A Love letter to my Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew

Kitty Calhoun shows of her new retro-stripe Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew

Function AND fashion. Kitty dressed for skiing in Patagonia’s retro stripe Midweight Capilene Crew. ©Kitty Calhoun Collection

Dear Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew,

Who Says You Can’t Improve on Mother Nature?

I live in my baselayers, which means I live in you!

It doesn’t matter if I’m ice climbing, skiing or need a long-sleeve shirt for cool-weather-rock-climbing. Patagonia Midweight Crew, I wear you to the grocery store, to yoga and just lounging around the house.

I know that many people prefer Merino wool because it’s soft, warm-even-when-wet and naturally controls odor. I like Merino too, but I love Capilene and you, Patagonia Capiline Midweight Crew, are my number one choice.

Some people ask me why I choose Capilene over Merino when wool is all-natural and has an exceptional feel.

Capilene Midweight Crew, I choose you because you EXCEL!

You are the best at wicking moisture away from my body.

You dry the fastest.

You breathe the most efficiently.

(This is why Patagonia blends their Merino wool line with Capilene—to increase durability, wicking and drying time.)

Capilene Midweight Crew, I choose you and I love you even more for your special “techy” features.

Your odor control is permanent—stopping the growth of smelly bacteria dead in its tracks.

Your smooth face makes layering comfortable–you don’t bind and bunch.

On the inside, your brushed-back-grid helps wick moisture away from my body even better. It also increases your warmth without adding weight.

And, to top it off, Patagoinia Capilene Midweight Crew, I’m crazy about your new Retro-Stripe color option.

Thank you Capilene Midweight Crew for keeping me comfortable, warm, dry and also very fashionable!

‘Tis the Season for Avalanche Training

Karen Bockel teaches Chicks Skiing Backcountry Hut trip participants about the avalanche forecast, avalanche problems types and terrain maps before going skiing

Snowfunatall! Studying avalanche forecast, avalanche problem types and terrain maps before going skiing. Chicks Skiing Backcountry Hut Trip, 2017. ©Jen Edney

Early winter is a great time for Chicks Skiing avalanche training.

Brush up on your avalanche rescue skills, refresh your avalanche understanding and get busy reading your local avalanche forecast.

Get Avy Savy!

Following are two great resources to get you thinking about snow safety. Especially during the holiday travel season, you might find yourself at a new ski area or in new backcountry terrain.

This first video, An Introduction to the North American Avalanche Danger Scale, explains the North American Danger Scale and is produced by the National Avalanche Center.

Every forecast center in the US and Canada uses the North American Danger Scale to rate the avalanche hazard for the day. It’s important that you are familiar with this messaging tool. Understanding the North American Danger Scale will help you understand the avalanche forecast anywhere you might go in the mountains this winter.

This second video, Avalanche Problems Explained, provides further information with an explanation of the avalanche problem types that forecast centers use. These avalanche problem types give you a better idea of what kind of avalanches you need to be concerned about in a specific region. It really helps to identify the specific and particular hazards out there. Avalanche Problems Explained is my go-to for more information when I am reading a forecast

Ski Safely Ladies and I’ll see you on the slopes.

A Skiing Legacy

Newspaper clipping of Kitty Calhoun age 5-years skiing with her Dad at Cataloochi ski area, North Carolina

Skiing Legacy—learning how to ski with Dad ©Kitty Calhoun Collection

“We have to get dressed. We’re going skiing.”

One of the last memories I have of my dad is of him saying this as he tried to get out of a hospital bed while under the haze of Alzheimers.

“Not today Pops,” I said and gently helped him back to bed.

I love skiing and always have.

Growing up, my Dad took me every weekend.

We drove up into the mountains of North Carolina—just the two of us. There was nothing better than being outside all day, skiing and then coming in tired and happy.

Once when I was seven-years-old, Dad and I somehow got separated. Dense fog had descended and pellets of graupel stung my face. Chilled to the bone, my tears instantly froze my eyelashes shut.

“Kit, Kit, where are you?” I heard Dad’s desperate voice through the mist.

The next thing I remember is being scooped up and set by a fireplace where the icicles melted off my eyelashes.

