This Eldo Classic Climb sure lives up to it’s reputation! I recently had the privilege of guiding Nick up Ruper, and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve climbed and guided this route probably 25 times and am still amazed at just how good it is! Located among many other classics in Eldorado Canyon State Park, this climb particularly stands out due to the variety of climbing and the super exposed positions it puts you in. Six guidebook pitches of 5.8 climbing put you at the top of the Ruper saddle with incredible views of the canyon below. Nick had previously climbed the Bastille Crack and Rewritten with us, and I suggested Ruper as a great next step in his climbing.
Redgarden Wall in all it’s glory
The Night Before
I called Nick the afternoon before our climb to sort out logistics and meeting time. We decided on a 6am start to beat the 90+ degree day (along with thick smoke from all the wildfires) that was forecasted. We chatted a little about goals for the day and previous climbing experience and came up with a good game plan. After hanging up the phone, it was game on! I started laying gear out on the floor and putting together a rack. Since this was going to be the biggest route Nick had ever climbed, I planned to stick to the Ruper crack, instead of taking the more difficult Rover variation.
My Rack and Gear for Ruper
The Day Of
After four cups of coffee, a bowl of granola, and a quick drive to Eldo, I met Nick right at 6am. The wind was gusting and it was already hot. We double checked gear and began the short hike towards Redgarden wall. Most parties who climb Ruper opt for the slab approach but over 200 feet of soloing wasn’t calling our name. Instead, we hiked around on the west Redgarden trail towards other classics such as Rewritten and the Yellow Spur. When we were directly under the large juniper tree that marks the start of Ruper, we left the 40L pack behind and began to climb to the base of the route. Nick dispatched the one tricky move right off the ground with ease and it was smooth sailing to the base of the first pitch. This is actually a much safer and easier approach to the start of Ruper as it’s protectable and gives you the option of stashing some food and water at the base.
We both changed into our climbing shoes as I attached Nick to a piece of trad gear. One more quick double check and I launched off on the first pitch which consists of brilliant finger jams and interesting stemming. This pitch can be very slippery when it’s in the sun, but thankfully it was only 7:15 in the morning, and it was still in the shade! After building a gear anchor in the obvious pod/stance, I hollered down to Nick that he could take me off belay. I pulled the rope and within a minute Nick was climbing. He fired the pitch no problem and arrived at the belay with a huge grin on his face!
Now onto pitch 2. The guidebook says to traverse and climb to the top of the Ruper crack all in one pitch, but I always break this into two pitches. It makes communication much easier and your second gets to see you climb the offwidth. I led out from the belay and traversed to the base of the wide crack where I built a four piece quad anchor. Why four pieces? The gear is small and three pieces just doesn’t give me a warm fuzzy feeling! Nick climbed to me and reveled in the exposure as we eyeballed the infamous Ruper crack. We exchanged gear, pancaked the rope, and chatted beta.
Nick stylin’ the Ruper Crack!
From the belay, I climbed up about 10 feet before I plugged in the #4 I had dragged up with me. A few more strenuous moves and I was through the crux of the pitch. This pitch protects very well and even has a few old pitons on it. About halfway up the pitch, I stuck my hand in the crack to sink a hand jam and felt something soft. It moved…Nick said I pulled my arm out with lightning speed…it was a bird! Sorry buddy for waking you up! I arrived at the two bolt anchor (where Rover and Ruper meet) and put Nick on belay. He looked a little nervous right off the bat but soon fell into a rhythm and cruised the pitch with no falls. Great work Nick! He followed the next pitch traverse with ease and we took a food and water break on the upper ramp.
After we had refueled and recharged, I lowered Nick to the base of upper Ruper where we prepared for the final three pitches. The temperature was rapidly rising as I started to climb and the rock felt slippery. A longer pitch up cruiser 5.6/5.7 terrain plopped me out on an exposed ledge which set us up brilliantly for the upper traverse. Nick took awhile to follow this pitch but pulled it off clean with no falls! He arrived at the belay looking tired but happy. We flaked the rope and mentally prepared for the next pitch.
For many people, the upper Ruper traverse is considered to be the crux of the whole route. The rock changes from bulletproof Fountain sandstone to a dark red sandstone more reminiscent of baked clay. Some of the good looking holds are not so good and super slick. After plugging in a few pieces of gear, I started moving back left into the business. There are a total of three pitons on this pitch, but some of them are of questionable quality. I placed some small cams (.5 and smaller) to supplement the fixed gear and before I knew it, I was through the traverse! Despite being tired, Nick climbed well and moved through this pitch with relatively little difficulty. One more quick pitch led us to the Ruper saddle where we changed back into our approach shoes and had a bite to eat.
All smiles on the upper traverse!
We descended down the Chockstone Chimney/Vertigo raps and were back at the base of the route in no time. A quick jaunt back to the parking lot and we were done just in time. The heat was unbearable and the smoke had gotten much thicker. We were super thankful for the early start.