Alex Johnson Climber Profile

By: Derek Vitiello | Last Updated on December 22, 2023

Bio

Alexandra Johnson, or AJ or Alex for short, is an American pro climber who has been rock climbing professionally for almost 20 years. She’s been a member of the US team for eighteen years, and is a competition climber and avid boulderer who started climbing in 1997. Alex won her first American Bouldering Series Youth Climbing National Championship in 2002 at age twelve. At age thirteen, she won the adult National Championships, and at age fourteen she became an Open Pan American Champion.

She’s made numerous first female ascents and was the first American to win a Bouldering World Cup on US soil (2008). She got first place in the World Cup again two years later, making history as the first American to win two gold medals at the Bouldering World Cup. After returning to US Soil after the competition, Alex and her family visited the Outdoor Retail Tradeshow and took a short trip to Arches National Park, where their vehicle got stuck in sand on a 4×4 road. It was quite the eventful family road trip!

In 2016, Alex Johnson temporarily retired from climbing to focus on her outdoor pursuits, getting an impressive tick list filled with iconic first female ascents. In 2019, she competed again, winning a silver medal at the US Nationals, but she fell just short of qualifying for the Olympics.

Stats

Ape Index: +4″
Height: 5’9″
DOB: 4/3/1989
Started Climbing: 1997
Highest Grade: V14 (8B+)

Alex came out as LGBTQ+ in 2018, and advocates for equality in all facets of life. She’s done several collaborations with her favorite brands to create Pride themed products, and all the profits were donated to Athlete Ally and other LGBTQ+ organizations. She’s an athlete ambassador for The Access Fund, which is an organization that’s dedicated to the preservation of climbing areas across the country. She’s been quoted in the past talking about how important good character is in the small climbing community, saying “…Being positive and active in the community, because whether or not we realize it in our small sport, we ARE role models.”

She continues to climb and is one of the best female climbers in the world. In 2021, she won a silver medal in the North American Cup and a year later she won a bronze medal. Outside of competition climbing, she’s recently climbed several V12 and V13 boulders and continues to be an inspiration for female climbers as a coach and climber. Here’s a list of her competition career highlights:

alex johnson climber ascents

You can follow Alex on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Notable Climbs

Alex has many first ascents and first female ascents, and you can find a complete list here. The list includes one V14, five V13, fourteen V12, and many more. She has six first ascents: Critically Acclaimed (V10), The Swoop (V10), Saturn Returns (V9), Snowbelly (V8), The Middle Path (V7), and Lucky Charms (V6). She also has several significant first female ascents like Diesel Power (V10), Luminance (V9), Clear Blue Skies in Colorado(V12), Dark Horse (V10), and more. Otherwise, these are some of the stand-out problems she’s conquered over the years.

The Swarm (V14)

Alex first started trying this boulder back in 2011 at age 21. She returned in late 2013 to 2014 to work the climb for three months. For some of the time, she was accompanied by her brothers or a friend, but most days she was alone and left Bishop in mid-March feeling lonely and let down. She returned and left empty-handed again in 2015 and 2016. After five years away, she came back again in March 2021 and finally ticked the grade on March 14.

Alex was quoted saying “I’ve changed so much as a climber and a person in the last decade, but my desire to climb this boulder remained constant. This climb broke me, changed me, and initiated growth inside me that I never knew could happen” (Climbing). You can watch a video about her attempts here.

VantaBlack (V13)

Vantablack is a V13 boulder problem located in Red Rock, Nevada, outside of Las Vegas. Alex Johnson claimed the first female ascent, making it her second V13 since she did Hungry Hungry Hippos back in 2015. Vantablack is a cruxy V13 that Alex sent after two sessions and to this day it’s one of two V13’s she’s completed.

Luminance (V9 Highball)

Back in 2012, Alex Johnson flashed a V9 boulder by the name of Luminance. Located in the Buttermilks of Bishop, California, this problem’s first ascent was claimed by Shawn Diamond back in 2008. The original suggested grade was V11 due to the scare factor of the final lunge, but it’s been downgraded after several ascents. While this wasn’t a first ascent in any way, it shows Alex’s strength to be able to flash a V9.

First Female Ascent Diaphanous Sea (V12)

Alex claimed the first female ascent of Diaphanous Sea (V12) back in 2010. The famous boulder is located in Hueco Tanks, Texas, and she sent it after only two days of effort. While she was visiting, she also sent Dirty Martini On The Rocks (V12/10), New Religion (V7), See Spot Run, and Mettle Detector (both V6).

During this time, some other female climbers also made the news for some ascents. Thomasina Pidgeon climbed The Butterpumper, Chablanke (V11), and Big Iron On His Hip (V7). Jill Church continued on her mission to climb every problem in Hueco, Abbey Smith had a great season, Kasia Pietras climbed a handful of V7’s and V8’s, and Vanessa Compton climbed several classic V7 and V8 boulders.

Resources

  • AlexJohnsonClimbing.com
  • 8a.nu
  • Cover photo from Alex’s Facebook page

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About The Author

Derek, Co-Founder at Know Nothing Nomads

My goal with my writing and Know Nothing Nomads as a whole is to share my passions of hiking, camping, and a love of the outdoors with our readers.

Making the difficult and uncertain feel more approachable to people that might not know enough to feel comfortable taking their first steps into the wilderness is a driving factor for me.

When I'm not writing you can find me on a trail, in a forest, or next to a river with hiking shoes on my feet and a fly rod somewhere close by.

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