Tag Archives: Alex Puccio

Girl Crush of the Month: Alex Puccio

Alex on Free Range (V12), just one of so many boulders she's conquered.

Alex on Free Range (V12), just one of so many boulders she’s conquered.

It’s pretty amazing that after more than 3 years of Girl Crushes we have yet to feature Alex Puccio. It’s probably because we thought “Duh, of course we always crush on her, like all year round, not just for a month”. So today, on the heels of Independence Day, we’re giving props to the one of the best American climbers of all time. For the newbies out there Alex is a 9-time national bouldering champion, 13-time World Cup medalist, and has claimed countless boulders outdoors including V14s, Jade and The Wheel of Chaos. This time, we’re inspired by her consistent optimism and drive to perform, despite a few serious injuries along the way, which nearly every climber can relate to.

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Alex Puccio’s Controversial Crowdfunding

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Alex competing in the 2014 World Cup series, where she placed 5th overall. Photo: Seb Lazure.

While crowdfunding may be commonplace amongst start-up businesses, bands, and filmmakers, it has rarely been used by climbers, until last week when Alex Puccio posted a request for donations on the crowdfunding website RallyMe. Setting her goal at $10,000, Alex plans to use the money to fund her 2015 World Cup circuit travel expenses, where she hopes to, once and for all, clinch the title of World Cup Champion. Her request for funding has received a range of responses from the climbing community, from “I couldn’t think of a better cause worth supporting! So honored to be able to donate to see this hero make her mark on the world!” to “I feel insulted that Miss Puccio feels she’s entitled to money that could go to better causes.” With these two opinions and many in between it got us thinking about why the climbing community seems to be so polarized about Alex’s crowdfunding.

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Big Ups to Alex Puccio

Alex happily upping her training game

Alex happily upping her training game

Lately all I can think of is Alex Puccio. Creepy, I know. In my defense, she seems to be everywhere: dominating comps, taking down hard boulders outside, constantly training, and popping up all over my Facebook feed. She’s been on the scene for many years, but recently she seems to be taking the climbing world (even more) by storm. So today I wanted to give some huge props to Alex Puccio for being a totally rad, feminine, strong, beast of a climber.

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Puccio Reinvents the Wheel (of Chaos, V14/8B+)

Puccio on Jade (V14). Photo credit: Joel Zerr.

Puccio on Jade (V14). Photo credit: Joel Zerr.

“Epic.” That’s how Alex Puccio described her recent ascent of Wheel of Chaos (V14/8B+) in Upper Chaos Canyon in RMNP. We agree and continue to be in awe as we realize the significance of this ascent. For starters, this makes Puccio the only woman to have climbed two V14s. Secondly, she sent this problem, originally put up by Woods and Webb, after putting in just two days of work. But the implications of this send go further. The boulder problem consists of 25 moves – implying that Puccio just might be ready to quickly take down a short, powerful 5.15a. And as it turns out, Wheel of Chaos just so happens to have a 8C/V15 variation…very, very interesting indeed. Keep climbing on Puccio – we’ll keep waiting for the next send, on the edge of our seats.

Information thanks to Alex Puccio’s facebook, 8a.nu, and UKClimbing.com

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Big Weekend Sends for Payne and Puccio

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Angie slaying her nemesis, Freaks of The Industry (V13).

Clearly something is in the air in Rocky Mountain National Park, because serious sendage went down this weekend! To kick the weekend off, Angie Payne sent her 4-year-long, self-proclaimed “nemesis” of a project Freaks of The Industry (V13). Then on Saturday, Alex Puccio, fresh off her first V13’s just a couple weeks ago, she sends Jade (V14). And here we are, still trying to pick our jaws up off the floor. Both women have achieved something really amazing here, it’s hard to know where to begin, but each send is truly mind-blowing for very different reasons.

We caught up with Angie last winter, when she had already put 50 days into this project. 50 days. On her blog Angie says of Freaks“Freaks is a nemesis that surpasses all nemeses I have ever had. This is not the first time I have invested multiple seasons in a boulder problem, but it is the first time I have experienced a mental battle of this magnitude… I have tried countless mental approaches—getting angry, relaxing, letting my mind wander, repeating a mantra as I climb, screaming, rhythmic breathing, acting like my life depends on it, pretending I couldn’t care less about it, even drawing positive reminders on my arm—you name it, I have probably tried it. But the battle continues.” Just think about all that for a second. Really appreciate that struggle for a moment. And then, you know those times when you’ve worked on something for like 3 days (or let’s face it, like 3 hours) and you’re like “OMG, why can’t I do this? It’s so annoying. I’ll never be able to do this.” And then you go climb V0’s the rest of the day? No? Just me? Anyway, when I think about how much frustration she tolerated, how she was able to keep going back, year after year; it’s kind of like trying to imagine what a billion dollars really is, or like, how many stars are in the universe-very hard to wrap your head around once you start really thinking about it.

