Monday, August 25, 2014

Mark and Mallory on Ruper

At the top of the Ruper Crack (top of second pitch)

Mallory was headed off to college at BYU Wednesday morning and Mark wanted a memorable climbing adventure to share with her. She wanted to do Ruper, since Mark had raved so much about it. While Mark could have handled the leading duties, he asked me to come along to add a level of security and confidence and so that he could share more of the adventure with Mallory. I was happy to oblige and climb one of my favorite routes with two of my favorite people.

We met at 5:45 a.m. Monday morning and hiked into Ruper in the dim light of the shortening summer days. Mallory confidently soloed up the 4th class Lower Ramp and we were soon at the base of the route. The plan was for me to lead trailing two ropes. I'd belay Mark and Mallory at the same time and they'd climb closely together, with Mark leading the way, pulling the gear and giving Mallory the beta.
Mallory is a strong gym climber and boulderer, stronger than Mark, but is still relatively inexperienced on trad climbs. This would be, at six pitches, her longest climb.
Just past the Ruper Traverse
I strung the first two pitches together and set up a belay from two fat bolts atop the famed Ruper Crack - the wide crack where climbers sometimes get their knee stuck. M & M climbed easily up the first pitch and then were careful along the traverse over to the bottom of the crack. Mark styled the crack and Mallory followed suit, though with maybe a touch of concern. On the burly finish Mallory was more in her element, easily pulling over the steep section.

The next pitch was the infamous Ruper Traverse. This is a very airy traverse and not that well protected for the followers, which can make it quite exciting. To lower the stress, I only placed two pieces of gear. One just off the belay, after an easy traversing section and then one piece before the start of the crux traverse. I then did the traverse and climbed clear to the belay atop the Upper Ramp without placing any more gear. This way I gave them both a complete toprope across the traverse. It was still very exposed and insecure, but if they fell, they would not pendulum.
Climbing on the upper wall

The crux move on this traverse, at least the way I do it, involves a huge stretch way to the right. Mallory, at 5'6", is six inches shorter than me and I wondered what her solution would be. Turns out, it was footwork, flexibility and a bit of guile. Kids...

Mark and Mallory rapped the Upper Ramp's slab down and right to the base of Upper Ruper while I cleaned the belay and downclimbed to them. I ran out most of the rope to a nice ledge on the upper face and belayed while they climbed one of the best moderate pitches in all of Eldo, probably all of Colorado. This steep and intimidating face is peppered with great holds and climbs much easier than it looks.
On the ledge in the middle of Upper Ruper

The last pitch has a short 5.8 crux section and I ran it out above there to the top of the wall and the end of the climb. Mark and Mallory, climbing next to each other, rambled up after me. Mallory questioned Mark when he headed left before the crux instead of following the chalk up the corner. Mark knows that while there isn't any protection opportunities out to the left, the climbing is easy and when it returns to the crux, gear can be had. Eldo climbs frequently have tricks that allow them to be climbed more easily than they appear, though they are frequently inobvious.

We descended the East Slabs back down to the car. Mallory previously had some trouble with this descent, but cruised down it easily today. We were back at the car by 10:15 a.m. It had been so much fun that there was talk of making this an annual thing. Granted all that talk was by me, but I think they'll come around...
Nearing the top of the climb

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