Thursday, 4 December 2014

Steaks, Crimps and Roofs (Hueco Tanks)

This was a trip that we had talked about over a year and a half ago. When the idea finally came to be, the psych was high and we were ready to send some hard Boulder problems and eat a hell of lot of steak! After over 24 hours of travelling we finally arrived in El Paso in our absolutely incredible house that we had for the next 4 weeks.

Too giddy to wait, we went straight out to climb on North Mountain the next day. Jet lag was hitting most of us hard except Sam who made swift work of a really cool looking problem 'Dean's Journey' V10.

Sam sending 'Dean's Journey' "what's jet lag?"

With our biceps aching from the slopey undercut on Dean's we went out again the next day feeling a little more awake... Slowly getting into the swing of things, we climbed a couple of V6's and V7's including a really fun highball 'See Spot Run' and the super classic 'Baby Face'. We also climbed a soft V10 'Fern Roof'. After this we all thought a rest day was needed to fully re-cooperate from the travelling and the climbing we had just done.

Fully rested and ready to go again, crush mode was engaged and I sent my first V12/8a+ 'barefoot on Sacred Ground' a really cool climb starting in a small roof climbing up through slopers and crimps with toe hooks and compression. This had an optional high top out which I did try but got freaked out when I found sand in the holds at the top and dropped off. Third day on and I had already reached a personal best! After taking a pretty sketchy fall from the top, max also climbed 'Loaded With Power' V10 a super cool line with huge Huecos and knee-bars. I definitely had to come back for this.

'Barefoot On Sacred Ground' my first V12

Max climbing the Huecos of 'Loaded With Power'

During the rest of the first week we went on our first tour to East Mountain where I managed my first ever V10 flash of 'Mojo' and climbed a V11 'Chninkel' and we also had another day on North where we climbed a slab and a couple of other things including an amazing climb called 'Bloodline' V7. After flashing Bloodline Max took a tumble down a crevasse while taking photos and hurt his shoulder pretty bad. And had to visit the hospital meaning he was out for a week. 

'Bloodline' V7

The second week was all on North with 2 more V10 ticks including the infamous 'Power of Silence' and one of my favourite climbs of the trip a V11/12 called 'Diaphanous Sea'. Basically a board problem with a jump. I also put up what I'm pretty sure is a first ascent which in true Hueco style I named '' which goes at about V5. Tom also climbed 'Loaded with Power' his first V10 and was buzzing for the whole day!

Tom taking a wild swing at the top of his first V10

Now halfway through the trip which was going so fast, we had 2 more friends Join us; Dan and Rowanne. They where keen to get straight out like we were so we went on tour to East Spur where possibly the greatest concentration of good boulders in Hueco are. I climbed 2 cool V8's including a really fun roof called 'Bush League'. Dan's power scream/roar was quite impressive as he front levered himself through to the finish... I did try a V13 'Crown of Aragorn' and managed to do all of the moves but wasn't psyched.

Later that week I had what was probably the best outdoor climbing day I have ever had. I climbed 3 V11's including one which I nearly flashed... Then proceeded to flash a V10 and climb 'Loaded With Power' the V10 that Tom and Max had done earlier in the trip 1st go of the session. I don't know why but I had so much energy that day. I was running up the mountain to get to the problems... Michelle also climbed a cool V8 called 'McBain' which was pretty burly!
Who needs knee-bar pads!

I had some trouble with my elbows but after getting a deep tissue massage we got quite a lot in during the last week. I pulled out another V12 'Loaded Direct' on North and we went on a lot of tours where we climbed a few V8's and a lot of mid range classics. About 3 days from the end of the trip I went back out to East Mountain, just me and my tour guide Ann so that I could try 'Slashface' a V13/8b which I had tried the week before and she could try one of her projects 'Sunshine Roof' a cool slopey roof traverse.

I went out in my Christmas pug T-shirt which the crew had bought me a few days earlier feeling confident. After 2 attempts missing the first crux move, I stuck it and made my way towards the final crux move where I just missed and fell. I took a 15 minute rest and pulled back on. I came to the same move again but this time I stuck it! Now trying to calm myself I fought through the next few awkward moves with toe hooks. I was fairly pumped after this so took a long shake out before continuing up the chossy top out to then celebrate as I had just sent my first V13!!! Wooooo!!! I wanted to climb V13 this trip and this was the one I wanted to do the most. I really couldn't have asked for anything more...

