Voluntary Simplicity and the Art of Packing

From the ocean to the mountains in one pair of pants! Kitty Calhoun working a new route in Kauai, Hawaii.

From the ocean to the mountains in one pair of pants! Kitty Calhoun working a new route in Kauai, Hawaii.

“No. No, you don’t need that either.” I said to my son, Grady, as he packed for a multi-day, rock climbing trip.

“You mean you only take one pair of pants, one T-shirt, one long sleeve, a sweater and a rain jacket?” he asked.

“Yep, and a toothbrush.” I said. “Just make sure your clothes are synthetic so they dry faster. Don’t bring more than you need. Your focus should be on your experience, not your excess baggage.”

I learned the tenets of voluntary simplicity from my dad. Now I’m passing them on to my boy.

I look for multi-functionality in most of my clothing. I keep things basic.

The first time I wore my RPS pants, I was on my way to Kauai, Hawaii with Grady and Jay, my husband. It was snowing in SLC when I boarded the plane.

On Kauai, we found some rock and began working a new route. Ordinarily it would’ve been too hot to climb in long pants but I needed protection from the sharp limestone for a crucial knee bar. I wore my RPS pants as I climbed out over the ocean.

The fabric on the RPS pants is light and has a modest stretch, which allowed me to focus on the task at hand.

A couple of weeks ago, true to my dad, I packed ONLY my RPS pants, my Capilene Daily T, my Capilene long-sleeve, my Micro-puff, and my Alpine Houdini jacket to teach a climbing clinic in Bishop, California.

As I drove through the desert, a friend called and asked if I would like to go skiing the next morning.

“That would be fun, but I don’t have any ski gear or clothes,” I said. My mind raced through everything I would need and I quipped, “I mean you have to look good to play good. At least that’s the advice on Friday Night Lights.”

There was silence on the other end of the line.

The next morning, my friend announced that the temps would be in the single digits as he handed me his worn-out ski clothes.

“Thanks, but all I need is your long johns. I’ve got pants.” I held up my RPS pants.

I got boots, skis and a free lift ticket and we were off.

I was looking good and skiing pretty good too. I suggested we ski in the trees so that my friend could get photos of me ripping it up.

He obliged and positioned himself just behind a small sapling.

The problem was that I had to make a tight turn between him and the tree. Despite appearances, I didn’t have the skills. I plowed straight into him with full speed. His iphone, gloves and poles went flying. After picking up our “yard sale,” I brushed the snow off my RPS pants—no harm done except a bruised ego.

I probably won’t tell Grady about the crash;

But, I won’t miss the opportunity to tell him he doesn’t need me to buy him the ski pants he’s been coveting because his RPS rock pants will work just fine.

Everything I needed for my trip to Bishop.

Caution! Wet Rock

Spring showers and summer thunderstorms bring a common dilemma: How soon afterwards is it OK to climb?

A few weeks ago, during our Indian Creek Clinic, it rained hard for a couple of hours. The rain began at 8pm and was followed by a strong wind.

Climbing the next afternoon remained a possibility.

Then it rained hard again at 3am for an hour.

Climbing the next day was out.

Instead, we went to a less-travelled area and spent the day working on gear and systems at the base.

Later, back at our cars, we found a note on every windshield.

The notes read, “Don’t climb on wet rock. You can damage it.”

Others had assumed that we were climbing wet rock!

At first, we were indignant—

Then we realized that we should feel encouraged that Climbers are using awareness and self-discipline to protect our fragile crags.

To climb or not to climb on wet rock is a question that is even more difficult when one has traveled for the weekend or is paying for a clinic.

Nevertheless it’s a particularly important question especially when it comes to climbing on sandstone like in Indian Creek and Red Rocks. Many climbers are more used to limestone or granite. Limestone and granite dry out much faster.

Sandstone takes longer to dry out because it is porous. It absorbs water. And the cementing agents that bond the rock together like clay, silica and salt dissolve when wet.

Wet sandstone can be up to 75% weaker than dry rock. When the rock is wet and weak, edges wear down faster and break off more easily.

So, should you climb or not climb?

