Level 1: Beginning Ice Climbing and Basic Movement

For those who have never ice climbed or have been fewer than 8 times. If you have some experience ice or rock climbing, we will group you with other women at a similar level. This class focuses on basic movement & the following skills:

a) Climbing knots & equipment
b) Belay techniques on a top rope (this may be a review for those of you with some experience)
c) Route selection, terrain assessment, objective hazards & reading ice
d) Basic ice climbing: crampon techniques & tool placements
e) Efficient movement skills
After this course you will be comfortable with WI3 on a top rope.

Homework: The most important part of beginning ice climbing is getting mileage on the ice! Keep at it before moving on to the next level. Don’t be afraid to really focus on the basics until they become second nature.

Level 2: Intermediate Ice Climbing and Efficient Top Rope and Rappelling Techniques

For those who have ice climbed AT LEAST 8-16 times but have little experience following ice leads or taking out ice screws. You should be familiar with climbing knots and belay techniques. You will work on the following skills:

a) Review knots and belaying
b) Technique focus: honing footwork, tool placements, learning to conserve energy, and focus on body positioning
c) Route selection, terrain assessment, objective hazards & reading ice
d) Learn techniques used to progressively climb more difficult ice
e) Introduction to ice screws
f) Introduction to anchor systems & rappelling
*After this course you will climb WI4 efficiently, understand anchor concepts & rappelling

Homework: Try to get out there and experience ice climbing outside of Chicks. We recommend climbing at this level for some time before you move up the upper level clinics.  Make sure your techniques and confidence are solid. Explore and have fun with it!

Level 3: Advanced Ice Climbing and Mastering Systems

For those who are comfortable on WI4 and aspire to higher levels of ice climbing. You must know your knots well and be a solid with belaying and rappelling. You must have experience following ice leads and taking out ice screws. This clinic is designed to give you mileage on steep ice – it is this experience that will best prepare you to lead ice.

a) Refine your advanced ice climbing technique: thin ice, pillars & overhangs
b) Route selection, terrain assessment, objective hazards & reading ice
c) Review the most efficient ways to remove and rack ice screws while following a lead
d) Set up top rope anchors and learn more complex systems including multi pitch anchors & transitions
e) Learn essential rescue techniques
* After this course you will be comfortable following WI 5 and be more familiar with complex anchor, multi pitch and rescue systems

Homework: Now girls, go out and get more experience climbing steep ice on your own. You may be at this level for a while. THAT’S OK! You want to feel solid on difficult ice before starting to lead.

Level 4: Beginning Lead Climbing and Preparing Yourself for the Sharp End

This clinic is designed for women who are advanced to expert climbers and want to learn to lead ice. During this clinic, you will practice lead climbing on a top rope only. You must be comfortable following WI 4 and taking out ice screws while following. This is for those of you who want to work on that mind game of leading and focus on the details of being a safe and efficient leader.

a) Watch your guide demonstrate the most efficient ways to lead ice and place screws efficiently
b) Review ice leads and learn to rack ice screws efficiently
c) Work on efficiency while placing ice screws – where and how often while maintaining a good body position and conservation of energy
d) Practice leading on a top rope. Get critiqued by your guide & fellow students on screw placements and overall safely
e) Review anchors and systems that apply to lead climbing and multi-pitch transitions; f) Route selection, terrain assessment, objective hazards & reading ice
* After this clinic you will have the skills set and knowledge to pursue leading on easy ice on your own

Homework: This clinic is a low-risk way to learn how it feels to be on the sharp end of the rope. Lead on ice ONLY when you are ready. Leading ice is a serious endeavor … practice, practice, practice your ice skills first. Be certain that you will NOT fall off whatever you choose to lead! Never, ever lead beyond your ability.

Level 5 Lead Climbing – Resume REQUIRED

This clinic is for expert ice climbers only. To get here you must have a lot of experience outside of Chicks with Picks climbing and leading ice. You must be able to comfortably lead grade 2-3 ice and have some experience doing so – on your own! (We require a resume with a list of climbs you’ve led.)

Please note: If there are not enough women signed up for this class, you will need to specify your second choice.

a) Watch your guide demonstrate the most effective ways to lead ice, place screws and rack them efficiently
b) Demonstrate your leading ability on a top rope and be evaluated by your guide.  In order to do an actual lead during this course, you will need to sign a special Leading Waiver once your guide gives you approval
c) Follow leads and critique screw placements with your fellow participants
d) Skill set includes more subtle techniques such as energy conservation, the mental game and pacing yourself
e) Route selection, terrain assessment, objective hazards & reading ice
*After this course you will be a more competent leader on ice and a solid partner

Homework: Now it’s all up to you to go out and lead, get EXPERIENCE before you lead hard ice. It takes time… be patient and get a lot of mileage! Never lead anything you think you could fall off of. At this level, CONFIDENCE and PRACTICE are your greatest tools.


The Complete Chicks Clinic Skills Day

The third day of “The Complete Chicks” clinic will be a skills day and will focus on technical aspects and techniques that may not be covered in your clinics. You can choose from the following workshops:

1) Rescue Workshop: This is an in-depth look at “systems”. You will learn how to escape belay systems and how to lower a victim off a climb. You will also take a closer look at anchor and rappel systems. This workshop is appropriate for intermediate to advanced climbers.

2) Mixed Climbing Techniques: This is an introduction to the world of mixed climbing, yes that’s the placement of tools and crampons on rock with little or no ice. It is a very strenuous activity and an advanced intermediate to advanced level of ice climbing is recommended to enjoy and benefit most from this activity (rock climbing skills help also).

3) Alpine Skills: Spend the day outside the Ice Park on Red Mountain Pass on backcountry skis and learn the basic skills mountain travel in the winter. Learn basic avalanche awareness, assessing terrain, using an avalanche beacon, digging a snow cave, and basic backcountry ski technique. No prior skill or experience needed. You will need backcountry skis, boots, poles, avalanche beacon and shovel. If you do not own this gear, San Juan Mountain Guides is offering you a great package deal for the day – for just $50 you can rent the entire ski package (normally priced at $80/day) which includes: skis, boots, poles, an avalanche beacon, and a shovel.

4) Ice Climbing: This is designed for those of you who just simply want to focus on ice climbing while you are here and would like to spend more time on the ice. The focus will be on your technique and getting you on the ice as much as possible. This workshop is appropriate for any of you.