August 31, 2011

Trip Report

Unaweep Wall Trip Report
By Rob Pizem

Adventure (verb): Engage in hazardous and exciting activity, esp. the exploration of unknown territory

This past weekend, that is what my friend, Jesse Zacher and I had hoped to do. We were after an adventure into new terrain and onto new stone. And an adventure (noun) was what we experienced.

Jesse had enlisted a new friend, Ryan from North Carolina, to help us schlep water and supplies to the base of the wall because it was going to be in the 90’s all weekend and we couldn’t haul all the goods ourselves. He told him that the hike would be through wild terrain. So on Friday, after getting off work, it didn’t take long to find that out just how “wild” the terrain actually was. I found myself passing 70lb packs over barbed wire within one minute of leaving the truck. The next moment, we found ourselves navigating a river crossing on moss covered polished rocks. Soon after, we were faced with having to claw our way up a 100 yards of steep hillside. What made that difficult was the six foot tall black berry and raspberry bushes. Tasty as they were, their thorns punished us for our trespassing. Did I mention that Ryan did all this while wearing his Chaco sandals? What a trooper! The first thing we asked this guy (who we didn’t even know) was to bushwhack through hell! And with feet bleeding, he smiled every bit of the way!

After that things got easier, and the last major obstacle was the thousand foot of elevation gain on the slippery, ball bearing sized decomposed granite. Our initial plan was to climb the direct east face, (where the only known route was located) but as we got closer to the wall we observed that it was full of ledges and broken up faces. Not very aesthetic, nor what we were after on this adventure.

Instead of climbing what looked like garbage, we hiked further around the base of the wall and up even more talus until we sat below the most continuously steep face on the wall. From there we were able to choose a new objective. We dugout camping spots and watched the evening fade, waiting for the following day. The stone was great and there were unconnected cracks everywhere. We had found the mother lode. We awoke early on Saturday. The sun was up before us and was already illuminating the face above our tent with golden light. After a long night of hearing rock fall it was a pleasant beginning to a long day on our new objective.

Jesse slayed the smooth steep, six foot wide gulley that required more face climbing than crack. After a few minutes, he reached a belay high on the wall. I followed the technical and thoughtful climbing to the belay and was glad to be seconding. We were off. The rest of the day became a blurr, filled full of false starts, loose rock, cut hands, sharp jams, rock fall, and cleaning dirty cracks. We took it all in stride, we were relishing the moment of stabbing into the unknown. All that mattered was the next pitch, the next hand and foot hold, the next contraction and release of muscle that would lead us upwards. It culminated with both of us bonking at the summit, with dirty faces and goofy smiles. We worked late into the afternoon rigging the decent and barely stumbling back to camp where we chugged water and stared up at our accomplishment.

All things considered, it was a total pain in the butt. But all things considered, we hiked into unknown terrain and established a completely new line ground up and free. After rehydrating and resting, we noticed that the tent now sported a new skylight. A golf ball sized hole, through which the rain from the threatening clouds was about to funnel in through. It was time to finish this adventure and plan on the next one.

Thanks to Arcteryx, SCARPA, Sterling, CAMP-USA and Wind-Xtreme for all the gear and faith.
Get outside and have your own adventure!

piz : )
The wall and the hike.

Crossing the river.

Jesse heading off into the unknown.

Jesse joining me high on the wall.

Jesse crushing the traverse crux.

Jesse seconding the dihedral.

The wall! Check the Mountain Project link for the specific route details for "that's all I'm asking for"

August 26, 2011

7lbs 7oz

Rowan just got weighed in and was 7.7lbs.
That is good thing, he is growing fast and we are attempting to get him on some kind of 3 hours schedule.
One thing to make note of is that he is a ferocious eater.
He makes noise(grunting noises) grabs for the bottle or boob as it may be and chugs down his milk or formula like an animal. I have had to only let him feed for no more than 10 seconds at a time because he will overflow his mouth and spill it all over his chest. Also, he puked up on me for the first time this morning.
It's is wonderful to see how much a baby changes over these first few weeks. He is almost 4 weeks old now and developing his personality.

