Worth The Wait

Worth The Wait

It only took me 10 years, but I finally climbed at Hueco Tanks a couple of weeks back.  After climbing 6 out of 8 days and sampling a seemingly endless list of high quality problems I have only one thing to say:  it was worth the wait.

We spent 3 days climbing on North Mountain, 2 on East Mountain and 1 on the East Spur.  I tried my best not to get wrapped up in trying any single problem for an extended period of time, my main goal was simply to climb as many high quality lines in the V4-V8 range as I could.  Despite having to spend the first 2 days getting back in shape, I felt like the trip was very successful.  Some of my favorite problems included Moonshine Roof (V4), Hobbit In A Blender (V5), Meddle Detector (V6), Babyface (V7) and the one that got away, Ultramega (V8).

Since it was my first trip to Hueco it was also my first experience dealing with the well known regulations governing access to the park.  For those that are not aware, 3 out of the 4 areas in Hueco cannot be accessed without a guide.  This means you either pay $20 a day to climb with a commercial guide or you find a guide willing to take you on a volunteer tour.  It may just be a matter of false perception, but it seemed to me like the 3 restricted areas held more fun lines than those found at North Mountain, the so-called “self guided” area.  Coupled with the relatively high rate of $5 a day per person to camp and the cost of a trip to Hueco can get pretty steep.  Of course, the fact that people jump through all these hoops to climb in Hueco should be an indication of just how good an area it is.

The other thing that really struck me while wandering around the endless corridors of boulders was the vision it took to establish many of the park’s testpieces.  I think that many of us could walk up to most problems under V10 and at least visualize someone climbing the problem.  Actually seeing famous problems like Nagual and Slashface in person and seeing just how improbable some of the holds are was really eye opening.  To me it crystallized why many people are so interested in reading about high end ascents, especially hard first ascents.  On a related note, Fred Nicole’s amazing ticklist of FAs listed in the guidebook is amazing.

Here are a few pictures from the trip, I should have video of a few problems soon.  Click a picture to make it bigger.

Rocks

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Narc on Sign Of The Cross

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Kevin on Moonshine Roof

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Ricky trying hard on Try Hard

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Kevin digging in on Guns Of Navarone

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23 Responses to Worth The Wait

  1. Cady November 20, 2009 at 10:54 am #

    Nice post and Great pictures. I too will make my way to Hueco someday!

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  2. Brian Solano November 20, 2009 at 11:02 am #

    Hell yea!

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  3. sock hands November 20, 2009 at 11:11 am #

    it’s funny to me that folks jump through hoops to get tee times and will pay $50 or more a head… or, will be subservient to chair lift operations and pay $98 a day… but hueco is oppressive.

    certainly, there is much more infrastructure to pay for in golf and skiing… but i’ve heard some folks go crazy loco on the restrictions at hueco like they bleed the soul dry.

    hueco restrictions do not. full time jobs do.

    mixed tours can either be great or horrible, but my personal wishlist for north mountain has about 50 lines on it.

    hueco is so good.

    i’m glad you got a chance to enjoy it, narc.

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    • Narc November 20, 2009 at 11:19 am #

      We approached several people to go on tours with us and they were psyched until we mentioned it was commercial. They then vomited in their mouths.

      I personally didn’t mind paying because I’m not going to sit chained to a desk 40 hours a week to be cheap the few chances I have to climb in a place like Hueco. That said, I could see how $5-20 a day could be off putting for the more jobless amongst us.

      Also, going when it is 80 degrees out is a great way to avoid crowds and frankly most of the problems were in the shade anyhow. Of course I nearly threw a fit the times I greased off the top of a few problems.

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  4. eddie November 20, 2009 at 12:41 pm #

    in the words of boone speed: that is so cool man, that is sooooo cool.

    more pictures please!

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  5. peter November 20, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    I second eddie’s comment. Dig it.

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  6. Narc November 20, 2009 at 1:38 pm #

    I might have to make some follow up trips to get more pictures…

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  7. The REAL campus man November 20, 2009 at 3:11 pm #

    WTFFFFFFF? can we please see some cris s video?

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  8. casting November 20, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

    “Coupled with the relatively high rate of $5 a day per person to camp…”

    haha wait till you hit Europe

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    • Narc November 20, 2009 at 3:30 pm #

      haha, no doubt. Like I said, I don’t mind paying but I’m not sure how people afford to stay there for months on end (other than becoming indentured servants to the ranch).

