Send The Youth USA Mixed Climbing Team To France

Youth mixed climbing team

Georgia Witchel – Youth Mixed Climbing Team & Chicks Alumni

Back in the day, using ice axes and crampons on rock was just considered a mandatory part of alpine climbing. Today, Mixed climbing is quickly growing into its own style and discipline of climbing. No longer do we consider mixed climbing to be “off route”. Instead, today’s climbers seek out large rock faces with small ice features.

Some train endlessly for climbing on artificial comp structures, hours perfecting figure fours and nines, understanding the power and stamina required to execute a series of moves. All these hours of training just to see what they can do for 7-9 min of competition climbing.  Then take those hours of work to enjoy climbing outside  The popularity is booming at crags around the country. The USA Youth Mixed climbing team out of Durango, Colorado is evidence that the future of the sport lies within the youth.

Meet one of the USA Mixed climbing team members, Georgia Witchel. Georgia is also a Chicks Alumni. Georgia is a highschool student in Durango Colorado. She has spent the past two years training at the Durango Rock Lounge with coach Marcus Garcia. Together, each team member and coach Garcia have been working toward the goal of competing in the 2017 UIAA Ice World Championships in France. Last year was the first time the United States sent a youth team to the world cup competition. In 2016, Georgia was the only female representing the United States at the youth world cup level. In 2017, again, she will be the only American female heading to France.

Youth mixed climbing team

Georgia practicing her figure 4’s.

This year Georgia has had a great comp season.  In December 2016, Georgia won her age division at the UIAA World Cup event in Durango. Then, during the 2017 Ouray Ice Festival, Georgia broke the record for the youngest female competitor. She placed 10th in women’s difficulty and 5th in women’s speed.

The USA Mixed Climbing Team is still very much in need of  your help to get to France. Donations will be used to offset the costs of travel, housing & entry fees. This team has big goals, and more than enough motivation to achieve them.

Please help four kids achieve their goal of competing in this prestigious competition. For information go to:

USA mixed climbing team

To make a donation please go to:

USA Mixed Climbing donation

Chicks Gear Review: Sterling’s Chain Reactor

Personal Anchor Systems (PAS) replaced Daisy Chains years ago as superior solutions for anchoring yourself while cleaning anchors at the top of sport routes, setting up TR’s, rappelling, canyoneering, partner rescue and transitioning from up to down on multi-pitch climbs. Sterling’s Chain Reactor is the superior product on the market for a number reasons.

Sterling Rope Chain Reactor
The Chain Reactor and Chain Reactor Pro are rated to 12.7 and 14KN respectively. Each loop is full strength and can hold more of an impact than your body could actually withstand. Because it’s constructed of entirely of nylon as opposed to Dyneema, it has dynamic properties that enable it to handle up to 3 factor 2 falls which although highly unlikely, increases my confidence when using it as a sole attachment point.

When used as a rappel extension, both models have attachment points that help prevent a carabiner from rotating and cross loading. These attachments are also the perfect distance from the harness, enabling you to use your gear loop as opposed to your leg loop for a third hand friction hitch back-up.

The Pro version attachment to the harness is doubled, which for heavy use is the the best choice. The classic Chain Reactor is lighter, which for multi-pitch routes is my go to. Sterling Rope products are all made in the U.S.A. and individually hand checked to maintain Sterling’s high quality. The company is founded and run by a woman who has put together an incredible team to produce and insure that all of their products meet international ISO and EN standards.

Sterling is also a long time supporter of women’s climbing and Chicks’ Official Rope Sponsor.

Chicks Tech Tip: Personal Anchoring Systems

One thing you’ll notice between recreational and professional climbers at the crag or on multi-pitch routes is the pro’s Personal Anchoring Systems (PAS) is nowhere to be seen on their harness. It’s in their pack, used solely for the descent. Recreational climbers have adopted many techniques guides use, such as direct anchor belays and rope management strategies, but the way we use PAS’s has been slow to gain foothold. Instead, many recreational climbers keep their PAS girth hitched to their tie-in’s or belay loop and tucked between their legs or off to the side.

