If you have not read it yet, get the May/June 2000 issue of Climbing and check out Jeff Jackson's article.
Thanks for Jeff Jackson's excellent article on the miserable state of affairs here at Hueco. It was informative and his summary at the end was accurate and supportive. I do have some criticisms that I will try to offer as gently as possible.
First, I would have been nice if a local climber was interviewed for the article. I say this with no disrespect for James Crump, who of all people is the most deserving of the title of "honorary local". However, he does not at present live in El Paso. There are a number of long-time residents of El Paso, people who pay local property taxes, that should have been interviewed. How about Dave Head, founder of the El Paso Climber's climb and lifetime resident? How about James Robertson, who's property borders Hueco itself? What about Pete and Queta? Heck, you could have interviewed me if you wanted an old fart trad opinion on the idiocy we have suffered. I have been out there since 1974, and while I hesitate to classify my lame efforts as "climbing", I was there for many events, such as the day Todd first showed up and was given a tour by Fred, Les, Dave, Mike and others.
True Hueco locals are described by Sherman in his guide as those "with nowhere else to go" who dare to brave the summer heat and bugs to climb at Hueco. Myself and many others fit into this category, and we are sad that after welcoming the world to Hueco with open arms, we have been largely forgotten by the traveling climber community. Unlike traveling climbers, we are stuck here.
Speaking of Sherman, I am dismayed and confused by his statements in the article. I hope he is trying to illustrate absurdity by being absurd. He is quoted as saying that all a climber has to do is pick up the phone and make a reservation. John, in early January '00 I tried to do just that. The first available day I could get was April 9th! That means that for the months of January, February and March, Hueco WAS closed to me. Not "effectively closed", it was closed. Now that the season of bugs and heat is here, of course it is easier to get in. Easier to get into a dead, deserted lonely place devoid of people and their climbing energy.
I was last there this weekend, and I guess I had a good time. My partner and I had the place to ourselves, but it kind of sucked. No climbers, and all that rock going to waste. Also no culture lovers, or archaeologists, or botanists to be seen. As far as the plants and trails coming back, over the last 25 years I have noticed that local rainfall is the primary factor that determines vegetation density - not the presence of man. We have been in a drought for the last 5 years or longer.
In the article, Jeff shows a photo of the Kid's Stuff Wall in the Dragons Den - the caption implies that crowds of climbers cause severe environmental impact. In that particular shot, ZERO impact is happening, since every climber is on a rock surface, and Kid's Stuff can be reached without ever touching dirt or plants. Most of Hueco is accessible via a path that never touches anything that can erode. Not that the TPWD cares about this or any other objective fact about Hueco.
For those of you who are interested in a local perspective on the B.S. at Hueco, and a lengthier opinion on Jeff's article, please check out www.huecotanks.com.