The R1 Series

From a Mt. Lemmon climbing history perspective, the climbing sequence shown in the photos below is an amazing sequence:

  1. The photos show John and Ila Rupley climbing on the Rupley towers on the classic route "R1".
  2. The photos are dated on the edge - JAN 64. This clearly places the photo in time.
  3. The sequence of photos shows the route, how they climbed, and where they set up belays. It is like a stop-action motion picture.

I believe these photos are among the earliest available photos of rock climbing on Mt. Lemmon.

John Rupley aid climbing

Photo 1: John Rupley aid climbing on lower section of "R1". Note the JAN 64 on the left edge of the photo.

John Rupley at the first belay

Photo 2: John at the first belay.

Climbing to the second belay

Photo 3: The photographer has moved back from the climb. John has moved up to a second belay and is belaying a climber who is climbing between the first and second belay. The second climber could be Ila since the figure seems to be much smaller than John. However, in this photo, the climber appears to be masculine. On the back of one of the photos were the names Pete Geiser, Ila Rupley and John Rupley. The second climber might also be Pete Geiser.

After reading the first pass at this webpage, Ila sent me a note saying, "We agree that the second climber is Pete Geiser. You can recognize Pete by his brown climbing sweater that he frequently wore, plus his broad shoulders and slim hips. He was quite small, about 5'7" tall. The third climber in the blue jacket is Ila. John is in the tan jacket and is the first leader.

Pete was a really good rock climber, so he often shared leads with John. Other fellows that climbed with us were not strong enough to lead (except Steve Grossman); I never led. When another fellow climbed with us, they went second so his stronger muscles could belay John's 200- plus pounds; also, if he was a weak or novice climber, I could help protect them from behind - a kind of double belay. We always put our son in the middle.

John used two ropes knotted together when three were climbing. The second man would belay John, then I would climb up last going right past the belay stops, often two pitches at one go. Sad we don't have a photo of all three on the top. With a magnifying glass you can see in the photos the rope from John to me."

John and the Pete at the belay - Ila climbing

Photo 4: Pete has reached the belay and is anchored at the belay with John. Ila has started climbing up from below and is being belayed by John.

Pete at the third belay

Photo 5: Ila has reached the first belay and is standing on the ledge. Pete has climbed past John and is preparing to set up a third belay.

John nearing the top

Photo 6: John has climbed past Pete at the third belay and is climbing for the top. Ila has been blocked from view by a rock in the foreground.

John at the top - Pete climbing

Photo 7: John has arrived at the top and has set up the final belay while Pete climbs the last section of "R1". Ila is barely in view on the ledge below, hidden by a small tree.

Copyright ©: 2001, RAHutchins, John and Ila Rupley
Revised: August 13, 2001