Bittersweet

Chicks guides and participants digging a snow pit during a recent avalanche training course.


Chicks guides and participants digging a snow pit during a recent avalanche training course.

Hello friends, old and new!

It’s the middle of March and I’m in Park City, Utah, in the middle of teaching an avalanche course.

I went for a walk this evening and spring filled the air. I walked without a hat or a jacket and I had to slow down and adjust to the warmth step by step. The sun, lingering low in the evening sky, had been strong all day. Earlier in the day, the snow under our skis and shovel blades turned to slush as the solar radiation pushed its way through the surface of the snowpack.

As guides, we at Chicks spend all year in the mountains and each season has its own emotional meaning. For me, winter is especially meaningful because of my love for skiing.

From the weightless bouncing through powder snow, to peaceful walks in snowy woods, to the gratifying effort of climbing a peak on skis and skins, skiing is dear to my heart. I enjoy nothing more than exploring the winter landscape on skis.

For this reason, over the last few years, we’ve expanded our ski program. Our goal, as always, is to share our love of mountain adventures with women, AND support the learning and skills for inspired women to get on the sharp end, to break their own trails.

Our ski program has been an amazing journey. Backcountry hut trips, far-off ski adventures in La Grave, France and Japan, and our avalanche education programs have been really special.

Traveling in the mountains is not easy. Traveling in winter in the mountains is even harder. Sub-zero temps threaten to freeze your fingers solid; fierce winds whip your face; fiery hot sun suddenly puts everything and everyone around you into melt-down mode; deep powder, that’s too deep; and windblown hard sheets of snow.

Winter mountain travel—Backcountry Skiing—has it all.

But here’s what’s really special and amazing: we learn to overcome these challenges together. We persevere in solidarity, keeping our fingers and toes intact, smiling even as we drown in deep powder snow, laughing as we sprint for the shade of the northern aspect. Learning together we stomp right past the fleeting, transitory, and way-too-easy feelings, to find instead a state of satisfaction and contentment. As much as the beautiful mountains teach us, as fun as skiing is, without connection, without face-to-face sharing, without trading our smiles and tears, we’d fall short, yearning for something more.

This is what is truly amazing and special about the Chicks experience: the strong bond that forms in our groups. When the trip ends, we part ways as friends, knowing that we are together, even as we head back home, alone.

So say goodbye to winter, and hello to spring.

It’s still a great time to ski if you’re willing to earn your turns. Read Angela’s Top Tips for Spring Skiing.

And, of course, spring is time for rock climbing! We’re off to Joshua Tree, CA in a few weeks and Indian Creek, UT soon after that.

As much as I’ll miss the lessons of the snow, I look forward to getting schooled in the rules of rock climbing pegmatite dikes and splitter sandstone.

I hope you’ll join us!

Karen Bockel, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, IFMGA Mountain Guide

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