Hueco Tanks must rank as one of the most famous climbing areas in the US if not the world. Arguably the best Bouldering on the planet, it also has a small selection of outstanding roped routes.
Huecos are natural holes and depressions in the rock. As well as making fantastic climbing holds they also accumulate any rain fall ( hence The “Tanks” ) and create an oasis in the surrounding desert. This has led to the area being an important staging post and home to indigenous American people for hundreds of years, a fact recorded in numerous pictogram paintings on the rocks. It also makes this a vital ecosystem for plants and animals.
The combined pressures of these three sets of stakeholders has led to a lot of tension, and climbing was almost banned outright. However a compromise management plan has been agreed with permits for only 60 visitors a day allowed. This covers climbers, bird watchers, pictogram hunters and walkers, so initially seems quite restrictive. However, you can book permits in advance and we got 3 days of climbing at less than a day’s notice.
The similarities with Uluru or Ayers Rock are striking. Granite monolith in the middle of a desert, sacred site to indigenous people, oasis ecosystem and awesome climbing potential. The compromise at Hueco is a lot more desirable than the ban at Uluru!