Will You Be Climbing At The Hueco Rock Rodeo?
The 21st Hueco Rock Rodeo, February 14th-16th
Crash pad, check, climbing shoes, check, tent, sleeping bag, and stove—no need to bring a stove food is provided, check. All packed up and ready to go–there is nothing like hitting the road—everything is tied up at work and there is a three day weekend ahead! Driving across the American southwest and heading to the west Texas town of El Paso to climb in one of the top three bouldering destination Hueco Tanks with my girl on Valentine’s day weekend—life couldn’t get better!
The festivities began Friday when I arrived—camping at the newly renovated American Alpine Club’s Hueco Rock Ranch is included in registration—all checked in at the Ranch, we set up and got a Fat Tire Beer. Early registration is open Friday so I got my goody bag, Rodeo shirt and hat, dinner vouchers and the problem list for the next day. Contemplating my strategy for the comp with another beer friends gather to fuel up – The El Paso Food Truck circus is here with plenty of food and several trucks to speed up the lines.
Local Sam Davis begins the slideshows Friday with his amazing images from Hueco and South Africa followed by the adorable, witty, super strong climber from the UK, Mina Leslie-Wujastyk—wow these guys are amazing and inspiring. The one and only Dave Graham captures the audience with his dynamic personality segueing into the premier of his movie the Island 2.
Saturday morning–the early start is worth it. Volunteers are dashing around getting people registered, fed, organized, on shuttles and we are off to Hueco Tanks! The excitement is high! There are tons of people from beginners in some awesome spandex to Daniel Woods, Paul Robinson, Jimmy Webb, Angie Payne, Nina Williams and more hard climbers. My girlfriend decided to not compete but bought the party ticket to participate in the fun. She is hanging behind at the Ranch today taking advantage of free yoga classes offered by prAna athlete Olivia Hsu.
After one of the best climbing days of my life the shuttles brought us back to the Ranch. The Food Truck Circus is all set up pumping out yummy food with more trucks this time—ah nourishment after a long day of climbing, a hug from my lady and a Fat Tire Beer what else could a guy ask for. Images by Merrick Ales of past Rodeos are being projected on the barn. Strolling around the Vendor village with a full stomach and a beer the party is kicking off. So many amazing companies and tons of raffle prizes including climbing shoes, gift cards, jackets, crash pads, hang boards, knee pads, sunglasses make me go back to get another arm’s length of raffle tickets.
The emcee starts announcing winners, nervous with excitement they start with the beginner category–I hear my name—I won First place– Wow! Climbing up on the stage the crowd cheers as I get handed an Organic crash pad and a certificate for 5.10 climbing shoes! And I get to visit the prize table next loaded with prAna goodies, headlamps and more! More prizes are awarded to the top three male and female in every category, donations to Hueco Tanks, the climbers coalition and youth outreach programs are next followed by the dyno contest, DJ, dancing and bonfire! This could possible be the greatest day of my life; however, I am trying not to over imbibe since I signed up for a clinic with Paul Robinson Sunday.
Sunday morning start is thankfully not as early as Saturday. The kids are gathering and are psyched for the youth comp. Nutella Crepes served by Patagonia, cereal and fruit help fight the fatigue from the festivities the night before and I am off again for another great climbing day in Hueco Tanks – today I am learning from prAna athlete Paul Robinson!!!! After another amazingly beautiful day of climbing in the Tanks there is a BBQ spread awaiting the weary. And the psyched youth competitors are getting some great prizes for their efforts.
~ Melissa Strong, prAna Ambassador