Much later I realized that most of my ski days were spent standing in lift lines, meanwhile, there were no lines to climb frozen waterfalls or peaks.

I bought a beacon, shovel and probe and learned about avalanche safety from a book. I fit my climbing boots into cable bindings and mounted them onto cross-country skis with metal edges.

Then, for many years, skiing became about getting into the backcountry to go climbing. The only problem was my skis were not made for the extra torque; more than once my bindings pulled off my skis while I was loaded down with a multi-day climbing pack. (But, that’s what duct tape’s for!)

The truth is my dad passed his skier’s heart on to me.

I often fantasize of skiing silently through forests and over hillsides blanketed with velvety, shimmering snow on a bluebird day.

Skiing untracked powder, then celebrating by a fire with family, friends or Chicks participants still brings back the giddy excitement I felt as a kid.

In this season of giving, it seems to me that one of the greatest gifts is that of experience. The memories of all the times Dad took me skiing are priceless and I relive them to this day.

Join Chicks in 2019 where the skiing legacy continues with Chicks Skiing clinics, backcountry hut trips and avalanche awareness skills

Chicks Climbing and Skiing Celebrates 20 Years During the 2019 Ouray Ice Festival

Ouray, Colo. (December 11, 2018) – In the third quarter of 2018, it was reported that the already small percentage of female Fortune 500 CEOs is falling. Thankfully, the number of women leaders who continue to send in the mountains is rising. And to the leaders and fans of Chicks Climbing and Skiing, that’s cause for celebration.

Chicks Climbing and Skiing celebrates a landmark anniversary in January, 2019: 20 years of providing a launch pad, permission, support resources, stoke, camaraderie, and a path to success for female climbers, alpinists, skiers and riders.

Unlike the boardroom, the mountains have always been the Great Equalizer. Whether you’re female or male, your level of dedication, motivation, focus, talent and stoke are what determine your success.

Chicks Climbing and Skiing continues to be on the sharp end, preparing and launching more female climbers and skiers to both the world’s highest peaks and cliffs, and local crags and skiing areas across the country.

And the Chicks team wants to celebrate the mission and to honor all of the people who’ve made the impact of Chicks possible. The Ouray Ice Festival is the most fitting global venue to support this important effort and in true Chicks style, a legendary party is in the works that you’re invited to.

A 20thanniversary party will be held January 25, 2019 at the Ouray Community Center during the 2019 Ouray Ice Festival.  To start, we will host a 30 minute social/performance by Bibi McGill, known as the lead guitarist and musical director of Beyonce’s backing band, the Suga Mamas. Immediately following, there will be a showing of 20/20, a new film chronicling the remarkable mountaineering achievements of women from the pioneering climbers of the 1800s to modern day mavens, sending lines and laying down first ski descents.

From climber Annie Peck waving a suffragist flag at 21,000 feet in the Andes, to skier Caroline Gleich showcasing environmental activism, the 20-year Chicks celebration will be a once-in-a-lifetime gathering of women pushing the limits on what it takes to further American alpinism and skiing.

Angelika Reiner

Steph Davis

Kitty Calhoun

Mayan Smith-Gobat

Caroline Gleich

Chantel Astorga

HIlaree Nelson

Alison Osius, executive editor of Rock & Ice, and a pioneering female climbing journalist, will moderate a panel of the women starring 20/20, which anchors the celebration.

The film and panel discussion will offer a first-ever deep dive into the motivation, risk, vision, and the future of women pushing the limit in mountain sport. Hearing this first hand from the unique perspective of the women who have excelled in their respective mountain sports will make this a historic occasion. We hope you’ll join us!” said Kitty Calhoun, co-owner of Chicks Climbing and Skiing.

The Ouray Ice Fest is the “annual gathering of the tribe” and the main fundraiser for the Ouray Ice Park, which depends entirely on donations. All proceeds from the Chicks 20thCelebration will go to the Ouray Ice Park.  For more info on the Ouray Ice Festival, go to http://ourayicepark.com/ouray-ice-festival.

Chicks Climbing and Skiing would like to thank the generous support of Patagonia as the 20th-anniversary event title sponsor.

