Climb Europe - helping to organise your rock climbing holiday in Texas
Rock climbing in Texas is dominated by the world-class bouldering at Hueco Tanks. Hueco Tanks is renowned for its huecos (holes) and multitude of overhanging boulder problems on Iron rock. This excellent bouldering, along with fine winter weather and Mexican food, attract climbers from all over the world.
The bouldering at Hueco Tanks is often described as the premiere bouldering area in the United States of America. Hueco Tanks is a magical place with amazing boulder problems scattered across sunny mountains in a beautiful setting, with a diverse collection of wildlife and cultural history. Holds are sculptured into clean solid rock with long roofs littered with jugs and sheer faces with tiny edges.
The bouldering at Hueco Tanks, sits within the Hueco Tanks State Historic Site, which is located in western Texas about 20 miles east of El Paso. The park is split into 4 distinct areas, North Mountain, East Mountain, West Mountain, and East Spur. There is extensive bouldering in all of these areas. The type of rock here is called “ironrock” that is dark brown and produces unique narrow necked spherical pocket holds.
However due to the historic nature of the site the number of visitors, including climbers, is restricted. Hueco Tanks State Historic Site is divided into two sections: guided and self-guided. Most of North Mountain falls into the self-guided section and currently 70 visitors are permitted at any one time. The rest of the site falls into the guided section and currently an additional 160 visitors (excluding guides) are permitted. Note these rules are subject to change at any time and the official Hueco Tanks State Historic Site website gives the current up to date information. Alternatively from a climber’s perspective the Hueco Tanks bouldering guidebook will untangle the Site’s regulations and provide you with the knowledge essential for bouldering in Hueco Tanks under the current Public Use Plan. Information is given on how to book reservations and tours, what the tour rules are and where it is permitted to climb. Buy this guidebook from our shop.
The best time to visit Hueco Tanks for bouldering is in the winter from November to March with temperatures between 10 and 21 Degree C, lots of sunshine, coupled with low levels of precipitation. However it does get cold at night with temperatures often falling below freezing. Hueco claims to have more than 300 days of sunshine per year.
There is limited camping is available in the park, though the main camping (and cheaper) area is at Hueco Rock Ranch, which is located just outside of the park.
The Hueco Tanks bouldering guidebook is the definitive guidebook to bouldering in Hueco Tanks, containing nearly 1,700 problems from V0 to V14. It contains topos, descriptions, ratings and stars for every known problem. There are clear explanations on how to navigate through the park and many overview maps of the mountains and the areas they contain. There are many excellent photographs and narratives that will provide an insight into Hueco’s geology, wildlife and climbing history.
The Hueco Tanks climbing and bouldering guidebook is written by John Sherman who was responsible for developing many of the parks harder problems during the 1980’s and 90’s. This guidebook also contains the smaller number of roped bolted climbs within the park as well as the extensive boulder problems.
There are other climbing areas in Texas with numerous limestone crags near Dallas and San Antonio, though the quality of these is not great. Better climbing is found at the Big Bend National Park, with its 300m limestone rock-wall canyons and volcanic peaks, and at the Enchanted Rock State Park. At Enchanted Rock State Park is an island of granite rock rising 350m high. Here there are 500 routes up to 5.12+ (F7a+)on mostly domes and slabs with many vertical faces and cracks to climb.