Wednesday, July 02, 2014


Starting up the crux pitch of Upper Ruper

Mark and I met at 5:30 this morning and then drove into Eldo, geared up, hiked to the Lower Ramp, scrambled up it and I was climbing the first pitch of Ruper by 6:05. I linked the first pitch (5.6?) to the crux eponymous crack second pitch. This route is just so good. The climbing is interesting in the crack. As is usual for Eldo, liebacking and face holds make any real crack climbing unnecessary, though I do work the right foot in the wide crack for the entire lower section. Mark followed easily, though he did mention that the route was steep enough to induce a slight pump in his forearms. 

I led the super cool and very airy traverse pitch to the Upper Ramp. Mark last climbed this pitch, on lead, 15 years ago. He remembered the key hold used to make the traverse...but not where it was. Facing a blank wall to his right, he looked down and spotted the hold he needed at his feet. After downclimbing a bit, he made the big stretch with the right foot and then big reach with the right hand to span the blank section.
On Upper Ruper

We downclimbed the Upper Ramp to the start of Upper Ruper and I led up about 150 feet to a stance with solid gear for the belay. Mark followed with an ear-to-ear grin. He called it the best pitch in Eldo and I'd have trouble arguing with that. Certainly at the 5.6/7 grade this has to rank among the best I've ever done, anywhere. It is quite steep and has interesting, varied climb on bullet-hard sandstone with copious footholds and handholds. The start is a bit run-out and would definitely be heads-up for a 5.6 leader, but then the gear is frequent and solid.

I led from there to the top, through the upper crux (5.8). I have this section completely wired, as I used to simul-climb this route quite a bit with Buzz. Mark followed the pitch, all the while contemplating how he could get his kids Mallory and Randall up to climb the stellar pitch off the ramp. To get to the base of the route, you have to climb at least one 5.8 pitch. And to finish from the top of that pitch you have to climb the upper 5.8 crux. Mark is climbing very well and I think he would be solid leading his way  up all of Ruper, but he was more cautious, saying that he'd have to get a few more leads under his belt. This is true. All of our climbing has been with me leading everything, per Mark's request, and, just like you need to train to body, you need to train your mind, especially when it comes to trad leading in Eldo. Mark may be rethinking his statement from the start of our outdoor training: "I have no interest in leading any more." He did back off this to allow for leading at the 5.7 level and easier, but maybe he'll bump up that limit.
Top of the Ruper Crack

We topped out at 8:10 a.m., taking just over two hours for the 6-pitch route. We scrambled down the East Slabs descent in 17 minutes and were back at the car before 8:30 a.m. It was a glorious morning.
The Ruper Traverse!

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