Chicks Climbing was founded in 1999 with the goal of Empowering Women through Mountain Sports. Chicks Skiing launches in 2015, and will round out the vertical experiences designed specifically for adventurous women seeking to explore their limits and build friendships in the mountains. Chicks offers transformational experiences for women climbers and skiers domestically and internationally. The organization upholds a strong tradition of both community and of giving back, especially in areas of access and land management. To learn more about Chicks Climbing and Skiing, visit www.Chickswithpicks.net.

A Love Letter to My Scarpa Phantom Techs

So sexy! Scarpa's Phantom Tech Ice Climbing Boot

So sexy! Scarpa’s Phantom Tech Ice Climbing Boot

Dear Scarpa Phantom Techs,

It’s that time of year again when I have more time for you and we can pick up where we left off last season on some of our favorite frozen waterfalls. Although I have terribly cold toes 365 days a year (poor circulation), you manage to keep me warm out on the ice where suffering used to be the norm.

What I love most about you is your svelt, tech look and feel. Not only do I look good with you on my feet, I climb better than ever. It’s remarkable what your lightweight nature has done to make all that fancy footwork a breeze.

Your integrated gator is super sexy and super functional and as we all know, the old days of gators have come to an end in the world of fashion and function.

I also appreciate how comfy you are on the approach and descent. Just loosening you up a bit makes a world of difference when we’re walking. Yet, even with gloves on, you’re quick and easy to tighten at the base of a cold climb. And you keep my heel locked in place exactly where I need it.

I promise to bring you in out of the cold, warm you up when we’re done, and take good care of you again this season, just like you do for me. 

 Thank you,


Train Muscular Endurance for Ice Climbing

learning to ice climb in the ouray ice park from Chicks guide, Carolyn Parker

Thumbs up for core endurance. Learning to ice climb in the Ouray Ice park. ©Carolyn Parker

Train muscular endurance for ice climbing this season!

Ice climbing is different. There are no crimpers or slopers. You always have a jug to hold onto—your tools! But swinging a tool overhead, holding on while placing or removing protection, longer pitches, the weight of winter gear (boots, crampons and multiple layers of clothing) and often climbing with a pack, all add up.

Ice climbing can give you a full body pump and gas your arms like never before.

So, we need to train muscular endurance.

First, before you start to train, you should determine if you are on your game strength-and-fitness-wise.

Go to Swing! Training for Ice Climbing where you will find:

  1. Questions meant to help guide you towards understanding and building your foundational fitness
  2. Specific strength training exercises for ice climbing

Now, you’ve decided that you’re ready to train muscular endurance for ice climbing, but you don’t live anywhere near readily accessible ice, or you have to train inside due to that funny thing called work, then read on…

10 Steps to Muscular Endurance for Ice Climbing

  1. Head to the climbing gym with your climbing pack and approach shoes or light-hiking boots.
  2. Load your pack with a few full water bottles (start with 8 – 10 lbs).
  3. Pick easier routes to focus on big muscles. Steep is still ok, but with big holds.
  4. Warm up with a few shoulder openers, wall squats, a few push-ups, Turkish get-ups and pull-ups
  5. Wear your approach shoes or light-hiking boots to climb (if the gym is ok with it). The point is to climb with shoes that are less precise then climbing shoes.
  6. Use the auto belay or find a partner who is stoked to train too.
  7. Climb with your weighted pack. Use a reasonable load to start. If climbing with no pack is hard enough, then start there. The pack will pull on your upper body and help mimic the torso position required to swing a tool overhead while ice climbing. (Hint:try a 10 min session without the pack first to gage where you are.)
  8. Climb continuously for 10 minutes. Climb up and down. Don’t lower or rest on the ground. While you are climbing, practice working through the pump: shake, breathe and keep moving. We are working on stamina.
  9. Try four rounds: 10 minutes of continuous movement, followed by 10-15 min rest. Work/rest can be alternated with a training partner using a you-go, I-go approach. If you are training on your own then do mobility work, foam rolling, and core work during the rest period.
  10. If four rounds goes well, increase the time you stay on the wall or add more weight, or both for the next session.

This workout will give you a full upper body pump and a nice pump in the arms too, for “icing” on the training cake!