Why don’t professionals do this? Because, the rope is the strongest part of the entire system. Why would we use anything else to attach ourselves to the anchor when we are already tied into the rope when climbing? Arguments in opposition often suggest that the rope attachment isn’t adjustable. Look at how any professional anchors themselves with the rope and you will almost exclusively see the clove hitch, which is undeniably appropriate and fantastically adjustable.

Countless tests and videos have demonstrated the risk of using a PAS as a direct attachment to the anchor. It’s common knowledge that any small fall directly on an anchor with a PAS or sling generates forces significant enough to result in sling failure. In 2007, a climber on the Grand Capucin in Chamonix, France fell less than two feet onto a Dyneema sling attaching him to the anchor. It failed and he fell to his death.

How might this relate to us? Shifting around on an anchor and taking a small slip while pulling ropes, a foothold breaks, making a move that’s a stretch to thread the rap rings or just not paying attention and falling off a small ledge. Shit happens but accidents can be prevented. By keeping the PAS or sling tether fully loaded you have eliminated the risk.

Other reasons pro’s don’t keep their PAS tethered to their harness include; 1) increased wear overtime decreases its integrity when attached to the same points on the harness all the time, 2) it gets in the way of gear and adds clutter to the harness and 3) bottom line, it’s only a tool for transitions and descents.

PAS vs. Slings? Often I use a 48” nylon sling as a tether for descents on long multi-pitch routes because it’s multi-purpose and lightweight. I keep it on my harness and use it for anchors or sling extensions. Why is this okay here and not for a personal tether? Because, while climbing the rope is always part of the system and adds dynamic properties that absorb energy. When I’m not concerned with weight or I have to do many rappels, my Sterling Chain Reactor is always in my pack. It’s more elegant than a nylon sling tether and its full strength loops provide excellent adjustability to prevent me from allowing slack into the system, reducing the risk addressed above.

No mention of Daisy Chains? They have no place here because they are only intended for aid climbing, not personal anchoring systems.

Real Life Chick – Rhonda McGovern

We get to meet the amazing women we call Chicks every day and would be remiss if we didn’t get to share some of their stories with you.  Real life Chicks are CEO’s, dirtbags, moms, grandma’s, sisters, friends, athletes, and partners – just like you.  This week, meet Rhonda McGovern who just completed Chicks with Picks – The Graduate in Cody, Wyoming.

RhondaIn one sentence, tell me about yourself.

I am from Ireland, live with my partner in New Palz, am a banker in New York City, and love the outdoors in all its forms ( climbing, hiking , biking, paddleboarding).

How long have you been climbing and what do you like most about it? 

I have been climbing rock and ice for four years and I like ice climbing more.  I like the extreme elements of winter.  I like being out when everyone else is watching TV.

What are your goals in climbing?

To become a more competent partner, lead more, become more confident in the backcountry, to set more adventurous goals for ourselves.

What are your dream trips? 

I would like to go to Chamonix to go rock and ice and alpine climbing.  We are going to start focusing on skiing more too.  I would like to go to the Bugaboos and the Cascades as well.

What obstacles do you face in meeting these goals?

Time. I don’t have the time I would like to get good at things, to climb harder.

Why did you choose Chicks? 

I wanted the confidence to go in the backcountry in the Adirondacks.  I wanted the skillset, and I wanted to focus for three days on climbing with no thoughts of work, dogs, etc.  In Cody, I was with like-minded women.  I am not intimidated by men, but it is important to see other women in the backcountry too.

What were your take-aways from the clinic? 

