Winner: Alex Puccio
Alex Puccio is the eight-time national champion in bouldering, and the only American—male or female—ever to stand on the podium for a full World Cup bouldering season. (She finished third in 2011 and 2013.) It was obvious she was a beast. But was she just a gym rat? Before her 2014 sendfest, Puccio had done numerous V12 problems outdoors, but nothing harder. In July, the 25-year-old sent her first two V13s, both in Rocky Mountain National Park, near her home in Boulder, Colorado. (The first, Top Notch, was a first female ascent.) Then, on August 3, on her fourth day of attempts, Puccio sent Jade (V14), becoming the fourth woman to reach this level.
Her outdoor success stemmed from a relatively lackluster 2014 World Cup circuit: She finished sixth overall. “I felt a lot of pressure because I wasn’t performing the way I expected to,” she said. “So I decided to skip the last two World Cups and just climb outside with no expectations. This allowed me to perform better, and I surprised myself.” Puccio went back to Europe buoyed by her summer sends and won a dramatic silver medal at the Boulder World Championships in Munich. A week later, the American won the annual Arco invitational comp in Italy. But she wasn’t done. Back in Colorado, she sent Wheel of Chaos in Rocky Mountain National Park, becoming the first woman ever with two V14s on her tick list.
Two Questions With Alex Puccio
Where would you most like to climb?
Rocklands, South Africa. It looks like my style, and my favorite rock is sandstone.
Favorite post-send treat?
Chocolate cake with a lot of icing. Works well as a pre-sending treat, too!