Wait 24-48 hours after a rainstorm, but sometimes longer.

How much longer?

  1. How hard did it rain? Was it a light sprinkle or a flooding deluge?
  2. How long did it rain? Did it rain for a few hours, or all day?
  3. What is the aspect?
  • South facing cliffs dry faster because they are sunny and warm.
  • North facing cliffs dry slower because they are shady and cool.
  • East facing cliffs get morning sun, but afternoon shade.
  • West facing cliffs get morning shade and afternoon sun.
  1. Is it windy? Wind helps rock dry. Some cliffs are more exposed to wind than others.
  2. What’s the temperature? Is it a hot summer day? Is it cool spring morning?
  3. Was the sky clear or not since the rain?

 

Final Test

Is the ground dry?

First, It should look dry.

Then, Make sure by scraping away some surface sand.

If the sand underneath is wet and sticky? Don’t climb!

If it is dry and powdery? Climb!

What to do when it is too wet to climb?

Take a Rest day. Lounge around.

Go hiking.

Scout new climbing areas.

Practice skills that don’t require climbing. Minimize your impact by going to a less travelled/popular area.

You Can Do Hard Things

Chicks Indian Creek Closing Meeting, a celebration of having done hard things.

Chicks Indian Creek Closing Meeting, a celebration of having done hard things.

It’s good to be home after a whirlwind of Chicks rock climbing clinics.

Vegas, Bishop, Joshua Tree, Indian Creek.

Early in the month, Elaina and I teamed up with Mountain Gear to present clinics at the Red Rock Rendezvous. Over four days, 1000 climbers took part. We are always honored to participate in this amazing climbing festival.

After the Rendezvous, came Flash Foxy’s Women’s Climbing Festival in Bishop, California, where Kitty and I taught a clinic together in the Owen’s River George. Flash Foxy is an excellent place for Kitty and me to spread the good work of Chicks.

Next, a small, intimate clinic over Easter weekend in Joshua Tree: only five of us allowed us to really minimize our impact on the crags. Chicks works hard to be respectful and low-profile when visiting National Parks and other sensitive areas.

Indian Creek clinic finished up the month with a different level of engagement. Indian Creek is remote. There’s no wifi or cell service. I watched everyone let go and focus on the moment. Unplugging allowed for a childlike playfulness—needed to climb splitter cracks!

All month, I worked with women, supporting them to tackle objectives with power and confidence. They all came with goals and I watched them all obtain and surpass their goals.

Now, it’s my turn. I must practice what I preach, walk the walk, climb the climb.

But I’m lucky, I take with me the infectious spirit and empowerment of each woman. Their courage emboldens me.

In summary, I leave you with a very short story:

A mother was climbing with her daughter.

The daughter said, “This is hard.”

Her mother replied, “You can do hard things.”

I take it with me; My mantra: You Can Do Hard Things!

Happy Spring,

Dawn Glanc

Belay Gloves: From Fashion Faux Pas to Fashion Forward

Belay Gloves

“Save yourself from a lifetime of climbing goo exposure by wearing belay gloves.“ 
Dawn Glanc, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, avid glove-wearer, member of the fashion police.

Be smart, be hip, be cool! Protect your hands by wearing belay gloves

I started climbing in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1996. Back then, “the Hills” were not particularly known as fashion forward. However, we had our standards. For example, if you wore belay gloves, you got the suspicious side-eye.

Work gloves signalled, “rookie.” They meant that the person could not belay. And, this fashion faux pas was considered common knowledge.

Perhaps it was the movie Cliffhanger that made leather, half-finger gloves cool for climbing and rope work.

I’m not sure how it happened. But somewhere, somehow, something changed and a few companies like Black Diamond began making leather gloves with a keeper-loop. This loop, a small hole in the Velcro cuff, allowed climbers to store the gloves on their harness by clipping them on with a carabiner.

This caribiner keeper-loop was a game-changer for the reputation of gloves.

Today, gloves are the sign of a competent and knowledgeable belayer.

I wear gloves when I belay (both indoors and outdoors) because I find that when my hands are protected, I can control the rope more smoothly. I also wear gloves every time I rappel and coil the ropes.

