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Salmon Ladder (サーモンラダー) is a Second Stage obstacle that was introduced as part of the course's renewal in SASUKE 18 after Nagano Makoto's Kanzenseiha in the previous tournament. This obstacle required a tremendous amount of upper-body strength, as competitors must grab a bar rested on two parallel walls, then start traversing a set of rungs provided. To make it harder, the bar was also not bound to the wall in any way. It proved to be a massive energy drainer and even could claim victims on its own, earning its reputation as one of the deadliest obstacles ever in SASUKE.

As tournaments progressed, the difficulty of the obstacle prompted the producers to use this obstacle on Final Stage. The concept of the obstacle is one of three obstacles in SASUKE's history to be used on different stages, beside Tackle Machine/Tackle and Rolling Maruta/Rolling Log. There are five versions of this obstacle, with some competitors, like Takeda Toshihiro, Takahashi Kenji, and Morimoto Yūsuke, attempting four versions of it.


First Version

The first version of Salmon Ladder appeared in SASUKE 18 to SASUKE 24. This version comprised seven sets of rungs that was arranged vertically. The gap between each rungs were equidistant, except the last gap, which was larger. After reaching the final rungs, competitors must tackle a final gap and land the bar to Stick Slider.


Okuyama Yoshiyuki attempting Salmon Ladder in SASUKE 20


A tester demonstrating prototype Salmon Ladder in SASUKE 18, which had equidistant gaps on each of the rungs

However, it was revealed on the broadcast that before the final version used in SASUKE 18, Salmon Ladder originally had seven sets of rungs equidistant from each other. Therefore, there was no larger gap between the sixth and seventh rungs, but this also made the transition from the seventh rungs to Stick Slider significantly harder. This proved troublesome for the testers, as several of them failed to make it to Stick Slider due to the large gap. Even if they did, they struggled to keep their balance on it. This prompted the modification of having the seventh notch placed higher to make the transition to Stick Slider easier, but it did have the downside of introducing the infamous large gap between the last two rungs.

It is worth noting that in the prototype, the rungs ran deeper into the walls and were covered up, thus the walls were smooth rather than having the rungs protrude out of them like the later versions did. The rungs were no longer covered up after modifying the distance between the sixth and seventh rung.


Nakamura Satoshi was disqualified for touching the wall using his leg while attempting Salmon Ladder in SASUKE 23

If competitors used their feet to touch the sides, as Nakamura Satoshi did in SASUKE 23, they would be disqualified. They also would be disqualified if they grabbed one of the rungs using their hands (as James Sclar did during American Ninja Warrior 4's Northwest region finals).


However, due to Okuyama Yoshiyuki's failure on 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 Stick Slider easier, it arguably also made Salmon Ladder more difficult, due to the appearance of the stoppers which added more weight to the bar. This modification proved to be lethal, as Levi Meeuwenberg, who managed to clear Salmon Ladder in SASUKE 20, failed it in SASUKE 21. He then in his post-run interview said, "I don't know if it was my technique... but [it] definitely felt different.", implying that he felt something out of the ordinary to the bar due to the stopper which he suspected was the reason why he failed.

In SASUKE 24, due to Stick Slider being replaced by Unstable Bridge without a break point, competitors must now make it only to the seventh set of rungs before attempting Unstable Bridge. This only lasted a tournament, as when Urushihara Yuuji achieved Kanzenseiha later in the tournament, Salmon Ladder was replaced with Double Salmon Ladder in SASUKE 25.


Second Version

The second version of Salmon Ladder is Double Salmon Ladder (ダブルサーモンラダー), appearing from SASUKE 25 to SASUKE 27. As the name implied, it consisted of two parallel wall sets. The first wall set has five sets of rungs which are equidistant from each other, while the second wall set has five sets of rungs and a larger gap in between the last two rungs. Competitors have to climb the first set from the back, turn their body around, then 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 transition directly into Unstable Bridge, much like Salmon Ladder in SASUKE 24.

Comparison between the Salmon Ladder (left) and the Double Salmon Ladder (right), shown via the introduction of Stage 2 in SASUKE 25

Yamamoto Shingo attempting Double Salmon Ladder in SASUKE 25


Urushihara Yuuji get the bar stuck on one of Double Salmon Ladder's rungs in SASUKE 25

The transition caused an interesting failure in SASUKE 25. When Urushihara 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.


