Bouldering in Hueco Tanks, Texas

Although there are some great climbing routes at Hueco (pronounced Way-Co) Tanks, it is the bouldering that I’m going to talk about today. The boulders here are excellent. In fact, according to John Sherman who has written a local guide book, he calls it “simply the best bouldering in America.”


And the bet thing about this region is that it offers loads of climbs for every standard of boulderer with problems ranging from V0 to V15. It is unique for its rock formation which is syenite – a weak form of granite.

“The quality of the rock is just so solid, and it tends to be more overhanging, so it tends to lead to more difficult problems, and the setting is just beautiful,” says Corey Dwan, a climbing guide from Crested Butte.

The best season for climbing is October through to April although occasional snow and rain showers from December to February can sometimes restrict access. Late spring and early autumn can be very hot but there is such variety at Hueco that you can always find problems in shaded areas. The Front Side routes are great in the morning. Summer days are usually too hot and dry for comfortable climbing, but if you choose to go there in the Summer you can be pretty certain you’ll have the boulders to yourself.

Hueco is 32 miles northeast of El Paso. This 860-acre park which is made up of a protrusion of sunburned boulders in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert, ranks amongst some of the best bouldering sites in the world. The boulders, some the size of school buses, others the size of skyscrapers, are pocked with millions of huecos (Spanish for hollows), created during a magma eruption 35 million years ago. Thanks to Lynn Hill (Lynnatron1) for another great video.

You must be aware that boulderers are restricted to North Mountain unless they are in a guided group. This is to preserve the archeological areas and its cultural and natural resources. American Indians have been iving around or visiting Hueco for the passed 8000 years. The rocks are adorned with more than 2,000 pictographs and petroglyphs representing one of the largest collections of Indian Rock Art in North America and as such draws hundreds of visitors, not to climb, but to view this ancient and beautiful art.

To help protect the rock art and better supervise climbers, the state adopted a management plan in 1998 that imposed a daily limit of 230 people. Of those, 160 people can visit the East and West mountains, but only if accompanied by a guide. Seventy other visitors can wander unsupervised around North Mountain. Before the restrictions were put in place, the park drew about 150,000 visitors a year. That number is down to about 28,000.

This doesn’t deter climbers from around the world pulling in at Hueco to test their talents.

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