I’m a big fan of Black Diamond’s Transition Gloves, preferring the full finger version to the half-finger one.

  • Full finger gloves protect my hands as well as my fingers.
  • Full finger gloves add warmth on cold days, which further improves the performance of my belay.
  • And, I especially prefer full finger gloves when I’m using a gri gri.

FIT

I fit my belay gloves to be worn over tape gloves. If you never wear tape gloves you can fit them a bit smaller.

However, tape gloves are standard issue for crack climbing, especially desert crack climbing.

Sandstone is as abrasive as sandpaper. To get purchase you need to jam the backs of your hands against the rock. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, but it sounds fun, check out one of our Indian Creek clinics.

In the desert, ropes get particularly trashed. There’s coarse dirt, cactus spikes and other prickly things that want stick to it. This is especially true when pulling and coiling the rope.

Wearing gloves protects my hands from the environment and the climbing goo.

If I don’t wear gloves, my hands turn black with a mix of pulverized sand and ground aluminium. I call this black substance climbing goo. When I wear gloves this goo ends up in my gloves instead of my skin.

Over a lifetime of climbing, nasty goo embedded into our hands cannot be good for anyone’s health!

So, be smart, be hip, be cool, and goo-free. Protect your hands by wearing belay gloves!

8-Week Basic Rock Climbing Training Program-Part 2, The Second 4 Weeks

Carolyn Parker climbing the Great Escape, Sandias, New Mexico.

Strong and confident, Carolyn Parker, Founder Ripple Effect Training, climbs above her gear. Sandia Mountains, NM ©John Kear

I’ve said before that climbing technique is more important than strength.

Still, I encourage you to get stronger.

Strength and training brings more than how much a pull-up, or 10 pull-ups for that matter, will help your climbing.

Training and getting stronger gives you CONFIDENCE.

Pushing through a hard workout will make both your body AND your mind stronger. Working out teaches you about commitment. It gives you a better understanding of how to move the temporary and subjective threshold of discomfort.

These changes create a positive feedback loop that spins off as increased calm and focus—particularly useful climbing skills!

Continue to follow the weekly schedule outlined in Part I as closely as your schedule allows. But only strength train after climbing, or on a completely different day. This way you will be fresh for climbing.

Climbing Skills to Practice on Climbing Days

Reading and remembering:

  • Before you climb a route try to “read” the hand and foot sequences from the ground. This same practice transfers to outside climbing.
  • Remembering the moves on a climb is also a skill. As you do a harder route, try and remember how you climbed it so the next time you do it, you’ll climb it more efficiently. Efficiency brings success on more difficult routes
  • Remember to have fun!

Replace the Strength Training part of the workout with the following:

Basic Strength Training Workout (2nd 4 Weeks)

Warm-up

5 – 10 minutes of light aerobic work, indoor rower, jump rope, bike.

Then:

2 x
8 x Shoulder openers
5 x Push-ups
8 x Supermans on floor
2 x 30 secs dumbbell push-press/30 secs overhead-hold
8 x Good mornings

Then:

5 x
3 x Single-Leg, Straight-Leg Deadlift
10 x Toes to Bar (If 10 is too many, begin with the number you can complete.)

Then:

5 x
5 x Bosu or Bench press DBs or KBs (Weight should allow you to finish the reps with good form.)
5 x Single-arm, single-leg Strict Press (This is an overhead, standing movement. Stand on right leg, strict press with left arm. Stand on left leg strict press with right arm. Use same weight for both arms even if one is weaker. Pick a weight that is challenging to finish five reps.)

Then:

3 x
60 sec Overhead Plate Hold + 30sec Mountain Climber + 60 sec rest

Then:

Cool Down
10:00 minutes easy cardio + foam roller and stretching.

Stay tuned for the next Chicks Training article and ways to make this basic program more advanced.

If you are trying this program or have any questions, we’d love to hear from you. Leave comments or questions below!

