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Return to Hueco - Jon Cardwell

Return to Hueco - Jon Cardwell
Return to Hueco - Jon Cardwell
Return to Hueco - Jon Cardwell
Return to Hueco - Jon Cardwell
Return to Hueco - Jon Cardwell
Return to Hueco - Jon Cardwell
March 03, 2013 -  Jon Cardwell    

I've been climbing in Hueco ever since I can remember.  I grew up in the desert expanse of New Mexico and the soaring syenite formations of Hueco Tanks were never too far away. My coach at the time and good friend, Lance Hadfield first introduced me to the boulders.  I was twelve years old and it was my first time climbing outdoors. My mind raced, and I was hooked immediately. That first trip open my eyes to what climbing is about.  I subconsciously made the decision to visit these rocks as often as I could in the future.

Over 10 years later here I am in Hueco for the 20th Annual Rock Rodeo.  The Rock Rodeo is a friendly competition that attracts climbers from all over the world.  More than just a competition, its a gathering to build awareness of the fragile environment in and around Hueco and to gain suport for the strong climbing community it attracts. 

I drove down Thursday with Beau Kahler and Nina Williams.  The drive is long, about 12 hours but we made it safely.  I could hardly contain myself when we arrived late in the night. Reminiscent of trips in the past, I could vaguely make out the outline of West Mountain when we pulled into the campsite.  I knew the boulders were there, waiting and wired into my mind from years of visits.  This was actually the longest break I've had from climbing in Hueco, over a year and half. 

Friday morning, I woke up to howling wind.  The conditions were literally perfect and I could not justify resting the entire day for the event on Saturday. I got a ride into the park and went straight to work on one of my old projects, Terremer V15.  I spent about a hour relearning the moves and was once again began making attempts from the start only to fall at the crux, a huge move to a tiny razor-sharp crimp.  I made the link a few times but I had no spotters, I was by myself with two pads, falling on the rocks, and my skin was thin.  I decided to call it a day...It felt great to climb on the boulder again, even though I was faced with having to leave it for another day. 

Saturday morning, my skin was less than ideal at 6am.  I should have known will wreck your skin!? I split a finger and the tips on my other fingers were raw.  Psyche was still high for the Rodeo.  Objectives are never lost and I hastily got ready for the day.  The event started early with breakfast at the Rock Ranch.  Climbers gathered, ate breakfast and preached about the long day ahead. I was registered in the Open category which meant we would be climbing on East Mountain the entire day.  The problem list was unique this year, almost all the boulders were new, opened mostly by Dave Graham last season and I haven't seen or tried most of them.  Strategically, I thought, I would repeat a few climbs I have done before, Full Throttle V13, Le Chinknel V11, Mo Mojo V11, Butter Pumper V10 and Full Service V10. At this point, I was completely destroyed, my strategy failed me but spirits were high and I had to see Dave's work on the other side of east mountain. I convinced Beau and Petzl master Justin to hike with me, past the maiden gully, over the mountain to the new boulders.  Not as easy as it sounds. The first boulder I saw was Phantom Limb V12.  I think it was open by Matt Wilder a few years back and I remembered seeing some photos of it.  I went to work after a quick spray down from Jimmy Webb.  My flash attempt was close, I fell at the last move...the crux.  I worked the sequence out and quickly because people, and pads were moving on.  I finished it 2nd try.  The rest of the day I spent trying more new climbs with little success.  They were hard. I was completely exhausted but satisfied with one of my best climbing days in Hueco. In the end, I scored seven thousand-something and placed 4th behind an extremely strong field of Jimmy Webb, Sam Davis and Paul Robinson.  I swear, those guys are always impressive to watch climb and I was proud to be part of such a strong group. They are Hueco masters. Except for......ummm...Fred Nichole! Who showed up for the event to hang out and climb. He even cooked breakfast pancakes for the climbers.  The festivities raged on to late in the evening, people were happy and the event was a success.  I was in Hueco again, and it felt good.

I want to thank Melissa Strong, the American Alpine Club and all the sponsors including Five Ten and Adidas Outdoor for putting on a great event. Until next year!



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