STATE PARK ADVENTURES
Climbing the Cliffs
The climber scales the 30-foot cliff, scanning for the next foothold and handhold to make it one step closer to the top. The name of the climb, Connect the Pockets, offers a hint to the best method of ascent: look for pockets in the rock for your hands and feet as you go up the vertical face.
It works. The climber picks her way to the top, connecting the pockets, and lets out a celebratory “Whoop!” at the end while her belayer lowers her back to the ground — another climb accomplished at Lake Mineral Wells State Park.
“This is a good place for climbers because it’s the only place to climb on natural rock in North Texas,” says Assistant Superintendent David Owens.
The climbing area, with cliffs 20-40 feet tall, is a small maze of sandstone conglomerate bluffs called Penitentiary Hollow. Some climbing routes follow naturally forming crack systems; others employ pockets and edges.
The 70-plus routes are mostly top-rope, meaning climbers must first find an alternate way to the top of the climb and use existing bolt anchors to secure the rope before climbing.
In between ascents, climbers can take time to explore the canyon’s caves, crevices and narrow passageways with names like the Squeeze and the Funnel.
The cliffs were formed when sediments were deposited and then cemented into rock. Rock Creek trickled through the region, cracking apart the large sandstone formations. The resulting cliffs and large boulders present excellent opportunities for rock climbers to engage their physical and mental abilities to find ways to the top.
Climbers must bring their own equipment and sign a waiver at park headquarters.
Off the Rocks
Russell Roe Maegan Lanham | TPWD
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