Chicks Tech Tip: Using the Rope to Connect the Climber to the Anchor

In recent years, the use of a PAS (Personal Anchoring System) has become quite common among rock climbers. A PAS is practical in situations where the ends of the climbing rope are not available because they are being used, for example, to set up a rappel, or when the climber wants to thread the rope through a fixed anchor and then be lowered to the ground.

In other situations it makes more sense to use the rope itself to secure a climber to an anchor. This system is most common when climbing up a sequence of linked pitched such as in the alpine or on a multi-pitch rock climb. The climber ties her rope into a clove hitch just beyond her tie-in and attaches it to the anchor with a locking carabiner.

Using the rope to anchor in directly is very simple and efficient. The only gear necessary is a locking carabiner. Another advantage: the system is very shock-absorbent because the rope itself is stretchy, and the hitch can also disperse energy by tightening when loaded.

Here’s how to do it:

1.) You’re already tied into the end of the rope with a figure eight follow-through.

2.) Clip a locking carabiner to the masterpoint (also often called the Powerpoint) of your anchor, with the gate facing outwards.  (AKA clip and flip)

3.) Reach down the rope, give it a half twist, drop it into the locker, and repeat the same motion to drop another half twist into the locker; due to this motion, this method is called the handshake clove hitch.

4.) Lock the carabiner and you’re off belay.


The clove hitch is adjustable – you can change the distance between your tie-in and the anchor by feeding rope in or out of the hitch.

Keep the length of your attachment snug enough so that you can weight the anchor comfortably – a constant but low load on the anchor is preferable to accidentally shock-loading the anchor by having slack in your leash.

The Masterpoint can be found at the bottom of two equalized and non-extending pieces of gear. In this photo, the climber has tied a clovehitch then attached it to a locking carabiner at the Masterpoint. ©Angela Hawse

An Ode to Ultralight Cams: Best Diet Ever

Dear Black Diamond,


When I was a teenager growing up in Ohio, I thought I was fat. I wasn’t, but thanks to social pressures and teen angst, I tsure thought so. I tried every fad diet that I found to lose weight. I used every ounce of willpower I had for dieting before the age of 18.


Now in my adult life, I can accept who I am.  Fad diets are no longer of interest to me. However, I still like to lose weight where I can. Thanks to the new Black Diamond Ultralight Cams, I have been able to shed ounces and pounds off of my climbing rack. Today I am lighter but necessarily faster.


The New Black Diamond Ultralight Camalots have been a game changer for me. I used to be weighed down by my old rack of Camalots. I had the power to carry the extra weight, but I wanted to save my guns for the climbing moves themselves. I would use this big bulky rack as one of my excuses for not sending.


The new BD Ultralights helped me shed pounds quickly and efficiently, with no additional exercise or restrictive dieting. Now I carry a double rack of Ultralights, and it feels like an old single set. Projects are going down like never before.  Thanks, Black Diamond, for making the best gear out there!



Dawn Glanc

Lindsay R placing a .75 BD ultralight cam at Indian Creek
@K. Calhoun

Inspiration at 80

Rocking it out 80s style with Chicks Alumna Kris Machnick

by Elaina Arentz

One of the best things about Chicks is getting to know the women who attend our clinics. They represent a wide range of ages from teenagers to septuagenarians. There’s one woman in particular who has been a constant inspiration for me and who falls in the upper end of that age scale. While my own mom isn’t the adventurous type, Kris Machnick is the exact opposite. Kris isn’t afraid to get out and try new things, she pushes herself to her physical limit on the end of the climbing rope and in her life.

She immigrated to the United States from Norway, earned an MBA, and went to work as the Director of Finance for the City of Santa Clara. She’s married to a Lockheed scientist from the Czech Republic, has a daughter, a granddaughter with whom she is very involved, does crossfit on the regular and enjoys hiking the stairs with Balder her standard poodle. Not only that, but Kris has also kicked breast cancer in its teeth not once, but multiple times.

Kris is the definition of badass and there is no slowing her down.

So how does a woman like Kris choose to celebrate her upcoming 80th birthday? Well, she decides that she is going to do the #8for80 challenge. That’s right. Her plan is to climb 8 major climbs (rock, ice and alpine) and raise $100,000 for Parkinsons and Alzheimers research while she does it.

It’s a cause near and dear to her heart. Over the past few years Kris has lost several good friends plus a brother to these diseases. She is bound and determined to help fund research and discover preventative measures to stave off the onset of these lethal brain diseases. She believes that the key to mental health is physical fitness and having fun doing it.

