December 31, 2010

100th Blogpost!

Jane is a pain in my butt. She is interrupting my thought process for this monumental 100Th post. (just kidding)
Anyway, as I look back on 2010, I think it was a good year.
I completed teaching in the Denver area and moved to Grand Junction where the living is easier and more relaxed. I was able to establish 4 more routes at the Possibility Wall at Mount Evans during the summer months. I finally was able to climb a route in Zion that I had wanted to for over ten years and for the first time was totally let down over a routes quality (Sunshine Dihedral in Kolob Canyons). With friends Mike Brumbaugh and Ari Menitove, we established a new bigwall free climb in Kings Canyon National Park, California. I was invited to speak at the Squamish Mountain Festival in Canada. I went home to Ohio to visit my family for thanksgiving and spent winter break in Colorado Springs with Jane's family. On the western slope, I was able to establish over 10 new routes between Unaweep Canyon, Bangs Canyon and Colorado National Monument. In the Black Canyon, I managed an El Cap day without any training. I picked up hitchhikers, climbed at Red Rocks, Rifle, Indian Creek and Canyonlands National Park. I failed at completing a new route in the Zion Narrows due to terrible rock quality. Jane and I ran the Cleveland Turkey Trot and she took third and I took 48Th (I think). I bike to work when the weather is nice and set routes and boulder problems at the local climbing gym. I have a real fish tank with cool cichlids thanks to Charles Pollet and the DC Oakes Fish Club. We met some great folks in Grand Junction and have really began to settle in. One of the highlights was a backpacking trip to Ouray where Jane and I did a loop up and over the mountains and seeing lots of wildlife.
I am looking forward to the new challenges and adventures of 2011.
I foresee many trips including: out of the country, back to Ohio, out to Zion, into the Black, and into the Monument. I am trying to dream big and make them all come true, some today and others tomorrow while always keeping my eyes on the prize.
Thanks for joining me on my adventures past and present and I am excited for another 100 posts in the coming year!
piz : )

December 16, 2010

Past Climbing Trips to South Dakota

What collection of photos of South Dakota don't have at least one of Mt. Rushmore?
My surprise when I finally saw the monument!
The eye of the needle. You can climb up the eye from the backside and then out to the top or lead an exciting pitch up the face that you are looking at. What is cool about this place is that you start from the paved parking lot and can rap right to your car. There are hundreds of pinnacles like this to climb in the area on the giant knobby granite crystals. There is even a new and usable guidebook for the area, but I forget the name. I know that Andrew Burr has taken many a photo for this one, so it is not to be missed!
More crazy granite towers. Bring on the simulrapping.
I know that I did some climbing on this trip!
Get out and have fun!
piz : )

Old School Pictures

Winter holiday time in the Czech. I was living here 2006/2007. It was a rainy day when we got off the train,but we still explored the city over a couple of days and had a great time soaking in the rich holiday spirit.
Outside the palace, historically the city was always taken over during any major war so most of the historic buildings are preserved. It makes it a great place to visit older types of European architecture.
Some of the fine workmanship of the locals.
The many booths set up for the holiday shoppers. As you strolled through the crowds and looked at the crafts of the many vendors, you couldn't help but get excited about the season. People drinking hot drinks, being jovial and every corner providing another new experience. It was a great trip to Prague.
Happy Holidays
There is not time like the holidays to travel to new places but being with your family to priceless too. Be safe and happy
piz : )

December 10, 2010

Fresh Pick's from Marni Mattner

Jesse climbing and me holding the rope on the crux pitch of Medicine Man in Colorado National Monument. I hadn't done this route in nearly ten years and it was awesome to watch Jesse give it a go. What a great route with superb views. Marni Mattner Photo.
Me, on Fast Draw on the backside of the Sentinel Spire in Colorado National Monument. Can you say splitter hands. Marni Mattner Photo.
Me, on the top of Fast Draw. Marni Mattner Photo
Top of the first pitch on Fast Draw. Marni Mattner Photo.