After eating he stays up longer, his eyes are wide open and checking out whatever he can see and he loves to look at the bright lights or bright colors.
While he is sleeping, I am going to head outside and have an adventure!
piz : )

August 23, 2011

Weekend Plans

Unaweep Wall lies on the west end of Unaweep Canyon just outside Grand Junction, Colorado. It is a granite and metamorphic gneiss over looked and under used rock climbing mecca. Most of the noteworthy and established climbing is at the east end of the canyon on smaller features from sandstone boulders to 600 ft granite walls. Traditional routes are the main attraction, but more and more mixed and sport routes are being established by myself, Jesse Zacher and others.

Piz : )

At 1300 ft tall, Unaweep Wall is imposing and impressive. Only broken by a ledge 200-300ft up, its cracks have only been attempted by a few adventurous folks and officially completed by one. This Saturday, Jesse Zacher and I will attempt a ground up new line on the wall. Currently there is only 1 existing aide line on Unaweep Wall. We have only scoped the wall with a spotting scope and will hope that our journey brings us to the summit in good fashion. Our goal is to free climb the entire wall without having to resort to any aide climbing moves. Stay tuned for the rest of the story next week. Get outside and have an adventure!
piz : )

Updated Blog and New Look!

You can now subscribe to my blog!
Click on the upper right of the blog and find out via email when I update it with more stories from my climbing life!
piz : )

August 20, 2011

New Routing

I have been back at it up in Unaweep Canyon climbing and new routing with the precious few moments in between Rowan time.
I was able to climb some routes that I had never been on before and onsighting is always the best. It makes you remember what climbing is all about. Redoing warm-ups at the same crag and then projecting your next route is fun, but slaying routes one after another and having to figure them out and overcome fear is where it is at for me. I like doing a hard route that I have to get to know intimately on burn after burn but most of the time it is more satisfying to take on new challenges all the time instead of wiring one challenge and making it your you know what.
So today I just got back from another adventure with a heavy pack with an unknown outcome. Fortunately, I actually arrived where I was supposed to before the sun rose and only had minor issues getting to where I wanted to be.
I tore my backpack, almost rapped off the end of the rope, had to self belay to retrieve my rap line from where it was stuck all before 8 am this morning! In the end I am psyched with the new mixed climbs that I bolted and cleaned. Now I am sitting here itching to get back out there to give then their first leads and see how crazy they are to climb and protect. Until then I will play with my boy and watch him grow up!
 At the belay enjoying the perfect afternoon temps in Unaweep Canyon! Shade is where it is at.
Jesse looking at me like he did something wrong. He was racking up for our new route.

The upper piece of stone that I bolted and cleaned today. It may not look like much but there is some amazing climbing to be done.
Get outside and have an adventure.
piz : )

Thoughts on Being a Dad

SO, I have been a dad for almost three weeks now and a husband for three years now too. What have I learned? Well you have to work at being a good dad just like you have to work at being a good husband! Having Rowan in my life is really amazing. Simple things like watching him sleep or eat or wiggle or zone out has been wonderful. For me I have always liked but not loved other peoples kids. I was never taken back so much that I couldn't sleep or so in love with them them that I wanted to see all those little things. I was happy to just see the kid, hold it or play with them and be on my merry way. But now that I am a dad now and it it is my kid, I am beginning to understand. When it is yours it means something special and you want to see it experience everything good or bad and you want to be there for it no matter what. (well that is how i feel at least) Anyway, I am so happy to be a dad and so happy to be a parent with my wife Jane. She kicked butt making the baby, delivering the baby and now sharing taking care of the baby. Right now Rowan is sleeping in my lap, wiggling, squirming and doing who knows what with his hands and feet. He squeaks when he moves and likes to stick his tongue out. He lies there sleeping like he threw down at a party the night before and can't control his movements. Tiny hands scratch his face, make little fists and wipe his mouth. I can only wonder what the heck he is dreaming about right now since he can't really see more than a few inches. Maybe loud noises and bright lights? It doesn't matter really, just that I will always love this little guy and can't wait to bring him along some grand adventures.
This is right after he pooped on me for the first time. I didn't and don't even mind!
Get outside and have some fun!
piz : )

