Salmon Ladder

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The Salmon Ladder (サーモンラダー) is a Second Stage obstacle that was introduced into the course with the course redesign in SASUKE 18. Despite being in Stage 2, this obstacle requires tremendous upper-body strength. The competitor must grab a bar which is resting on two parallel walls. The walls have seven sets of notches for the bar to rest on, with gaps in between sets of rungs. The gap between the last two sets of rungs is larger than the previous ones. The bar is not bound to the wall in any way. Once the competitor's feet leave the mat, the landing mat from the Downhill Jump is taken away. The competitor must use his momentum or his upper-body strength to climb, raising the bar from notch to notch. After reaching the final notch, he must negotiate a final, smaller, gap, and land the bar onto two declining tracks in a "V" shape (called the Stick Slider). If the competitor uses his/her feet to touch the sides (as Nakamura Satoshi did in SASUKE 23), he/she is disqualified. Also see the main article Nakamura Satoshi's Disqualification.

The Salmon Ladder also appears as the seventh obstacle in all semi-finals courses on American Ninja Warrior, except for the first competition.


Prior to the final version that was used in SASUKE 18, the Salmon Ladder had seven notch sets equidistant from each other. Therefore, there was no larger gap between the sixth and seventh notches, but this also made landing successfully on the Stick Slider significantly harder. This proved troublesome for the testers, as the TBS broadcast shows several of them failing the transition to the Stick Slider. This in turn as a result, had the seventh notch placed higher to make the transition to the Stick Slider easier, but it did have the downside of the introduction of the infamous large gap between the last two notches. Also in SASUKE 32 the Salmon Ladder became the 2nd obstacle of the final stage.


A tester practicing the Salmon Ladder.

SASUKE 21 - SASUKE 23 Version

After Okuyama Yoshiyuki's failure of the Stick Slider in SASUKE 20, the producers added small stoppers to the ends of the bar to prevent the bar from sliding off of the track again. While it made the Stick Slider easier, it arguably also made the Salmon Ladder more difficult. Levi Meeuwenberg (who beat the Salmon Ladder in SASUKE 20) failed there in SASUKE 21. In his post-run interview he said, "I don't know if it was my technique... but [it] definitely felt different."

SASUKE 24 Version

In SASUKE 24 the Stick Slider was removed and the Salmon Ladder was connected directly to the Unstable Bridge without a break point, therefore the competitors must make it only to the 7th rung before facing the next obstacle.

Competitors' Success Rate

  • All results based on the TBS broadcast and external information found
SASUKE Clears Attempts Percentage
18 3 6 50%
19 0 2 0%
20 2 2 100%
21 4 8 50%
22 5 5 100%
23 11 16 68.75%
24 11 12 91.67%
Total 36 52 70.59%

Double Salmon Ladder (SASUKE 25 - 27 Version)

After Urushihara Yuuji's kanzenseiha in SASUKE 24, the Salmon Ladder was modified again, this time evolving into the Double Salmon Ladder (ダブルサーモンラダー). It consists of two parallel wall sets, the first wall set has four sets of rungs while the second wall set has five sets and a large gap in between the last two rungs. Now, competitors now have to climb the first set from the back, turn their body around, transfer to the second set of parallel walls by jumping from the first wall set to the second. After climbing up the second wall set, they go directly into the Unstable Bridge.

The transition caused an interesting failure in SASUKE 25. When Urushihara Yuuji attempted the obstacle, the left side of the bar failed to stick to the second wall leaving him hanging on the bar vertically with a side stopper stuck on one of the rungs. Ultimately, his foot touched the water, thus eliminating him. In SASUKE 27, the caps on the end of the bar were removed.


Comparison between the Salmon Ladder and the Double Salmon Ladder.

