best bit is he can do it all over again, straight away!

Ellie Farmer

2 year old Ellie Farmer from Flagstaff, Arizona has been dubbed a climbing prodigy, and it's easy to see why. The clip above shows her in action at just 19 months old, tackling a 7ft boulder wall without any ropes.

Despite this being a pretty dizzying height for such a tiny kid, the really impressive thing is how she thinks. You can see Ellie figuring out her moves, planning the placement of each foot and hand hold and even adapting when she finds herself in a difficult spot.

For a baby with two climbing parents and a climbing wall in her bedroom, it comes as no surprise that tiny Ellie started climbing on her own at just eight months old, two months before she could even walk. Ellie's skill has already translated into almost 1 million views on her YouTube channel, Little Zen Monkey, and an appearance on chat show Ellen. Watch this space because, if she keeps climbing, the little monkey is gonna' be big news in the climbing world.

An Extra Challenge

Ok this is just showing off. Most of us like to have a couple of decent hand holds when we climb, but not this kid.

This mini mountaineer demonstrates some pretty smooth footwork, smearing across both the wall and the fridge door, and great pinch strength on his first ascent. But then he decides to go one better and comes back down for his truck.

Scaling an obstacle that's three times your height, one handed while carrying something that's almost as big as you are is pretty amazing. Next time you're down the climbing wall try making it 20ft holding a wooden chair in your other hand and you'll have a new found respect for this little dude.

Let's just hope that when he's old enough to drive he won't still be parking so creatively!

Ashima Shirasi

Compared to some of the entries on this list, Ashima Shirasi started a little late, first climbing in New York's Central Park at the age of seven. Lucky for her she picks things up quickly.

By the age of eight Ashima was climbing V10 routes and at nine she had mastered V11s. By the age of 10 Ashima became the youngest person ever, and one of only a few women in the world, to finish a V12, while at 13 she was the first woman and still youngest person ever to finish a 5.15a (9a) route.

Ashima is now a sponsored climber, an IFSC world champion and one of the top female climbers in the world, tackling problems just a grade or two below the maximum difficulty level in both sport climbing and bouldering and breaking new ground on routes that most climbers couldn't even dream of.

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