Subaru Adventure Team Alpine Rock Scholarship

Subaru Alpine Scholarship

Chicks is proud to announce our Second Annual Scholarship in partnership with Subaru Adventure Team. One lucky winner will earn a spot in our Teton Alpine Climbing Camp in Jackson, WY. All you need to do is share a photo along with a short essay about why you want to attend the clinic, encourage your friends to vote and share on your social channels.

Subaru Adventure Team will swag you out and cover your tuition cost for the Teton Alpine Climbing Program. Not only that but Petzl will also kit you out with a bunch of sweet new gear you’ll need for the trip too.

Enter by May 25th and we will announce a winner on May 29th.


Chicks Training Tip: Advanced Rock Climbing Training

Chicks its rock climbing season! I am so ready for tank tops and basking in the sun. Whether or not you are a weekend warrior who hits the rock gym during the week or someone who has a lifestyle that supports multiple days of climbing each week. We all need to strength train to improve our climbing. Our strength program should be designed to balance the body; improve imbalances created by the sports we love, make us stronger and injury proof.

Many athletes, climbers, runners, cyclists and the like believe that to get better we just need to do our sport more. Initially when beginning a sport that may feel like its true however more is not better, smarter is better, and cross training with strength helps fight off injury which often comes from imbalance and over use, and can help you breakthrough a performance plateau.

In previous newsletters, I’ve discussed basic and intermediate rock climbing strength programs. If this is you stick to the program, don’t stop! If you’ve done the Basic Training Program then try the Intermediate Training Program. Intermediates maybe it’s time step it up to the advanced. Now it’s time to get some training tips out there to keep you moving forward or to target the gals who need a more advanced level of training. So here we go…

Advanced Rock Climbing Training 5.11 or harder grades

What I have found to hold true for 90% of my climbers female or male; Once you climb at a certain level, and have been climbing for 3 – 5 years you have sport specific imbalances that are holding you back, as well as fairly typical strength deficiencies. In this training tip we will cover movements and next month put them into a training program to complement and improve your climbing.

Remember to warm up before all strength sessions and climbing sessions:
Shoulder openers, cuban press, cross over symmetry work Ys, Flys, Row, Pull down, should be done for each session. I covered these is previous training tips.

I’m going to give you a big list of movements, these will be used in your strength workouts. You’re first goal is to learn and/or review all  the movements and practice them one to two times a week. Pick 4 -5 different movements to work on each week. Perform 3 – 5 sets of 4 – 6 reps on all movements. This is prep work so when you’re ready to progress to the more difficult workouts you aren’t so sore that you can’t move. Practice these movements on days you’re not climbing or after climbing.

**Note all of these should be done with focused effort on scapular stabilization. Try to retract or squeeze your shoulder blades together like you’re holding a pencil between them while performing all movements.

Here’s your list: (**covered in previous training tips).

These are your NEW movements. Click on the links for how to videos on each of these movements:
I mean it, practice all these movements, if you go through all of them and build a proper base of quality movement and a knowledge of how much is heavy or what feels hard you’ll be ready by the time the next newsletter comes out which will focus on structured workouts and when to fit them in your training cycle.
As always, I highly encourage you to seek professional help to make sure you have the best form possible on all movements. You can watch my short videos, google and you-tube most of this stuff, however having someone watch you and give you feed back is invaluable.
Please feel free to contact me with training needs at:
Carolyn Parker

Slingfin Tents

slingfin tentThere are so many tents on the market, how do you choose?  When I was first introduced to the climbers who work at Slingfin Tents, I knew nothing about them, but was open to testing them at our Chicks Indian Creek clinic in April.

My first impression was the workmanship in these tents.  We had three small tents, each a different size and design:  LFD (our basecamp dining tent), the CrossBow 2 Mesh, 2LiteTrek, and the 2Lite. What all three shared in common was evidence of optimization of strength and minimization of weight, even in the smallest details. For example, the guy lines were the small accessory cord made by a rope company.

I also liked the features such as the two doors on the sides, because they are larger and easier to get out of than doors on the ends.  The shape of the tents allow more room at one end of the tent so you can sit at the end and cook, which is more practical than the center being higher in a small tent.  The set-up was easy and intuitive.

slingfin tentFinally, I was stoked on their customer service. Slingfin went out of their way to get us tents for our event.  There was tight turn-around after their last demo and they sent three tents plus a large dining tent Fed-Ex overnight.  When I asked about the purpose of a few features, like the small rings in the inside corner of the tents, I received an email explaining how that was part of the tensioning system in high winds, left over from their mountaineering heritage.  Its nice to know there are still a few companies in which everyone, including management, are avid climbers and users themselves.