Summit of Medicine Man. My new Camp helmet and my Tau Pullover from Arcteryx. I used my Scarpa Instinct Slippers for this one and a bomber Sterling Rope.

piz : )


I have been reading Crusher's, Desert Rock book over the past couple days and it has got me thinking. The book begins with a brief history of climbing ascents in the desert southwest, of climbing on Indian lands and the characters who made the "monumental" first ascents of what was the next frontier at the time. The stories include the persona that these climbs took and the attitudes of the climbers that were able to complete them. Crusher's writing provides a wonderful insight into how we have gotten to where we are today, including our general ethics that sometimes we wonder how they ever came about.
So, I have been thinking about ethics in climbing and the "first" bolt wars and chopping and rebolting. I have been thinking about the word "style" and how it applies to rock climbing and how it can taint someone or some team's ascent of a rock. I have also been thinking how with our modern equipment that there really is not a rock that we can not ascend given enough time and energy, but that folks would talk more of the style of the ascent, rather of the accomplishment itself. Lastly, I wonder why it all matters? When I think about it a lot, I keep coming back to the line of reason that it all depends on your personal goals.
If your goal is climbing is to enjoy the outdoors through climbing, then style doesn't matter. If your goal is to ascend something that seems impossible, then the ascent itself should take the spot light, not the fact that you did it this way or another. If your goal is to repeat something that someone else did in the same fashion, then style does matter. I could go on, but I am sure that you get the picture.
I guess why I am thinking about these things is because Crusher was writing about them in his book and what seems great and wonderful yesterday, may be just that, but not as such today. I am attracted and inspired by his book in that it makes me want to go and have an adventure. It makes me want to go and make the rules up as I go. It makes me want to climb everything that he has chosen to share, but at the same time not. Adventure comes from the unknown, adventure comes from a willingness to try, to fail, to succeed. Adventure brings new faces into the game because it has the power to inspire. Adventure takes you out of your normal routine makes you sweat a little and then realize how much that you like your normal routine. I think that I will choose adventure and be happy with that.
piz : )

December 7, 2010


Random pictures from the summer. Coal Creek outside of Denver.
Legs at Arches National Park.
My fish, cichlids
I will get some more climbing photo's up soon. Work has been busy.
piz : )

November 30, 2010

Turkey Day

Running the Turkey Trot along Cleveland Stadium along Lake Erie. There were about 6000 people running in the rain with us.
Ken, Jane and I at the start of the race. It was cold and wet. After the first block though I was too warm and had to shed my had and open the pit zips on my raincoat. Then, while next to the lake I had to put my hat back on because it was blowing so hard!
An Orchid on Jane's birthday : ) Kinda funny it is sitting on the columbine plate holder.
Jane and I after the race. She took third in her age bracket and I took 48Th. We both ran sub 8 minute miles during the 5 mile race. She beat me by a whole mile!
Prerace Jane. Getting in the zone or was it sleeping from arriving late the night before.
Then we went to my parents to see the rest of my family and do some eating and celebrating!
piz : )

November 23, 2010

Shoe Talk

rob pizem: the first 5.12 crux on out new route called Tehipite Sanction in Kings Canyon National Park. shoes: Scarpa Instinct Slippers