To get out there and go for it.  I had most of the skills, but I was able to put it all together.  I just need to get out more.  This was a reaffirming experience.  My partner, who is more experienced, will be happy to hear me say that we have this (the skills).  I also learned where my weaknesses are.  I can go to other areas that are new and discover and explore.  Sometimes I get stuck in my little world.  Also, I made connections.  That was a big part of it too.  It is inspiring to be around strong, confident women.  I definitely feel inspired after this trip.

Chicks Training Special Edition: Fingerboard Training

If you’ve been following, and more importantly, implementing the training tips from chicks newsletters you are dialed in for winter sports! Mighty and strong legs for back country touring and big powder days. And serious upper body strength and injury proof shoulders for ice climbing. It’s mid-winter and the stoke is high for all the fun to be had. But if you’re like me, somewhere in the back of your mind you’re starting to think about sun, rock, and specific fitness for the next season’s sport!

For most people it’s difficult to get outside rock climbing in the winter unless you live in a nice warm climate. Many places have climbing gyms these days which are fantastic, however, if you don’t have access to a gym or want another resource for getting some fitness to launch into rock season with a finger board may be the answer!

FingerboardFingerboards are a great way to develop and/or maintain finger strength A KEY part of rock climbing. Often we don’t have the time to get to the climbing gym, if you can find the space to hang a finger board, over a doorway, in the garage, somewhere easy and convenient, you can do super productive workouts in a short period of time in your own home.

Here are some great ideas for quick home fingerboard training workouts:


Home Workout #1
  • 4x (30sec Work/30sec Rest) Push-Up do 30 secs of push ups rest 30 secs repeat 4x no additional rest between rounds
  • 2 minute rest
Then:
  • Hangboard: 5x Pull up 60 sec rest x 5
  • 2 minute rest
Then:
  • 10 sec hangs on holds you can complete 10 secs on 5 secs rest 4x per hold type pick 5 grips (e.g. jugs, pinches, crimps open, three finger pocket)
  • 2 minute rest between hang attempts
  • During that two min rest complete:
    • 20x sit up OR 60 sec v-seat OR 60 sec plank (on foot) OR 60 sec flutter kick
Rotate through these till hangs are done.
Finish with a second round of:
4x (30sec Work/30sec Rest) Push-Up
Home Workout #2
  • 4x (30sec work/30sec rest)
  • Push-Up do 30 secs of push ups/ during rest 30 secs hold plank
  • Repeat 4x no additional rest between rounds
  • 2 minute rest
Then:
  • Hangboard: 10 – 1 Ladder of pull ups 10, rest 30sec 9, rest 30…..use assistance (a chair under your feet or a band if necessary)
  • 2 minute rest
Then:
  • 8 sec hangs on holds you can complete 8 secs on 5 secs rest 3x per hold type pick 4 grips (e.g. jugs, pinches, crimps open, three finger pocket)
  • Rest 2 minutes between hang groupings (i.e. when you can hold style)
  • In that two min rest complete:
    • 20x sit up OR 60 sec v-seat OR 60 sec flutter kick
Home Workout #3
Hangboard:
  • 10 secs hangs during which you complete a pull up while “hanging
  • 30 secs rest
  • 3 x per hold type
  • Rest 3 minute before next grouping of holds
  • Pick 5 grips (e.g. jugs, pinches, crimps open, three finger pocket)
Then:
  • 8x 20 sec work/10 sec rest of the following movements with 1 – 2 min rest between.
    • Sit Ups
    • Push Ups
    • Flutter kicks
Anytime you begin to work with a hang board, use caution and build up to smaller and smaller holds. Especially if you haven’t been rock climbing in a while. Protect those fingers. In addition to the ideas I gave you here, most hang boards will come with training tips and ideas. Enough to get you through the winter months until the rock calls your name!
If you are new to the Chicks Training Tips take a few minutes to read the previous newsletters, there’s a lot of great information in there!
If you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me.
Carolyn Parker

The Wild West – Ice Climbing Cody, WY

marilinakim


Ice climbing Cody is 
Written by: Marilina Kim, Chicks Alumni

 


One of the great things about ice climbing in Cody, Wyoming is its combination of Wild West and wilderness.  You can easily feel like you are in a different time and a million miles away from development.  From the Shoshone Valley where we were at, the possibilities for climbs seemed to go on forever, and they made the seven chicks – four participants and three guides – super excited to climb.