Yours in strength,
Carolyn Parker
Founder Ripple Effect Training
Gym Jones Certified
AMGA Rock Guide
Uphill Athlete Coach

Top Tips for Spring Skiing

Photo of Chicks Guide Angela Hawse spring skiing in Iceland to accompany top 12 spring skiing tips


Angela Hawse, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, carves up some corn—perfect spring skiing conditions in Iceland.

If you love skiing, like me, then refuse to put your skis away when the lifts shut down!

As winter ends and spring begins, the snowpack changes rapidly. During this time there is often a short but exciting period of stability—a window of opportunity for us to get high, climb peaks and ski bigger lines, all with bountiful daylight hours!

The definition of a spring snowpack means that the snow has “transitioned.” It has become a consistent temperature and homogeneous mass from top to bottom.

Here’s a more technical explanation:

In the spring as the sun moves higher in the sky it brings warmer daytime temperatures. This increased daytime warmth reduces the temperature gradient between the surface layer and the ground layer and the snow starts to melt. Eventually, the snow pack transitions to isothermal. This means it’s 32 degrees and wet from top to bottom. Low nighttime temperatures freeze the homogeneous snowpack into a solid, stable mass. Then, during the day, warm temperatures deteriorate the ice bonds and the snow starts to melt and become less stable again.

Tips

1. Timing and melt-freeze is everything when it comes to spring skiing.

2. A spring snowpack needs solid, consistent overnight freezes to maintain its integrity.

3. Avalanche hazard continues to exist in the form of wet slab and wet loose avalanches. Even though these are more predictable and avoidable, they can occur on very low-angled terrain and can be extremely destructive. You and your partners should have avalanche training under your belt and be honed in companion rescue skills.

4. Study your local avalanche forecast to know when the snowpack has transitioned. Pay particular attention to conditions on different aspects and elevations. You can have a fully transitioned snowpack on a southern aspect, but full winter conditions on a higher, northern aspect.

5. Travel only when the snow surface is supportable, dry, or frozen. Good turns happen when the snow’s surface warms up just enough to be soft and forgiving but not too slushy. This kind of snow is called corn. Good corn conditions will often present only during a short timeframe.

6. Maximize travel time when the snowpack is frozen solid. Play it safe, get up early and skin by the light of a headlamp or the moon.

7. Pay attention to what’s going on underfoot and be ready to adjust your plan depending on how fast the day warms up, or does not warm up. You may need to wait on top of a summit for the snow to soften into corn (Where else would you rather be?). If the snow gets punchy, get off it quickly. Scoot around to a shady aspect and always have an escape plan.

8. Aspect, aspect, aspect. Think of the mountain like a compass. The sun hits east aspects first, then south, then west. With some experience you can time all day spring skiing by positioning yourself so that if you don’t like the conditions on one aspect you can quickly ski off to another. Carry a compass and know how to use it.

9. Ski crampons are essential. Ski crampons enable you to ascend steep, frozen snow slopes securely and efficiently. Get them, don’t forget them, and always put them on before your skins start loosing traction.

10. Boot crampons that fit your ski boots securely give you access to more options and thus more summits. Boot crampons also offer increased security if the upper reaches of the mountain don’t warm up and you want to climb back down rather than ski icy, exposed pitches.

11. A lightweight ice axe gives you added security in firm, steep conditions. Put the poles away as soon as a slip could become a fall and make sure you have self-arrest skills with your ice axe to back up that plan.

12. Weather telemetry and forecasts are your best friends. Know how to access local remote measures of current and past weather data like temperatures, and use point forecasts to get temperatures at different elevations.

Keep an eye out for future spring and ski mountaineering opportunities with us if you love skiing and want to enjoy your turns as long as there’s snow in the hills. We hope to see you out there!

Angela

Co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, IFMGA Mountain Guide

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

Trip Report: Subaru Adventure Team Women’s Ice Climbing Clinic Contest

Doing the Crampon Dance. Kelly Clarke, third from left, won the 2017 Subaru Adventure Team Women's Ice Climbing Scholarship @Elaina Arenz

Doing the Crampon Dance with an extraordinary group of women. Kelly Clarke, third from left, won the 2017 Subaru Adventure Team Women’s Ice Climbing Scholarship @Elaina Arenz

Chicks is an extraordinary group of women. Not just the amazing guides and leaders, but everyone that participates in a Chicks clinic has wisdom to impart, strengths to share and courage to elevate themselves and those around them. I recently had the opportunity to participate in the life changing experience of a Chicks with Picks ice climbing clinic through a generous scholarship from the Subaru Adventure Team.