So I sit here in the Lofoten Islands of Norway, Kris’s motherland,  awaiting her arrival to take on the next few climbs on her birthday ticklist. She’s also enlisted the partnership of another Chicks alumna, Diane Mielcarz, whose strength, wit, and wry sense of humor will no doubt contribute to the fun factor.

Please consider supporting Kris’ cause and donate if you are in a position to do so. Every little bit helps and this mountain is one to be climbed with a little help from our friends.

One of Norway’s blue lagoons. @Elaina Arentz

Wheels and Wings, My Favorite Things!

Karen Bockel, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, packs her rope-axe-picket-boots-rock shoes—everything any woman could possibly need! ©Karen Bockel

Karen Bockel, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, packs her rope-axe-picket-boots-rock shoes—everything any woman could possibly need! ©Karen Bockel


The Osprey Shuttle 130L is my favorite travel companion for overseas trips.

The Osprey Shuttle is the perfect wheeled luggage for mountain climbers and backcountry skiers.


A couple weeks ago, I was returning from a sailing and skiing trip to Iceland.

Lindsey and I were at the Reykjavik airport frantically packing several pairs of skis, skins, ropes, crampons and ice axes.

Three pairs of skis went into my ski bag.

All the group gear and my personal gear went into the Shuttle.

Without complaint, the Shuttle’s straight-jacket like compression straps contained the monstrous pile.

I picked up the ski bag, grabbed the Shuttle by the handle and wheeled it up to the counter, smiling like it and the ski bag were light… the result: no weighing of the bags and no charges!

Seriously, the Shuttle is the duffel of choice for me when I travel to faraway places.

It is quite lightweight in spite of the wheels (9.13 lbs), allowing me to max out the large volume with climbing and skiing gear.

There are a few different compartments, allowing discrete storage of important items: my passport and wallet fit neatly in the small zippered pocket at the top, the computer goes into the inside sleeve in the main compartment, and my washbag is at the ready in another zippered outside pocket.

The handle extends just a few inches beyond the duffel edges, but can be compressed and stowed away.

The wheels are of the 4-wheel drive variety, making gravel paths (and even stairs!) passable.

The duffel is well-constructed and true to Osprey’s legacy: padded sidewalls and external bumpers keep my gear safe inside bombproof ballistic nylon.

When I travel for skiing, I can strap my ski bag on top of the Shuttle and drag the whole enchilada behind me, leaving a hand free to carry other important things, like a cup of coffee.

So, whether you’re trying to sneak through the oversized gear check or simply transporting your gear to another continent, the Shuttle is highly recommended!

Chicks Training: Long Alpine Days

Carolyn Parker on a long alpine day on the SW Buttress of Makalu. ©Brendan Cusick.

Carolyn Parker on a long alpine day on the SW Buttress of Makalu. ©Brendan Cusick.

Do you have your sights set on an alpine trip?

Would you like to go to Mt Baker, take a trip to the Alps or do something in South America?

Alpine climbing is a mix of rock climbing, ice climbing, and endurance—12hr days, 20hr days, multiple 12hr days AND it always means carrying a pack!

Most people don’t live with the mountains in their back yard. For many the mountains are not easily accessible.

So how do you train for alpine days? How do you build an alpine-fitness base with what you have at your disposal?

Before you go on a trip you should have a good understanding of how long the days will be. This is where your preparation begins.

Tracking progress and including rest is key to motivation

Keep a log or a journal. Track what you do and when. This way you can see your improvement in writing.

Training is never as glamorous as we would like it to be

Follow three hard weeks of training with a fourth week of fun and active recovery. This will keep your mind sharp and body ready for three more weeks of hard work.

Climb with Weight

Start with 10 – 15lbs in a pack. Try to stay on the wall for 10 – 12 min at a time. Switch off with a partner so that your rest is their climbing time. Complete 3 – 5 rounds depending on your fitness.

Down Climb

Often we have to down climb in the mountains. Practice down climbing in the gym, or at the crag. Then try down climbing with your pack. This can be incorporated into idea #1.

Climb in your approach shoes or boots

Start to get comfortable trusting your feet with more bulky, less sensitive shoes on.

Wear a pack on a stepmill, treadmill or stairs

If you don’t have good hiking trails close by and you can only get out periodically, take your pack to the gym and walk on a stepmill or a treadmill at an 8 – 15% incline with weight in your pack. Start with 8 – 10 # and increase over time. No! You don’t look weird. You look committed.