Women Ice Climbing Cody WyomingThough each day, was different they shared the following sequence in common.  Start the approach on a flat path (we were so thankful they were already broken!), continue gaining some altitude, and, suddenly around a corner: WHOA! Hello ice!  The ice climbing in Cody in drainages, so getting to each pitch can be a mini adventure in and of itself.  You meander up them, do some ice scrambling, find yourself in little amphitheaters with a chunk of ice to climb, repeat to the next pitch.  It was like nothing I’d ever seen.  The surroundings were so beautiful; it was hard to not stop periodically to gaze while hiking around.

The seven of us set off in separate groups, and we climbed the same climbs on different days. Broken Hearts offered a full day of sunshine (i.e. nice, sticky ice), and each pitch was super fun.  We were lucky to get last licks on good ice for the season, or for a while at least, at the top of pitch three.  We got to the bottom of pitch five – a fat, tall pillar – twenty minutes before our turnaround time.  A bummer, but it made me all the more excited the next day.

A totally different but equally fun climb was Cabin Creek.  Though we climbed fewer pitches, each was long and distinct from each other, so I felt like we had climbed more.  I was really sad when the day ended, and I couldn’t believe we only had one more day to climb.  I felt like I could climb for days and days!

women ice climbing in CodyWell, I woke up with a change of heart the next morning.  I was definitely feeling the cumulative effects on my calves and arms.  It was a good day to work on V-threads and mock leads and blow out all that we had left climbing top-roping different sections of Too Cold to Fire.  By the end of the day my hands struggled to unscrew my water bottle.  I was very happy!

Of course, it can’t be a Chicks trip without good food.  Matt at the Double Diamond X Ranch whipped up delicious meals using local and environmentally conscious meats.  And the desserts.  Let’s just say that the dessert tray was never left empty, and the leftovers served us well as delectable snacks the next day.

Karen Bockel, my Chicks guide, was a constant source of wisdom and tips.  She patiently answered my many questions thoroughly and pointed out a whole slew of things I wouldn’t have thought to ask about.  Equally important, it was so much fun to climb with someone as stoked on the place and moment as I was.  This is what keeps me coming back to Chicks.

Chicks Review: Ouray Victorian Inn

Ouray Victorian InnToday I caught up with Jan Lisk, the owner of the Ouray Victorian Inn, or “the Vic”, our favorite local lodging establishment.

Jan and her husband Brian Lisk have owned the Vic since December 2008.  They have two kids, two cats, and two dogs, and they are a big part of the Ouray community.  Jan told me that summer is busy season and winter is fun season.  They love having the ice climbers around, and of course the ice climbers love staying at the Vic.  Chicks with Picks clinics have stayed there since the early beginnings in 1999 when Bill Witt ran the place.

Now, newly remodeled rooms await the visitors, along with a big daily breakfast, and the best hot tub in town.  The views from the hot tub are amazing, with the Inn being located right at the lower entrance to the Ouray Ice Park and the mountains towering above.  More good news:  You can bring your pets when you’re staying at the Vic.   So, plan to rest your weary body at the Vic next time you come climbing in Ouray!

Ouray Victorian Inn

Mixing Up The New Year – Women’s Mixed Climbing

Chicks Climbing and Skiing wrapped up the 2016 climbing season in Ouray. The inaugural Chicks Mixed Climbing clinic was the perfect way to end an amazing year of climbing. The weather was great and the stoke was high.


Womens Mixed Climbing

Each morning we were shuttled to the trailhead by Andy at Western Slope Riders. It felt like valet service as we never had to worry about driving the snowy mountain road or finding parking. Plus each day we got into a warm van to ride home. It was deluxe.

