Rob Pizem takes his role as a climbing ambassador and SCARPA athlete seriously. Pizem spends as much time on rock as possible in between teaching high school science and raising a family. This fall, he went on a whirlwind tour to three climbing festivals in Idaho, Oregon and California, teaching clinics, giving talks and learning more about his favorite sport.
What did the American Alpine Club’s Smith Rock Craggin’ Classic, the International Climbers Meet (ICM) in Yosemite National Park, and the Idaho Mountain Festival all have in common this year? You guessed it, me: Rob Pizem… and climbing.
I was invited to these three events this fall and was happy to represent my sponsors as a teacher, athlete, presenter and host. I was honored and excited all at once, but never realized what it actually meant until weekend after weekend of leaving my family and job (I am a full time high school science teacher) began to add up. Being a new dad, I quickly grew homesick for my wife and son.
As I arrived in Oregon for the Smith Rock Craggin’ Classic I was ready to make some new friends during my all day trad climbing clinic and during the 10 hour climbing competition. Weary eyed from an all-night flight and drive, I rolled in for the burrito breakfast sponsored by the Solid Rock–Climbers for Christ. It was where I filled my belly and met my partner, Calvin Landrus for the climbing competition. We shook hands, I went and taught my eight hour clinic and was ready to start climbing at 2am later that night. I was on a tight schedule, as I had to catch a flight at 4pm the following afternoon and still had to drive back to Portland. The weekend became a blur as fatigue set in while I hung out and traded climbing stories long into the night. I wished that I had more than just the 36 hours at the incredible Smith Rock State Park. I slept for 2 hours before climbing in the dark for the majority of the climbing comp and then headed home.
Within a few days, I was on my way up to Idaho to give a slide show and teach a couple trad clinics at the first annual Idaho Mountain Festival. Not fully recovered from the last trip, my family and I hit the road and headed north from Grand Junction. The four day festival featured climbing, trail running, mountain biking and slacklining. Each day was better than the one before. Each breakfast and dinner was perfectly prepared by the organizer’s mother and family and the evenings were filled with movies, speakers and prizes. I enjoyed this weekend a ton, as I was able to spend it with my family and so many amazing motivated climbers and outdoor enthusiasts. The City of Rocks turned out to be a wonderful venue for a climbing festival and I have never seen a state park so pro-climbing.
Soon I was flying to California’s pride and joy, Yosemite National Park for the ICM. As a host climber for the American Alpine Club, I was to make sure that my group of International climbers had all the beta and transportation to Yosemite’s classic routes. It was a Sunday to Sunday dream trip to the Valley where I got to climb, learn and even teach off-width climbing to more people who loved to climb. By the end of the week, I was exhausted and ready to get home to my family.
So what did I learn during this whirlwind journey to three states in five weekends? I learned how climbing has touched the lives of so many people in so many different ways. I learned that even the smallest actions that we make have the power to influence/inspire others no matter how far away. Finally, I learned that events like these are golden opportunities for climbers to get together and reminisce about the past, enjoy the present and dream about the future. Climbers need to remember that we all love the same things and getting together every once in a while is a good thing.