United States
Hueco Tanks

Discover travel destinations of travelers writing a travel journal on FindPenguins.
Travelers at this place
    • Day 147

      Hueco Tanks

      February 1, 2023 in the United States

      After 6 weeks in Mexico we are back in the US. Boarder crossing was very easy, no questions asked, only a quick inspection of our veggies.
      We spent 5 days in the regional park "Hueco Tanks". Access is a bit complicated and expensive as you have to pay every day the park entry and there are only 70 people allowed to enter the self guided area in the north. If you want to discover the rest of the area you have to hire a guide to access. Luckily we met again our friend Josh and he has a friens who is a guide in Hueco Tanks. So we enjoyed a great day in the east region and could climb many of the classic boulders.
      Leki was happy when we finally left Hueco Tanks as he was not allowed to leave the paved road and spent most of the day in our van 😪
      Read more

    • Day 34–42

      Hueco Tanks (Texas)

      October 5, 2023 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 24 °C

      When we started following climbing news and watching climbing videos about 10 years ago, Hueco Tanks was huge. The Hueco Rock Rodeo was held every year and attracted a lot of strong climbers. The area looked so good in those videos. Big roofs, red rock, desert vibes. We had been dreaming about this place for years, but being on the other side of an ocean and with pretty strict access regulations, a visit never seemed like a possibility.
      But now we had a long trip to the USA planned and Hueco was a certain part of it from the beginning. We read everything we could find online to make sure we could climb there. Since 1998, Hueco Tanks State Park has been limited to 90 visitors per day for self-guided access to North Mountain, plus another 60 or so for guided tours to East Mountain, East Spur, and West Mountain. We weren't able to make reservations from Germany, but were able to do so two weeks into the trip in the USA. In the end, it turned out that we didn't really need a reservation in October because climbers don't go there until November because of the heat...well, it didn't hurt to have a reservation.

      We arrived at the Hueco Mountain Hut when it was already dark. Our first encounter with any living thing in Hueco was a Mojave Rattlesnake that slowly slithered away as we tried to occupy our campsite. We were alarmed, but (unfortunately?) did not see another snake for the next week.

      Our first day in Hueco was tough. The sun was scorching, we didn't know the area or where to find shade, and we totally underestimated the old school grading used in Hueco. In short, we got slapped in the face that first day, but we didn't give up. As we entered the area that first day, we overheard a ranger on the phone with someone asking about a volunteer tour. These tours are rare in the off-season and tend to fill up before they are announced. So we asked if there was room for us, and there was!
      The tour was on the second day. We met our guide CJ and the rest of the group (Pedro, Levi and Derek) at 9am. The plan was to go to East Mountain and cover some of the famous spots with moderate lines. CJ has been climbing in Hueco since the mid 90's and lives there every year during the season, volunteering to guide almost every day. He knows all the blocks, all the lines, all the beta, and all the stories. It was awesome. We started at the Warm Up Roof, went to Dragon Fly, and ended the day at the Moonshine Roof. The scenery in the Hueco Tanks backcountry is even more beautiful than North Mountain. It looks so wild and it is amazing to see the oasis of the state park in contrast to the vast desert in the background. Our backcountry day was one to remember. The atmosphere and vibe of the group was phenomenal, we all had a great time.
      On our third day of climbing, we were back on North Mountain and went to a sector recommended by CJ: Sign of the Cross. The line of the same name is surrounded by blocks that form a completely shaded triangle of walls. Inside this triangle the temperature was about 15 degrees lower than outside. That's what they mean when they talk about the microclimate of Hueco Tanks. Next to Sign of the Cross (THE benchmark for V3 by John Sherman himself!) is a line by Fred Nicloe called Choir Boys (V9) that I fought my way up. Great climbing, but insanely hard for the grade, I think...
      After three full days of steep approaches, bouldering, and heat, we were ready for a rest day at White Sands National Park (there will be a separate entry for that place).
      Day four was full on again. I got to climb another old Fred Nicole line, Power of Silence, V10, and Birte climbed Skimmer, V3.
      On the fifth day I did my first V11 of the trip, Diaphanous Sea, a steep crimp line with a long throw to a sharply cut crimp jug. After that we went to the Wicicala Cave, where Birte tried the roof climb of the same name, a very Hueco-like power endurance testpiece (V5). Birte was able to do all the moves and connect big parts of it. Before the park closed, we followed a path we saw in the guide book that would lead us to some cave paintings. The path was really exposed and involved some serious climbing, downclimbing and even a jump over an abyss called "Demon Slot". We got to the cave, but almost didn't find the paintings. Just as we were about to head back, I found a small gap between the rock and a large boulder. I peered in and saw them. Magnificent!
      We took an easier way down and were the last to leave (as we were almost every day) just before the park closed at 6pm.
      On our last day we went back to Wicicala Cave and Birte climbed the line in two parts, but unfortunately couldn't connect them. One of many good reasons to come back 😜
      We spent most of our nights at the State Park campground, which is a great place to sleep. It is behind the backcountry part of the park and away from the traffic and lights of El Paso. In the morning we opened the door of our van and when the wind was calm we could hear nothing! Not an animal, not a person, not a car. Total silence 🙉 .
      Two nights we threw our crash pads on top of the van and lay there watching the stars in the pitch black desert night.
      Three nights we slept at the Hueco Mountain Hut, a climber's campground owned and run by a climber who has been living here in the desert since 1988: Lowell Stevenson. A great guy. Every morning we went to his shop to talk to him and get the best coffee ever: Desert Piñon, a blend of coffee beans and desert pine nuts. It's hard to put into words how good that coffee was, but I would honestly come back to Hueco just for the coffee 😋.

      Hueco Tanks was amazing. It really was. Not just for the bouldering, but for the whole experience and the magic of the place. We loved it here.
      Read more

    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Hueco Tanks

    Join us:

    FindPenguins for iOSFindPenguins for Android