You Call Yourself a Climber?


So I was thinking the other day about how people who climb allow that fact to define who and what they are in the world. As a science guy, I wanted to put some quantitative numbers to that statement. The graph linked above is a starting point for me in this process. Basically, if I was bold enough to say that I am climber and then look at the numbers, it’s pretty funny and inaccurate as most of my time is spent doing everything else!

So what does it take to call yourself a climber? I think that you have to climb at least 80% of your time and scrape by with odd jobs or something. (then there are always those folks who don’t even need that 20% work time, but they are few so we won’t worry about them in the equation). Personally, my work obligations are huge, my family obligations are the most important and then comes climbing. How could I define myself for what I only do about 10 percent of the time? Additionally, when I break that 10% down, I am really spending most of my time new routing (which isn’t even climbing!)

Climbing is something that I do (and have done for over 20 years now), I love being outside and getting into adventurous situations while high off the ground. I love the gear, the ropes, the partnership, the rock, and the mental and physical games that come with completing a route (new or established). But to call myself a climber when it really only describes 10% or less of my day is kind of goofy if you ask me.

Let me know what you think.



The Enormocast

If you like, feel free to listen to an interview that I did with this podcast. Chris Kalus invited me a few years back and we finally got around to it. I am honored to be a member of the interviewed athletes.

Episode 113: Rob Pizem – The Time is Now.




The Dreaded One Hang or…Maybe Not

dscn2541This fall I took on a new route that I had bolted last year. I am calling it the Infinity Round after my training program. It clocks in as a route that challenges my weaknesses of liebacking and open handed slopers and power endurance. It is on a granite wall in Unaweep Canyon and is north facing. It is slightly overhanging and is in the middle of a 250ft tall wall. It took days to clean off the layers of loose granite that had been wanting to exfoliate from the fragile wall and now that it is clean, its great fun to climb on.

I spent 8 weeks deep in a very specific training program to increase my power endurance while building my sloper strength. My opportunity to attempt the route was once a week and lasted only one burn due to the fact that I am a busy guy! I got on the wall without a real warm up to make sure that it was cool enough to hold on to the slopers and then would give it about an hour of effort. After that I would trade belays with my partners on the single pitch routes nearby until about noon or one pm and then head back to my family to play with my boys and go camping.

After 8 weeks my program and effort brought me to the level of actually sending this challenge. I was able to one hang it on 2 occasions and felt like I was ready mentally and physically to send. Then my other obligations began to take over.  I have slide shows to present, clinics to teach, family to visit, parent teacher conferences to attend, science meetings to take care of and the list goes on basically eliminating any after school chance of attempting the route and killing any weekend attempt for weeks.

Is this a bad thing that I got so close and then couldn’t pull the trigger and send? I don’t know. I do know that my training and prep was dead on. I know that I had a ton of fun hanging around on the wall trying to complete the route and sharing it with those partners who were willing to join me on the wall. I know that I can and will complete the route either later this fall (or in the spring if necessary) but does it really even matter, that is what lingers in my head? Does it matter that much?

As a person I pried myself for getting things done, whether its cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, teaching my kids or providing my high school students great learning opportunities and experiences or being a good father and husband. Where does a send of a route on an obscure piece of a wall fit in?

For some of us, it is the only piece of the puzzle and for me years ago it was a huge piece. Earlier on in my climbing the send was something that was the end/success/sometimes a reason to fit in/sometimes self worth/fun. Now the send for the most part is 1% of the route and the training and people and journey and effort and problem solving and establishing and adventure are the bigger pieces and the most important to me. My partners and their experience are important and its not just another ego boosting send that I can brag about.

So what’s in a one hang, many things? Will I complete the route, Yes but have I already completed it, that is for me to decide, not you.


Labor Day Weekend Volunteering

Every time that my boys and I go hiking and climbing at our local stomping grounds they notice the trash that inconsiderate folks leave behind. There are plastic bottles, glass bottles, bags and fast food wrappers and all sorts of other garbage. Last time we went to play there, they suggested that we should come back with gloves and garbage bags and clean up the non-native species.

They agreed that they would pick up the trash and that my job was to carry the bags of trash. We were happily surprised that the area called Riggs Hill was pretty clean on todays visit until I noticed something blue across the park. As we neared the cliff band, I thought that it was going to be a tarp from a shelter. It ended up being a massive amount of  freshly spray painted rocks and leftover spray paint cans and bottles.

The artwork was fresh and it looks like there may be clues as to who may have done it. Not the best decision if you ask me.

But my kids already know and understand that you need to take care of the places that you love. Thanks for taking care of Riggs Hill Rowan and Orson. You two are wonderful boys and full of heart and passion.


First Month of School, Training, Projecting and Life

This first month back at school and teaching has been a busy one to say the least. I think that this is my 14th year as a high school teacher!


We moved into a new school building that was opened for day one, but not completely finished. That made life challenging due to the fact that one our technology was not fully ready and two, we literally threw our supplies from the old building into whatever space was available in the new one. With confusion being king and with our student body not knowing the new building expectations, the transition went off really well considering all the obstacles that were before us. Add to that that we had new staff and new students, it was hectic. Many of us were left with our heads spinning.

To top that off, my two boys had to start their pre-schooling again. This went well since the older boy had been at the school for a year and the younger one was finally potty trained.

Additionally, I had to get my outdoor program going again at the new school. Organizing trip dates, bussing, and other teacher duties has been keeping me busy every second.

Finally, I have been training for my Unaweep project. I began that journey by trying the route (way before I was ready) and identifying my needs for success. Then I had to write 6 week program that would advance me into a position of sending the route in late September or early October. It has been tough making progress on the climb when most of the work that I do for it is indoors and on plastic. I actually only get one attempt on the route a week due to other commitments with life, school, friends and family. That one attempt consists of a lead burn over the course of about an hour where I rehearse the movements over and over so that the movements are ingrained in my head. I have never been on a route that has challenged my timing, sequencing and power so intensely. It is the kind of route where there is no room for error. If I make a mistake the route doesn’t allow you to correct yourself, it just spits me off like a chewed up dog toy. I like the challenge and wish that I could attempt it more than once a week, but I can be patient and enjoy the process. In the mean time, I have still been establishing a few new routes around that have proven to be incredible!

Lastly, I have 4 events that I will be at in the next two months:

  1. Slide Show at The Desert Rat in St. George September 23 at (time to be determined)
  2. Slide Show at Origin Climbing Gym in Las Vegas, on September 24 at  (4pm)
  3. The American Alpine Club Craggin Classic at Shelf Road Oct 22/23
  4. The American Alpine Club Craggin Classic at Moab Oct 29/30

Please come out and enjoy the shows and the clinics at the events and come by to say hello!