Also, in SASUKE 27, the caps on the end of the bar were removed, likely due to Iketani Naoki's rather painful failure in the previous tournament. However, this modification again did not last long due to Urushihara's second Kanzenseiha in the tournament, prompting the producers to replace it with Swap Salmon Ladder in SASUKE 28.


Third Version

The third version of Salmon Ladder is Swap Salmon Ladder (スワップサーモンラダー), appearing from SASUKE 28 to SASUKE 30. Like Double Salmon Ladder, it consisted of two parallel wall sets, however, both were an equal distance away from the water and there was a total of five rungs only, three on the left side and two on the right side, making it the version with lowest amount of rungs. Similar to the jump in Double Salmon Ladder, competitors 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.

Unlike the previous versions, Swap Salmon Ladder's rungs automatically switched sides of the wall, generally switching to the reachable side when the competitors was swinging on the opposite wall and on the back side when the competitors was on the rung directly beneath it. This was to prevent the competitors from just climbing it vertically, which would defeat the purpose of this version in the process. Upon reaching the top rungs, competitors must move immediately to Unstable Bridge.

Nagasaki Shunsuke attempting Swap Salmon Ladder in SASUKE 29


Aesthetically speaking, Swap Salmon Ladder was also different in that the wall sets were changed to thin metal support beams as opposed to being thick walls, likely due to the mechanism and space restrictions. Likewise, the beams lacked the bottom supports of the previous versions, instead simply hanging from the scaffolding above. This resulted in the obstacle shaking more than previous versions.

First Transition, which didn't require any movement from the rungs

Second Transition, which prompts the third set of rungs to move to its position

Third Transition, which prompts the fourth set of rungs to move to its position

Final Transition, which prompts the fifth set of rungs to move to its position


Due to safety reasons, any competitor that landed the bar unevenly or dropping to a lower level would no longer be able to correct it and immediately be disqualified, as was proven by Takami Toshiharu in SASUKE 29, when he landed the bar lop-sided and was not allowed to continue his run. Though the rungs that have already been passed can be retracted back to its previous position, the operators had a difficult time moving the rungs back especially when the competitor attempts the obstacle in a fast pace. This was officially announced as a new rule in SASUKE 30, where it ended the runs of many famed competitors like Takeda Toshihiro, Nagano Makoto, and even controversially ending Takahashi Kenji's 100% clear rate on Second Stage.

It was replaced by the combination of Salmon Ladder Nobori and Salmon Ladder Kudari in SASUKE 31, making this version so far the only version of Salmon Ladder to be replaced without the impetus of Kanzenseiha.


Fourth Version

The fourth version of Salmon Ladder is a combination of 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), literally Upward Salmon Ladder and Downward Salmon Ladder. It was first demonstrated on TBS's official YouTube channel, before making its proper debut in SASUKE 31. There are five rungs on Salmon Ladder Nobori, while there are four rungs on Salmon Ladder Kudari. It was later revealed in the broadcast that each rungs are 40 cm apart, but lowered to 38 cm in SASUKE 34.

As the name implied, the first wall set had to be traversed by going upward, akin to the original Salmon Ladder. However, when transitioned to the second wall set, competitor had to traverse it downwards. 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, unless one were to count that Salmon Ladder Kudari is a direct succession to Salmon Ladder Nobori.


Hioki Masashi attempting transition from Salmon Ladder Nobori to Salmon Ladder Kudari in SASUKE 31

To prevent competitors to jump from the top of the second wall set, a screen wall is set up barricaded between the landing platform and the top rungs, forcing competitors to jump down to the last set of rungs. Also, unlike Swap Salmon Ladder, if the bar went lopsided, they are still allowed to continue attempting the obstacle. Furthermore, the competitors were no longer required to make the transition with the bar, as a bar was provided on each wall set.


Aesthetically speaking, this version also saw the return of the larger wall-sets akin to the first two versions, though these received an aesthetic upgrade to be painted in dark-grey with a yellow circuit pattern on the side, whereas the previous versions simply used a monochrome white-grey coloration. However, just like Swap Salmon Ladder, the wall sets hang from the scaffolding, lacking bottom-supports, causing the obstacle to shake while it is attempted.

This version of Salmon Ladder are the first to not be changed with the impetus of Kanzenseiha, as it was not replaced or modified in SASUKE 32, the tournament immediately following the obstacle's debut, where Morimoto Yūsuke achieved Kanzenseiha.

