Archive for the ‘Destination: Hueco Tanks, TX’ Category
Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
I visited White Sands National Park on a rest day while in Hueco Tanks. I was there for only a day, but it immediately topped my list of favorite national parks. I would highly recommend stopping by if near the Las Cruces, New Mexico area.
The rolling white sand dunes looked like fresh white powder. I even saw a family sledding down the dunes on toboggans. =)
Every once in awhile, vegetation can be spotted on the horizon.
Tracks in the sand. It was actually real hard to take pictures because the reflection of the sun on the white sand was so bright and my eyes were very senstive. I had to wear a hat and sunglasses to see, and I am pretty sure I was still squinting.
CB loved it there! She would run to the next sand dune… run back….
and then would need to sleep for a minute. =)
I would suggest going on the trail in the middle of the park. (I’m sorry, but I can’t remember the name right now.) It is miles long, but going only a mile out is further than the usual visitor and provides the best views of the dunes. Just make sure to follow the above markers as it would be extremely easy to get lost.
Saturday, April 18th, 2009
Adrian on ‘Dirty Martini’.
Usually guidebooks include a list of area classic, which was the case in the Hueco Tanks guide; however, sometimes my favorites vary from those of the author. For instance, many of the classics in the Hueco guidebook were high balls, which I don’t really enjoy (in fact usually skipped). So I have started to compile some of my favorite lines in each area I visit, with the following being my Hueco list.
- Small Potatoes area includes a whole handful of fabulous v0 – v2 climbs. (Small Potatoes, North Mountain)
- Orifice Affair – (Lunch Rock area, North Mountain)
- Name? – (Small Potatoes, North Mountain) There is a prow climb in the small potatos area. I can’t remember the name now (and I am sans guidebook as I am sitting in France) but remember this line being real fun.
- La Delicate – (New Meadow, North Mountain) Technical slab climb.
- Ostersizer – (Backountry) This fun line is located in the backcountry next to Hobbit in a Blender. However, I learned after I left that a huge chunk of it came off during the Rock Rodeo, splicing a brand new pad in half.
- Sign of the Cross – (Sign of the Cross, North Mountain) Tricky! If you can’t reach the starting holds, get a boost. Do-able, just takes a little time to figure out (at least for me).
- Girls of Juarez – (Upper Lost Boulder, North Mountain)
- Moonshine Roof – (Backcountry) This roof includes a big first move that traverses into an intriguing surfboard feature, with a consistent finish.
- Warmup Roof – (Backcountry)
- T-Bone Shuffle – (North Mountain)
- Lobster Claw – (New Meadow, North Mountain) Fabulous line with many beta variations.
- Jigsaw Puzzle – (Backcountry)
- DragonFly – (Backcountry)
- King Cobra – (New Meadow, North Mountain) Powerful! The finish looks so straightforward, but watch out as that heel hook likes to spit that heel right out.
- See Spot – (Big Time Boulder, North Moutain) Quite a tall problem that I did not send and probably never will. =)
- Baby Martini – (Martini Cave, North Mountain)
- Big Iron on His Hip – (Martini Cave, North Mountain) This might have been my all time favorite climb at Hueco. The sit start is popular line Dirty Martini, but if you are like me and can’t climb v9 right now this is a perfect alternative that includes all the enjoyable moves. =) In order to send I had to use a bicycle, heel-toe cam and this great campus cross move. SO FUN!
- Roughage – (Lunch Rocks, North Mountain)
- Speedbump – (New Meadow, North Mountain) This is a great line because it is so easy with the right beta and so hard otherwise. The key move is a weird heel hook that seems impossible, but completely unocks the problem.
- Guns of Navarone – (North Moutain) A new line not in the book, located near Baby Face and Daily Dick Dose. I actually never got the chance to try it, but it looks superb. Real long and crimpy, with the crimps supposedly becoming more positive the further you climb.
- Chris’s Arete – (North Mountain) The climb is said to be soft for the grade, and to be honest I agree with that assessment. Regardless if it is a v7 or v8, try it… it is fun!
- Something Different – (Backcountry) Only worked on this climb one day, but the moves (especially the beginning moves if you are shorter like myself) were intriguing.
