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Filming Towers

The rig. [Photo] Chuck Fryberger collection

There’s really only one thing I can ever expect when I get to shoot a video with Rob Pizem: suffering.

One of the first videos I ever made about ‘the P-Man’ had me hanging off a 3,500-foot big wall in Mexico for three solid days. The wall was called, appropriately, El Gigante. The video I made is called ‘Unity’ and while it’s not an Oscar winner, it serves as a reminder of the trip for all involved and that makes it a success in my mind.

My latest adventure was similar to the big wall in terms of the effort I needed to put into it to come away with a video that captures the story well enough to be worth re-telling. Pizem and long time partner Mike Brumbaugh were going to try to climb all the classic towers in Castleton Valley in a single day. The towers: Castleton, The Rectory, The Priest, Sister Superior, and The Fisher Towers.

Most parties devote an entire day to do a single tower, but I knew Pizem was fired up and when he gets fired up, stuff gets climbed.

Filming a day like this is almost as hard as climbing the towers yourself. In order to find good vantage points to shoot the climbers, I had to…well…climb several of the towers myself. We set out well before sunrise and found ourselves at the base of Castleton Tower without enough light to even start climbing.

At least Pizem and Brumbaugh had to wait. I was able to start jugging a fixed line the team had left the previous day for me and I was in position to start filming as soon as the climbing team could see well enough to find the route.

As the day wore on I continued stripping layers. I had started with a pretty complete cross section of the Cloudveil line, from my stretchy base layers, lightweight mid layers to my insulating shell, hat and gloves.

By tower #4, I was down to a pair of Dyno Shorts and nothing else as I baked in the sun and filmed the climbing team inching their way up. At one point I opted to use my Neve sweater as a make-shift tripod since I had left my filming tripod at the base of The Rectory to save weight.

By the end of the day even the shorts had to come off, leaving me in just my undies. The only thing that felt better than a plunge into the Colorado River was the cold can of PBR in my hand.

If you’re interested in the video, check out

A perfect ending in the Colorado River. [Photo] Chuck Fryberger collection