Bouldering at Hueco Tanks, TX

Walking up the Chain Trail to the Small Potatoes area.

The Small Potatoes area is a popular warm-up spot. To the right, the water-filled hole is what a Hueco is and the reason why this place was so special for Natives (lots of water holding tanks in the desert!).

On top of a problem in the Small Potatoes area. Right: so many boulders to climb and explore!

At The Grenade area. What a view!

Getting beta from Betty who has been climbing here since she was Mara's age!

Working on the best V2 problem in the world (according to Mountain Project!). What a beauty!

Watching Alex Puccio work on a V9 problem (one of the top professional rock climbers in the world) after she warmed up on a V6! Look at the muscles on that woman!! It was interesting to see that even pros have moments where they freak out a bit too!

Mara working on a tough V5 problem (and she got it!!).

The famous V2 is called Nobody Gets Out Of Here Alive because the ground used to be covered in little cacti like it still is on the right...

We all left some skin on that rock.

Heading to The New Meadow area.

We drove by the road that leads to Hueco Tanks State Park and simply waved it off as being surely full... Then, since it was only an 8 mile drive, we turned around and decided to check it out, just in case. It was Sunday 4 pm. Maybe we would be lucky. We had tried to go there 3 years ago in January, but we got turned around, the north mountain being at full capacity despite the melting snow and freezing temperatures. The climbers, mostly visitors from outside on climbing trips for the Holidays, were trying to make the best of the bone-freezing drizzle. We turned around, knowing we would have our turn. And this year we got it!

Hueco Tanks is described by Mountain Project as *the best bouldering spot in the world*. There are 70 permits delivered each day for North Mountain and 60 are reserved at least 6 months in advance. You have to show up at the gate of the park early to try your luck at the other 10. Unless you are staying at the campground in the park, then you have first dibs at these permits. If you get there and the park is full, your name is added on a waiting list and if reserved permits are not claimed by 10:30 or so, then they start giving them to the climbers waiting. Quite the process... The other 3 areas of the park are accessible with a guide only and do not count in the 70 daily permits. There are volunteer guides and professional guides that can take you in these areas.

Hueco is also an historic site that is *very* well protected. You have to be ready to jump through a few hoops to climb here (watch a video before entering the park and listen to a litany of rules - repeated to you twice, once by the ranger at the entrance and then by the one at the interpretation center). But then, you’re in Hueco. And if you’re a climber, you have a big silly grin on your face. Because you made it to Hueco! You’ve seen videos of your favorite climbers tackling crazy hard problems here. And here you are. We actually got to watch Alex Puccio climb while we were here! What a treat!

We were lucky enough to hit it off with a local that had climbed here since she was a kid. She came to Mara and I when she saw her climbing and told her she started climbing right here when she was her age since her mom was an environmental scientist who spent big chunks of time here. She guided Mara and I through some amazing problems (some that she had created herself!). It made the experience even greater.

Huecos are these big round holes where water collects and one of the reason why this site was a sacred site for native people (the main reason why it is so well protected). There are many petroglyphs to be seen in the park and people still find artefacts.

Rock climbing in Texas, at Reimer's Ranch, near Austin

To get to the routes, you have to go down into a canyon...

There is warm water (presumably from the neighboring Hamilton Pool) running in the canyon and little pools nearby. It was *almost* warm enough to sit into. I'm sure it's a pretty popular spot to hang out after climbing in warmer weather.

Pretty cool rock formations and caves on the way to the crag.

Woof! Happy crag dog!

Look at that rock! It's so fun to climb!

Someone was cold and wore a Patagonia jacket while we climbed.

Mara led a 5.7 all the way to the top!

And she belayed me!

The girls are all really enjoying climbing and they are getting pretty strong!

We had climbed for a few days at Reimer's 3 years ago (scroll down on that post and look how small the girls were only 3 years ago!) and really liked it, so we waited almost a week in Austin for the weather to be decent for climbing (there is also some great mountain biking in the areas, but the trails were all closed because of the 5 days of rain we had...). We were glad we waited because this place is pretty amazing. The limestone has been washed by the water over many years and the result is like a huge swiss cheese!  

We wished we would have had time to give Enchanted Rock another chance (our first experience there 3 years ago was NOT good... but a bit funny in retrospect...), but we ran out of time in the area. Next time!