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!
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I still have bought a camera so I apologize for the lack of photos.But I have been busy. I am coaching my sons little league soccer team. It is quite fun to watch them learn the many parts of being on a team and even how to play.
Now I am on spring break and working in Zion on another new big wall route. We were planning on hiking to the top to speed up the work but once we checked out the available possibilities, we began working the new route ground up. We were unprepared since we thought that we would just rappel the soon to be route. I had no climbing shoes, chalk or even a lead line. I just had static lines and a light rack. I was nervous heading up into the unknown with a light rack and no climbing shoes. My goal was to move the static lines up the wall as far as I could in one day, since the weather was looking bad in another day or two.
The climb was up a dihedral that climbed vertically and then out a roof. The next pitch did the same and the following pitches continued with this pattern. It was exciting to move slowly up the wall, sometimes aiding and sometimes freeing sections that suited my equipment. On the last lead I was pulling a roof just above my belay when my cam popped from its suspect placement. Mike, my partner for this adventure was able to catch me and keep me from rolling off the ledge to what could have been a big and damaging fall. I landed flat on my back, the cam popped me in the eye and face and somehow I ended up unharmed other than a small scrape on my cheek. I later made the roof move with ok gear and headed up the wild chimney,through the stemming out a roof. I look forward to tomorrow when I attempt to complete the large roof that the next pitch begins with.
We are going hard since we just have three days to work on this new route. I am not sure when I will be back to complete it so I will get as much done as possible in the few hours that I have of good weather.
Get outside and have your own adventure!
My normal goal that continues on through everyday of my life is to trim down my obligations.
This year it is getting difficult. I recently picked up a coaching position (for my sons youth soccer team). Add that to my number one priority, my family and then all the secondary ones: my teaching job, running the outdoor program at my school, teaching and training people at the Grand Valley Climbing Gym, running a remote training side job and lastly my passion for climbing and new routing. I pretty much have no time left for anything!
It seems like all that I do is plan out daily events rather than live a little more loosely.
That being said, my boys will turn 4 and 6 this summer, I will turn 41 and my wife will remain ageless, young and beautiful. I look forward to teaching in Canada this summer for Arcteryx, new routing in Colorado and Utah, camping with my sons, visiting family and maybe even sneak in a trip to Italy to climb on the Marmolada. If all goes well each day will be full of challenges that obstacles and not walls.
I just have to keep positive and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
We have been getting a lot of press from the local TV stations and the newspaper about our work with at risk learners. It feels great to be able to make such a positive impact on our future. Not every one catches on at the same rate but they all get it together in the end with our staff’s unending perseverance and guidance.
Moral of the story, when someone is down and out, they probably need a hand, so lend one and keep it extended until they grab hold and get back on their feet.
piz : )
Here is the scoop. I have been teaching high school science for 15 years. My current school is probably the best alternative learning environment for students aged 16-21.
We are currently developing/building a real garden and greenhouse on our school property and we have exhausted our local fundraising. Please take a moment and give a little to the education of the students that were not successful at the traditional public high schools, that have been abused physically and/or mentally over the years, that struggle with family, places to sleep, drug addiction, learning and sometimes, the law.
When I say that we are doing this I really mean it. Our learners are really doing this garden from start to finish. The other teachers and myself are just guiding their infinite energy into the real world where they can be proud of their learning and work effort.
- They have worked the soil (rock removal, raking digging, leveling.)
- They have designed and built a retaining wall. (leveling and moving 80 pound blocks)
- Moved 100’s of cubic yards of leaves as compost by wheel barrow and tarps.
- Designed and built and taken ownership of our school compost system.
- Chosen and built the greenhouse.
- Assisted in the design of the irrigation system.
- Spread 16 cubic yards of a gravel driveway.
- Designed and are building a seed incubation heating system for the greenhouse.
- Designed and are building the solar power system to heat and cool the greenhouse.
- Chosen the produce and flowers that will be grown at our school based on growing season and what is popular to consumers.
After three hard days establishing my new 1200 foot line I have been able to complete, equipping, cleaning and path finding the route.
Day 1 – Curtis and I managed to fix lines from the top of the wall during a 8 hour rain storm after climbing a mountaineers route to the top.
Day – 2 Jason and I managed to clean and bolt the anchors in a blizzard after post holing up a steep gully. Also, the fixed lines were moved at the start to follow a cleaner and more fun 300 foot section.
Day -3 Matt and I managed to move the ropes, clean and bolt the bottom third of the route in an icy cold wind.
Day – 4 I hope to climb and wire brush any sections of the route that are dirty with lichen and work all the moves or free all the pitches.
I will be honest, when I work on establishing new routes, I normally don’t work n foul weather. Not because I don’t want to but because sandstone is scary and unsafe in the rain. This new line is on granite which allows me and my partners to get up on the wall safely (all things considered).