5 Myths of Alpine Climbing

Alpine Climbing Myth #1:  Alpine Climbing takes a lot of experience.

Sheldon’s truth:  Every alpine climber starts somewhere, often just hiking and having spent time outdoors can give you a great foundation.  The terrain is usually less than vertical, offering routes that are typically lower climbing grades.  Also, when you climb with a guide, the ratios are lower.  Frequently, you can move together through terrain, allowing you to stay close to your guide or more experienced partner so you can watch and emulate their every move.

Alpine Climbing Myth #2:  You have to be a strong climber to venture into the Alpine.

Karen’s truth:  While alpine routes require efficiency and the ability to keep going, the movement relies much more heavily on your lower body.  Being stable and balanced on your feet is key – and easily attained by scrambling non-technical peaks and hiking in rough terrain.  Also, mountain sense, route finding, and reading the weather often play a big role.  I’d say having a 5.10 adventure spirit is more important than rock climbing 5.10.

Alpine Climbing Myth #3:  Being in the Alpine is cold and miserable.

Sheldon’s truth:  It’s all about the layering and being prepared:  A spare pair of gloves and extra hand warmers help to keep you warm and dry.  Often, you’ll be wearing boots and thick socks, which are warmer and more comfortable than tight climbing shoes.  If you keep a keen eye on the sky, you’ll change layers in anticipation of weather moving in.  My favorite tip:  Bring an extra sports bra and underlayer to change into after a strenuous approach.

Alpine Climbing Myth #4:  Alpine Climbers always carry huge packs.

Karen’s truth:  Ha, only if they are German backpackers…  I have seen them with 90L packs stuffed to the brim.  Usually, they don’t make into the alpine, though.  On long alpine climbs, light is right, because speed equals safety.  With some trial and error and help from your guides, you’ll find what exactly you need and what is luxury.  For example, on some routes with bad weather potential, a shelter is necessary whereas a stove is a luxury.  Also, high quality gear has gotten really lightweight these days, shaving pounds off your backpack weight.  We Chicks partner with the best in the industry and can help you get your kit together.

Alpine Climbing Myth #5:  You have to live off energy bars and freeze-dried dinners for days.

Sheldon’s truth:  Well, if you’re Super Woman, you can climb 10,000’ with 3 GU packets, but the rest of us will have to pack a little more.  Real food is often much more loaded with calories and more satisfying to eat.  My friend and fellow guide Lindsay Mann likes to bring fried chicken from the grocery store.  Other good options are cold pizza, or burritos.  For snacks, real food choices include nuts, dried fruit, beef jerky, and of course chocolate.  If you really want to save weight, look for energy drink mixes to add into your water bottle.

If these truths haven’t convinced you that alpine climbing is really fun and rewarding, there is only one way to find out:  Join Chicks on Mt. Baker or the Tetons and try it for yourself!

Sheldon Kerr is an AMGA Certified Ski Guide and Apprentice Rock and Alpine Guide, an Outdoor Research Athlete, has a PO Box in Jackson, and can be found climbing massive glaciated peaks in Alaska, when she’s not ripping up all the powder stashes she can find.  Karen Bockel is her roommate, and co-owner of Chicks.

Alpine Climbing Summer Escape

“Mom, wake up!”, I hear my 12 year old son urgently whisper in my ear.  We are at high camp on the north side of Mt Baker and I had over-slept.  I turned on my headlamp and lit up the stove to make a cup of coffee, pulled a jacket out of my stuff sack (which was used as my pillow) and handed Grady his Chalpine climbingeerios.  After a quick breakfast in bed, we roped up and grabbed our packs,  which were under the watchful eye of the snowman he had made the previous day.   Following frozen tracks under a full moon, we climbed towards the summit.  The sound of my breath, in rhythm with the crunch of the snow under foot, the soft cool breeze on my face, and the ever-expansive views , as always, lead my soul away from the bustle of modern society.  I have eagerly anticipated sharing this alpine climbing experience with my teenager so that he might discover the same solace in the mountains should the need arise.