When I was introduced to climbing in the mid nineties I hadn’t seen a climbing magazine, guide book or even an outdoor shop that was related to the sport. So when it came to buying my first climbing shoe, I was at the mercy of the people that introduced me to the sport. The Cleveland Rock gym was the first place that I climbed indoors after I went to Whipp’s Ledges, a park outside of Cleveland, just a few days prior. It was at that gym that I laced up my first rock climbing shoes. It was there where I put on a pair of beat up, stinky, and tight fitting Scarpa’s.
As with most people, my first time climbing outdoors was in the tennis shoe or hiking boot that I hiked to the wall in. Like others before me on their first day, I made little or no progress up the climb. Like countless others before me, I also thought that I was too scared, didn’t trust the rope enough, or just wasn’t strong enough. But it was while at the gym that I realized the pleasure of wearing rock shoes and learned how helpful they really were.
Since Cleveland wasn’t the Mecca that Boulder or Salt Lake is today with respect to rock climbing, there weren’t really many options for buying or even seeing rock climbing shoes back then. So, when the gym sold me a pair of Scarpa shoes I was psyched.
After breaking them in and having my feet turn purple, I used them for crack, slab, tiny edging, pockets and any other climbing that the New River Gorge threw at me. I wore that first pair of shoes out after I moved to Golden, Colorado.
I was now in a place where I could ride my bike to the crag so my trusty first pair’s lifespan was limited because I was trying to get out as much as I could. It was only from climbing on edgy sandstone, slippery pocketed limestone, sticky and smeary granite, and smooth volcanic rocks that I realized that there were advantages to having different pairs of shoes for different rock types and styles. From that point on, I knew that I had to have a whole arsenal of shoes for all the rock types that I loved to climb on. Even though I was a poor college student who didn’t have extra money for more than one pair of shoes at a time, I made a point of trying each of the brands shoes and each of the styles in order to see their strengths and weaknesses.
There was a time when I was into the softer, super down turned shoes that are made specifically for steeper climbs and boulders. Either slippers or Velcro these shoes were hard to get on and really directed the power of the shoe right to my big toes. I was able to toe in and actually grab footholds with these shoes and my feet stayed on the wall of the overhang that I was climbing on! The problem was that they created huge calluses on my toes. As I continued to climb in the shoes, my feet and toes began to hurt badly. I knew that it wasn’t sustainable to climb in such shoes forever, plus they were no good for the vertical and technical climbs that I loved so much.
So when that pair was worn out, I tried some technical pocket and edging shoes. These shoes were stiffer in the toe box and were lace ups. With each route that I climbed in the technical shoes, my footwork improved and I became more and more confident on tiny and nonexistent footholds. Standing on an odd shaped pocket became second nature and I felt like there was no hold that was too small. Since I loved the technical routes so much, I resoled that pair a few times and found that with a good resole that the shoe still performed as if it was new!
Then it was time to start crack climbing and I quickly found out what shoes were not to be worn. No steep overhanging shoes and no technical shoes. My toes would be too bent over and it hurt like heck to stuff them in a crack over and over. The solution became a comfortable slipper or Velcro shoe. Lace ups just got destroyed in the cracks and I had to constantly bring extra laces, which is the last thing that you want to change out while on a multi pitch route in the mountains. So with some more experimentation, I discovered the best shoe for the desert cracks (a slipper with a thin enough sole so it has some touch/feel). My years climbing desert, granite, and volcanic cracks allowed me many opportunities to try out different crack shoes and I always came back to something comfortable, flat soled and a slipper.
So the big question is “what is it about Scarpa shoes that makes me choose to wear them?” Some of you might say it’s because I am sponsored by the company. To those I respond that not every person that gets free gear is only using the equipment because it’s free. I am not one of those folks. I made a choice to turn down gear companies because I didn’t believe in their products and I will always stick with the ones that create the best equipment for my needs as a climber and outdoor enthusiast. But back to why I love the Scarpa brand and current line of approach and climbing shoes.
Fit, as a former shoe salesman at The Bentgate in Golden, Colorado, I learned from rep after rep to sell the shoe that fits. If the brand doesn’t fit your foot, then it’s not the shoe for you. Scarpa shoes are more of a general fit and used to be known as having a narrow feel, but they fit my foot like a glove. The toe box doesn’t leave and open spaces and the heel cup is snug all the way around.
Specificity. Scarpa makes shoes for each of my specific needs as a climber. I like to have a great edging shoe for the vertical and slightly overhanging terrain (Vapor Lace). I like a shoe great for all types of crack climbing (Instinct Slipper) and I like to have that shoe that cranks on the steep terrain (Booster).
When I head out to tackle a big wall route it is a tough decision on what shoe to bring because climbing big walls requires a little of everything. You will encounter face moves, overhanging terrain and the stuff your foot in the crack splitters. I often will head on up the route with my Instinct slippers and bring along my Vapor laces for pitches that require perfect footwork. It’s tough to have one shoe that does all of those things well. Even though it can be a pain to have both shoes with me, it pays off when you can complete the route without any falls. But for most routes that aren’t at my limit I only head up the big stone with the Instinct Slippers.
Rubber. When I first started climbing I didn’t know that there were different types of rubber on shoes and now that you can actually feel the difference in climbing rubber, you will find out that not all companies are equal. The XS Grip2 Scarpa rubber lasts long, doesn’t chunk off and stays sticky. There were other brands that I used to climb in where the rubber of the shoe would get destroyed within two days of climbing but the Vibram rubber stays around to perform for a long time. I can depend on Scarpa.
Today, its 30 degrees outside windy and a snow storm is brewing. I’ heading out to go rock climbing on some vertical to slabby granite and I need a shoe that will work with a think pair of socks. I’m going to put on a big pair of Instinct slippers and get it done. See you at the crag!
Thanks for reading,

piz : )