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Alex on Jade (V14) in Rocky Mountain National Park

And then of course there’s Alex. What we are loving about her right now is something completely different. Rather than super focused projecting on one specific boulder, taking months or years, Puccio is basically just getting outside, taking a break from comp climbing, having some fun, and seeing what see is capable of. In our interview with her in March (just before she won her eighth ABS nationals championship) she shared with us that climbing outside is really her reprieve from the comp circuit, “I have so much stress in competition that when I go outside I finally don’t have to feel like I’m training for something. When I go outside I’m like, ‘I don’t just have 5 minutes to do a boulder.’ It’s quite nice. It’s refreshing.” At that time that she had climbed fourteen V12’s, and thought she was capable of V13, but just hadn’t found the right one yet. Well, she found the right two, Nuthin’ But Sunshine and Top Notch in RMNP within a week of one another, and then Jade, swiftly making her the 4th woman in history to climb V14. Not to mention this particular V14 is known as one of the hardest boulder problems in the world. This line was initially a project of Dave Graham’s, and graded at V15. Daniel Woods earned the FA in 2007 (video from Big UP) and it was then repeated by many big names including Jimmy Webb, Carlo Traversi, after which it was decidedly graded a solid V14.

Both Payne and Puccio are so inspiring in what they have achieved. Added to the list of other historic sends lately (Ashima, Shauna Coxsey), we feel pretty certain that the first ever V15 send by woman could happen any day now. In the meantime, we want to say thanks for giving us new energy and excitement to push ourselves in our own climbing, and we’ll be on the edge of our seats to see what happens next!

Climb On!

-Missy

Photo Credits: Matty Hong and Joel Kerr

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IFSC World Cup Begins with German Victory

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Juliane Wurm wins the first of 8 competitions in the World Cup Series

Last night (or early this morning, depending on your time zone), marked the first IFSC Bouldering World Cup competition of 2014. It was the first in a series of 8 competitions that will eventually crown the strongest competition climbers in the world. In 2013, the series was dominated by Austrian climber, Anna Stöhr, who took first place in 7 of the 8 competitions. Last night in Chongqing, China both the women’s and men’s competitions were won by German climbers: Juliane Wurm and Jan Hojer . Here’s how the results shook out:

Women
1st – Juliane Wurm (Germany)
2nd – Shauna Coxsey (Great Britain)
3rd – Akiyo Noguchi (Japan)
4th – Alex Puccio (USA)
5th – Anna Stöhr (Austria)

Men
1st – Jan Hojer (Germany)
2nd – Dmitrii Sharafutdinov (Russia)
3rd – Jorg Verhoeven (Netherlands)
4th – James Kassay (Australian)
5th – Guillaume Glairon Mondet (France)

The second competition of the series will take place on May 3rd and 4th in Baku, Azerbaijan. For more details on the comp and how to watch it streaming check out the IFSC website. And in the meantime, get schooled on all things World Cup in our guide to the competition series.

Climb on!
Mary

Photo Credit: Juliane Wurm’s Facebook

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Chasing Goals Not Grades: Interview with Alex Puccio

Alex competing at ABS Nationals just a few weeks ago. Photo by Mary Mecklenburg.

Alex competing at the 2014 ABS Nationals. Photo by Mary Mecklenburg.

Eight-time American Boulder Series (ABS) National Champion, Alex Puccio, is undoubtedly the strongest female competition boulderer in the US. In talking with her we learned that becoming the best took clear goals, a strong sense of competition, and a surprisingly laid-back attitude about climbing. We had the pleasure of chatting with Alex on a pretty average day; she had just come back from a practice session and was about to sit down to a hearty dinner of brisket. It was a just a few days before the 15th Annual ABS National Championship, where she clinched her 8th national title in a row. Here’s how our conversation went: 

CXC: During competition season what does a typical week of training look like?

AP: The week before [a comp] I try to practice flashing boulders or making up new climbs and doing them in as few tries as possible. Some days I’ll do a bit more power, and I’ll try to eat better. Maybe eat one day of brisket instead of a few days of brisket. Maybe a few cookies instead of a whole pack [laughs]. I try to be a little bit more scheduled. It’s really hard for me to be on a schedule. I’m not very good at it. Months out I have a rough plan, but it’s a very flexible plan.

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ABS Nationals Results

Alex Puccio and Daniel Woods vying to hold onto their 2013 Nationals' titles. (Photo credit: Climbing Magazine Instagram)

Alex Puccio and Daniel Woods trying to hold onto their 2013 titles at this year’s ABS Nationals. (Photo credit: Climbing Magazine Instagram)

Setting challenging finals problems for the likes of Alex Puccio, Alex Johnson, Jule Wurm, Angie Payne, Megan Mascarenas, Margo Hayes, and Grace McKeehan would be an exceptionally difficult task. Yet, the setters for the American Bouldering Series (ABS) Nationals rose to the occasion, delivering challenging yet interesting problems for the seven strong finalists. After Friday Qualifiers and Saturday morning Semi-Finals, these seven ladies powered through, ready to put their bouldering prowess to the test. Competitions are often so obviously tilted toward one competitor, however, it truly came down to the very last problem to see who would emerge as the winner. Angie Payne and Megan Mascarenas had strong starts, whereas Alex Puccio started off shaky. Sixteen year olds Margo Hayes and Grace Mckeehan also each had moments when it seemed the tables could turn in favor of any competitor.

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Dark Horse Finals: Preview with Kasia Pietras

darkhorse on blackThis Saturday, February 1st the best of the best will come to MetroRock in Everett, MA to battle it out for the title of Dark Horse Champion. Now in its 5th season, the Dark Horse Series has crowned some seriously strong climbers as its previous winners, including Isabelle Faus, Francesca Metcalf, and Daniel Woods. This year’s series features arguably the strongest group of climbers that Dark Horse has ever seen, and we are psyched to cheer them on in our own backyard.

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