A Word from Brendan Aiken

To the Climbers of ROCK’n & JAM’n,

ROCK’n & JAM’n was my first employer and has continued to employ me in one way or another for the last thirteen years.  As a kid I was a gym climber and member of the ROCK’n & JAM’n Youth School.  By volunteering with the route setting crew for a Junior National Championship in Thornton I earned a position on the staff.  You might recall the early days of the gym and the precise procedures and organizational discipline one had to utilize to be considered a good employee.  As many can attest, young teenaged males are not necessarily inclined to be adept at such requirements and it’s a miraculous extension of generosity that I remained employed to this day.

I have had numerous other employers during my years with the gym and have not always been as involved as I am now.  I am thankful that the opportunity to work for John and Deb has always been an element of my life.  It is their belief in my abilities, however, that I am most thankful, and perhaps the two are one in the same.  There were times in the past that it would have been easy to relieve me of my duties and I wouldn’t have protested.  I was given room to grow and thus matured into the role that I have performed for the last couple of years.

Many of the aspects of the job are enjoyable, but none more than the people I was able to interact with every day.  The community of climbers that frequents the two facilities is full of warm, friendly, and thoughtful people.  Since I have never worked at any other gym I can’t speak on the qualities of gym climbers in general, but I would be surprised if ROCK’n & JAM’n isn’t near the top.  Thanks for welcoming me into your lives, if only for an hour or two a couple nights a week.

The future of ROCK’n & JAM’n will continue to be bright.  I have worked with Rylan Marshall and Nathan Gray for many years and can assure you that they are good setters and great people.  They share the same vision of a better climbing environment for our customers that pushed me to work hard for your benefit.  Please welcome them into their new roles and let them know when you really like something about a route or problem.  Positive feedback is essential.  It is far easier for route setters to repeat something that went well than to guess what you like to climb.  Don’t forget that there is a partnership between the climber and the setter and you are as important to their success as hard work.

I have not had the chance to personally tell everyone what my future holds, and perhaps you are curious.  My wife, Estee, was hired by the University of Western Montana to teach in their education department.  It is a small school in a slightly larger town, Dillon, settled into the ranches of a western sage brush valley.  The opportunities for exploration are as big as the sky, as exemplified by the journey Lewis and Clark took through the same valley years ago.  While the climbing in the immediate area is limited, we’ll be only four hours away from the Tetons as well as City of Rocks.  The nearest gym is two hours away in Bozeman, so I won’t be seeking a position on their setting staff.  I’ll have some time to enjoy the country and raise our daughter, Kestrel, before I look for a job, if I get around to it.

I couldn’t be more excited, while saddened about moving on, for the adventure to begin!  Thank you for being such a positive part of my life.  I will come back to the gym every once in a while to reconnect with the greatest part of being a climber, the community.


Brendan Aiken


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