In it debut tournament, Anastase Ragivaru had a small slip-up on the obstacle, but powered through so hard, that he ended up breaking few rungs, which led to a half hour break to repair the rungs.

In SASUKE 37, due to the poor weather, the new obstacle known as Rolling Log was skipped, forcing competitors to start at Salmon Ladder Nobori instead, making it the first Salmon Ladder variant that served as the first obstacle of Second Stage, instead of its usual position as the second obstacle. However, Rolling Log worked in SASUKE 38, inflicting dizziness onto competitors before they could attempt this obstacle, which caused several failures, with Ryo Matachi in particular failing at the Nobori portion.


Fifth Version

The fifth version of Salmon Ladder is Salmon Ladder Jūgo Dan (サーモンラダー15段), literally 15-level Salmon Ladder, appearing from SASUKE 32. It was the first ever Salmon Ladder appearing in Final Stage. Originally, it had 20 rungs, before being lowered to 16 from SASUKE 33 onwards, including the starting rung. The height of the obstacle was 7 metres. It was referred as Salmon Ladder (サーモンラダー) since its debut until SASUKE 35. As a side note, for safety reasons concerning the transition to Tsuna Nobori that directly follows this obstacle, the bar will lock in place once the competitor has reached the top rung.

In the first three tournaments since its debut, due to the difficulty of Third Stage, this version of Salmon Ladder, along with Final Stage, was not attempted. However, in SASUKE 35 and SASUKE 36, the obstacle was attempted by Morimoto Yūsuke. In SASUKE 35, although he could clear the obstacle, he lost too much time correcting the bar, as the bar kept uneven for several times. As the result, he later timed out about 5 metres short from the goal. In SASUKE 36, he could clear the obstacle faster than he did on the previous tournament, although there were several slips. However, possibly due to the wind, he couldn't right away transitioned to Tsuna Nobori, losing him precious time that proved to be costly as he timed out by 0.5 seconds.

In the following tournament, however, the obstacle received attempts from new faces other than Morimoto, unfortunately due to their lack of training, both Tada Tatsuya and Rene Kaselowsky failed the obstacle by timing out and the bar dislodged, respectively.

Morimoto returned to Final Stage in SASUKE 38 after his failure on First Stage in the previous tournament. From there, his pace on Salmon Ladder is similar to his attempt in SASUKE 36, but he was able to grab Tsuna Nobori immediately after he cleared the obstacle. This would lead to him clearing the stage with 2.52 seconds remaining, thus achieving his second Kanzenseiha.


Competitors' Success Rate

  • All results based on the TBS broadcast and external information found
Salmon Ladder
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 51 70.59%


Double Salmon Ladder
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 Clears Attempts Percentage
28 4 5 80%
29 17 20 85%
30 17 24 70.83%
Total 38 49 77.55%


Salmon Ladder Nobori
SASUKE Clears Attempts Percentage
31 13 14 92.86%
32 8 8 100%
33 9 13 69.23%
34 20 24 83.33%
35 8 8 100%
36 15 15 100%
37 10 10 100%
38 11 13 84.62%
Total 94 105 89.52%


Salmon Ladder Kudari
SASUKE Clears Attempts Percentage
31 11 13 84.62%
32 8 8 100%
33 7 9 77.78%
34 17 20 85%
35 8 8 100%
36 15 15 100%
37 9 10 90%
38 10 11 90.91%
Total 85 94 90.43%


Salmon Ladder Jūgo Dan
SASUKE Clears Attempts Percentage
32 0 0 N/A
33 0 0 N/A
34 0 0 N/A
35 1 1 100%
36 1 1 100%
37 0 2 0%
38 1 1 100%
Total 3 5 60%


Other Appearances

Salmon Ladder

American Ninja Warrior

American Ninja Warrior 2's Salmon Ladder

American Ninja Warrior 4's Salmon Ladder

American Ninja Warrior 5's Salmon Ladder in Venice Beach

American Ninja Warrior 6's Salmon Ladder

The Salmon Ladder appears as the seventh obstacle in all semifinal/city finals courses on American Ninja Warrior, except on the first season. However, between American Ninja Warrior and SASUKE version of the Salmon Ladder, there are several differences:

