Turn off your phone and go climbing.

The strum of the Spanish classical guitar blared from my truck’s speakers as we drove down the highway towards El Paso. Kilian, Li, and I pulled into the unpaved parking lot of a Mexican meat market on the outskirts of El Paso and shut off our soundtrack, Rodrigo y Gabriela’s album, 11:11.
It's good to be back in the desert.

It’s good to be back in the desert.

We had driven 9 hours from Austin the previous night and were ushered into our campsite by the urban glow of the El Paso/Ciudad Juarez metropolis, visible on the horizon west of Texas Ranch Road 1111. Of course, we arrived at the Hueco Rock Ranch campsite at exactly 11:11pm.
Within an hour of leaving Austin, I realized I had no way to charge my phone for the weekend, so I turned it off – and it would remain off until our return to the city on Sunday night. I knew it was going to be a good weekend as I lay in the back of my truck staring up at the Milky Way overhead instead of checking for useless emails one last time on my phone before falling asleep.
Kilian attempted to order breakfast in English and shortly realized that I was going to have to order for him in Spanish. I summoned my knowledge of the language to order our pre-climb breakfast successfully. Our initial El Pasito Meat Market breakfast did not disappoint, and that satisfaction led to our collective purchase of at least 20 burritos over the course of the weekend. Cheap and delicious.
We didn’t waste any time heading into the maze of boulders at Hueco Tanks State Park. There are over 3000 boulder problems at Hueco, and more routes are established every season. It was my first time climbing here, and I was blown away by the bouldering and the geology.
Hueco Tanks with limestone cliffs in the background.

Hueco Tanks with limestone cliffs in the background.

Water collects in the pockets, or "Huecos", in the rock. It provided water in the past to travelers through the desert and habitat for aquatic life.

Water collects in the pockets, or “Huecos”, in the rock. It provided water in the past to travelers through the desert and habitat for aquatic life.

35 million years ago, a small pluton intruded into the limestone beneath West Texas and cooled to form syenite – a rock that is similar to granite, but with significantly less quartz. Uplift and erosion of the region has now exposed the pluton for us to enjoy. The syenite has joints that are continuously being weathered by exfoliation to form the boulders, caves, and roofs of Hueco Tanks. The rock here has large feldspar crystals that either make great holds for climbing or cut your fingers when you fall.
A mountain of granitic rock stands resilient in the valley below cliffs of limestone.

A mountain of granitic rock stands resilient in the valley below cliffs of limestone.

Kilian squeezes through the space between two large boulders. This space started out as a joint in the rock and has widened over many years by exfoliation weathering.

Kilian squeezes through the space between two large boulders. This space started out as a joint in the rock and has widened over many years by exfoliation weathering.

The rock at Hueco Tanks weathers to form pockets, which make great climbing holds.

The rock at Hueco Tanks weathers to form pockets, which make great hand/foot holds.

Li traverses the landscape of Hueco's north mountain.

Li traverses the landscape of Hueco’s north mountain.

There is a delicate relationship between the climbers and the Native American culture that is preserved here – many paintings adorn the walls of Hueco Tanks. The Parks Service makes the effort to preserve this cultural history while allowing climbers and hikers to enjoy Hueco Tanks.

Our trip was short, but worth the long road trip. We attempted to solve many boulder problems – some were sent and some remain to be sent. We each have multiple reasons to return later and climb harder.
T-Bone Shuffle, V4

“T-Bone Shuffle” V4

Steve climbs on "T-bone Shuffle" V4

Steve climbs on T-Bone Shuffle

Kilian sets his feet in a "hueco" (pocket) for the first move of "Nobody Gets Out of Here Alive", a classic V2.

Kilian sets his feet for the first move of “Nobody Gets Out of Here Alive”, a classic V2.

Li works on "Mexican Chicken" V6

Li works on “Mexican Chicken” V6

IMG_8780

Li spots Kilian on Mexican Chicken

Li spots Kilian on Mexican Chicken

   IMG_8766
Li grapples with "Adjust your Attitude" V8

Li grapples with “Adjust your Attitude” V8

Kilian on "McBain" V8

Kilian on “McBain” V8

IMG_8858
Kilian studies a problem on the King Cobra wall.

Kilian studies a boulder problem on the King Cobra wall, named for the shape of the feature to his right. Modern graffiti is also problem at the state park.

Li on "Martini Roof" V10

Li on “Martini Roof” V10

Kilian on Martini Roof

Kilian on Martini Roof

Kilian works "Loaded with Power" V10

Kilian works “Loaded with Power” V10

Li on Loaded with Power

Li on Loaded with Power

Heading out on Sunday evening after a good weekend.

Heading out on Sunday evening.

In the age of constant wireless communication and smart phones, it is sometimes difficult to put away your device and forget about pointless texts, emails, facebooking, and all the other time wasters that smartphones provide. But, when you turn it off and go outside, you’ll find that life is much more simple and enjoyable. Now, turn off your phone and go climbing!
Yeah!

Yeah!

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