No push ups

Its been a month since my injury and surgery and I can not do one push up without severe pain in my left elbow. I never thought that a staph infection would do this to me but apparently it has. Moral of the story: don’t think that you are invisible.

In the mean time, the renaissance festival and mothers day weekend was quite fun! Hiking, sword fighting, building and painting shields was pretty awesome with the family!


Beautiful Rain

It has been raining a bunch around here lately. I like the rain. I took my boys camping on the Grand Mesa last weekend. We were able to see lightening strikes,  experience heavy downpours, witness wild turkeys and feel lots of pricker bushes. Wandering around the mountain side in the spring time is great because the undergrowth is not too thick and impenetrable. You just get scraped up a little bit and for a 3.5 and 5.5 year old that is just the right amount. We spent most of our time playing in the river and making a dam. The spring run off was coming so quickly off the mountain created a dangerous situation for the boys as they could have been swept away at any moment so I had to keep an eagle eye on them.

DSC00041DSC00045The weather has I guess been helping me with my recovery (since I am unable to train or climb due to my recent staph infection surgery). I am hoping to get back in another week or two . At this point I am free from a sling on my arm and just wearing a band aid on my elbow. There is pain when I accidentally bump it and during some movements but the cut it healing nicely from the inside out and the infection appears to be gone.

Until then, let it rain. DSC00048

Recovery Time

I have been off for 2 weeks due to my surgery on my arm. I had a staph infection (random) and it began with a swollen elbow. There was no significant cut or abrasion and no traumatic bump or bruise. At dinner two Saturdays ago my elbow swelled up until I couldn’t move it and then the swelling rad down my arm. I went to the doctor and they initially thought it was a bursa sac but then my fever indicated that I was infected.

DSC00029DSC00016A frozen waterfall on the Grand Mesa that is still ice covered. I went up with my boys on my first walk after surgery to see whether or not it was running yet. It’s beautiful once the snow begins to melt!

Once that happened I was admitted to the hospital and had surgery set up for the following day. I was surprised to say the least. I couldn’t believe that a little swelling demanded an overnight stay at the hospital and surgery. So they cut open my elbow and drained it out along with cleaning the staph that was in the arm. I am looking forward to using my arm again and rebuilding my strength.

Staph infections can be scary due to the fact that there are so many directions that they can take. I also lost about 10 pounds during the last two weeks, which is odd because I have just been eating and resting. I feel crappy due to the weight loss and need to put it back on in the next few weeks.

As far as how this impacts my climbing:

  • my goal of finishing my Unaweep Project will have to wait until this fall.
  • my fun Zion traverse challenge that was scheduled for June will most likely be postponed until fall.
  • it will not delay my third big wall that I want to establish closer to home,

These things happen and it is just a part of living. I am just grateful for living in a place where I can get the medical attention that I need just 5 minutes from where I live. Had the staph occurred in another wild location out of the country, there may have been very bad impacts on my health.

Stay healthy and keep climbing!


Over Training

I just read this release from Rock and Ice and am happy to hear what J-Star shared. I know that you all know that I train for climbing, but its not that much and it is very concentrated, short and focused. It may sound like I train everyday, but I only get to train for real, 90 minutes a week.


Pro climbers, who have a home base (especially competition climbers) spend hours everyday in the climbing gym doing all sorts of things to progress. It can and will lead to progress, but there are sometimes more negatives achieved than positives. Lack of focus, lack of motivation, injuries, over training symptoms all over your body and the feeling that you are bound lock and key to a program are just a few.

J-Star mentioned over training. I went through that once and only once about 15 years ago. It was when I wanted to reach my personal potential and actually started to “train”.

The reason why I over trained was simple. I didn’t believe that the training would actually work. So, I completed all that was required of my program (that was well written by a very knowledgeable friend and coach) and then did more that I came up with. The result, improvements at the beginning and then a flat line to a decrease in everything. After I got that out of my system by failing on my trip and route that I was training for, I bought into the less is more. That is when I really began to progress.

I have worked with many athletes who had never trained before. Some listened to my story, because I share it with everyone that I end up training and others didn’t. Those that did listen, didn’t try to climb and do more after their workout was over and peaked and climbed their best. Those that thought that they needed more, got more tired and ended up under performing and being upset.


Then you have the group that don’t listen to their body when they train. When your body says rest, you rest and when it says push, you push and when you are questioning where you are at, you error on the side of doing a little less. It is that simple.

So what’s my point? Train when you need to in short bursts with very specific and measurable goals.


Staph Infections and Sending

This past weekend was bittersweet. I completed a new 800 ft line in Zion National Park with Mike Brumbaugh and somehow got a staph infection. We established it ground up in March over two days, but the weather turned on us so we came back as soon as we could in April.