Western Slope Riders

Seven out of the eight women who attended the clinic were Chicks Alumni. We knew we had some very talented climbers in the group.  As guides, it is awesome to watch the ladies use all the movement skills from rock climbing and translate it to mixed climbing. Grades were no obstacle for the ladies. No one turned down the opportunity to climb a route even if it looked challenging.

Womens Mixed Climbing

The last day, half of the group went to the Hall Of Justice, a dry tool cave above Ouray with some of the hardest lines in town. Kitty took three ladies to the Ouray Ice Park. This day was amazing to see how far each woman had come in just three days. It was a beautiful process to watch and be a part of.

Mixing It Up

If you missed your chance to attend the Chicks Mixed Climbing clinic, don’t worry. We have added another clinic the weekend of March 3-5. Our guides will be looking forward to the opportunity to climb with you.

Mixing It Up

Chicks Gear Review: Marmot Randonnee Glove

Marmot Randonne GloveThis Randonnee glove has been in the Marmot line for over a decade and continues to be one of the best selling, top performing warm gloves on the market for winter sports.  If the Randonnee Glove isn’t on my hands, it’s in my pack.

Warm, light and water-proof combined with a good grip and a beefy gauntlet, this glove will be your best friend in the winter.  It breaths well and will serve you multiple laps when you earn your turns or be your belay buddy while your partner is fighting the screaming barfies.

With top shelf materials like GORE® XCR®, Marmot DriClime® and Thermal R, you won’t find a better deal in it’s class. Weighing in at 7.2oz. it’s a screaming deal for the price and will last you many seasons.

Marmot Randonne Glove

 

5 Pro Secrets To Keeping Hands Warm While Ice Climbing

Being cold sucks and there’s a few things in this world that are worse than cold hands while you’re ice climbing. Fortunately, if you follow a few of the following tips, you can keep your hands warm while you’re out there on the ice.
  1. Stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol and coffee which suck all of the water right out of your body. I know it’s hard to want to drink cold fluids on a cold day, so take a thermos and fill it with hot chocolate, tea or a warm hydration mix like Skratch Labs Apple Cinnamon drink mix.
  2. Go pee. Even though it can seem like a huge deal to peel back all of your layers and put them back in place again, don’t hold it all day. Your body works hard to heat the fluids in your body, so when you gotta go, go and you’ll stay much warmer.
  3. Use several pairs of gloves to keep your hands warm, about 3 pairs does the trick most of the time. A wind-bock fleece glove that you can wear from the car to the cliff to start out with. Secondly, you’ll need a nice thin soft shell type of glove that provides enough dexterity while you’re climbing and swinging your tools.The Outdoor Research Stormtracker is one of our favorites. Lastly, when it’s your turn to belay, switch out your climbing gloves for a nice insulated leather belay glove. The Black Diamond Kingpin is a great choice. A good trick for keeping your gloves warm and dry when you’re rotating between them is to stash them inside your puffy belay jacket next to your body. This will help them stay warm and dry out so they’ll be ready for your next pitch.
  4. Grabber Warmer ice climbingUse a chemical warmer like the Grabber Hand Warmers to keep hands warm. I like to stuff them inside the cuff of my jacket near my wrists because your arteries are very close to the surface of the skin and the hand warmers can heat the blood flowing in and out of your finger tips. I also like to stuff hand warmers into my pockets of my pants, and when it’s really cold the peel and stick body warmer can be applied on your sport bra to keep your core super toasty. If your feet get cold too, Grabber also makes a footbed warmer you can put into your boots at the beginning of the day.
  5. Move it. If your hands are still cold, try swinging your arms in circles as if you’re throwing a ball. Swing in each direction about 10 times on each arm and repeat until the blood returns to your fingertips. You can also take off your gloves and put your hands on the back of your neck or stuff them into your armpits. Finally take a brisk walk, preferably uphill to raise your heart rate and generate some heat.