Enjoy and get the stoke high for the Chicks Ice Season!!

If you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me at:



Carolyn Parker

Founder Ripple Effect Training

Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor

AMGA Certified Rock Guide

Grabber’s All Weather Blanket is a Jewel

Grabher's All Weather Blanket cut to the size of my sleeping pad and then all rolled up together. Looks like a jelly roll.

Grabher’s All Weather Blanket cut to the size of my sleeping pad and then all rolled up together. Looks like a jelly roll.

Grabber, who we love for their little nuggets of BTUs packaged as hand and toe warmers, also makes an excellent emergency, all-weather blanket called All Weather Blanket. Originally developed for the NASA space program, this lesser-known jewel has been a part of my kit for decades.

Although many folks shun “emergency blankets” as hokey, guides always carry some sort of shelter in their packs.

In the winter, this might be as much as a rescue sled that doubles as a shelter. Mostly, though, guides carry at least a bivy sack or tarp in their packs.

A bivouac or “bivy” sack or tarp can be useful, even life saving, in many situations. Think of a sudden summer thunderstorm or an unexpected early season snow combined with an unfortunately twisted ankle.

Grabber’s All Weather Blanket stands out for its durability and versatility. I use mine for a ground tarp when I sleep out under the stars and I sort my rack and flake my rope on it too.

But here’s my all time best trick for a Grabher All Weather Blanket:

I use one in my winter and more minimalist kit, cut up to custom fit and protect my Neo Air Thermarest. Using an All Weather Blanket like this also provides additional insulation from the cold ground. But, if you’ve got a super light mattress, you know how vulnerable they feel even protected by your tent floor.

So, grab a Grabber All Weather Blanket. Fit it to your mattress and you’ll have a multi-purpose tarp that’ll extend the life of your pad and help ensure a good night’s sleep when you need it most.


Mixed Climbing – Quick Tips – How to Climb Smoothly

Chicks Mixed Climbing Clinic, Camp Bird Road, Ouray, Colorado. ©Kitty Calhoun 

Chicks Mixed Climbing Clinic, Camp Bird Road, Ouray, Colorado. ©Kitty Calhoun

So Smooth, Just Like Butter on a Muffin!

My seven-year-old son, dressed in a Hawaiian shirt with hair slicked back, glided across the room as if he was riding a surfboard. He sang out, “So smooth, just like butter on a muffin.” This line soon became the mantra at my mixed and ice climbing clinics.

So, how do you move fluidly?  How do you climb so smooth, just like butter on a muffin?

You learn to climb in balance with precision and purpose.

What the heck does that mean?

Join us for our Mixed Climbing Clinic where we’ll take deep dive into understanding climbing in balance with precision and purpose.

In the meantime, keep reading to get an idea.


Mixed climbing is an aspect of climbing that especially demands precision because the holds tend to be smaller. However, smaller does not necessarily mean harder. If you’re in balance, then smaller holds can be more useful than larger holds that put you out of balance.


My Pilates instructor once told me, “Use stability to provide mobility.” It is the same in mixed climbing. You must learn to keep your core and all of your limbs perfectly still. This all-body-stillness supports the stability and balance you’ll need to move your next tool or foot up. Then the trick is to shift your balance and stabilize under your newly placed tool or over your newly placed foot.


Watch a graceful climber and you’ll notice that she’ll slow down and study the next sequence of moves from a relative rest position. Then, once she begins to move again, she’ll commit without hesitation to each move. It’s as if she has glue on her front points and picks. She does not stop and “shop around” for holds.

Never Underestimate the Powerful Tools of Visualization and Breath

Visualizing in small detail is as effective in terms of building brain engrams as doing the actual movement itself.  Yet visualization takes discipline. It takes practice to slow down and focus on running a play-by-play movie in your mind of you climbing like a super star.

Breath connects mind to body. Use your breath as a tool to keep yourself calm and performing efficiently.  Start by simply reminding yourself to breathe. It is very common to hold your breath when the going gets tough. Then you can work your way into more specific techniques. Try inhaling slowly and deeply through your nose combined with a pursed-lip out-breath.

Soon, you too, will be climbing as smooth as butter on a muffin!

