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Update from the Sun

Well, most of the Spot’s setters are out of town at the moment, doing “research” and visiting family for the holidays.  Jon and Carlo are in the South, filming new boulder problems for an upcoming video from Louder Than 11.  I am in Hueco, enjoying a break from the cold Boulder weather.  I’ve seen some Spot peeps down here, and they seem to be enjoying themselves.

Vanessa Compton running an end of the day lap on Dragonfly

If you don’t know, Hueco means Hueco Tanks State Park and Interpretive Site.  Hueco is in El Paso, Texas, which is about 11 hours from Boulder by car.  Most climbers that come here camp and get tours from the Hueco Rock Ranch, though some folks opt to stay in the park itself.

Our rig with West Mountain in the background.

We are camping with some friends who bought land down here, so we are a little closer to the climbing and a little farther from the party.  The Rock Ranch is always a good time though, and just last night we all went over there for Jason’s Iron Palm Hang Board pull-up contest.  Click the link to watch a sweet commercial for the board.

Colette McInerney starting things off with a hula hoop.

Hula hooping has also been a big fad this year, with a few ladies (especially Spot peep Lucia Robinson!) showing some real skills.  (You can see the pull-up board right behind Colette.)

It seemed kinda funny to have a contest on plastic at a real rock climbing area, but training is training and most people aren’t lucky enough to be here all season, so the first place prize of a new Iron Palm Hang Board would come in handy for most back home in the cold.  When the contest started there were about 20 men signed up, but only one woman.  Perhaps the words “pull-up contest” don’t appeal to women (they certainly don’t appeal to me!) or perhaps the gigantic slopers that the pull-ups had to be done on were too scary, but after Charles Kelly, the super awesome live-in manager of the Rock Ranch, decided he’d put up a second hangboard as a prize for the women’s category, a few more women got brave and signed up to compete.

The always lovely Vanessa Compton.

Vanessa poured some Sake, Jason kicked up the music, and the pull-upping began!  In the women’s category things were looking grim until Caroline Treadway busted out ten pull-ups before slipping off the huge slopers.  The crowd was going wild as several other women gave their all, and then Colette stepped up and whipped out 15.5 pull ups before succumbing to gravity.  It was amazing!  Jenn Flemming did something like 10 or 11, I only managed 9.5, and Vanessa almost did 12 before giving in.  We were all extremely pumped in the forearms, but it turned out to be super fun to compete.

With Colette the clear winner of the women’s category it was time for the men to show their skills.  As the men started off 10 pull-ups was looking like a distant goal for most of them, and I began to feel much better about my 9.5.  Finally 10 got broken, but it still seemed that Colette would win the men’s category as well as the women’s.  Eventually the men’s bar was set at 17 by a young man named Shawn.  Things were looking good for Shawn as guy after guy found himself heinously pumped at about 8 and managed one or two more before falling off.  Then USAC junior team member Brian Antheunisse came out and looked strong til about 19, then began to struggle, but finally managed 21 clean pull ups (and a few weak ones).  He was quickly followed by fellow team member Ian Dory from Fort Collins.  Ian looked stronger than Brian at first, but after 18 began to seriously fade and he only managed 20 clean pull-ups before pumping off.  With what seemed like no more takers Brian was declared the winner, but then Phil (infamous French climber Phillip Gondoux) stepped up and we all waited to see if he’d crush Brian’s 21.  Things were looking bad for Brian until 18 or so when, like Ian, Phil suddenly seemed cashed and only managed two more pull-ups before falling off the board.  Brian was declared the winner and he and Colette were presented their hangboards with much ceremony.  More photos here: Facebook | CryptoChild’s Photos – CryptoChild Iron Palm Open

The Man behind it all.

If you have a chance to come down to Hueco sometime I’d definitely recommend it.  Check out the Rock Ranch’s site for more info on how everything works down here (as it’s a bit more complicated than your usual climbing area) and if you’re interested in helping preserve the climbing at Hueco Tanks please check out the Climbers of Hueco Tanks Coalition.


  1. December 20, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Down here in El Paso for the Holidays (its home for me.) Great pics and blog- we may steal the idea for Sportrock.

  2. December 27, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    yeah, pull-ups and hueco livin’! love it!

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