In the middle of February, the Studio's Cheyenne Sulaski headed out to one of the world's best bouldering destinations, Hueco Tanks, for a brief trip. She sent the Touchstone Blog a report about her trip. My go-to bouldering trip tends to be Bishop, and I hadn't made it far past there. I've road-tripped across the country multiple times, but never with the intent to climb. So when Brian Hedrick, (who can be found on Instagram under the name bcuzhedrick) invited me to go to Hueco Tanks with him for 10 days, I was pretty excited. Part of what I love about climbing is that it opens up a whole new reason to travel. Previous to climbing if someone would have invited me to Texas, I would have looked at them very un-enthusiastically and probably made some sarcastic remark about how much I don't like Texas. Now that I climb, I look at places like El Paso, and think: there's world class climbing 20 minutes away, well of course I'll go! So with our psych high and my car filled with crash pads we headed out mid day of February 14th, making it all the way to Joshua tree that night. The next day we spent 12 hours driving the most exciting road in the USA (I-10) just in time to get to Hueco for the 20th annual Rock Rodeo Competition.
We showed up just in time for free dinner and presentations of the climbing films. Both Brian and I were registered to compete, mostly for the sake of free food, sweet hats and so we could climb that weekend, as they had closed the mountain to non competitors(picture). So the next morning we grabbed or pads and went our separate ways, as Brian was competing in the open category and I was competing in the recreational category. That day I meet tons of awesome people and took it as a day to orient myself to North Mountain and the Hueco rock. I finished the insanely long "ghetto simulator" and the fun "nobody gets out of here alive" along with "Skimmer". 8 hours and one big sunburn later we returned to the Rock Ranch for dinner and a bonfire.
It was a surreal night to say the least to be surrounded by some of the best climbers in the world at one of the best bouldering areas in the world, in Texas of all places.
For the next 6 days we climbed all over North Mountain with a day each at East and West Mountain. Mike Wickwire, a guide and friend of Brian's was gracious enough to take us out for free and show us around. We also met up with some bay area folks, the world famous James Lucas (if you saw his vertical striped sending pants you'd understand) and his crusher girlfriend Kim Groebner, along with Lindsey Tjian and Tim Vastine.
We had the unique experience of being caught out in a rain storm (which Wickwire assured us only happens 5 times a year) and then the next day getting caught in a brown out.
My project for the trip was a roof problem called "Baby Martini", 25 feet of toe hook goodness.
One of the biggest things I learned is that if I want to project something I need a lot of time to do so. I would like to be someone who can walk up to whatever they want to climb and just crank it out in one session, but I'm not. Being surrounded by people like Brian, who projected Alma Blanca (V13) for an hour and then exclaimed "alright I'm gonna do it!" and then walked up and did it; well that was inspiring and made me really want to push my climbing to the next level. By the 22nd, I was just starting to get use to sleeping on a crash pad, being filthy all the time, and having muscles hurt that I didn't even know existed, and lo and behold it was time to leave! We enjoyed our last desert sunset and the next morning we started our long trek home.
Going to Hueco revolutionized my idea of climbing outdoors, the climbing there is so gymnastic and fun, and there are so many quality problems EVERYWHERE, in caves, on roofs, highballs, lowballs, and the best part is there is great climbing at every grade. I never thought Texas would become a climbing destination for me, but I cannot wait to get out to Hueco next season and stay for longer!
Tags: Hueco Tanks, Hueco Rock Rodeo, Cheyenne Sukalski
Past blog entries can be found at http://touchstoneclimbing.blogspot.com/