 

Itseems a bit dramatic to use the term ‘life-changing,’ but with the Chicks program focused on giving you all around mountaineering, climbing and ice focused skills (or backcountry skiing and avy training in other cases), it’s assured you won’t approach your next outdoor trip the same. Since the clinic, I even hike differently.

 

This trip still seems quite unreal. I had gone ice climbing for the first time recently with a friend that I had met through a networking group for women climbers in Colorado Springs, belayHER. It was so much fun, but I knew nothing. I wanted to get gear to ice climb, but I had no idea where to start. I wanted to have more confidence, and an understanding of the basic skills, but it seemed like an insurmountable task. I am forever grateful to my friend for being a solid climber that I trusted as a leader. But often with adventure sports you can’t just trust your one friend’s opinion when looking to get to a place where you’re building knowledge and working to gain independence in that sport.

 

I had heard about the Subaru Adventure Team because they sponsor an event at my climbing gym. Just when I had been bitten hard by the bug to want to ice climb, they announced a contest giving away a women’s ice climbing scholarship. I dropped everything and submitted an entry right away. The premise was that you uploaded a picture and then asked your friends to vote for it. So I did that. Some of the other entries had an insane amount of votes right away, and I had resigned myself to thinking that while it looked like an amazing opportunity, it would not be for me. My sister saw it differently. She thought the contest was awesome, and really wanted me to have this opportunity to pursue ice climbing. She sent the link out to everyone in the company she works for. “Vote for my sister!” Then my friends started sharing the link on social media. Then friends of friends, people I have never met, started sharing the link. My campaign to solicit votes grew beyond anything I thought was remotely possible. And somehow I won.

 

I still didn’t really believe that I had won, even as I drove from Colorado Springs to Ouray. I was fully prepared to turn around and head home when I arrived, because there would have been a misunderstanding or it just wasn’t real. Not so. I arrived at the Secret Garden B&B, the main meeting spot for the weekend, and was welcomed with warmth, kindness and stoke for the weekend ahead.

 

We discussed our goals for the weekend and Dawn Glanc explained what to expect, how to dress and how to plan for the days ahead. I was awarded the prize package that was a part of the contest – an awesome Osprey backpack that I will now use year round for all different types of adventures, and coveted Black Diamond crampons and Black Diamond ice tools!! It still didn’t feel real, because it was just too good to be true.

 

After the intros, we got set up with demo gear. This was one of the invaluable parts of the weekend (Really, all aspects were invaluable). Gear is expensive, and it’s hard to know what you want with no baseline. For example, I’ve wanted to get a Patagonia puffy, but wasn’t sure what style would meet my needs so I never got one. Well, after getting to try one in an active outdoor situation, I now know exactly what I want. I was able to use a pair of Scarpa boots all weekend, and now I am sure of what size I want to get so that I have solid kicks and warm feet. My feet are always cold, and those boots kept them toasty all weekend. They were surprisingly light and didn’t feel awkward to hike in at all. And I was definitely swayed to get a particular pair of Outdoor Research gloves. I could go on. But it was great to leave at the end of the weekend having a clearer idea and general confidence for what I want to purchase as I become the self-sufficient climber that Chicks with Picks taught me to be.

 

Post gear grab, we had the most amazing meal. But then Sarah Sharpe at The Secret Garden continued to outdo herself each meal thereafter. Every detail is well thought out, and the entire weekend you feel like you’re getting nothing but the best that Ouray has to offer.