- Sex after Death – (Backcountry) Hello crimps!
- Dirty Martini – (Martini Cave, North Mountain) This is the only v9 that I hopped on. The climb felt ok except for the shut down first move. If you can pull this incredibly hard first move, the rest will be a cake walk.
I am missing some location details, which I will fill in when I get home from France.
Saturday, April 18th, 2009
Hueco Tanks at sunset. Photo by the beautiful Suzy Q.
Hueco Tanks is a premier bouldering destination located in El Paso, Texas with 1700+ boulder problems. (Please note that I had a house to stay in with friends while in Hueco, so much of this write-up is information I gathered from other climbers.)
Best Time to Visit
Hueco Tanks is a winter destination with the climbing season being from November to March, with the prime season being December to February. Expect it to still be quite warm during these months as the average temperature during my stay, from January 15 – February 15, was mid-60′s.
Length of Stay
The climbing is so numerous that a many month trip might still not be sufficient. I stayed for exactly a month and felt like I had just scratched the surface on the bouldering, and had yet to check out a single route.
How to Get There
Hueco Tanks is quite straightforward to locate. While in El Paso, navigate your way to Montana Avenue (also known as US-180 / US-62). Follow this road East until you see Hueco Tanks / Ranch Road. Make a left turn and follow this road to the visitor center of the park.
The guidebook is called Hueco Tanks and is authored by Matt Wilder and published by Wolverine. It is a phenomenal guidebook, making each area and problem easy to locate due to the inclusion of its 300+ color photos.
Climbing in Hueco
Hueco Tanks has a handful of rules and regulations. Basically there are 4 climbing area: North Mountain (the main area) and West Mountain, East Mountain and the East Spur (all 3 of referred to as the backcountry). North Mountain allows 70 climbers per day, 60 by reservation and 10 walk ins, with a cost of $5 per person. To make a reservation, call Texas Parks and Wildlife at 512-389-8900. The earlier you make a reservation the better, with people making reservations a year in advance.
To access the backcountry, you must have a guide. I believe there are 3 ways to line up a guide: commercial tours, volunteer tours and personal guide (meaning you personally know someone who is a guide and willing to take you out). Commercial tours are (I believe) ran out of the Rock Ranch and consist of groups of 10 people, $20 per person. The volunteer tours are free but it sounds like you are at the mercy of the crowd. My facts on these two types of tours could be a little off as I only went on tours with friends. If I were to do it again, I would strive to hop on more volunteer tours.
There are so many must do problems in Hueco, I am going to make this point its own blog post.
- Hueco Tanks Park – there is camping in the park, ranging from $12 – 16 per night. The upside of this camping is you are located right in the park. The cons include no dogs and gates shut at 6pm (meaning you can not drive in or out after 6pm. Boo!).
- Rock Ranch – the Rock Ranch is located within a mile of the Park. The cost to camp is $5 a night, but discounted to $4 per night if staying for longer than 14 days. This is the main climber hang out and dogs are welcome.
- BLM Land – there is free camping on BLM land. I don’t know where it is located exactly (but could find out if one of you readers are interested). I just heard it was a little sketchy for the lone woman traveler, which I am.
Food / Drink
- Vista Market – Vista is a Mexican grocery store that sells the best home made tortillas and salsa. Must stop!
- Burrito Joint – I can’t remember the name of this burrito place, but it has excellent burritos and tacos for mere dollars. It is located down the street from the Vista Market on Montana. It is a main hang out for climbers after a full day on the rock.
- El Ranchito – located on Montana and has quite good Mexican food with excellent margaritas
- Cattelamans – supposedly a great steak house, but I did not make it out that way.
- Showers – there is a shower at the Rock Ranch and I believe at the Park campground. Otherwise, climbers frequent the YMCA and local gyms.
- Laundromats – a variety of laundromats can be found through El Paso.
There is wifi in the park and at the ranger station. I think you are supposed to use this wifi only if you are a paid camper, but I believe most climbers would just walk over from the Rock Ranch.
Rest Day Activities
I usually worked on my rest days while in Texas, so don’t have too much advice in this area. Below are a few suggestions.