There are stairs in most buildings. Walk up and take the elevator down, repeat.

Add more weight to your pack.

If you walk back down, take into account that this is harder on the knees, as is any downhill. Prepare for downhill. Just don’t do lots of extra down.

Build Your Endurance Base

12hrs is a long day and your body will shut down if it doesn’t have some kind of preparation. However, training for 12 hrs doesn’t make sense in our busy lives.

The following assumes you already do 2 – 3 hour hikes:

Week 1

Saturday – 4 hrs hike with weight

Sunday – 2 hrs of recovery riding, swimming or jogging

Week 2

Saturday – 5 hrs hike with same pack

Sunday – 2 hrs of recovery riding, swimming or jogging

Week 3

Saturday – 6 hrs hike with pack,

Sunday – 2hrs of recovery riding, swimming or jogging

Week 4

Have fun. Don’t worry about training!

Week 5

Saturday – 7 hrs hike with pack

Sunday – 3 hrs of recovery riding, swimming or jogging

Week 6

Saturday – 8 hrs hike with pack,

Sunday – 3 hrs of recovery riding, swimming or jogging

Week 7

Decrease the time and increase the load in the pack.

Week 8

Active recovery. Fun week.

During the week

Try to get 2 – 3 60 – 90 min endurance sessions with a pack on step mill, treadmill, or stairs.

*Consider combining swimming, running and cycling in the same day. Getting used to logging long hours and learning how to fuel and hydrate are critical elements to success.

**Plan in some fun adventures that use your increasing fitness to keep yourself motivated.


Voila! You’re all set

The combination of the two days is nearly 12 hrs. Back to back days brings an athlete into their adventure with a healthy body and a motivated mind.

If you train for the gruelling nature of alpine climbing by flogging yourself with long days in an unpleasant environment you will burn out and get injured.

Prepare your body intelligently. Stay motivated and injury free.

Break up training. Make training fun and achievable.

Back-to-back days work and work well!

If you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature, training support, or programming for climbing you can contact me at:

Carolyn Parker

Founder Ripple Effect Training

Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor

AMGA Certified Rock Guide

A is for Alpine

Karen Bockel, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, on the Peuterey Ridge, Mont Blanc--the longest ridge in the Alps ©Emilie Drinkwater

Karen Bockel, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, on the Peuterey Ridge, Mont Blanc–the longest ridge in the Alps ©Emilie Drinkwater

Alpine Climbing is Awesome!

Pre-dawn starts, a bit (or a lot) of suffering, an adventure in a high and wild place.

Can I Go?  These three words changed my life forever.

Southern Germany, 1992. I was 17.

I’d never been to the mountains, or done as much as a hike in the hills.

I was a runner. At a summer, Friday-evening, track meet, I overheard two of my older male friends, Heiko and Damian, making plans for the weekend.

They were going to the Alps to climb mountains. I stared at them.

I knew of climbing through coffee table books of Reinhold Messner’s 8,000 meter ascents – a foreign and unconquerable, yet intriguing world to me.

“Can I go?” I asked.

They agreed and Heiko’s mother loaned me all her gear.
I packed my rain jacket and tracksuit.
I called my Mom from a payphone along the way and told her, “I’m going into the mountains.”

Finally, after ever-smaller roads we parked in a long valley guarded by high, snow-covered peaks—the Oetztal, Austria.

We shouldered our packs, which seemed enormous and filled with things I had no idea how to use. The leather boots felt stiff on the rocks and they rubbed on my anklebones. The path was steep and I breathed as hard as if I was still in the race the night before.

We dropped gear at the hut, ate some snacks and then headed up for our first peak. My head pounded (from altitude I would later come to know), my shoulders felt crushed and my hips were bruised.

Brockenkogel was our objective.

We climbed along a path then we scrambled. Clouds swirled around us and I had no concept of height or distance.

I asked Heiko, “How far?
“10 minutes,” He said. The time it took me to race 3,000 meters—an epic distance and effort! I stumbled with my head down. Then, I saw a large iron cross. The summit! I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Back at the hut, I crawled into my bunk. Damian nudged me to get up for dinner, but everything hurt. All I wanted was to sleep.

Before dawn, the hut guard rang the breakfast bell. Soon our little team found itself donning harnesses and helmets again.