 

After dinner, we headed back to our accomodations at the Victorian Inn. There I thought about the tips we reviewed earlier and worked on smartly packing my Osprey pack with everything I would need for the next day. Grabber warmers? Thank you, and check! Extra layers packed in plastic bags in case things got wet (including five additional pairs of gloves). Check! A week’s worth of snacks that weren’t needed, because delicious lunches from Artisan Bakery in town were provided. Check! I packed much lighter on Sunday. I watched some YouTube videos on how to attach ice axes to an Osprey pack. Then I went through the generous sponsor bag with items from Petzl, Gu, Rock and Ice, ect. Things I will use and all from brands that I love! There was even a Sterling sling that will pair nicely with my favorite climbing accessory, the Sterling HollowBlock. Seriously, we haven’t even started and this has already been the coolest weekend.

 

Day One – South Park

 

For the first climbing day, we all met in The Vic’s parking lot and headed to the park. It was ridiculously close to where we were staying. Elaina Arenz was my guide for the weekend, but our group joined forces with Anna Keeling’s group, and it worked extremely well to combine forces. It made for more climbing opportunities, more belay buddies and learning from two experts! We headed to South Park in Ouray Ice Park for our first climbs, and on the way Anna talked about hiking strategies and how good footwork translates across to climbing. It always amazes me when people who are among the best at what they do are able to break things down to teach people with minimal experience. Both Anna and Elaina are great at this.

 

When we got to the trailhead for the South Park area, we reviewed the art of securing crampons. I still need to work on this, but I am also glad Elaina went over the process with me the night before. We worked on walking in crampons, up and down slopes. Again, Anna broke down the form in a way that gave us small aspects to think about and practice. While that was going on, Elaina was setting up routes for us. Before we headed down to the canyon, we took a short hike along the anchors and talked about ‘good, better, and best’ practices for setting anchors. Elaina was using full Sterling ropes with a simple yet redundant system. Some people were using thin cordlette that made me nervous to step over in crampons and over-complicated systems. Elaina obviously had the most rock solid anchors, but it was really helpful to break down the different variations we saw.

 

In the canyon, Anna and Elaina demonstrated the basics for what we would be doing. We practiced swinging ice axes and kicking in crampons on ground level. My form still needs a lot of work, but practicing this before climbing helps a ton, because when you get on a wall of ice it’s harder to think about good form. After a bit of practice, it was time to get to climbing!

 

We started with some less steep routes and then worked on steeper routes towards the end of the day. Sarah Moore, Amanda Hankinson and Jo Coulter adapted quickly and were even trying mixed routes by the end of the day. With the mention of Jo, I have to say that she had the coolest helmet in South Park that day – the Grivel Stealth. Amy Swanson seemed to pick up the techniques right away. Jamie Lin had only been to a climbing gym a couple of times and absolutely slayed the first day out ice climbing.

 

I had trouble keeping my heels down on climbs, but I got a lot of tips that I will continue to work on. It was great to get some experience on the ice, but it was also great to be able to watch other people climb. It was really cool to watch Anna and Elaina each climb a route. And after getting instruction from Anna and Elaina, it was easy to pick up on what other climbers in the canyon were doing wrong. On the whole, our group looked pretty great in comparison.

 

At the end of the day we headed back down the icy canyon. Both Amy and I took the ice slide down one steep portion, on accident. No one was hurt. We both laughed at ourselves and then remembered to keep in mind the tips Anna had bestowed earlier.

 

We met at The Secret Garden for another incredible home cooked meal by Sarah, a recap of the day and a breakdown of all the different gear options in ice climbing by the legendary Kitty Calhoun. This was another invaluable addition to the weekend. We learned the pros and cons of different ice tools, crampons, boots, clothes, nutrition, ect. Inevitably I decided my next pair of crampons would be Black Diamond Sabretooths and I was definitely going to get a bunch of Gu Summit Tea for later outings. Also, I am lusting after a set of Grivel ice axes for when I start delving into mixed climbing.

 

Day Two – Scottish Gullies

 

On the second day we walked up Box Canyon Road from The Vic to climb in the Lower Bridge/Scottish Gullies area. Again, we combined groups and Elaina set up the ropes while Anna coached us on the short but steep approach, but not without an adorable facetime between Amy and her daughter first. “Mama, don’t get hurt!” Quick aside: I love seeing moms doing adventurous things to better themselves and I love kids seeing their moms doing rad things. Go Amy!

