All posts by Alex Johnson

Alex Johnson on Projecting, Sending, and Lessons Learned

So much of climbing, especially projecting, is puzzle piecing. It isn’t whether or not you’re strong enough to do the climb, or do each individual move on the climb, but figuring out how to do each move, and configuring the most efficient way to combine multiple moves in a row while expending the least amount of energy. I think “projecting” is “perfecting.” Working something so much you get it so dialed that it almost produces imminent, consistent success.

Alex Johnson Red Rock

Alex Johnson Sending Monster Skank. Photo: Ray Davalos

That’s how it was for me working Wet Dream Right (V11/8A Red Rock, NV). When I first started trying, I could do a couple moves, but some were so inconsistent, I couldn’t link sections of the boulder in a row. By the time I wrapped it up, I had perfected the climb’s movements. I was able to do every move on its own 100% of the time, and so efficiently, that I even when I linked them, I expended very little energy by the time I got to the final hard move.

Sometimes after I send things, I feel weird. Like I don’t know why they take so long to finish… During the process, you forget where you started. By the time you send something you’ve been working for a long period of time, it’s hard to recall how difficult the climb in its entirety felt at the beginning. This is how I felt about Monster Skank.

Alex Johnson Projecting

Alex on Day 1 of the Monster Skank Project. Photo: Kati Hetrick

You spend a few days, weeks, months on something, and then when you finally do it, you could feel so inexpressibly victorious you almost cry… or you might feel unsatisfied. Like, “Hm. I wasn’t fighting tooth and nail for every move of this climb. Maybe it really isn’t that hard. Why couldn’t I just do this last season?” When in fact, it could be that you’ve so perfected each sequence, that when you eventually finish the climb, all you really had to do was execute, in exactly the way you know how—because you’ve been doing the same moves for months.

There’s also the typical cliched opinion that the more time you spend on something, the sweeter it feels to finish, and of course that’s true. But often for me, it’s the opposite, the previously stated lack of satisfaction, almost disappointment in myself for not completing the climb faster, sooner.

Alex Johnson Day 1 Monster Skank

Day 1 Try-Hard Face

And then all these other questions race through your mind (or mine, at least) like, are the temps better today? Am I stronger? Fitter? Climbing better? Is my breathing more controlled? Am I less afraid of falling?

What was it? What was the determining factor in today’s success, versus all the other days of failure?

I heard on a (non-climbing related) podcast recently, that there’s no such thing as a failed relationship, no matter the result, how shitty it may have been, or how epic it seemed in the end. The entire time you were in that relationship you were learning; about yourself, about how you deal with conflict, emotions, etc. You were growing.

I think I want to start applying that to working projects more. I mean, I know every time I try something I learn something new, even if I don’t send it… But I get pretty in my head about things sometimes, especially when I “can’t” do something. I hate not being able to do something. It’s probably the most frustrating personal issue in my climbing life; being shut down. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

Alex Johnson Monster Skank send

Controlled Movement on the Send. Photo: Ray Davalos

And I’m not saying that by needing to project something I’m “being shut down” on it. I’m just saying that sometimes I lose track of the amazing process in my race to success with myself. Being able to climb awesome things is a gift, and if they’re difficult they require more time and commitment. Sometimes I need a little reminder that the process can be just as fun and exciting, if not more, as the end result.

Alex Johnson joins Team Trango

One of the greatest things about the outdoor industry is the connections that we are able to make with passionate, like-minded individuals. We’ve been lucky to support many of these individuals through the Trango athlete team and are thrilled to announce the latest addition, Alex Johnson. Alex Johnson was the first american to win a Bouldering World Cup on US soil and needs little introduction. She has put up numerous first ascents and is an active member of the climbing community in Las Vegas.


“I’m really excited to be working with Trango. I’m ‘growing up’ as a climber, and I don’t want to become complacent and one-dimensional. I want to do more, I want to do it all… and be good at it all; bouldering, sport, multi-pitch, traditional. Trango is a brand I believe is enthusiastic about helping climbers of all levels branch out and grow by making some of the best products on the market. I think this is going to be a really cool partnership, and I’m looking forward to diving into these new realms of the sport with a company I respect”, says Johnson.

The Trango athlete team was initiated as a means to support core, lifestyle climbers in their climbing and stewardship efforts. Today, the team has grown to include climbers of all disciplines who are working cooperatively to climb harder, give back and be good stewards of climbing and climbing areas.


Alex Johnson


Las Vegas, NV

Motivation to Climb

The continuity of learning. Nothing is the same. Every time I climb I learn something new, whether about myself, or about movement, body position, etc. You never get the same thing twice, even repeating climbs. It’s that monotony that bored me in other sports, and climbing has the daily variety to keep it interesting.

Most Memorable Climb

Probably establishing the first ascent of "The Swoop," a new boulder in Red Rock. Putting up new climbs takes vision, and a multitude of work, and now having done it, I have a heightened respect for first ascentionists. You're envisioning that something could be possible that's never been done before, and that's a crazy feeling! It took days of work to create a safe landing, clean the boulder to make it climb-able, and days more to actually do the moves. It proved to be more difficult than I anticipated... but it was so gratifying to finally pull over the top. It's humbling to have left something personal for the world to try.

Favorite Climbing Spot

My favorite place to climb! I'm so biased... My hometown, Las Vegas, of course. Red Rock has an abundance of fun year-round climbing of all disciplines on great sandstone in a stunning desert setting.


In 2008 Alex made history by becoming the first American to win a Bouldering World Cup on US soil, at the GoPro Mountain Games. In 2010 she made history again, winning gold in Switzerland, becoming only the second American woman to win a Bouldering World Cup overseas. In the last few years Alex has shifted her focus away from competitions and honed in on outdoor projects, building an impressive tick-list filled with dozens of iconic first female ascents including Hungry Hungry Hippos V12/13, and multiple other V12s like Clear Blue Skies in Colorado, The Mandala in Bishop, and Book of Nightmares in Red Rock. Alex has also spent time getting off the deck climbing highballs like her recent Red Rock first ascent Critically Acclaimed (V9/10), Diesel Power (V10) in Yosemite, Golden Showers (V10), and flashing the infamously dangerous Luminance (V10) in Bishop, California.

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