Today we were going for the Wildspitze. This involved a lot of elevation gain, then a scramble up a rocky, ice-filled gully, and finally a long, summit snowfield.

I was too tired to think. I put one foot in front of the other and shivered in my tracksuit when we stopped to put on crampons. I watched and copied my teammates as best as I could, glancing nervously at the knot that tied me to the rope. I remember sharp steel scratching over rocks. It was barely light.

Then, just as we gained the immense snowfield, the sun emerged above the ridge and the snow glowed in orange light and the world dropped away.

We marched and I smiled, and we hugged and cheered when we got to the summit. This was amazing. I was exhausted, but somehow it didn’t matter at all.

The descent caused a few more stumbles and bruises, as did the walk down from the hut. My feet were raw and bloody. Every part of my body hurt, but my mind was blown. I had visited the world of alpine climbing that I had only known from books. And, I intended to return.

Want to have your mind blown?

Chicks are going Alpine Climbing at Mount Baker this summer.

You Should Go!

Need Continuous Energy for Endurance?

Karen Bockel, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, refuelling with some apres ski Gu ©Kitty Calhoun

Karen Bockel, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, refuelling with some apres-ski Gu ©Kitty Calhoun

  • Have you ever felt the high, and then the crash, from a sugar rush?
  • Have you ever felt sluggish after lunch?
  • Have you ever felt nauseous because you were exerting yourself and could not digest the badly needed energy snack you had just eaten?

GU gels can help.

For 25 years, GU has been driven to answer three questions:

What to eat? When to eat? How much to eat?

  1. The gels (and their other products) are designed with the maximum amount of fructose and glucose – and in the optimal ratio – for digestion and energy.
  2. If you are exercising for 1- 2 hours, the focus should be on hydration and light energy. So you might eat a gel and drink 16 ounces of liquid after 45 minutes if the workout is over an hour and repeat every hour.

News Flash! Gu announced a new flavor on June 11—French Toast. The National Interscholastic Cycling Association, which aims to get more kids on bikes, helped create the flavor GU had a group of high schoolers come into their office to work with their R&D team to pick the flavor they liked best, and it was French Toast.

Stay tuned for information on GU hydration and BCAAs, your muscle insurance policy, in a future newsletter.

A Love Letter to My SCARPA Gecko Approach Shoes

Angela Hawse dances up the approach trail in her Scarpa Geckos

Angela Hawse dances up the approach trail in her Scarpa Geckos

Dear Geckos,

Over the past three decades, I’ve worn through many an approach shoe relationship. None come close to making me as happy as you.

You are my fun-times go-to.

Your fine edge complements my rough edges. I look so good with you on my feet.

Whenever I feel insecure, you help me get a grip.

Your turquoise body and coral-toned trim is beautiful. Your sole is so stable and inspiring—true to your purpose. I believe there’s #noplacetoofar. Wearing a shoe of your stature, I always take one step further.

But what amazes me most is the quality of your full-leather body. You take all the abuse approach shoes get without a peep.

Geckos you’re burly and you’re sassy and girly. You’re a rare shoe that shines in the mountains and on the dance floor to boot.

You are my one and only.


Hangboard Workouts

Hang 10 sec / Rest 5 sec, 4 times . . .

Hang 10 sec / Rest 5 sec, 4 times . . .

A KEY part of rock climbing is finger strength.

Fingerboards, also known as hangboards, are both inexpensive and a great way to develop finger strength.

Hangboards are particularly efficient if you are too busy to get to the climbing gym.

The first rule of training on a hangboard is to err on the side of caution. Build up to smaller and smaller holds, especially if you’re new to it or haven’t been rock climbing in a while.

You can place a fingerboard over most doorways, out in the garage, or some other convenient spot. This allows you to get a super productive workout, in a short period of time, all in your own home!

Get some recommendations on purchasing a fingerboard here:

Three Great Fingerboard Workouts




30 sec push ups / 30 sec rest

Rest 2 min



5 pull-ups / 60 sec rest

Rest 2 min


Choose 5 fingerboard grips that you can hang onto for 10 sec (e.g. jug, pinch, crimp, sloper, three finger pocket)

For each grip complete 4 rounds of:

10 sec hang / 5 sec rest

Between grip hang rounds, take 2 min to complete one of the following 4 core exercises:

1) 20 x sit-up

2) 60 sec v-sit

3) 60 sec plank (on feet)

4) 60 sec flutter kick

(Rotate through core exercises until each grip-hang round is done.)