New Ski Touring Gear from Black Diamond

Black Diamond Helio Bindings from left to right--Helio 110, Helio 145, Helio 180 and Helio 200 ©Black Diamond stock photos

Black Diamond Helio Bindings from left to right–Helio 110, Helio 145, Helio 180 and Helio 200 ©Black Diamond stock photos

Black Diamond Introduces Helio Bindings and Helio Skis

Black Diamond’s Helio Collection is gear for alpinists and mountaineers who like to go fast and carry less.

And just in time to catch the fresh snow in the mountains, Black Diamond has added lightweight bindings and ski mountaineering skis to their line.

Helio Bindings

The Helio Bindings are a tech-like, ski touring binding made with durable metal parts.

There are 4 different Helio models with the numbers corresponding to the weight of the binding.

Helio 110—the lightest, made for skimo (when people race around the mountains, usually wearing lycra, on or with skis)

Helio 145—light enough for racing but will handle spicy descents better than the 110.

Helio 180—from lift access to side-country to back country, this ski is for high-volume, all-mountain skiing—from chutes to powder

Helio 200—the beefiest, top performance backcountry ski

Helio Skis

The Helio Skis are ultra light, carbon ski mountaineering skis. The Helio Skis pair nicely with the Helio Bindings and you can match your ski and binding choice to your preferred skiing terrain.

There are 5 different Helio Ski designs with the numbers corresponding to the size of the ski underfoot—in other words, the ski’s waist.

Helio 76—for skimo aficionados and high altitude descents

Helio 88—for high altitude skiing and long tours

Helio 95—the daily driver that can bridge between hard and soft snow

Helio 105—the master ofboth technical precision and soft snow performance

Helio 116—for Alaskan powder, in other words, for the steep and deep

Look for Black Diamond gear at our Chicks clinics, and expect solid performance from Black Diamond all winter long.

Ski Legs

Carolyn Parker, founder Ripple Effect Training, working her ski legs on the way to the Grands Mulets Hut, Mont Blanc Massif, French Alps. ©Robbie Klimek 

Carolyn Parker, founder Ripple Effect Training, working her ski legs on the way to the Grands Mulets Hut, Mont Blanc Massif, French Alps. ©Robbie Klimek

Training for Skiing

Three Workouts for Ski Leg Prep

Hey you!

Stop dreaming of winter.

Start transitioning your legs to ski-mode now!

Warm-Up for Ski Legs Training

Do 10:00 minutes of light aerobic exercise.


2 x 8 Shoulder openers

2 x 5 Cuban press

3 x 5 Wall squat 

2 x 5 Squat jump

Ski Legs Training Workout Option 1

5 rounds of

KB Spike Swings. (Work; then rest for as long as the work portion lasted, increase weight each round)


5-7 rounds of

8 Accelerating Back Squats(squat to depth-hold, then “jump” or accelerate out of the bottom of the squat) + 5 Burpees (fast minimal rest)

Ski Legs Training Workout Option 2

5 rounds of

5 Split Squats per leg + 8 Box Jumps


5 rounds of

10 x Weighted Sit Up

20 x Lateral Jumpsover paralette, or on/off Bosu

Ski Legs Training Workout Option 3

1 – 10 SquatLadder with Partner. (Optional: Hold a KB or DB in hands at chest height to add weight to ladder) partners begin by holding at the bottom of the squat movement. Player one does one squat then holds at the bottom. Player two then does their first squat. Player One then performs two squats while player two is holding. Then player two does two squats while player one holds at the bottom of the squat. Players alternate reps and holds up to 10. Don’t cheat and don’t break the hold.


5 rounds X

20 x Split Jump(10 per leg) + 30 sec running sprint. rest 60 secs


4 rounds X

30 secs Mountain Climbers+ 30 secs sit ups + 60 sec rest


If you are unsure how to perform any of these movements, please reach out and find professional instruction.

If you are interested in online training, need guidance for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me at:


Carolyn Parker

Founder, Instructor, Athlete, Mountain Guide
970-773-3317 cell
Founder Ripple Effect Training

Coach for Uphill Athlete

AMGA Certified Rock Guide
Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor