Alex Puccio: An Accomplished Female Boulderer

By: Ashley Vitiello | Last Updated on December 22, 2023
Alex Puccio is an American female climber that focuses on bouldering and has won several world cups and championships in the past.

Bio

Alex Puccio is a rock climber, professional athlete, and accomplished female bouldering competitor who has won many titles. She hails from McKinney, Texas, and her highest grade boulder to date is V14 (8B+). She started climbing at age thirteen and first participated in the U.S. Bouldering Championships in 2006 at age 17. She won the title that year, and the following years of 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

In a few of those years (2008, 2009, and 2010), she also competed in the Bouldering World Cup events but didn’t place. She is also a fixture for the IFSC Bouldering World Cup and was consistently a finalist. In 2014, she claimed silver in the Climbing World Championships in Munich, and has also won the ABS National Championship eleven times.

Outside of competitions, Alex’s first V13 boulder was in 2014 and only a month later she became the fourth women to ever climb a V14. Living in Boulder, Colorado, most of her outdoor climbing would take place in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). In 2015, she had surgery to repair a torn ACL, MCL, and meniscus in her left knee and took six months off before returning to the climbing world. In 2016, she won the ‘Rock Rodeo’ in Hueco Tanks, Texas.

Stats:

Ape Index: 1.03 / +2″
Height: 5’2″
DOB: 6/15/1989
Started Climbing: age 13
Favorite climbing area: Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP)
Hardest boulder (worked): 8B+

In 2016, she had to take another several months off after undergoing spinal fusion surgery for a herneated disk between the C5 and C6 vertebrae. She came back strong again, won the 2018 World Cup in Vail, climbed several V14’s (like The Penrose Step) and continues to climb to this day. She is just naturally good at rock climbing and now has her own company with husband Robin O’Leary that offers personalized coaching services, core workouts, and training programs for climbers all over the world.

You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. If you want to learn even more about Alex Puccio, consider listening to this interview with Friction Labs and the TrainingBeta Podcast in 2015. While there’s limited information about her climbs on Climbing History in the last few years, she’s very active on Instagram and that’s the best place to keep up with her more recent ascents.

Notable Climbs

2022 Climbs

The year 2022 was full of great climbs for Puccio and she claimed multiple V13 and V14 (8B and 8B+) problems like Hailstorm (V14), Steppenwolf (V13), Tigris SDS (V14), and We Can Build You (V14). For Hailstorm (V14), Alex worked with Michaela Kiersch to be the first recorded ascents and she’s the first recorded ascent for Tigris SDS (V14). We Can Build You is a V14 that was originally worked by Dave Graham in 2010 and has no recorded ascents since then.

Huge Day in Hueco Including Crown of Aragorn – 2016

A few days after the Rock Rodeo competition, Alex had an outstanding day climbing in Hueco and sent a V13 (Crown of Aragorn) in addition to three V9’s and two V12’s. The three V9’s were Glass Ass Crack, Ministry of Truth, and Windy Ass; the two V12’s were Full Monty and Platonique.

Hueco Rock Rodeo 2016

In February of 2016, Alex Puccio won the Hueco Rock Rodeo with ascents of Dirty Martini on the Rocks (V9), Choir Boys Low (V9), Power of Silence (V10), Chblanke (v11), Diaphanous Sea (V11/12), and Tequila Sunrise.

Two More V13’s in Hueco Tanks – 2016

During a short trip to Hueco, Alex Puccio put down Slashface (V13), as well as Power of Landjager (V11) Scream (V10), and Nagual (V13). For both the V13’s, this was their first female ascent! Nagual only took her two tries and about an hour of work – Alex posted on her Instagram “these crimps are so sharp, but really cool movement! As for Slashface, this was her second day on the boulder (first day was several years ago) and she called it her “dream boulder.

Automator (V13) – 2014

It was around this time that Alex Puccio took a step away from competition bouldering and focused more on her outdoor climbing. She posted on Facebook:

After not having a great season at the World Cups I realized I had to change something within myself and my climbing. I had put way too much pressure on myself and couldn’t handle it anymore. My brain, body and emotions were so depleted of psych and energy I made the decision to skip the last 2 World Cups this year and just go outside climbing. It was so nice to reboot and just feel free of everything for a change. In these last few months I have learned so much about myself physically and mentally…”

Later in 2014, Alex would sent Automator (13), which is located in RMNP. It was the third female ascent of this route and it was Alex’s third V13 that season. It was originally established by Dave Graham and Angie Payne claimed the first female ascent (Ashima Shiraishi was second in 2013) of a V13 on this boulder back in 2010.

The Hardest Move Ever Done by a Women (at the time) at Jade (V14) – 2014

Jade (V14) is located in RMNP’s Upper Chaos Canyon and was Alex’s first V14. This accomplishment made Puccio the fourth female climber to tick this grade behind Tomoko Ogawa, Ashima Shiraishi, and Shauna Coxsey. On her fourth day at the problem, she completed it first go. Though at the time it was a V14, the original grade was V15, which held for almost three years before being downgraded. Even with it now being a solid V14, one could argue that ‘the move’ on this route is one of the hardest ever done by a woman.

Top Notch (V13) – 2014

Alex Puccio sent her first V13 in July of 2014 in Rocky Mountain National Park’s Chaos Canyon. Top Notch (V13) was first sent in 2008 by Ty Landman and has since been repeated by big names like Daniel Woods, Carlo Traversi, and more. The boulder problem has a first move that is referred to as “one of the most difficult moves in all of RMNP” (ClimbingNarc) and Alex called it one of the best boulders she had ever climbed.

Alex Makes Pulling Double Digits Look Easy in RMNP – 2010

After several competitions and the Vail World Cup in 2010, Alex spent some time in RMNP and was able to make the first female ascent of Centaur (V12). Despite terrible weather conditions and a split tip, she was able to complete the steep line.

Hueco Tanks – 2012

Though a lot of Alex’s climbs are in RMNP, she’s had several visits to Hueco over the years. Back in 2012, she put together this compilation video of some sends that ranged from V10-11, which really showcase her talent in her early twenties. She sent Sunshine (V11), Eckstein (V10), Theater of the Absurd (V10), Left Martini (V10), and Full Service (V10). To view the video, go here.

Resources

  • Outside Online
  • UK Climbing
  • Climbing.com
  • Gripped
  • Climbing History
  • Cover photo from Joel Zerr 

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About The Author

Ashley is an adventurous soul who loves all things nature, especially warm sunshine, wildflowers, scenic snacking, and mushrooms. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent years enjoying time outside doing things like hiking, camping, and rock climbing.
Her goal with Know Nothing Nomads is to make these hobbies easily accessible through knowledgeable content and how-to's based on all the stuff she's learned on her journey. If she isn't writing an article, she's probably in a forest looking at big mountain views and tiny pieces of moss on the side of the trail.

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