Competitors' Success Rate

  • All results based on the TBS broadcast and external information found
SASUKE Clears Attempts Percentage
25 8 10 80%
26 8 10 80%
27 16 24 66.67%
Total 32 44 72.73%

Swap Salmon Ladder (SASUKE 28 - 30 Version)

The next incarnation of the Salmon Ladder was introduced in the SASUKE RISING Navi as the Swap Salmon Ladder (スワップサーモンラダー). Like the Double Salmon Ladder, it consists of two parallel wall sets, however both are an equal distance away from the water. There is a total of five rungs, three on the right side and two on the left side. Similar to the jump in the Double Salmon Ladder, the competitor must jump from one rung on one side to another rung on the other side. However, when progressing up the ladder, they must also jump upwards as well as clear the gap. The first two rungs are at equal height. Unlike the previous generations, the Swap Salmon Ladder's rungs automatically switch sides of the wall, generally switching to the reachable side when the competitor is swinging on the opposite wall, and on the back side when the competitor is on the rung directly beneath it. This prevents the competitors from climbing the Salmon Ladder vertically. Upon reaching the top rung, competitors move immediately to the modified Unstable Bridge.  

Due to safety reasons, any competitor that lands the bar unevenly (with only one side of the bar on the rung above) will no longer be able to correct it and will immediately be disqualified, as proven by Takami Toshiharu in SASUKE 29 when he landed the bar lop-sided and was not allowed to continue his run. This was officially announced as a new rule in SASUKE 30, where it proved to be lethal, as it ended the runs of many famed competitors like Nagano Makoto, Takeda Toshihiro and even controversially ending Takahashi Kenji's 100% clear rate of the second stage.  

Competitors' Success Rate

  • All results based on the TBS broadcast and external information found
SASUKE Clears Attempts Percentage
28 4 5 80%
29 17 20 85%
30 16 23 69.57%
Total 37 48 77.08%

Salmon Ladder Nobori / Salmon Ladder Kudari (SASUKE 31 - Present Version)

Due to the controversy of the Swap Salmon Ladder in SASUKE 30, the Salmon Ladder was redesigned once again. This time, it was changed to the Salmon Ladder Nobori (サーモンラダー 上り) and Salmon Ladder Kudari (サーモンラダー下り). It was first demonstrated on TBS's official YouTube, making its proper debut in SASUKE 31.

Much like the Double and Swap Salmon Ladders, the Salmon Ladder Nobori and Salmon Ladder Kudari consists of two parallel wall sets, but unlike these variants, the wall sets and rungs of the Salmon Ladder Nobori and Salmon Ladder Kudari do not face each other. To get to the second wall set, competitors have go up the first wall set consisting of five rungs, then swing to the second wall set. Unlike the Double and Swap Salmon Ladders however, there are two bars on both obstacle, one for each wall set. Competitors have to reach for the second bar instead of transferring the first bar to the second wall set. From there, competitors have to go down the rungs instead of going up. Once they reach the bottom of the second wall set, they must swing to a sloped landing platform to clear the obstacle, making this the first Salmon Ladder variant where there is no obstacle directly preceding it without a break zone. To prevent competitors from just jumping down from the top of the second wall set, a screen wall is set up between the landing platform and the top rungs, forcing competitors to jump down to the last set of rungs. The first wall set counts as the second obstacle, while the second wall set counts as the third obstacle.

A variation of this obstacle also appeared in American Ninja Warrior 8 as stage 2's second obstacle known as the "Down Up Salmon Ladder", which was considered as one obstacle rather than two. Besides that, the two main differences were that first, competitor had to go down the first wall set, and then up the second wall set, and second, they would have to transition to the second wall set with the same bar instead of transit to a second bar similar to the function of Double or Swap Salmon Ladder.

Competitors' Success Rate

  • All results based on the TBS broadcast and external information found

Salmon Ladder Nobori

SASUKE Clears Attempts Percentage
31 13 14 92.85%
32 8 8 100%
Total 21 22 95.46%

Salmon Ladder Kudari

SASUKE Clears Attempts Percentage
31 11 12 91.66%
32 8 8 100%
Total 19 20 95%

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