Hueco Rock Ranch Now Under AAC Ownership
The Hueco Rock Ranch has a long history—it was originally built as a personal residence by Todd Skinner in the mid-nineties with friends John and Carol Gogas and climbing stars such as Scott Milton and Fred Nicole. Rob Rice took ownership of the Ranch in 2000 and became the first commercial guide under the new set of climbing requirements, beckoning in a new generation of climbers to enjoy this historic climbing mecca. “The place was built by climbers—for climbers—and has been a hub for the climbing community since day one,” says Rob Rice.
Last fall Rice, now living in Arkansas full-time, reached out to Access Fund for assistance in finding a climber-friendly buyer who could manage the Ranch onsite. Working with Rice and fellow landowner Scott Rohde, Access Fund reached out to the AAC whose vision of supporting the climbing way of life by providing lodging facilities and logistical support seemed a perfect fit for the Rock Ranch.
“Not only is the Hueco Rock Ranch important historically, it has played an important role in climbing access to Hueco Tanks,” says Access Fund Executive Director Brady Robinson. “Through the Ranch, climbers have fostered and maintained a positive relationship with Texas State Parks. Maintaining strong climber management of the Ranch is important for all climbers, even those who choose to stay elsewhere during their visit.”
Staff from the Access Fund and AAC worked closely together to make the purchase of the Rock Ranch possible. The Access Fund provided leadership and acquisition expertise, as well short-term funding from the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign. Access Fund went under contract to purchase the Ranch in May, and at closing, assigned the properties to the AAC for long-term ownership and management.
“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.”
This project has been a great partnership between the Access Fund and American Alpine Club. “Preservation of the Hueco Rock Ranch uniquely fits the missions of both organizations and we are glad to share this victory with the local, national, and international climbing community,” says Joe Sambataro, Access Director at the Access Fund.
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). The AAC will also hire an onsite Hueco Rock Ranch Manager. The hiring process will begin this summer with the Job Description posted on the AAC’s Jobs page.
The Rock Ranch is also closely tied to Route Fitters (RF) guiding operation, which holds a concession to operate trips in the park. For the foreseeable future, Rob Rice and RF are prepared to continue operations out of the Ranch. The AAC plans to complete its improvements by early autumn of 2012. Campers will be able to make reservations online, and walk-in campers will always be welcome at the Rock Ranch. Both AAC and Access Fund members will receive discounted rates.
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