Ultimately, it comes down to answering the question of how can I use all of my time that I am not at work efficiently when I want to include my family, friends, duties and passion. At this point, working on routes in crappy conditions is the way.
So two Thursdays ago, my wallet and camera were stolen from my car in my driveway. Lame. I just got my new credit card and ID today. No camera for a while cause the last one I had was really nice and I do not have the extra cash to spend on replacing it.
That is why I am without photos of my progress on my new bigwall route. You can always check my Instagram for more current updates. rob_pizem anyway back to our story. I moved almost 4 cubic yards of gravel this morning. I should not have been so motivated because yesterday I was on the wall again with Jason Nelson for a long exhausting day of hiking and preparing the new climb.
We hiked up to the base of the wall and avoided getting rained on.BUT the second we put on our harnesses and were ready to jug the 1000ft to where I wanted to begin working, the rain began to fall. We donned our rain gear and decided that hiking up a nearby gully would save us energy since we each had heavy loads to jug with. That turned out to be a BIG mistake. The gully was not close by and it was filled with scrub oak that made upward progress nearly impossible. A blizzard moved in as the temperatures dropped which really made our hands freeze too. Once we got going smoothly we entered waist deep snow which post holing through was awful. I really started to get the feeling that Jason was not having fun.
We eventually topped out the 1000ft + gully to spectacular views that are rarely earned and trudged through the snow and blizzard conditions to my fixed lines. Whew. Now we could begin working over 3.5 hours after leaving the car. We rapped down to where a tower lie on the route and headed up the unknown. The granite was slippery and I was very nervous as I eked my way to the top with only one piece between me and the ground. Why would I do that you might ask? I wanted to be able to haul our gear to the top without forcing Jason to have to follow my route. Now he could just jug the static line that I lead the pitch on.
At the top we installed anchors and then split the rope in half. Jason would clean and prepare a dihedral that the route would ascend and I would establish a line on a beautiful arete. After each of us trundled and cleaned the pitches in the blizzard that never ended, we rapped the rest of the route putting in anchors and the rap line. We got back to the car at dark and enjoyed being dry and warm for once that day.
Thank you to Jason for putting up with my adventures. I can be honest when I say, these are the best climbing days because I never forget the experience or the challenges that we face and overcome.
This weekend had a tough weather forecast. It was my weekend to get 2 days of climbing in and both days were going to be wet. I had two options, 1 climb on my Treadwall (or go to the gym) or 2 get outside and summit a 1300 feet wall via a mountaineers style route and hang fixed lines on my next large new route undertaking.
If you don’t know me by now you may have guessed that I stayed inside. If you know me, you knew that I would go outside, rain or shine. So my friend Curtis who was lying awake on Friday night wondering whether or not I would bail was excited and nervous about what the coming day would bring us. I knew it would be an adventure and that was just what the doctor ordered.
We quested across a high flowing river into one hundred yards of uphill thorns that would become blackberry plants onto loose and sandy terrain into a passage through junipers and other sparsely growing trees that only topped out at about 10 to 15 feet tall. We were all alone in dry conditions as we pressed upward to the top of the wall.
We traversed below the base of the wall hoping to gain access to the top from a gully that looked as if it was passable through a high power lens from the road. Upon reaching the gully our packs felt heavy with the 1200 feet of static line, double set of cams, bolting equipment, harnesses and tons of slings. We began climbing the 5.7 terrain through small vertical sections and enjoyed the loose rock and grassy portions which gave our nerves a break.
My hiking boots were the perfect choice for me as my pack was nearly 70lbs. Eventually we came to a place where the wall was too tall and too dangerous to climb with packs, so I soloed the 30 foot tall wall and down climbed to where Curtis could throw me a line to haul the packs up. After the first toss, I was hauling dead weight to my precarious position. Curtis gained my high point with caution and we pressed on. We passed another engaging steep portion and were rewarded my seeing some manzanita bushes growing on the side of the cliff. Curtis noted that he thought that they only grew in California and I remarked that everything grows in Colorado.
The rest of the climb took us up more slabs and loose terrain. We knocked off blocks that bounded over the huge cliffs and snuck through trees that had only been hit by other rocks as gravity took them to the talus field below. The last 100 feet to the summit slowed us down. The rain finally came and the wall got steep enough where it was necessary to climb with a rope and gear.I then hauled the packs again which of course got stuck on the ledgey terrain. Curtis finally reached the summit through the loosest gully that I have ever climbed through and took us across an airy traverse where I nearly lost my footing just inches from the summit mantel.
At the top we were greeted by elk droppings, a consistent rain and incredible views. After 3 hours of working hard we were there, wet, tired and just beginning the new routing adventure. I wish that I had more photos of the day, but it was wet and my camera was just stolen from my car the day before the trip. Stay tuned on my Instagram and the blog for more updates as I get back to the route in the coming weeks. We have 1200 feet of rope strung up on a bunch of different terrain and I am optimistic that it will be a beautiful route with many memorable pitches through the changing terrain of the wall.