August 15, 2011


 So I took my wife, mother-in-law and Rowan to the candy shop here in Grand Junction. This place makes the good stuff. Each candy was way expensive. I just looked and wished while there.
 Jane, Diana and Rowan on a hot summer day in Grand Junction.
 Inside the sweet sweet chocolate factory! They had it all and it smelled so good.
 Rowan's first sponge bath. It was a new experience to say the least.
 Rowan and our camping pillow. We are using cloth diapers and these ones are nice and fashionable.
 Kind of a fuzzy shot but he kept moving. When looking at my old baby pictures, we realized that I didn't get my curls until 3 years old. So the verdict will be out until then if he is going to end up with a red fro.
At 6.5 lbs and almost 20 inches, here sits a beast!
piz : )

August 9, 2011

New Routes in Unaweep!

Testing out the new line on top rope.

Jesse throwing down after brushing this classic 5.9.

Our day began with shenanigans when Jesse dropped some bolts down into the crack. He was prepared because he had a coat hanger in his pack which allowed him to reach down deep to recover the hardware.

Pulling out the big guns.

Mark and Ann came by to see Rowan and show off their boy Zachary. I liked him a lot because he rocked with me as we sat on the floor together. I can see our boys playing together in the future.

Get outside!

piz : )

Baby and Outdoor Retailer

Me and the boy waking up.

Page at the show working the CAMP booth for Jesse and Glen!

I was shocked to see a giant poster of me rock climbing on the outside of the Sterling Rope booth. I love my sponsors. : )

Rowan and I on his first ride around the block in our jogging stroller. Thanks mom and dad. This thing rolls nicer than my Walmart bike!

Rowan owning it. What a nice boy.
Get outside!

piz : )

August 3, 2011

Welome My Son!

After a smooth delivery, welcome to the world Rowan Robert Pizem!

Rowan sleeping on dad while he updates the internet for friends and family.

Rowan made his first clip while at the hospital!

Jane and my lovely son.

Jane and her new born son, Rowan.
I will be inside with the boy for a few. But as soon as he is ready, we will be outside having some fun, climbing and scoping new climbs.

Get outside!

Thanks to everyone, family and friends for all the support. It is good to be loved and it is good to love! We are very happy to have brought this guy into the world.

piz : )

August 1, 2011

The Outdoor Retailer 2011

I will be leaving for the OR in Salt Lake City, Utah later this week. It is a great time because I get to see lots of friends and get some face time with the amazing sponsors that have taken a chance with me as a climber, but more importantly as a person.

Sterling Ropes
Check out and buy their gear online or at your local outdoor shops!

Rock climbing is what I love to do, but there is certainly more to it as a sponsored athlete.
It is about promoting the sport, the outdoors and the climbing community as a whole.
Being a positive role model for others and giving back when you can.
These are the things that I strive to do as a person and as a climber.

So, while I am checking out the new gear for this coming winter and talking with reps and friends from all of the world I hope that you are outside having fun.
While you will be getting it on in the mountains or at some crag, boulder, or gym I will be talking about my plans for the next year.
More desert tower first free ascents, more new sport and traditional and mixed routes in Unaweep Canyon, a sandstone splitter or two and even a new bigwall route or two.
I plan on raising my soon to be newborn child with my wonderful wife and getting outside.
Even if I don't get all those new routes done this year, next year will be one to remember!
Get outside!
piz : )

Matt Samet's New Book! Buy it NOW!!!

This book will allow you to understand the sometimes odd and crazy sounding language that us climbers speak. It has great illustrations and easy to understand explainations about those words that your family may just not get.
Leave it on your coffee table or in your college dorm room to impress your friends.
You can find it on and
I was lucky enough to assist on a word or two on crack climbing.

Thanks and get outside!

piz : )