Juj Monster (5.12) is mostly 5.11 climbing with one short section of 5.12. It is one of those climbs that takes on improbable climbing with even more improbable sequences, but there is excellent protection the entire way. There is a roof on every pitch and you will make a natural anchor in one or two places. The gear is basically from fingers to 5 inch and you will need two ropes to get down from the bolted anchors. The climb needed just a couple protection bolts to make it safe and maintain the fun.

It’s one that I will do regularly just because it’s so unique.

At dinner after freeing the route, my elbow swelled up to look like the photo below. I couldn’t move my arm so we headed home the next morning. By Monday I was admitted to the hospital where I came to find that infection was spreading through my arm quickly and that I needed surgery to get it out. Holy crap was all I could think. I never bruised, bumped or had any major damage to my elbow and now its the site of fast growing bacteria.

4 days later after living in the hospital I am home and ready to heal. I received a ton on antibiotics and care and am happy to have so many folks cheering me on to recover. See you outside and stay healthy.

Back on the Project: The Infinity Round

I finally got back on my route! I bolted this thing in Unaweep 2 years ago that I believe is the most striking line in the canyon. I finally began working it last summer and into the fall once a week for one two to attempts. By the time that I was one hanging it, the temperatures cooled to become unclimbable, so I had to wait until now (nearly 6 months later) to begin the journey once again.

So here is what I learned on my first 2 try’s this year:

  1. The route is still challenging, but oh so fun.
  2. My finger tips only have two attempts on the route before they begin to wear off.
  3. I gained power over the winter with my training plans (2 of them).
  4. My right arm is the key the completing the route (it needs to be very powerful).
  5. Core strength is the the other key to completing the route.
  6. I need to believe in my footwork, otherwise I try to pull too much, power down and fall.
  7. I can now cruise the upper redpoint crux even when pumped out of my mind.
  8. The low crux feels easier this year, but it still low percentage for me.
  9. I will send it this season!

Here is what I need to do to send it this season: (Photo: Mike B is on the second pitch joining me at the belay)

  1. Be consistent (I need to be on this route once a week to keep the confidence up with my footwork and my memory engaged with the sequences.
  2. Wear the best edging shoes that I have and trust them.
  3. I need to be very warmed up when I try the route.
  4. Mike B


I find that I am always on a schedule. When I say that I mean that every second is accounted for between family, work and whatever else is on the schedule. Then when I plan time to do nothing or relax, I always feel like I am unable to sit still. I actually dread the thought of going to a place to sit (like a beach or anywhere that you are supposed to chill). Not so sure what that means but if I am awake, then I am working on something.

I have been trying to explain that to my high school students and it is as if I am speaking another language. “What do you mean Mr. Pizem that you don’t have time to see a concert or go to a movie?” I slowly and clearly explain what my weekly schedule looks like and they quickly understand that “there is no time”.

As the days pass and I continue to feel short on time, I guess that I will wonder what it’s like to have time.

I felt tired and out of time this past Friday when Ken said that we were going to shoot some climbing photos. Thanks for this nice one. Ken Redding photo.

Piz Portrait

Check It!

I was out the other evening when the light was just right. The rain had stopped falling. The clouds had moved away for just a few minutes before sunset. The strong winds slowed for just a few brief moments. Thank you to Ken Redding and Robb Reece for the photos and video footage.

Unaweep Piz

Spring has Sprung!

I have been surviving the last few weeks of feeling swamped. School has been extremely busy. I am now coaching my son’s soccer team a couple evenings a week and I still train folks at the gym. I have plans to complete my newest Zion route (I equipped it during spring break but did not have a chance to climb it free due to poor weather.) I will be attempting another Zion first in June with Andy Raether (it will be a doozy if we can accomplish it).

I am also trying to send a route that I established and I nearly sent last fall (but had to stop trying due to the winter temperatures). I have one more big wall free route to establish this summer before I will feel like I have actually accomplished anything this year.

So far, I have

  • freed a new 5.13 finger crack (just days before new year),
  • established a 1100ft 5.11 or 5.12+ on the Unaweep Wall (depending whether or not you choose the hard variation) Wintertime Joy is the name.
  • established a 1000ft 5.12 in Kolob Canyon in Zion National Park
  • taught a ton of great people how to build anchors at the Red Rock Rendezvous

Other goals for the year are to

  • free my route in Unweep called the Infinity Round 5.14
  • establish another long route near Ouray, Colorado
  • teach at the Arcteryx Climbing Festival in Vancouver, Canada
  • make one more trip to a destination unknown…

Let’s get it together and get it done!

Oh Really, piz route topoP-gar-31