2013 marked the 20th anniversary of the Hueco Rock Rodeo, my second time at Hueco, and my first Rodeo experience. While I’ve attended other rodeos (after all, I am from Estes Park, home of the Rooftop Rodeo), my experience this past weekend involved fewer bulls, more rock climbing, and significantly stronger ladies with less primped hair (don’t get me wrong Angie and Nina, your hair looked great all weekend). Let’s just say I blended in slightly better at Hueco.
Upon realizing who I would be climbing with throughout the Rodeo, intimidation set in. Yet by the end of the weekend I felt not only inspired, but impressed by the humility of some of the world’s best boulderers. On day one, I found myself tagging along with a small army of bouldering’s elite, including Fred Nicole. Fred is unlike any climber I’ve ever interacted with. After gracefully dancing up any route tossed his way, he quickly shuffles pads and steps up to spot other climbers on their V4 projects. He doesn’t hang back to conserve energy, or tell you how huge the jugs are on your measly little boulder. Instead, he points out feet, spots attentively, and is sincerely excited when anyone tops out a boulder of any grade. To me, this is a remarkable feat for someone who has led the development of hard bouldering for over 20 years. On his rest day, Fred flipped pancakes for all Rodeo attendees. That in itself made for a pretty grand 20th anniversary!
Greg Mionske photo
Day 2 marked the competition, in which climbers were provided with a list of 30 or so problems within their category, and were scored on their top 6 ascents. I followed Angie Payne and Nina Williams around for the day, with the goal of sending one boulder in the Open category. After warming up in their street shoes, these ladies got straight to work on some of the more difficult boulders on the list, not even glancing at the “easy” options. I quickly realized that keeping up with these two was going to take every ounce of energy I had. Of course, I didn’t actually keep up, but trying so many hard moves over and over left me unable to function the following day. I still feel as though I sumo wrestled a silver back gorilla, and that he punched me repetitively in the ribs. I have the bruises to prove it.
Angie Payne photo
GREG MIONSKE PHOTO
Despite these minor wounds, I managed to get myself up Crimping Christ on the Cross (V9) during the competition, barely achieving my “one route on the list goal”. It’s not often that I get to climb with a pack of strong, supportive women, but I’m now determined to make this a more frequent occurrence. I also got to climb Something Different (V8) and Moonshine Roof (V4) with Fred spotting me, which was really, really cool.
A huge thanks to Melissa Strong, the driving force behind this year’s Rodeo, and to Marmot, the American Alpine Club, and LaSportiva, who sponsored the event. The whole weekend ran incredibly smoothly, there were tons of yummy meals, everyone got Marmot shot glasses, and no one got burned in the gigantic bonfire, at least to my knowledge. Oh, and I got to shoot guns at the Anchor J Ranch.
Team marmot in action
Below are the highlights from Louder Than 11
I’m also excited to be working with Mac’s Smack, a lip balm company featuring none of the following horrible things: GMO, synthetic fragrances, artificial flavors, gluten, cruelty, paraben, petroleum. Basically, if you have chronically dry lips like me and don’t want a bunch of harmful ingredients that make your lips hurt worse, you should check out Mac’s. Plus, they have a product called Fairy Glam, so how can you really pass that up?!