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  9. Crafty November 20, 2009 at 6:09 pm #

    Another point: think of how crowded some popular areas on N. Mtn can get with the 70 people (70, right?) allowed in that region of the park. Now think about what that was like before the restrictions, with 250 people there.

    I can’t imagine how busy the warm up boulders and the gymnasium would be if it were still completely free range. Even with all the backcountry being open as well. The place would still feel like a zoo.

    Honestly, it’s worth jumping through the hoops. I was in the same boat until last year, Narc. I had been bouldering for 8 years and never been there before. I didn’t want to deal with the hassle. But now that I’ve gone, I can’t wait to get back.

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    • Narc November 21, 2009 at 11:26 am #

      Yeah, that thought crossed my mind quite a bit. It certainly is a nice silver lining that the place isn’t a total shit show.

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  10. Andrew November 20, 2009 at 7:14 pm #

    Seriously I think the problem for most climbers and hueco is that people just don’t plan their trip well enough.

    A lot climbers, do not necessarily plan out a trip 6 months in advance. Nevertheless, I sit in my cube drooling, planning every moment of a hueco trip. I know what days I want to rest on, and plan around that.

    The tours are the best, I love North but have had my eyes opened to East and West. Do yourself a favor, take a tour, and tell your guide to take you on all of the hidden classics. How many of you have been to the top of East Mountain? Some great moderate rock climbs up there, for instance Winged Victory.

    Hueco tanks, fear me, I have been planning my trips for Jan & Feb for quite some time.

    Finally Narc tell me you did, Dragon Fly, Jingus Bells, or Fight or Flight? If not, you need to get back ASAP.

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    • Narc November 21, 2009 at 11:25 am #

      Did Dragon Fly and Fight or Flight. I tried Jingus Bells once but couldn’t man up on the last move.

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  11. Drew Thach November 22, 2009 at 7:09 pm #

    Have you awarded the holiday prive packs yet? Just curious

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    • Narc November 23, 2009 at 6:16 am #

      Not yet, soon!

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  12. Matt November 23, 2009 at 10:11 am #

    So I am going to Hueco from Dec 16 to Jan 10th. As said previously we didn’t do the proper planning. I don’t mind going on tours nearly everyday but I would like to spend a few days on North. How hard is it to get a reservation in the morning?? The website says its cake but is that just advertisement? Bottom line if you climb five days a week and take a tour each day it’s still only a $100/week… not too bad if you ask me….

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  13. Andrew November 23, 2009 at 7:13 pm #

    It isnt bad, just get up before anyone else and wait. Being at the gate by 6:15-30 am, park, sleep. Works everytime.

    I do plan my trips out now, haven’t always done it. Whenever I get up early I am always the first there. Bring your cooking gear, a sleeping bag, rest in front of the gate. Be nice to the rangers, and it will all work out.

    Cheers!

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  14. Isaac November 25, 2009 at 2:09 am #

    Hueco is SO SO SO worth the “hassle.” I’ve been going for about a month for the last three seasons and am so psyched for my trip this Feb, the first time I haven’t had a planned return date. There are many incredibly classic problems on North Mt, but it is true that the back country holds innumerable treasures. lots of Hueco images in the archives of my blog (january or march of the last three years) if you’re interested.

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  15. Caleb November 25, 2009 at 5:38 pm #

    Hey narc…i decided, last minute, to make a trip down to hueco this weekend. I checked on commercial tours and got my spots reserved. Are there any problems you would recommend as can’t miss in two days of climbing? I’m not in the best shape, but do think I still should be able to climb in the V4-6 range.

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    • Narc November 25, 2009 at 6:05 pm #

      Do you know where the tours are going? In general if it’s your first trip you can’t go wrong just trying to
      do the 3 & 4 star lines from the book.

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      • Caleb November 25, 2009 at 6:19 pm #

        I don’t know where the tours are going. Honestly, I was happy to get spots on tours with this late notice on thanksgiving weekend. And being my first trip, I figured there would be plenty to do for two days just about anywhere.

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        • Narc November 25, 2009 at 6:23 pm #

          Sounds like an excellent plan then. Enjoy!

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