Scarpa North America Blog

Rowan’s First Flatiron

Jun. 23rd 2016

How Rob Pizem Passes Climbing on to His Son

Rowan has been wanting to climb a lot lately. To be clear, I never suggest to my sons that we go climbing. Nor do I ask them if they want to go. They have access to a garage wall at our house, to my Treadwall and to the thousands of sandstone boulders that surround our neighborhood. When they ask, I take them, and when they don’t we go fishing or play ball or go on hikes or do crafts. But on a recent trip to Boulder, Colorado, we climbed one of the Flatiron’s together. This was not a planned event nor a goal or even a wish on my part. It was more of an extension of my observing his interest in climbing. I should mention, Rowan, my oldest, is four and a half.

Rowan Pizem_1

When he gets the itch to climb, we head to the gym or outside in Unaweep Canyon. He climbs up the boulders at will and often need support on the first attempt and then redo the problem over and over on his own while I help his brother throw rocks in the mud. He goes to the top of every boulder that he can (sometimes up to 25-30ft) and always asks to get on the highest walls at the gym, smiling playfully and grabbing all the colors of the holds on the walls or a hanging quick draw when he can’t reach a quality hold. He doesn’t have climbing shoes or carry chalk, but he climbs. The Flatiron is the biggest climb he’s ever attempted.

Rob Pizem (Rowan's Dad), working for the FA of Human Centipede 5, 5.13, Zion National Park, UT.

Rob Pizem (Rowan’s Dad), working for the FA of Human Centipede 5, 5.13, Zion National Park, UT. Photo: Jeremiah Watt

I like what I am seeing (not just that he is climbing), but his passion for something and his commitment to try. Most of all, I like that he is not restricted to a route or a color of a plastic hold on an indoor wall. He is just having fun. This was how it was when I began climbing at the New River Gorge. I didn’t have shoes or any equipment, I didn’t know that climbing in the sun didn’t help me on slopey or small holds, I didn’t have an agenda other than to try hard and have fun. Over the years, I’ve had fun setting goals and accomplishing them and trying hard everyday. But the playfulness that I once had may have been pushed aside a little. As I watch my kids grow and change by the minute, I am glad for the opportunity to be part of their journey.

The Flatiron was just a blink for Rowan, but I kept my eyes open because it was pretty special. Like every climb for me, he cruised some portions, needed help on others, and even cried a little in fear. (I cry inside when I am afraid on routes.) In the end though, he immediately wanted to do another big route. When that time comes, we will enjoy the planes flying overhead, the long and painful hike to the base of the wall, the crowds of other climbers inching their way up the wall, the scary unleashed dogs on the trail, and the beauty of the area. Climbing is good. Pass it along. –Rob Pizem

Rowan Pizem_2

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