6 Month Reflections: Rob Pizem And His First Free Ascent In Zion

I try to reflect on the experiences that I have whether they are with my family, friends, or climbing. I don’t really get to reflect unless I am on a long stretch of deserted road and all alone in the car or when the kids are sleeping, house is quiet and my wife is in her deep slumber or when I am new routing.

This last November, I began another journey up another underappreciated big wall in Zion National Park. As I reflect upon this experience it dawned on me that when I begin establishing something new in Zion that it takes me about half a year to accomplish the task. It doesn’t seem to take that long until spring arrives and the weather begins to get really perfect for a few weeks.

During the process, I await each upcoming chance to move up the wall a few more precious and sometimes painful feet. My one weekend or long weekend a month doing the six-hour drive with whomever is willing to step out of their comfort zone to join me never seems too far away or too uncomfortable in my tiny car. The hours of approaching past the wild turkeys, falling snow, and too tame deer never seems to get old or be less inspiring. And the time spent moving over questionable terrain, loose rock, dirty cracks, perfect splitters and climbing out massive roofs seems to pass in mere blinks of my eyes.

I think what I am trying to say is that when I am out there exposed, cold, and questioning what might lie ahead the next unseen corner, that I am so into the moment that the conditions seem to disappear and the only thing that maintains my focus is the gear (or lack thereof), the rope, the rock and the position of my next belay.

So for me, climbing and establishing new routes big or small is not so much about the external satisfaction, but more about what the external provides my inside or my mind along the way. The process gets so intense that it takes me another six months to want to do it again. It is exhausting both mentally and physically to take it to my personal limit every time and takes me months to regain enough strength and energy to do it again.

I hope you enjoy the photos of the fruits of my labor these past six months. Knowing that a piece of me is buried deep within each and every pitch. Knowing that every anchor and every inch of the wall was pondered over, cleaned, and navigated sometimes only one hundred feet in a day. Knowing that each pitch of each route has a powerful story behind it and that you will only begin to discover the storyline by getting outside and taking your own journey to the top.

Human Centipede V 5.13 (2200 feet and then some) On the Red Sentinel in Zion
First free ascent by Rob Pizem April 2016
First ascent by Sean Lynn, Darren Mabe, Mike Brumbaugh, Curtis Chabot and Rob Pizem Nov 2015 to Feb 2016