Ben Grubb | Photography

One Week in Hueco…

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Climbing, Photography | Leave a comment

One Week in Hueco: #07 of 30: Girls of Juarez (V4) ★★, originally uploaded by Ben Grubb.

Last month I was fortunate enough to get to go back to Texas and climbing at the incredible Hueco Tanks. I’d been so looking forward to it as well. After a year of huge changes and experiences (which is great, don’t get me wrong!) and pretty taxing work loads, the thought of ten days in the middle of the Texan desert, away from everything and with little to do than climb on amazing boulder problems, photograph some amazing scenery and just generally chill out really appealed. And the trip certainly delivered all of that as advertised. It was fantastic.

Because we were there for much longer than previously it meant we could plan a bit more, and explore further afield. We had a long (and some would politely say “optimistic”) tick-list of problems we wanted to try on North Mountain, but prior to departing I had spent a fair few hours pawing through the guidebook and YouTube for inspiration for other problems to try on the other mountains. My guidebook was sporting a very fetching post-it-note-mohawk by the time we left. Anyhow, the climbing went pretty well all told! We managed a few problems on North Mountain which we couldn’t do before, as well as finding some other great stuff which, bizarrely, we totally neglected previously! Although we were getting on and and working some hard problems, we also spent a fair amount of time trekking round and trying some lower grade classics; which often turned out to be the most satisfying part(s) of the day. Ben and I also pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones too with a few choice highballs (like ‘The Melon Patch’ and ‘Backdoor Man’) which felt especially exciting. It’s amazing how much harder V0 feels when you’re about 25 feet up over a terrible landing; It certainly does a lot for your confidence and mental control.

For those interested in such things, my ticklist went as follows (in no discernible order, other than the super classics at the top) :

  • ‘Moonshine Roof’ (V4) ★★★★
  • ‘The Melon Patch’ (V0) ★★★★
  • ‘T-Bone Shuffle’ (V4) ★★★
  • ‘Girls of Juarez’ (V4) ★★
  • ‘Orifice Affair (V1) ★★★
  • ’7-10 Split’ (V0) ★★★
  • ‘Split Crack’ (V0) ★★★
  • ‘Shaved Pits’ (V2) ★★★
  • ‘Aftershave’ (V0) ★★★
  • ‘The Laughing Sutra’ (V0) ★★
  • ‘The Guillotine’ (V2) ★★
  • ‘Warm Up Roof’ (V4) ★★★
  • ‘Tiger Beat’ (V1) ★
  • ‘Juvenile Offender’ (V0) ★★
  • ‘Jiffy Lube’ (V0+) ★★
  • ‘Ostracizer’ (V2) ★★★
  • ‘Backdoor Man’ (V2) ★★★
  • ‘Rembrandt Pussyhorse’ (V4) ★
  • ‘Sweet Loaf’ (V1) ★★★
  • ‘Satan, Satan, Satan’ (V1) ★★
  • ‘The Vulgarian’ (V2) ★★★
  • ‘Walrus in a Blender’ (V5) ★★
  • ‘Udder Destruction’ (V1) ★★
  • ‘Clumsy Plumber’ (V0) ★
  • ‘Black and Blue’  (V1) ★★★
  • The Flexin’ Texan’ (V1) ★

    That is a list of all the problems I actually did, but we also tried plenty of other amazing ones! Like usual, we came away from the trip with a bigger list of problems to do than we arrived with. Standout projects include:

    • ‘Hobbit in a Blender’ (V5) ★★★
    • ‘Dragonfly’ (V5) ★★★★
    • ‘Babyface’ (V7) ★★★
    • ‘Jingus Bells’ (V5) ★★★★
    • ‘The Fin’ (V4) ★★★★
    • ‘New Religion’ (V7) ★★★
    • ‘Jigsaw Puzzle’ (V5) ★★★
    • ‘Baby Martini’ (V6) ★★★
    • ‘Bloddy Flapper’ (V4) ★★★

    Our trip to Hueco however was as much a photography trip for me as it was a climbing one. I had decided to set myself a little brief before we left. It was fairly open, but I was going to produce a choice (and hopefully high quality) set of 30 photos from the trip, and where possible/necessary the shots had to include some off camera flash work. From extensive research, and from assisting Steve (see previous post) I have been picking up a lot of tips and tricks about the Strobist world and I wanted to see how I could apply it to my climbing shots. As I said, the “brief” was pretty loose, but I achieved it. The resulting set of shots can be seen below:

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    So, an incredibly satisfying trip all round really. The more I climb in Hueco, the more I want to keep going back, and I advise anyone reading this that is into their bouldering and hasn’t been to get out there stat! Hopefully it won’t be too long until the next trip.

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