Hueco Tanks & Mammut Blacklight Boulder Challenge - 23. Februar 2014

So two years after my last trip, I already made it back to Hueco. The rock there is simply breathtaking and there are so many amazing climbs, I guess I could come here every winter.

I left right after my exams together with Viola and Damaris, looking forward to spend a whole month just bouldering. David, a friend from Switzerland, was so kind to pick us up at the airport in El Paso and we were joined by him, Ishan and Christian for the first few weeks. Although the park system in Hueco is known to be extremly complicated, we decided to camp inside the park since they have good amenities and really pretty campsites.

Thanks to our friend Ricky, who we’d met in Rocklands last summer, we had somebody who was familiar with the park system and also one of the best guides to take us out on backcountry tours. Like I’d hoped, I’d gotten a whole lot stronger since my last stay and could easily do problems that I’d struggled with last time. Natrually this got me really psyched to get on problems which seemed way too hard two years ago. We were an awesome group and Ricky showed us one amazing climb after the other. There was one problem called Bloodline (7B), which I’d been especially psyched on after seeing some really cool pictures and videos of it. It turned out to be even better than expected, a quite technical climb which requires a lot of balance and body tension. It got something like our group project and in the end, everybody reached the top of this great climb.


Damaris on Bloodline (V7)

On our first tours, I tried Javelina (7B+) and 10-10 (7C+), both problems I’d already tried last time but seemed impossible for me back then. This year, I could do all the moves on both of them pretty quickly but wasn’t quite able to put them together. So I focused on getting used to the rock and build up some power endurance first. I finished up some projects and reclimbed problems from last time, happy to see how much I’ve progressed since then. Basically we all just enjoyed climing on amazing features and long steep roofs such as Moonshine or Star Power. Most of all, I learned to appreciate highballs and scary climbs.

I started to enjoy the mental battle and the adrenaline rush that mostly comes with it. I did Fight or Flight (6C), Try Hard (6C+) and See Spot Run (7A), latter made me especially happy since I hadn’t even dared trying before. I learned how to handle my fear on high topouts and was excited about the mental progress. Meanwhile Damaris climbed her new personal best by doing Dragonfly (7A) and shortly after Girls of Texas (7A) alongside Viola, while I could do Dragonfly sit (7C).


Viola on Dragonfly (V5)

Christian managed to do Babyface (7B) and Meddle Detector (7A+) on his last days. Ishan looked really strong on almost all of those problems but his endurance let him fail on the topouts quite often, which resulted in quite funny utterances from his side ;) David did a quick ascent of Schwerer Gustav (8A) and got really close on Barefoot on Sacred Ground (8A+).


Dave trying Barefoot on Sacred Ground (V12), the tall problem right of it is See Spot Run (V6)

Unfortunately the guys had to leave too soon and it was just us girls, at least until we got joined by Mike, another friend from Rocklands. During our last week, I got back on Javelina (7B+) as well as 10-10 (7C+) and could happily finish both of them. Although I think 10-10 is rather soft for the grade, I’m satisfied to improve my personal best and I’m working hard to break the 8A barrier.


Me on 10-10

Viola had a really good last day and did Hobbit in a Blender (7A) right after Hector in a Blender (7A+) and got sooo close on Ultramega (7B+), all of them some of the best climbs I’ve ever done in Hueco myself. Unfortunately I had to leave early the day of the Rock Rodeo, it must have been an amazing event with so many strong climbers, I would’ve loved to see all those impressive performances and I hope to be part of this event myself sometime! Besides climbing we enjoyed going for a run in the beautiful sunsets, getting a tan in the warm desert sun and searching for star constellations in the clear starry sky. We’ve been to the famous Cattleman’s Steakhouse, had great Mexican food at El Pasito and enjoyed the huge salad bar at Cattle Baron, all places I can only recommend. We also had really good Thai and Indian dinner at Susan’s house, I hope you guys continue your cooking and I get to enjoy some more delicious meals when I make it to Hueco next time! Like on every climbing trip, I met some really nice people and I hope to climb with you again sometime, after all the (climbing) world is smaller than we think… ;)


More pictures:

Christian Rüttimann
Viola Sommer

Also I’m relieved to say I’ve passed all my exams and I started well into the next semster. After recovering from my jetlag and getting used to university life again, it was already time for my first competition this year. Not just any normal competition but the Blacklight Boulderchallenge in St. Gallen, a very special and exciting event. The gym was turned all dark enlighted with blacklight only which made everything white and neon colored glow up. The problems were a lot of fun, we got to see plenty of funny outfits and the atmosphere was great! After pretty good qualifiers I didn’t do so well in finals but I had lots of fun and I really hope the event will take place again next year, props to the Kletterzentrum St.Gallen for their effort and making all of this happen! Last but not least, we’ll be going to Sheffield for the CWIF (Climbing Works International Festival) in about two weeks, super psyched! :)

More pictures