posted by dpm on 07/14/2012
The American Alpine Club dropped a press release yesterday stating that they had bought the world famous Hueco Rock Ranch from the previous owner Rob Rice. The Rock Ranch is an iconic piece of real estate in the history of American climbing. One could make the argument that hard, performance-oriented climbing began here, in the open desert outside of Hueco Tanks State Park near El Paso, Texas.
Originally built by Todd Skinner and friends in the mid-nineties, the Ranch was used as a winter training ground. Remember, even in the mid-nineties, bouldering for most was still just a way to get strong for 'real' climbing. Some of the biggest players in the early history of Hueco Tanks, including Fred Nicole and Scott Milton, spent many winters there putting up problems and eventually, putting Hueco -and bouldering as a sport- on the map.
In 2000, Rob Rice bought the rights to the Ranch and watched it grow into the iconic campground it is today. He weathered the storm of restrictions and worked closely with the park to develop a system of guided bouldering tours to the other areas of the park outside of North Mountain.
Last fall, Rob contacted the Access Fund in hopes that they could find a buyer that would keep the Ranch in good hands. The American Alpine Club and the Access Fund partnered up and just yesterday announced their purchase.
From the press release: “Lodging options within walking distance from great climbing supports the climbing lifestyle we all enjoy—and this purchase of the Hueco Rock Ranch can only expand the types of climbing that we’re able to support,” says AAC Executive Director Phil Powers. “We hope to create a facility that meets climbers’ needs and adds opportunities for climbers to gather and share their stories.”
It continues: The AAC is undertaking improvements to the Ranch this summer—committing over $15,000 to completely clean and renovate the structures and tent camping facilities. An AAC staff member will be onsite overseeing these improvements. Future plans include additional renovations and new structures like a shower house and community cooking pavilion in the style of the Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch (GTCR) and New River Gorge Campground (NRGC).
For the Alpine Club, this is the second big announcement of a newly purchased campground this year. Earlier this year, the Alpine Club worked closely with the New River Alliance of Climbers to purchase a parcel of land at the New River Gorge. The NRG campground is currently being built and should be open sometime late this year. Both purchases show a concerted effort by the AAC to move out of just the mountains and broaden their reach toward all climbers including craggers and boulderers.