Busy in Denver

We spent the weekend in Denver visiting family and enjoying some down time. We went to Marks baby shower where there was a lot of excitement in the air for the baby on the way.
Jane's brothers, Mark, Clay, and Matt. Mark has a little one one the way. Clay was back from Japan and enjoying his two week break from the Navy and Matt came to town for work. It was nice hanging out with everyone over the weekend.
Jane and her sister Jenny. How cute : )
Enjoying some food at the Cherry Cricket in Cherry Creek, Denver.
Jane and I after driving from Grand Junction and ready for some food. The green chili soup was AWESOME! And the burger was delicious too : )
Get out and have some fun and be sure to make sure that you are making time for the family.
piz : )

November 18, 2010

California Summer (aka Tehipite Dome)

Ari cranking on The Tehipite Sanction crux 13- tips pitch. None of us sent the pitch due to being super tired after establishing this beast one the remote bigwall this past July. He and I were able to TR it with one fall, but not lead it clean. Who is up for the official ffa?
Me, just above the crux, pretty high on the wall. The valley is a beautiful and remote place that provides great adventure and solitude! We didn't see or hear a soul on this trip.
Ari at the opening boulder problem of the crux pitch. The belayer is below him and off to his left.
Mike B taking it to the top of our route on the gravy 5.8 finishing pitch. Look at the amazing exposure over the Tehipite Valley in Kings Canyon National Park.
Ari on the second last pitch of the route a 5.11+ pitch up a slightly overhanging black dihedral! Ahh yeah!!
These are all Andrew Burr photos. It was a tough trip but a wonderful experience with good friends. There were no bears injured while the making of this route.
piz : )

November 15, 2010


Jesse near the end of the new route.

So much rock in Unaweep! Where to begin again?
Jesse about to take off on the last pitch. Each of us had our hands freeze on us before we even reached the end of the pitch. It was cold! Numb fingers and learning where the route went made it a real challenge.

Looking down at the busy Unaweep Canyon. Notice the snow on the north facing side! It was cold that day.
Bolted anchors. Yeah, they rule!
As the title of the post? Today is the first snow at the house here in Grand Junction.
piz : )

November 10, 2010

Stone Mountains

Check out this new climbing photography book by Jim Thornburg.
It's coming out this November and going to make you sweat about your favorite crags in North America. Jim has taken the best of his world class collection of climbing photos and given them to you to view in the comfort of your own home. Flip the pages and get inspired. I think I may have even written something about Zion in this one!
Check it out and buy one!!
Thanks for including me in this one Jim.
piz : )

November 9, 2010

Indian Creek and Washer Woman

Jonas (from Stockholm, Sweden) and I somewhere on Washer Woman in Canyonlands National Park. This was his first desert tower and his first time in the park and his first trip climbing on the soft desert sandstone on Utah/Colorado.
Brian hiking the low crux fingers section of Monster Tower. I took this photo from Washer Woman. He and Mike B cruised up the classic north face while we tackled In Search of Suds.
Two wonderful towers that are not too far from a long ride on the white rim in Canyonlands National Park. Logan and Adam were out for the time of their life when they joined us for this Indian Creek and tower climbing weekend. Great job guys!
Jonas after his first lead at the Creek! AAAHHHH YEAHH!
What were we thinking with this "warm up"?
piz : )

November 5, 2010


Pete "the Greek" first ascenting on the Green River, during last years Green River trip.
Pete putting in some anchors on a new crack. Splitter thin hands and straight as a nail.
Me on Willow, the roof is a about 4 inches wide and the pitch is a whole rope length.
Jesse bouldering at Riggs Hill, Grand Junction. I always look to him for good technique!
Me at Riggs and yes I sometimes boulder : )

This week has been flying by. The kids at school are in their uneasy stage because Thanksgiving break is near and because the routine of school is wearing on them.
Jane has been training hard for her Marathon in January and I am nearly healed from my foot injury during the 24 hours of Boulder race. It has taken nearly three weeks for my foot not to throb all day. I am happy that I can begin weight training again and using my foot aggressively.
I have been able to work my core strength though and feel it slowly coming back. Lots of hanging on a pull up bar and doing leg raises and other similar excesses to bring back the burn of climbing inverted. I complement those excesses with some that are based on the floor. Those 30 minutes each day are painful, but will help when I begin hanging upside down again on rock climbs.
I have also began setting routes and boulder problems at the Grand Junction Climbing Center. A gym that has taken a beating over the years with neglect and various owners. I believe that with its latest owners passion and interest in the sport, that this gym, however small will come back to life with all the changes that are coming. It is a great time to be there and training with all the friendly locals who come by to play and train!
piz : )