Bouldering in Tanks in Hueco Tanks

Hurdles, hurdles, hurdles… there are a number of them, all to be cleared before the climbing can begin. Even finding where to climb is a hurdle for those visiting for the first time, as the guidebook is out of print, oddly (not sure why this would be, since guidebooks take so much effort to produce; this one’s almost investment grade!). It turns out, that the park is split into guided and self-guided areas. If you take a tour with a guide, a book showing the problems and routes is not necessary as your guide will know where to go, but for the self-guided North Mountain area, it’s a necessity. We found a couple of options around this:

  • Go to the Rock Ranch and ask nicely if you can look at the copy of the guide that is tethered to the bar in the main building (the Rock Ranch is not open all year round though)
  • Go to the public library downtown, and head to the reference section where you may take out a copy to peruse at your leisure (likely the best option, please don’t steal this copy!)
  • Go to the app store for your phone and get the mountainproject app (good for cross-referencing with the book, but we still prefer a hard-copy if possible)

For the first two options, it might be advantageous to take your smartphone with enough disk-space to store a few photos… After dealing with the hurdles (watching the mandatory video, making reservations for every day you’d like to climb, making sure you don’t reserve more than 3 days in a row…), we were able to start bouldering finally. The areas we climbed were all in the North Mountain region and included The New Meadow, Small Potatoes, Upper Lost Boulders, Lower Lost Boulders and Big Time.

Our first stop was in the New Meadow area. There were a number of easier problems and a classic V5 we wanted to do. Here’s a video of Moira climbing the classic Lobster Claw, V5. Unfortunately, the cameraman didn’t do such a good job, but it gives a pretty good idea of the steepness of the problem 🙂

And a moderate in the same area, German Hatery, V3:

We climbed quite a bit in this area, I wanted to do another problem called King Cobra, but it wasn’t to be (more on that later). | Bouldering at Hueco Tanks TX

The next area we spent a few days at was Big Time. Our favourite problem we tackled here was one called The Rack, not considered a classic, but we found it very fun! It’s a technical problem, so it took us a little bit of time to figure out how to complete it: the problem involves traversing across a blank wall and then overcoming an arete at the end.

The first 30s of the following video is a good example showing us working out the moves to complete the problem, with the remainder showing both of us climbing it. We start off with the same sequences, but finish in different ways: I use a core-strength move, which is faster but can’t be repeated so many times as it’s quite fatiguing, Moira uses a hand-match as she can fit both of her hands behind the big bulge, which is slower as there’s more moves but it requires less strength. 

Our bouldering was off to a great start, but then during one of the hot spells, I spilled off a warm-up, bruising a few ribs and gaining some cuts and scrapes, and then to make matters worse I tweaked my lower back again; hobbling around, I was unable to climb any further without a week of rest… and then Moira tweaked her shoulder on another warm-up… and thus the climbs we wanted to finish went begging 🙁 However, being from a farming background, I just had to give a boulder named The Russet a big hug at the Small Potatoes area, more than making up for not being able to climb! Russets are awesome. | Jonty hugging the Potato Boulder, Hueco Tanks TX

Hugging The Russet at Small Potatoes!

With the weather too hot to try anything remotely hard (and unable to enter or leave the park during times when it was cooler due to the access restrictions), and with the niggling injuries we picked up, we decided to cut our losses and move on, using the time on the road to rest and recuperate. We’ll be back to HT soon though, to complete those unfinished problems (Bloody Flapper, Dean’s Trip, King Cobra…)!


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