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.

Starting the year right!

Raphael did his first two boulder problems!!

Little bro was quite happy to rock hop around the boulder

All the kids had a blast and were able to top it out.

I did it too... many times!

The plan was to go set up a few ropes at Hidden Jewel on Mount Lemmon, but after a pretty steep climb and lots and lots of scouting, Antonio deemed the place not safe enough to go with a bunch of kids, so we headed back down and decided to go back to the Hairpin boulders sector where we bouldered last time. It was the perfect place to cool down and enjoy the end of the day.

Bouldering in Tanque Verde, Mount Lemmon, Tucson, AZ

The girls couldn't wait to try their new crashpad!

Jump down, I got you!

Sisters helping sisters!

The girls paid attention to Pascale's every move...

She topped out on the first try!

Inspired, Mara got to work.

It is so fun to climb with experienced climbers. They are just beautiful to watch!

Lunch in our little paradise.

Pascale showing the girls another bouldering problem

This little guy has some great genetic!

I love this sweet family!

When we left our friends' home on Sunday morning, it was just above 0 degrees... We put on longjohns and layers of wool  and headed out to Mount Lemmon. By the time we reached Marble Cake Boulder, we had striped down to our t-shirts! The sun was glorious and the place where we set upvlooked like an oasis in the middle of a canyon.

We are new to bouldering and it is hard work! It is also quite different to not be ropped in and to feel *very* high (even if you're not that high). Most of us chickened out and did not top out any problem, but it is still fun to work on them. It was great to see how determined our kids were to figure them out, how they helped and spotted each other, how they moved the crashpads around depending on where the climber was, as they had seen many times in rock climbing movies... They worked hard!

More Joshua Tree rock climbing and bouldering goodness

After the Thanksgiving crowd came and went, Joshua Tree is back to its normal quiet self, especially during the week, away from the main tourist destinations of the park. We have the crags to ourselves and it feels glorious!

One afternoon, the kids didn't feel like joining us, so JF and I took off just the two of us while they stayed back at camp with their friends and Jennifer and Karl. We were exhilarated to be climbing just by ourselves. I could actually hear the silence of that place, the bling-bling of the quickdraws dangling from JF's harness as he climbed, the swoosh of the rope as I quickly fed him some rope to clip. We each climbed two great routes in less than 2 hours, something impossible when you have to belay 6 kids on every route! 

When we came back to the rig, the 6 kids had completely cleaned the bus and had prepared a delicious feast for the both of us! How awesome! We were speechless!

Since we are back at Joshua Tree North BLM, we are only 15 min from Indian Cove (one of the main rock climbing sector in Joshua Tree NP) and we go there every afternoon. Yesterday, after trying to set up a route and deciding against it after the first bolt (yes, we are very careful!), we worked on some bouldering problems. Boudering is hard work, but oh so rewarding!

Rock climbing Cryptic, Headstone Rock, Ryan campground, Joshua Tree

See that big boulder up there. That's where Cryptic is.

JF did it!!

Cryptic is hands down the most popular sport route in Joshua Tree (and in the overall top 10 of the park). Headstone rock stands proud and tall over Ryan Campground and simply begs to be climbed. However, the scramble up is quite sketchy with big drops, especially for short legs. It was a real shame to turn around, especially since there is almost always a line up for this awesome route (and that now, there was only a party of 2), so I stayed down with the kids while JF and Jennifer went up.

The kids found an amazing cave and bouldered in it (then turned it into a two storey house). I chatted with a super nice woman climber from Colorado as the sun was setting and I watched JF make it to the top of that crazy high boulder. The top platform is about 6 feet x 6 feet and you can sit on top to watch the moon rise, then rappel down. What a life we live!