Alex Puccio probably didn’t think she was going to become a world-class boulderer. That said, she might’ve had some idea after she entered the U.S. Bouldering Championships as a teenager… and won. Since then, she has gone on to become a tour de force in competitive bouldering, winning several titles in the last several years – including eight U.S. National Champion titles. At 24 years old, the native Texan is showing no signs of slowing down and is currently ramping up for another season on the World Cup. Though it’s hard to schedule in the time when you’re on the circuit, she even finds occasion to actually climb outside and answer a few questions from us.
SCARPA: How does a girl from Texas fall in love with bouldering?
ALEX PUCCIO: My love for climbing came naturally. I had dabbled in many different sports before climbing, but none of them lured me in like climbing did. When I was 13, my mother took my younger siblings and me to a climbing gym. I guess none of us ever left.
S: When did you win your first professional comp, and when did you realize this was something at which you thrived?
AP: I won my first professional comp when I was 16. It was ABS [American Bouldering Series] Nationals, and it was the most incredible feeling ever. I never expected that to happen but it did, so I kept entering big competitions and winning most of them.
S: What’s the allure of competition for you? What are the challenges and rewards?
AP: I love the thrill and adrenaline rush you get when competing. I love the crowd, the noise and lights. But, I get really nervous at competitions. I guess that would be the biggest challenge – keeping my mental game under control.
S: For you, what are the different virtues of bouldering and roped climbing?
AP: Bouldering has more power-based moves, which I love! Sport climbing is more endurance-based and involves stay focused for a longer period time. I like when you have to make a decision in a second and execute because it’s too hard to hold on and think any longer.
S: How did you get involved with SCARPA and what shoes are you currently keen on?
AP: I lived in England for a few years and my good friend always wore them, and told me to check them out. I’m really happy I did! They edge amazingly well and the rubber is incredible. So many of their shoes fit perfect, but the shoe I climb in the most is the Instinct VS.
S: Can you give us an idea of what the competition lifestyle is like?
AP: Doing World Cups is a bit exhausting. There is so much hard work involved into being a World Cup athlete. You have to give up climbing outside during a good part of the year, which is really hard. I love competitions so much that it’s ok for me, but when the competition season is over, I go straight to the rock!
S: How are you spending your off-season?
AP: Well, I am about to start the Bouldering World Cup Circuit again, but right now I am in Switzerland with some friends climbing outside for three weeks. Getting to be outside and climbing really helps with my head. It’s relaxing and fun, which helps a lot before the crazy World Cup starts.