  • There is a trampoline added at the starting platform. Therefore, competitors must jump from the trampoline and grab the bar. In some city finals courses, there is a run-up before competitors can jump to the trampoline.
  • Competitors must reach a minimum number of rungs, before making the transition to the next obstacle:
  • The gap between each rung is shorter than SASUKE version (currently, the distance between each rung on American Ninja Warrior is 1 foot/30.48cm)


There are few notable attempts on this obstacle:


Other SASUKE's International Formats

Australian Ninja Warrior's Salmon Ladder

SASUKE Vietnam 5's Salmon Ladder

SASUKE Ninja Warrior Indonesia's Salmon Ladder in Final Stage

The Salmon Ladder has been used in almost all of SASUKE/Ninja Warrior's international formats, with the different rules of minimum rungs competitors have to reach dependent on each courses. It has appeared on:

  • Ninja Warrior UK.
  • Australian Ninja Warrior.
  • Ninja Warrior Sweden.
  • Ninja Warrior Germany.
  • Ninja Warrior Poland.
  • SASUKE Vietnam.
  • SASUKE Ninja Warrior Indonesia.


In some occasions like in Australian Ninja Warrior and SASUKE Vietnam, the Salmon Ladder and the next obstacle connected to it was combined and counted as one obstacle.

A special rule appeared in SASUKE Ninja Warrior Indonesia that competitors were only allowed to make one mistake (placing the bar unevenly), and they must correct it immediately. If they failed to correct it or made the same mistake twice, they would be disqualified.


Double Salmon Ladder

American Ninja Warrior

American Ninja Warrior 4's Double Salmon Ladder in Stage Two

American Ninja Warrior 7's Double Salmon Ladder in Stage Two

The Double Salmon Ladder was also used as the second obstacle in Stage Two from American Ninja Warrior 4 to American Ninja Warrior 7, until it was replaced by the Down Up Salmon Ladder on American Ninja Warrior 8.

Several competitors who failed on this obstacle were Evan Dollard, Brent Steffensen, Ryan Stratis, JJ Woods, Grant McCartney, Neil Craver, Jake Murray, and Isaac Caldiero.


Ninja Warrior Spain

Ninja Warrior Spain 2's Double Salmon Ladder

The Double Salmon Ladder rarely appeared outside SASUKE and American Ninja Warrior, with the most notable appearance was on Ninja Warrior Spain 2.


Salmon Ladder Nobori and Salmon Ladder Kudari

American Ninja Warrior

American Ninja Warrior 8's Down Up Salmon Ladder in Stage Two

A variation of the Salmon Ladder Nobori and Salmon Ladder Kudari appeared on American Ninja Warrior 8, as the second obstacle in Stage Two, and was known as the Down Up Salmon Ladder. Its differences between those obstacles were:

  • It was considered as one obstacle rather than two.
  • Competitors had to go down the first wall set, and then up the second wall set.
  • Competitors had to make a transition to the second wall set with the same bar instead of transit to an individual second bar (similar to the Double Salmon Ladder).

The Down Up Salmon Ladder only eliminated 4 competitors (Grant McCartney, Thomas Stillings, Najee Richardson, and Ethan Swanson), as well as Bjarke Tønnesen from Team Europe during USA vs. The World 3.


Salmon Ladder Jūgo Dan

Australian Ninja Warrior

Australian Ninja Warrior 5's Salmon Ladder in Final Stage

The Salmon Ladder's Final Stage version made its international debut on Australian Ninja Warrior 5 as the part of the redesign Final Stage tower. It appeared as the exact spot where it was on SASUKE 32-38's Final Stage, as the second obstacle, between the Chimney Climb and Rope Climb. This version had the function similar to SASUKE 32 version, with 20 rungs during 7 meters; however, the design was similar to SASUKE 35 onwards version, with the rungs have been positioned facing the back of the tower, so competitors didn't have to turn around after completing the Chimney Climb.


Criss Cross Salmon Ladder

American Ninja Warrior

American Ninja Warrior 9's Criss Cross Salmon Ladder in Stage Two

On American Ninja Warrior 9, a variation of the Salmon Ladder, named as the Criss Cross Salmon Ladder, appeared as the second obstacle in Stage Two, replacing the Down Up Salmon Ladder from the previous season.

The obstacle was similar to the Double and Swap Salmon Ladder, with the presence of two wall sets and having a transition from one wall to another, but unlike those versions:

  • The first wall set had five rungs, with a much larger gap between the third and fourth rungs that forced the competitors to switch to the other wall, and
  • The second wall set had four rungs.