Trying on pug tops...

Shooting guns in Texas!

One more day in the park. We got up early and managed to get spaces on North where I climbed an incredibly sharp but cool problem which is a shorter version of a V12 called 'Le Retour de Goupil' which goes at V11. Me and Tom then finished our last day up on a super fun font style V4 called 'Michael Kenyon' which was the perfect way to finish up the trip.

Last day in Hueco...

Wishing I was back there already. Maybe I will return for a full season at some point...

Leaving El Paso...

Thanks to the crew for being awesome.
Thanks to our tour guides: Anna, for bringing the psych every day and keeping us motivated, and Ann for spotting me on Slashface and taking me to see West Mountain which we didn't get chance to climb on.
Also, thanks to my sponsors: Scarpa (The booster S is the perfect shoe for Steep Hueco climbing), PrAna (The new continuum pants are a great rugged pair of trousers with cool colours), ROKT Climbing Gym, Metolious, and Peak Pro Fitness.

(Photos courtesy of Max Ayrton, Michelle Greenall, Tom Greenall, Sam Whittaker.)

Below is my full ticklist for the month.

El Rauncho V2F
Bloody Flapper V4F
Baby Martini V6
Nobody Here Gets Out alive V2F
The Mexican Chicken V6F
Fern Roof V10 (V9)
See Spot Run V6F
Babyface V7
Daily Dick Dose V7F
Barefoot on Sacred Ground V12
Warm Up Roof V4F
Mojo V10F
Le Chninkel V11
The Two Star Arête V2F
Blackmail V3
Lobster Claw V5
Speed Bump V7
King Cobra V6
La Delicate V3
Mandalahaha V3F
Bloodline V7F
Power of Silence V10
Pounding System V4
T-Bone Shuffle V4F
Sign of The Choss V4
Choss Training V3
Theatre of The Absurd V10
Diaphanous Sea V(11)/12
McBain V8F V5 FA
Better Eat Your Wheaties V8
Bush league V8
Name dropper V3
Rogered in The Shower V10/(11)
Seka's Speciality V2
Dark Age V11
El Techo V11
Tequila Sunrise V11 (2nd go)
Girls of Juaréz V4
Free Willy V10F
Loaded With Power V10
Guillotine V2F
The Executioner V4F
Loaded Direct V12
Choir Boys Light V7
Uncut Yogi V6F
Sex After Death V8F
Hi-Pro Glow V6F
New Religion V7F
Alf in a Blender V6
Babyfat V6
Young Guns V4F
Greasy Kid Stuff V4
Slashface V13
Uncut Yogi (sit start) ungraded (V7) (1st go)
Javelina V8
Jingus Bells V5
Fuck You Asshole V4F
Adjust Your Attitude V8F
Le Retour de Goupil Light V11
Michael Kenyon V4F

Brackets is what grade I think it is...

V2 - 5
V3 - 5
V4 - 11
V5 - 3
V6 - 8
V7 - 7
V8 - 6
V9 - 1
V10 - 5
V11 - 7
V12 - 2
V13 - 1


  1. Hi Nathan. Good blog and very impressive Hueco tick list. A friend advised me to read your blog because I think i may have suffered a similar injury to the one you sustained in Font. I was pulling on a shallow 3 finger pocket with my fingers in a completely open position when i felt a pop in my forearm. The following day my hand felt stiff and there was pain when a clenched my hand into a fist. Also, there is pain in my forearm when i apply pressure to my ring finger in an open handed position but not when i apply pressure to it in a crimped position. I was wondering if this sounds similar to what you experienced? If so, how long was your recovery time and did you do anything to speed up recovery? Thanks very much. Rob.

    1. Hi Rob. This sounds exactly like what I did... If it is what I did then it's a lumbrical muscle tear which heals a lot faster than a pulley or tendon injury which is good!there are some exercises you can do with putty and rubber bands to help strengthen it back up. I would still recommend seeing a physio.

      I started climbing again about 3 weeks after the injury but only lightly and not on anything that caused any pain. I was pretty much back to normal after a few months but I now Only use front 2 instead of Middle 2 on pockets.

      Hope this helps


    2. Hi Nathan,

      Thanks for the reply and for the info. Thats good news that it heals quickly if it is a lumbrical muscle tear which it sounds like it is. I'll get booked in to see a physio and rest until after Xmas and new years. Thanks again and have a good Xmas. Rob