Monday, March 14th, 2011
After some time in the Central Texas area for the holidays, we headed off to the place where I started climbing. Having grown up in Las Cruces, NM, I had never even heard of Hueco Tanks until I started college. Well, technically, I first tried climbing at a birthday party of my friend’s at age 12 or so, but at the time I dismissed it as the dumbest activity I could do with my friction-less hands.
At that age I played soccer, ran track and played just about all other sports. I came back to rock climbing years later, when my good friend Charles Cundiff talked me into heading out to Bear Boulder in the Dona Ana mountains – which just so happens to be one of the first places anybody bouldered. After sucking terribly and fumbling up rock climbs with some running shoes, no chalk, and super pumped-out forearms, I was convinced by Charlie to head into the NMSU climbing gym. I ventured into the gym and was hooked. At first my only interest in climbing was to be able to not just suck. Climbing was the first sport I tried that I had absolutely no ability to perform naturally at. Being as focused as I could possibly be, I emarked on visiting the climbing wall a few times a week. The first time I roped up to attempt to make it to the top of the 25′ wall on top rope, I pulled on straight legged, arms locked off at every hold and with feet flying in every direction only to make it up half way. Having tanked my forearms I tried once again, only to make it nowhere. I was told at that point that I was trying to get up a 5.9! Man was that hard. I came in and tried some more and within a week or so I finally made it to the top of the wall without falling. ; )
I was now becoming friends with the other climbers like Jason Ploss, Walker Kearney, and many more. They were all bouldering around and talking about these V-number things. V such and such this must be V so and so. I came to understand what V0 was, at the bottom of the scale, and how hard just a few moves could be. About a month had passed when I was invited to check out Hueco Tanks. Outdoor bouldering? I was very curious to say the least. Apparently I lived only an hour from one of the best bouldering places in the world. Hmmm…fancy that.
We all stuffed into a couple of cars and headed down. Topped out some climbs at the Potato boulders and then we rolled over to the classic problem Nobody Gets Out of Here Alive. I was all psyched and got right on and managed it on my first try, all 212 lbs of me. I came back down and couldn’t do more than one move at a time. I was cooked – day done!
Hueco Tanks became my rock climbing playground. I remember the good ol’ days when $4.50 and a climbing buddy was all you needed to head down to Hueco for a day. 3 bucks for gas and 1.50 for burritos at the end of the day. As time passed I fell in love with climbing and before I knew it all my spare time in college was spent climbing, usually at Hueco Tanks.
Having so many things to climb at Hueco, the urge to boulder and explore has kept me coming back every year since I graduated and moved to Colorado. I still really love this place and look forward to a visit when the season is right. It truly is a treasure with world class climbing.
Now about my current project. I remember being taken to the Martini cave by my friend Lance Gould and being totally blown away. This was some sort of super cave seemingly built for climbing. I gazed upon all the problems, believing that one day I could climb each of them. Heh heh – and now I have climbed almost all of them except Too Many Martinis. At one time a while back, long before I sent anything in the cave, I imagined it might possible to climb from one side of the cave all the way across the cave to the other side exiting Right Martini. At that time it was only an idea, and one that seemed almost unattainable.
Years ago, after Chris Sharma had sent Esperanza, he came to the cave and thought the same thing. He sent it and named it Too Many Martinis. Good name, Chris. :p It went without too much notice, being as he sent it with one spotter and maybe one other person around. I heard about it and thought, Damit! I wanted that one. Oh well I guess I should have gotten stronger sooner. A year or so ago, James Litz decided to get motivated and he too sent the line. We were actually hanging out while he was trying Luther, a problem I established. James was the second person to send Esperanza after Fred Nicole. Not too suprising that he nabbed the second ascent of Too Many Martinis. As far as I know, Chris never graded the problem and James joked that it was about 5.14b. Real funny James! Since James sent the line, I broke a fairly crucial hold down to not much of anything. In the last two weeks, I have one-fallen the line 25 or more times. I believe the climb is V12/13 into V12 or 5.14b/c, into 5.14b. It is in my opinion much harder than Esperanza, especially since I broke the hold. I think it is V15 or 5.15a. So here I be on the edge of a personal breakthrough at the Martini cave on a climb I once barely deemed possible, pushing myself to the SEND!!!! Soon….