Thursday, April 30, 2015

Climbing with Tony Krupicka

Tony and Bill at the top of the second pitch of the Bulge (photo by Chris George, from the Wind Tower)
My last post about solo TRing with a self-belay device sparked Tony Krupicka's interest, as he had recently been doing the same. Tony, also known as Anton, is one of the best mountain/ultra runners in the world. Tony has so much energy that whenever he can't run, due to injury, he seeks another outlet. In the past that has been scrambling, cycling, recently randonee skiing, and more technical rock climbing. He pinged me and we decided to get out on some Eldo moderates to see if we could have some fun and move efficiently. Not surprisingly, we did both, this morning.

We were into Eldo a bit after 6, meeting at the dirt lot at highway 93 and driving in together. In Eldo, we saw fellow Minions Chris George, Jason Antin, and Wade Morris gearing up to climb Tagger. I put together a light rack and we were off to the Wind Ridge, which Tony had never climbed before.

I put the first two pitches together and Tony followed easily and then led the cool and unusual roof pitch. We scrambled off to the north and soloed down the down climb to the trail, picked up our shoes and headed for the Bulge, which Tony had also not climbed before. Are you picking up on a theme here? I led the first pitch and Tony led the massively runout second pitch. All Tony's scrambling and daring exploits on Longs Peak have apparently made him immune to exposure and lack of protection, provided it is at a comfortable grade for me. This pitch was and he was quickly at the belay.

I led the third pitch with the signature "Bulge" section. I got the sequence just right and it seemed easy today. It has seemed awkward and dicey on some of my ascents, but today it was smooth. Tony followed it without hesitation. I was mildly surprised by this. Most people pause a bit there, as the moves are a bit hidden and unintuitive. But, as the movie In The High Country expounds, Tony is definitely one with the mountains. 

I led the direct finish up the 5.9- fourth pitch and we scrambled off via the usual descent. I had a bit more time, so we tacked on Boulder Direct to Tagger (5.8). I led this and immediately started downclimbing the Bomb while Tony climbed up. I downclimbed to the rappel anchors above the Bomb and clipped those. I also had a piece at our high point. This is a great introduction to simul-climbing as both people at climbing at the same time, yet both climbers are on toprope! This is such a fun loop (how often can you say that about a rock climb!?) and I've done it many times.

That was enough and we were back at the car a bit after 9 a.m. What a great way to start the day! I suspect we'll do it again... :-)