Over the break I was fortunate enough to get out to Hueco Tanks with two of my good buds that I don’t get to see ever anymore. Needless to say I was super excited! Dalan Faulkner, Joe Gifford and I had about a week to spend in Hueco, not giving us a lot of time.
Hueco Tanks Winter 2013 - Kyle Francis
This day was awesome! I hadn’t climbed in like two or three weeks because of school so it was really awesome to get back to climbing in general, nonetheless the best bouldering in the states! We warmed up at sign of the cross, then did Choir boys (v9) then headed over where Joe and I made quick work Power of silence (v10). This has always been a dream climb of mine, its always been so iconic of Hueco Tanks and one of the best climbs in the park. After that we headed over to theater of the absurd and spent a while trying to figure that one out. This is where my lack of climbing came back to get me, I would just get so tired! Two or three of my attempts resulted in me pooping out grabbing the finish jug. We walked away with no sends on that one. After that we headed over to Deans Journey, another awesome climb. This one is really unique, its almost just body wedging with very little climbing involved. For me, I could not figure it out. All the moves felt so weird to me! I had a blast on it, but I couldn’t top it unfortunately. Joe did it that day, and Dalan sent it a few weeks later on a separate trip. To kill our first day we headed over to Loaded with power to try the direct start. We were all pretty gassed at this point so it felt impossible.
In total we speculated that we put 100 runs in on the wall that day, which 100% came back to haunt us on day two.
So I am a HUGE baby. My skin was hurting so bad and I did not want to climb. I felt like I couldn’t even touch the wall. We had a tour that day on east, so I decided to man up and climb. I ended up working on slash face for a good portion of the day, re learning all the moves, no send. After that we went over to Hobbit with a Boner (v8), a relatively new climb that is upper awesome! It climbs a 10 foot roof then pulls over a lip for a spicy finish. I also did a few other moderate climbs that day, just getting on easier stuff and having a ton of fun
After taking a rest day I was still feeling absolutely terrible. It took me two or three tries to do sign of the cross, trying to get an extra warm up in on choir boys was completely out of the question, I could barely do two consecutive moves on it without falling. After attempting to warm up, we headed back over to power of silence where Joe crushed Power of silence, which I suppose really got me psyched because after that I went on a tear! We headed up to Theater of the Absurd. My first attempt I fell grabbing the finish jug, so I drank some water, took off my shirt, and went straight back to the start and sent. Joe and Dalan however struggled with a toe hook rollover move an did not send. We then went over to El Techo (v11) and after about an hour of trying to figure it out, Joe and I sent! For funnsies we headed over and all did the wonder Dyno (v10). I did it in one climbing shoe while Joe did it in his underwear….I suppose It was hot outside….. We were all pretty content with the day, but for some reason I was really itching to go back to Loaded Direct. So around 430 (park closes at 6) we hiked all the way back up the chains to Loaded. I put my shoes on and when I first grabbed the start hold, I remember saying “this feels different.” I have never done the second move of this climb or even felt close to it, but this time was different. This climb starts on a slopey pinch, then a bug move up to a sidepull edge, and before you blow off the wall you match feet and slap the slopey sidepull and hole a swing. Once you get your feet back on you climb up some crimps with a knee bar to an easy top out .I grabbed the slopey ledge with no problem, my feet barely ripped. Then absolutely filled with excitement forgot everything I was supposed to do and fell. I then chalked up and got right back on and just rolled it with no knee pad! I think that day was probably one of my best days
Day four for me wasn’t super productive. It was really cold and really windy, and the areas we went to I had already sent everything, but I was OK with another rest day! I tried Alma Blanca (v13 for a bit) and was consistently slapping the lip, but that was as far as I got. We hiked around for a while before finally deciding to call it a day and head down. On our way our we passed Dark Age. Dalan seemed hesitant so we asked if he wanted another go before we head down and of course he did. We laid our three pads out for this terrifyingly high climb. Dalan looked like he was going to fall on every move, elbows to the sky and screaming like a girl, but he did it!! It was one of the most impressive sends I have seen in a long time, and really inspired me.
Today I got my runs in on slashface that I wanted. I had all the moves, and was starting from the start. The heel toe cam kept popping, but it felt doable within a few more tries. After getting the finger lock so many times though, I got a pretty big blood blister on my finger that was throbbing and growing every second. After trying it a few times with the blood blister I decided to take a break for a while. We went to a few other places where I just sat around marveling at the size of my blister. Finally I came to the conclusion I needed to pop this thing. So with the help of some nail clippers I popped that sucker open and just bled for an extended period of time. And that concludes my day and what I thought was the trip.
This was our last day, my finger had a large hole in it, and we didn’t have any reservations whatsoever. Fortunately we got to get on the mountain. Unfortunately we weren’t the primary on the tour, meaning we didn’t get to decide where we wanted to climb. Our crew pretty much sat around until the very end of the day where we got to go over to a climb called Phantom Limb (v12). Phantom Limb is incredible! You climb up these awesome roof features to a hard top out. The coolest part to me is when you pull on, the first three moves are like 15 feet off the deck. After about half an hour I had done all the moves and was tiring from the start. On my first run from the start I fell grabbing the finish jug, I just pooped out and missed it. I got one more half ass run in before the rest of the tour wanted to leave. While it was a depressing last day of climbing, I was happy to get inspired on a new route that felt within reach. I will definitely be coming back for that one!
School has now started back up, and with my already busy schedule I have become the new Texas A&M climbing club’s head coach. I am ecstatic to get back to coaching a team again! I have also decided to run a marathon at the end of the semester and have begun running a ton. I have already run two 14 milers, getting my time down to just under two hours, and I am feeling fit! Unfortunately I was unable to get time off enough to compete at ABS nationals this year, but I have made other plans. I will be going back to Hueco for Spring break, and I have plans to attend SCS open nationals this year.