30 sec push ups / 30sec rest



30 sec push ups / 30 sec plank

Rest 2 min


10 – 1 Pull-Up Ladder:

10 pull-ups / rest 30 sec, 9 pull-ups / rest 30 sec . . . continue down to 1 pull-up. (

Use assistance like a chair under your feet or a band if necessary.)

Rest 2 min


Choose 4 hangboard grips that you can hang onto for 8 seconds (e.g. jug, pinch, crimp open hold, three finger pocket).

For each grip, complete 3 rounds of:

8 sec hang / 5 sec rest.

Between grip hang rounds, take two min to complete one of the following exercises:

1) 20 x sit up

2) 60 sec v-seat

3) 60 sec flutter kick

(Rotate through core exercises until each grip hang round is done.)


Pick 5 handboard holds (e.g. jugs, pinches, crimps, open, three finger pocket).

On each hold type do 3 rounds of:

10 sec hang during which time you complete a pull-up while hanging /

30 sec rest

Rest 3 min between hold pull-up groupings


8 x 20 sec work / 10 sec rest of the following movements with 1 – 2 min rest in between:

1) Sit Ups

2) Push Ups

3) Flutter kicks


Final Tips

If you’re new to Chicks Training, I encourage you to take a few minutes. Read the previous Chicks Training Posts. Training is incredibly beneficial and there’s a lot of great information there to get you started.

If you are looking for some motivation, consider that implementing new movements and concepts into a regular workout pattern in almost any fashion will create positive change.

And, if you’d like to discuss training for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me at:

Carolyn Parker

Founder Ripple Effect Training

Gym Jones Certified

AMGA Rock Guide

Uphill Athlete Coach

How to be the World’s Greatest Climbing Partner

Diane Mielcarz and Olga Lopatina belay during 2017 Chicks Maple Canyon Clinic, Utah © Louis Arvevalo

Diane Mielcarz and Olga Lopatina belay during the Chicks Maple Canyon Clinic, Utah. © Louis Arvevalo

I’m often asked, “How can I get outside and climb more?”

Many women feel limited by a lack of climbing partners. It’s intimidating to make climbing plans with someone you’ve just met.

Tackle this problem by becoming the world’s greatest climbing partner.

Here’s the truth: all the other person wants to do is get out and climb more too.

So, if you’re an asset to their climbing, you’ll be well on your way to climbing to your heart’s content.

But what does being the world’s greatest climbing partner mean exactly?

The world’s greatest climbing partner is competent, psyched and able to perform a wide range of technical skills. The world’s greatest climbing partner can shoulder the responsibility of a day at the crag.

Here are 5 tips to get you on your way:

1. Be an Ace Route Caddy

Just like golfers need someone to help them call the shots, your climbing partner needs you to be proactive and useful.

If your partner is going to lead, then get things ready for them to simply shoe up and tie in. Prep the rope by flaking it out and tying a stopper knot in the end. Stick-clip the first bolt. Do a draw count or gear assessment to make sure she has everything she needs. And, once she’s back on the ground, pull the rope so it’s ready for the next person to top rope.

If the route is a top rope, make a plan to set it up from the top.

2. Know How to Clean an Anchor

This will help keep the climbing train rolling and you’ll get more pitches in.

Remember, the leader bears the burden of getting the rope up. This is hard enough. Taking the rope down shouldn’t rest on their shoulders too.

Don’t forget to communicate your plan. How will you clean the anchor and get back down. Will you lower or rappel?

3. Be Positive, Try Hard and Don’t Make Excuses

We all have bad days. Keep your excuses to yourself. No one wants to read that book.

4. Don’t Bail

If you make climbing plans, keep them. Life happens but there’s nothing worse than a climbing partner who bails, especially on short notice. If bailing is unavoidable, notify your partner ASAP and help them find a replacement partner.

5. Be the Best Belayer You Can Be

Give your climber your undivided attention. Don’t chat up others when belaying. It’s distracting and can compromise safety.

Know how to give a soft catch.

Don’t spray the climber down with beta (unless they ask for it).

Do offer words of encouragement (but not too loudly).

Do remind her to breathe.

Finally, if you’re still not comfortable approaching strangers to make climbing plans, try connecting with partners through the Chicks Alumni Facebook group, “Friends of Chicks Climbing & Skiing.”

It should give you confidence knowing that everyone in the group has received the same high level of instruction and should be on the same page with climbing best practices.

See you at the Crag!