World-class rock climbing near Kansas

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of November 20-26, 1997
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World-class rock climbing near Kansas
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World-class rock climbing near Kansas
Question: I have minor experience in rock climbing (one year in Korea) and have also been involved in mountain biking for three years. The problem is, I live in Kansas. Not by choice, of course, but as fate has it, my wife won't move away from her mother. Is there any place nearby to do either?

Wichita, KS

Adventure Adviser: Unfortunately, my mind draws a blank when it comes to biking or climbing in Kansas. But if your wife won't move away, at least she should be able to understand your need for a little road trip every once in awhile.

I suggest you take your next three-day weekend and head to Hueco Tanks, 30 miles east of El Paso, Texas, off of U.S. Highway 62/180. Yes, it's quite a drive, but climbers from all over the world come here to boulder away their winters until it warms up in France or California.

Set on 860 acres, the highest formation in Hueco Tanks State Historical Park is only 350 feet tall. But the lumpy, 34 million-year-old granite formations have some of the steepest pitches and smallest cracks, making them very challenging to climb.

You can start warming up at Kid's Stuff and make your way to the New Map of Hell. There's even a book out about Hueco Tanks written by a climber named John Sherman. Though it gets a bit crowded during the winter, Hueco Tanks is a great place to hone your climbing skills and hook up with new like-minded souls.

One climber even built a house on the edge of the park, and if you're lucky he may invite you over for some tuna casserole. Camping is allowed in the park. For details, call 915-857-1135.

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