But mountains are being endangered by climate change. On May 29, I was part of the Climate Change March in Durango, Colorado and gave the keynote speech.  The mountain environment, which seemingly offered me permanence in a changing world, has become a litmus test for climate change.  So what can each of us do?  There is tremendous power in voting for the environment and purchasing only from businesses that are environmentally responsible. We can also adopt lifestyles that embrace minimalism, or voluntary simplicity.

One of the lessons I have learned through alpine climbing is the basic tenet of minimalism. A feeling of freedom I get through understanding the things I can do without, and a greater appreciation for what I have. Furthermore, as the website states:

“Voluntary simplicity is a way of life that rejects the high-consumption, materialistic lifestyles of consumer cultures.  It does not mean living in poverty, becoming a monk, or indiscriminately rejecting all the advantages of science and technology.  Rather, by examining afresh our relationships with money, material possessions, the planet, ourselves and each other, the simple life of voluntary simplicity is about discovering the freedom and contentment that comes with knowing how much is truly enough.”

Thus the alpine climbing summer escape becomes not only a way of extracting ourselves from cars, phones, money, and computers, but also a way of re-focusing on what makes our lives the richest.

Alpine Climbing: Tetons vs Baker

It’s all alpine climbing, so what’s the difference?

This Summer Chicks will be offering two alpine climbing clinics. The term alpine climbing is very vague. This can mean anything from walking on snow to vertical rock climbing and everything in between. Let’s explore the difference between the Grand Teton and Mt Baker alpine climbing programs so you can decide which one is best for you.

All of the Chicks Climbing programs are here to help you reach your greater climbing goals. If you want to climb volcanos in far off lands, or big glaciated peaks in the Himalaya, our alpine courses will give you the skills you need to get to the summit. Be sure to join us this summer to become an independent alpine climber. The Mountains are calling you!

alpine climbing tetonsThe Teton Alpine Program is based in Grand Teton National Park just outside of Jackson, Wyoming. The curriculum will focus on the skills one must have to climb the Grand Teton or any other alpine rock objective.

The goal is to learn the skills needed to assess terrain, travel on steep snow an  low angle to steep alpine rock.



mt baker alpine climbingThe Mount Baker Program is based in the North Cascades in Washington State. The curriculum will focus on skills needed to climb glaciated peaks. Mt Baker is the third highest peak in Washington and it’s an active stratovolcano with a summit elevation of 10,781ft.

The goal is to learn how to travel safely on low angle ice, snow and glaciated terrain. Including skills like glacier camping, crampon use, navigation, steep snow climbing and crevasse rescue.




lower saddle grand teton


The Teton Alpine Basecamp will spend a couple of nights in the Exum Hut at the saddle below the Grand Teton. The hut is located at approximately 11,000 ft. The day starts in the valley floor and rises into Garnett Canyon. The hike to this hut is about 7.5 miles long with an altitude gain of 5000 ft. Your pack will be between 30-40 lbs.

The Teton program utilizes the Exum hut, that is stocked with sleeping bags, sleeping pads and all the needed cooking gear.



mt baker basecampThe Mount Baker Basecamp may be on the glacier, depending on the snow levels. The camp is located between 6,500- 7,000 ft. The hike to camp is about 4-5 hours, and your pack will be between 50-60 lbs. You must carry everything you need for the week on your back.

The Mount Baker program is quite different. You carry everything you need in your packs. Everyone must dig camp into the snow, including your kitchen shelter.





If we compare the climbing on the two mountains, we can see that they are very different. Technically, both the Tetons and the North Cascades have glaciers. However, the crevasses (giant cracks on and underneath the surface of the snow) in the Cascades present a different set of skills to navigate safely through the terrain as a member of a roped team.

teton headwallThe Grand Teton requires steep snow climbing skills and the ability to rock climb in mountain boots. The Teton Alpine Climbing Program will have more emphasis on climbing alpine rock which is accessed via shorter stretches of glaciated terrain.







mt baker glacierMount Baker requires steep snow climbing and glacier travel skills to reach the summit. The Baker clinic will focus on glacier travel skills, including navigation, terrain selection and crevasse rescue.

Why We Love Maple Canyon

Maple CanyonImagine, a long never ending dry river bed. One full of river stones rounded to perfection by the water. The stones are glued into place by the dried sediment. Now imagine the river bed oriented vertically, and in some cases slightly overhanging. The glued stones become perfect cobbles waiting to be climbed. The smooth slopers, rounded side pulls, and even missing cobbles make up the maze of holds on the unique cemented sediment walls. This is what rock climbing in Maple Canyon is like. It is a sport climber’s paradise that feels like a climbing gym where Mother Nature sculpted the perfect jugs herself.