On this obstacle, competitors have to:

  • Move the bar up two rungs to reach the third rung.
  • Then, after reaching the third rung of the first wall set, competitors must make a transfer to the second wall set by jumping from the third rung of the first wall set to the second wall set.
  • Then, competitors must climb the second wall set until reaching the fourth rung.
  • After that, competitors must make a transfer back to the first wall set by jumping from the fourth rung of the second wall set to the fifth rung of the second wall set.
  • Finally, competitors must make a transition to the next obstacle (the Wave Runner), in order to complete the obstacle.

In addition, the obstacle shared similarity with its predecessors (i.e. variants of the Salmon Ladder in Stage Two) except with the aforementioned modification.

Only 3 competitors failed on this version of the Salmon Ladder (Nick Hanson, Allyssa Beird, and Nicholas Coolridge), in addition of Sebastian Prieto from Team Latin America during USA vs. The World 4.

American Ninja Warrior 10's Criss Cross Salmon Ladder in Stage Two

On American Ninja Warrior 10, the Criss Cross Salmon Ladder returned once again as the second obstacle in Stage Two. This time, after completing the obstacle, competitors must make a transition to the Déjà Vu.

This time, the obstacle did more damage than on the previous season, taking out 5 competitors overall, including Adam Rayl and Nicholas Coolridge (for the second straight season).


Australian Ninja Warrior

Australian Ninja Warrior 5's Criss Cross Salmon Ladder

The Criss Cross Salmon Ladder made the first appearance outside American Ninja Warrior on Australian Ninja Warrior 5, as the first obstacle of Stage Three. This version consisted of a trampoline at the start, and the placement of rungs on 2 walls has been reversed. This and the next obstacle, Slingshot, was counted as just obstacle named Criss Cross Salmon to Slingshot. This obstacle took out Charlie Robbins on the debut season.


Extension Ladder

American Ninja Warrior

American Ninja Warrior 11's Extension Ladder in Stage Two

On American Ninja Warrior 11, a variation of the Salmon Ladder, named as the Extension Ladder, appeared as the second obstacle in Stage Two, replacing the Criss Cross Salmon Ladder from the past two seasons.

The obstacle was similar to the Double Salmon Ladder, with the presence of two wall sets and having a transition from one wall to another, except that one of the wall sets had rungs placed at the top, forcing the competitors to reach the top of the other wall set to transit.

Upon compared with the Criss Cross Salmon Ladder, the first three rungs on the first wall set were removed, leaving with only two rungs, and the competitors instead began at the second wall set.

The obstacle functioned just like its predecessor, the Double Salmon Ladder, except some rungs on one of the wall sets were removed.

In addition, the obstacle shared similarity with its predecessors (i.e. variants of the Salmon Ladder in Stage Two) except with the aforementioned modification.

Competitors must move the bar up four times to reach the fifth rung, with the first three rungs (including the starting rung) being 12 inches apart, and the fourth and fifth rungs being 14 inches apart. Then, they must transit to the first wall set and reach the foothold as a medium to the next obstacle (the Snap Back).

This version of the Salmon Ladder wasn't as deadly as its predecessors, as the obstacle only took out Grant McCartney and Dave Cavanagh, as well as Team Europe's Anton Fomenko during USA vs. The World 6.


Competitors' Success Rate

  • All results based on the NBC broadcast and external information found.
Double Salmon Ladder
ANW Clears Attempts Percentage
ANW4 13 21 61.90%
ANW5 11 21 52.38%
ANW6 14 18 77.78%
ANW7 30 36 83.33%
USA vs. Japan 3 6 50%
USA vs. The World 6 7 85.71%
USA vs. The World 2 7 9 77.78%
Total 84 118 71.19%


Down Up Salmon Ladder
ANW Clears Attempts Percentage
ANW8 12 16 75%
USA vs. The World 3 6 7 85.71%
Total 18 23 78.26%


Criss Cross Salmon Ladder
ANW Clears Attempts Percentage
ANW9 36 39 92.31%
ANW10 24 29 82.76%
USA vs. The World 4 7 8 87.5%
USA vs. The World 5 5 5 100%
Total 72 81 88.89%


Extension Ladder
ANW Clears Attempts Percentage
ANW11 27 29 93.1%
USA vs. The World 6 5 6 83.33%
Total 32 35 91.43%