Interview: Johnson Climbs Lethal Design (V12)

She's climbed at least six V12s so far.

2/7/12 - During a trip to Red Rock, Nevada, Alex Johnson pulled off an ascent of Lethal Design (V12). She's climbed at least six V12s so far, including Diaphanous Sea and Clear Blue Skies(Hueco Tanks, Texas, and Mt. Evans, Colorado).Johnson has been on a climbing tour since early November. Stops have included Joe's Valley, Yosemite Valley, and Bishop. While in Red Rock, Johnson says her inspiration to climb Lethal Designwas born out of "location convenience, and because it was given two out of three stars in the guidebook."Below is a short interview with Johnson.

How long did you work the problem?
It's hard to say exactly how many "attempts" I gave Lethal. I always give a really strong flash attempt on every problem I try, and I did that on Lethal as well. I picked out a sequence and gave it a go, making it about a third of the way through, getting up to the crux. (There are about 25 hand moves, the crux being in the early-middle of the climb.) After I fell, I gave the rest of the moves some attention, doing them first or second try. I did the crux section again making sure I had it dialed, brushed all the holds, gave it a second go from the start and went to the top. Even though it was only my second attempt from the ground, it would be untrue to say I did Lethal Design on my second try, because with the entire boulder available, it made it possible to try all the moves easily. The entire process, including the three minutes it took to send, took about twenty minutes I guess. So I'm told, haha.

Describe the problem for us.
Lethal Design is about 25 moves long, consisting of hard crimping and powerful underclings. The landing is shit, there is a talus field below the entire climb, and quite a few pads were needed to make it safe. The hardest move is probably around V9. The crux section begins midway through the problem, with a left-hand slot, making a powerful move out right to a small but perfectly shaped right-hand crimp. Off the perfect crimp, you make a powerful move to another slot, then make a big bump again to gain an incut. The bump to the incut is probably the most powerful move on the boulder, and the last really hard move. Then there are a few traversing moves out right, with another big move up right off an undercling. Then comes the topout, which I thought was going to be pretty mellow, but turns out I was pumped and numb and a little scared! I managed to pull it off and I'm pretty sure [my friend] Kenny was more scared spotting than I was climbing.

How does Lethal Design compare to other V12s you've climbed?
Comparing Lethal Design to other climbs is difficult for many reasons. First, I generally suck at grade deciphering. Second, I'm quite possibly the fittest I've ever been for outdoor rock climbing. Third, it suited my style completely. Lastly, the climbing community tends to decide when a girl has done a "real" V12 is anyway.

Have you done any other cool problems in Red Rock?
Two days after I did Lethal Design, a group of us made the epic adventure out to a beautiful, three-star V11 called Stand and Deliver and managed to do that one as well.

Where are you headed after Red Rock?
Next for me is ultimately Hueco. I have to run up to Bishop to pick up a new Organic Pad, and then I'm going to bust down to Hueco until ABS Nationals, which I am attending, contrary to rumors of my competition retirement. I have my eye on a few things down there, and hopefully my fitness and my focus are spot on and the stars align. As for the rest of the year, most of it is up in the air. I will not be competing in the world cup circuit, so that really opens upmy entire summer to spend rock climbing.

Date of ascent: February 1, 2012

Source: Alex Johnson

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