- White Sands National Park – I did take CB to this National Park and it was one of my favorite stops on my trip. The brilliant white sand looks like mountains covered in powder, including a handful of tourists sledding down the billows. It is definitely worth the mere couple hour drive.
- El Paso – El Paso does have a lot to offer including a handful of museums and theaters.
- Carlsbad Caverns – I did not visit the caverns, located within a couple hour drive, but hear it is a worthy destination.
- Juarez, Mexico - Juarez is a mere 30 minute drive. In the past it was common for climbers to cross over the border to explore the neighboring country. However, when I was visiting there was a lot of unrest and violence, especially in Juarez. I only knew of one climber who made the trek on a rest day.
- Petroglyph tour – Hueco provides art tours of the many petroglyphs within the park. I hear the tours are fabulous, but did not go on one.
- Dogs – no dogs are allowed in the park (including the campground), nor can you keep them in your car due to the heat. The Rock Ranch does allow dogs to roam free on the lot, but this alternative didn’t quite work for me as I would have been nervous leaving CB (a chihuahua) to fend for herself.
- The Scene – the scene in Hueco is intense! Whew! Expect your visit to include fabulous climb after fabulous climb, but also expect to hear name dropping and lots of discussion of 8a cards. Expect to daily see v12′s crushed and don’t be surprised at all the photographers and their mass of gear. The climbing still makes it worth the trip, but the scene was by far my least favorite out of all the destinations I visited. I even heard a guy comment that he couldn’t send his project because of his shoelaces. Really?! Come on.
If you have any additional beta, please feel free to comment or email me.
Sunday, March 15th, 2009
I felt fortunate that world class destination Hueco Tanks was on my list of road trip stops. I had heard about this destination for years and happily rolled in mid-January, exploring the boulder problems for a month.
(I apologize prior to any of you readers scrolling through the pics. Usually my posts include pics of friends, but I was real lax on taking pictures in Hueco as there were always friends around with better cameras than mine. The result was good pics, but most of the ones I received were of just me. I apologize.)
The El Paso landscape. Photo by Craig Copelin.
One of my Red River Gorge friends hiking down North Mountain at sunset.
Me working through the crux of “Baby Martini”. This climb was a perfect way to wreck oneselves at the end of the day. Long and core intensive, it was an excellent way to ensure a great workout. Photo by Frank Wu.
Me on “DragonFly”. Photo by Craig Copelin.
Kenyon on “Fern Roof”, which he sent a couple days after this picture. Congrats, my friend.
Me on “The King Cobra”. I loved this line and had to put in quite a few days of work prior to sending. It was one of my proudest sends simply because it was a climb that wasn’t my style.
Daron on “Julio and Me”. Photo by Frank Wu.
Me on “Moonshine Roof”. The best part about this climb was the huge surfboard feature pictured here. Photo by Frank Wu.
A fun aspect of road tripping is continually running into the same people. I had climbed with Courtney, pictured here, in Rumbling Bald and then again in Hueco Tanks. She was in Hueco with her friend Shulpa, who I have now ran into in Joshua Tree and in Bishop. =) Here Courtney is climbing the fun line “La Delicate” in the New Meadow area.
Me on “Big Iron On His Hip”. This was by far my favorite line in all of Hueco, that I luckily sent right before the end of my trip. Though the line wasn’t really aesthetic, it included the coolest movement with techniques such as a heel-toe cam, a bicycle and a campus drive by move.. all of which were necessary (at least for me) in order to send. So much fun! Photo by Frank Wu.
I had lived out of my car for my entire road trip until I reached Hueco. In Hueco I had a place to stay in with fellow climbers, which worked out well for the sole reason that I didn’t know what I would have done with CB otherwise (as dogs are not allowed in the park). The Rock Ranch allows dogs to roam, but CB is so small that I would have worried about her. The people in the house were great. Pictured here is Tammy and Daron shaving the dog and James drinking jack and coke… all at 9:45am. =) CB absolutely loved James, and he was real great with her, petting her while he would play video games on his rest days.
El Paso is quite the unique place. Old buses, random open air living arrangements and buildings that look like space craft can be sighted on the way to the Park.
I love this picture. This is me, hanging out with The CragBaby and Johnny Utah.
Lastly, a picture of my Hueco “office”.