Spotlight: Two brothers are among the top climbers for their age

BY BEN WOLFSON | MAY 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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Isaac Pyle leans over and helps younger brother Owen Pyle into his harness, meticulously double-checking every knot.

The 11-year old helps fasten the rope to the harness and then stands back, preparing to spot Owen as he climbs on the 52.5-foot rock wall in the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center.

Owen, deep in concentration, quickly scampers up the wall, while his body contorts and stretches in order to find desirable rocks on his route to the top of the wall.

As Owen climbs to about halfway up the rock face, Isaac calls out encouragingly to his 7-year-old brother.

"Come on, buddy, nice job," Isaac yells. "Nice, Owen, keep it up."

For the Pyle brothers, climbing is something they've been doing frequently the past few years. Father Joe Pyle became interested in climbing four years ago after his brother-in-law introduced him to it. It has evolved into a family activity.

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"Both [Joe's] kids are active in the [new rec center] youth climbing program," said Dave Patton, the assistant director of the center's climbing wall. "I've known Joe for two years, and his whole family lifestyle revolves around [outdoor] kinds of stuff … both [Owen and Isaac] are totally into it and certainly some of the better climbers for their age group."

The Pyles have a rock-climbing wall — built by Pyle — set up in their garage, but they often go to the new rec center several times per week.

"Usually, we don't get to see very many climbing gyms, and this one is the only one that is close to our house [in Solon]," Owen said. "It's totally perfect; the fun part is to climb really high and then jump down."

Isaac said that he enjoys climbing because it builds character.

Because the brothers are home-schooled and Pyle owns a window-washing company, this leaves a lot of time for climbing.

The family will often head out for day trips around Iowa to such places as Pictured Rocks near Monticello, Palisades State Park, and Indian Bluff.

The Pyles have also taken extensive vacations to climb across the nation, including trips to Colorado, Arkansas and Kentucky.

"For a while, we were trying to figure out what to do as a family together, well all enjoy being outside," Joe Pyle said. "Together as a family we can go and rock climb; it's a great family-building experience."

That experience has turned into a permanent fixture for the lives of the Pyles, and they relish the opportunity to strengthen their bodies and be active outdoors.

"[Isaac and Owen] are dedicated, and they realize it takes a lot of practice to get good at [climbing]," Patton said. "They've turned it into a family outing, and that's really cool to see."

This is the first article in a five-part series on interesting youth in Iowa City. Check back tomorrow to learn about a 7-year-old go-cart racer.

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