Join Chicks this summer to challenge your skills on this amazing rock type. This clinic is perfect for the climber looking to move from the gym to the crag. Our guides will give you the goals and confidence to tie in to the sharp end and take on higher grades.

We will focus on sport climbing skills that will help you take on your next project. Our supportive environment will encourage you at whatever grade or challenge you choose to take on. Top rope and lead climbing will be available.

What are you waiting for? Space is limited, sign up today.

Chick Pick: Petzl’s New GriGri +

Petzl Gri Gri PlusIf you haven’t heard the buzz about PETZL’s new GriGri + here’s the skinny. PETZL has upped the ante on innovation again with improvements to the coveted GriGri that make it a more user-friendly and safer device across the board for beginners and experts. The new “anti-panic” handle on the GriGri+ completely eliminates the possibility for user error in descent mode that has caused numerous accidents with earlier models by belayers holding the handle wide open and not holding the brake strand properly.  Those days are gone, moving the GriGri+ into the #1 assisted braking device on the market. This doesn’t mean you can forfeit good belaying technique which is required for proper use, but it does mean the learning curve is safer for beginners and the belay and lower are more secure across the board.

Another upgrade is the ability to put the device into either Lead or Top Rope mode. Top Rope mode facilitates taking up slack and overall makes for easier operation whereas Lead mode provides the same ease of paying out rope with the additional security of knowing the lower will be glitch-free. A simple knob on the back of the device below the handle makes the switch easy prior to belaying. It is possible to belay either a lead or top rope in either position, so you can’t go wrong but using the correct switch does optimize it’s performance.

Petzl Gri Gri

The lockable belay mode selector and the anti-panic function of the new Petzl GRIGRI + adds an extra level of security when belaying both in lead and top roping mode. The steel wear plates and expanded rope range also increases the devices lifespan and application.

Compared to the GriGri 2, the GriGri+ is overall a better suited device for all users across the board.  As an expert who climbs with beginners frequently it has quickly become my assisted braking device of choice after only a week and a half of use. It’s weight of 200g compared to the 170g of the GriGri 2 is insignificant for the improvements in security.

With a MSRP of $149.95, it’s a no brainer investment to add more security to your climbing. As with any belay device, proper instruction and use of the device is required.  

Learn more in our article on How to Lead Belay with a GriGri.

How To Lead Belay With A Gri Gri

Lead belaying with a Gri Gri  is one of the most requested things that we get asked during our Chicks rock clinics. Lead belaying with a Gri Gri (or brake assist device) can be a little tricky at first, but with a little practice you will quickly become proficient at using this valuable tool for all belaying scenarios, both top rope and lead belaying.

There are a couple of key points to keep in mind:

1. The GriGri must be loaded properly in order to function correctly. Thankfully there are diagrams on the unit for you to refer to when you load up the climbers rope. Read the literature that comes with the device.

2. Hold the Gri Gri so you don’t defeat the camming mechanism.
3. Maintain at least 3 fingers on the brake strand at all times. Just because it is brake assisting device does NOT mean it’s a hands free device.
4. Always close the system by tying a stopper knot on the brake hand side of the rope to avoid accidentally lowering your climber off the end of the rope.

Petzl’s website is a great resource for instructional videos and downloads of the owners manual.

Petzl’s Gri Gri Short Video

Petzl gri gri

Need more?  Check out Petzl’s long video for belaying with a Gri Gri.
petzl gri gri

Chick Pick: Joshua Tree Hand Salve

Written by: Real Life Chick, Diane Mielcarz

Joshua tree hand salveI’m sure all of you have heard of the Gobi Desert but did you know you can GET gobies in the desert? If you are new to the crack climbing scene, and as inexperienced as I am, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Gobies…those abrasions/scrapes that magically appear after a day of finger, hand and fist jamming. Believe it or not, there is relief…Joshua Tree Healing Salve. This salve is highly effective in treating abrasions and scrapes. It is an organic skin treatment that reduces inflammation, promotes healing and moisturizes without softening my calluses. I began using this salve during a recent 3-day Chicks clinic at Indian Creek and was able to climb three days later at Red Rock without any pain or discomfort. I am now an advocate of Tree Salve and will always end my climbing day with it. Thank you Chicks and Joshua Tree Skin Care for the opportunity to try out this product.