Alex Johnson thrives in an extreme sport that few would even attempt, professional climbing. It’s a constant battle, sometimes clinging to a hold on the side of a V12 boulder with just her fingertips. It’s a sport where there are few moral victories, either you peak the boulder, or you fail.
- How was your experience of being a part of “The RV Challenge”?
Having the RV Project out for my Birthday Challenge was rad. They were really motivating, and doing 25 pitches was EXHAUSTING. They’re really committed to getting the best shots they can get, and super easy to work with. It was a good time.
- Why do you feel that you climb better on some days and worse on others?
This is a tough question, and honestly, I have no idea. Even when I do everything right– eat healthy, train hard, rest for recovery, sleep the “right” amount of time–I can still have a bad day. It’s just my body being temperamental. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel like performing, and there’s nothing my head can do about it. And sometimes it’s the other way around. The days when they both link up and decide to participate are amazing.
- I still think you’re cool, how did your 26th place finish at Vail affect your mindset for future competitions?
I’ll be honest… getting 26th sucked. It was the worst I’ve ever placed in a competition in my entire life, and I spent a ton of money to be out in California training for that one weekend and to have it completely blow up in my face was so heartbreaking. Momentarily it made me frustrated with devoting that much time to training for nothing, and want to never train again, but that’s not who I am. I understand that, like I said above, some days are just harder than others. It’s unfortunate that those days can fall on one of the biggest events of the year, but there will be other competitions, and ultimately my heart lies in outdoor climbing, probably because I don’t have to be on my A game on just one specific day.
- What is next for Alex Johnson?
Right now I feel like I’m playing the waiting game. I’m hanging out in Vegas, waiting for the temps to get cool enough to head back up to my project in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, “The Swarm” V14 in Bishop, California. I spent almost three months working on it last year, and came heartbreakingly close before the season ended. I’m trying to stay in decent shape this summer and then kick up the training in the fall so I can go back and siege with full force. If I can do this climb, it’ll be the hardest climb done by a woman in North America. I also want to top the boulder out, which has never been done before.
Getting to know Alex Johnson a bit better:
- What is your greatest fear?
Failure. And I don’t mean not being able to do a climb, which is also frustrating, but failing at this life. I committed myself to being a professional climber and I want to do great things and inspire people for years to come. Not doing that would make me feel like I failed with this great opportunity I’ve been given, and that’s what I’m most afraid of.
- Are there any climbs that you absolutely would not attempt?
Yeah, probably. I don’t like boxing myself into one specific discipline of climbing, which is why I climb routes in the summer and boulder in the fall and winter, I’ve even done a little trad climbing. The climb that stands out to me as one I’ll never try is called “Too Big to Flail” put up by Alex Honnold in Bishop, California. It’s an insanely tall freestanding boulder with a route right up the clean face. I’ve been known to get up off the deck and do proud highballs, but at that level it’s basically free soloing, of which I don’t disapprove, but don’t do a lot of myself.
- What is your biggest pet peeve?
Grammatical errors. Your/you’re, they’re/there/their, etc. We speak English, you should probably know the difference.
- What is the highest graded climb you have completed?
My highest grade to date is V12, and so far I’ve done seven. Last year was the first time I really committed myself to one specific project, and it was great to see what I was capable of, but also frustrating when I didn’t send after devoting so much time to it.
- How many pull-ups can you do?
Haha! I have no idea, maybe thirty or forty? My record is 52.
10. Two men are clinging to a ledge in danger of falling to their death. One man has a beard and the other is clean-shaven. You can only save one, who do you save?
Ok, define beard. Is it like Grizzly Adams caveman style? Or just stubble? I have a thing for a little stubble… That sounds weird. But I’m not into beards. That didn’t answer your question at all, so I guess clean-shaven.
I really enjoyed Alex’s responses up until she answered question 10 wrong. The answer is beard, all forms of beard at that. That being said I truly admire her drive and ferocious competitiveness. Those traits cannot be taught, yet are vital in a sport where mental power is almost equally as important as physical.