hueco tanks bouldering

Preteen Climbers Tick 150 Boulders in Insane 9-Day Hueco Tanks Effort

The Sullivan brothers went off on a recent field trip to Hueco Tanks. Thanks to ‘invincible skin,’ their scorecard showed 150 problems at difficulties up to V12.

Global climbing scorecard website called Keegan (12), Killian (10), and Lochlann (8) Sullivan’s recent work at Hueco Tanks a “new standard.” And we’d be surprised if it wasn’t.

The young brothers ticked a bounty of the park’s classics over their 9-day trip, including “Barefoot on Sacred Ground” (V12), “Stubby of the Bush Veldt” (V10), and “This Is Your Brain on Drugs” (V9).

In all, they averaged 50 problems each. Nine days is a solid block of time, but most boulderers can’t keep enough skin on their hands to sustain that kind of volume on the Tanks’ abrasive welded tuff.

Their father, Brandon, hypothesized how the young crushers do it in a trip report: “What is their secret weapon? They have invincible skin even after a week of climbing ten hours a day. That plus youth and psych will take climbers quite far.”

A Route to Climbing Success for Tots

Youth and psych may count for a lot, but so do training and experience. If there’s a lesson in the Sullivans’ success that others can apply, it’s persistence. Keegan, Killian, and Lochlann have all been climbing for the vast majority of their young lives.

Their father, Brandon, and their mother, Heidi, had never climbed when they decided to build a home wall in their basement 8 years ago, most likely due to the lack of natural climbing near their home in Columbus, Ohio.

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By age 9, Keegan had already ticked several V10s, and his back looked like it belonged to an MMA fighter.

Today, the boys’ psych for disparate boulders reflects the sport’s range for self-expression. Keegan likes highballs — if you’ve ever seen “Barefoot on Sacred Ground” (the low start to “See Spot Run,” V6), you get the idea. Meanwhile, Lochlann prefers hard lowballs, and Killian brings binoculars to birdwatch between attempts.

The sky looks like the limit for the Sullivan brothers. Fueled by the psych of an absurdly successful Hueco Tanks trip, they’ll more than likely keep training at home.

But because both of their parents work in education, they should also have plenty of opportunities to get out and send even more of your projects.

Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.