 

This canyon had a river running through it and planks set up to get to the belay spots and climbs. It was gorgeous. I may have found these planks more daunting than the climbs to start, but by the end of the day I was traversing them with no problem, thanks to Anna’s attention and coaching.

 

The climbs in this canyon were a little taller and a little more advanced than the previous day. Sue Browning had a stellar day. She took a fall at one point and impressed me with how she overcame that challenge and kept climbing. Sue hadn’t been climbing in something like ten years, but you would never know it by how she climbed over the weekend. Sarah Rickel had a complete breakthrough day. All her past Chicks clinics came together and she found a new confidence in her climbing. It was awesome to see. It was also great to belay her on a few of these climbs!

 

By the end of the day, Jo, S’Moore and Amanda were trying more technical mixed climbs. Rickel, Jamie and I were practicing climbing with no axes or just one axe to work on better footwork.

 

Some had to leave early, but after the day of climbing we headed back to The Secret Garden for more delightful food, and to recap the weekend. We had a round table where we discussed our biggest take-away, then our guide would say what they thought we got out of the clinic. For me, I was really excited to learn the foundations for good form in ice climbing. I’ve by no means perfected it, but I know what to think about and what to work on every time I head out. It was really cool to hear about the other, more advanced groups that Dawn Glanc and Lindsay Hamm took out. Aimee, Diane, Gina, Nicole, Mary and Victoria worked on more advanced skills and even had their first lead climbs! I aspire to be like Diane some day, who has taken pretty much every clinic Chicks has offered in the past year and has transformed into a really confident and independent climber in a short amount of time.

 

It was great to meet everyone that participated in the 2018 Jiffy clinic. I look forward to coming back to another clinic when I am ready to take my ice climbing to the next level. I want to extend a huge thank you to Chicks Climbing and Skiing, The Subaru Adventure Team, Osprey and Black Diamond for letting me have such an unreal experience – and for supporting each other in a way that raises the climbing community. I’ve already been able to take my new skills and gear out on some climbs closer to home in Cheyenne Canyon and Hully Gully, and I can’t wait to get back to Ouray. Hope to see you all out on the ice soon!

 

 

Spring is in the Air and I’m Dreaming of Winter

Dawn Glanc, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, ice-climbing, Second Gully, Silverton, Co

Dawn Glanc, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, on the prowl for spring-time ice with a wild-child smile, Second Gully, Silverton, Co. ©Pat Ormond

March is my favourite month.

It’s still winter. The skiing and ice climbing are at their best. My desire to get out and play is childlike and wild.

Yet, I feel winter slipping away. The stronger sun is trying to help spring arrive.

Ice climbing season is ending in front of my eyes.

As the ice melts, I continue to feel the need to climb it. The sun warms my face, and I also feel the need for spring.

It is a weird dichotomy. Some call it March Madness. I want my first love, which is ice. I also want the ease of sport climbing—to be comfortable in only one layer of long underwear. A tank top would be too much, too fast.

They say March “comes in like a lion, and out like a lamb.”

For me, this means it’s the month to hunt down and tackle the last of winter, then gambol about on some sunny, spring rock.

I urge you to take on the last of winter. Roar and rope up, or click in, before the magical winter wonderland melts away.

At the same time I urge you to get ready for rock climbing. Go to the gym during the week and follow the Chicks: 8-Week Rock Climbing Training Program outlined below.

Bluebird rock climbing days will be here soon enough and if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself dreaming of winter.

If you’re not like me, and, instead you think I’m mad for wanting winter to stick around, the good news is, it won’t. Spring is in the air!

I hope to see you all on the rock this season!

A Love Letter to Grabber Warmer’s Zim’s Max Freeze

Zim's Max Freeze

Zim’s Max Freeze

Muscle love

It may come as a shock to many, but as a guide, I get very little time to climb.

Yes, I’m outside all day. BUT most of my time is spent standing and belaying so that my guests get maximum climbing time.

This schedule means that when it’s MY TIME to climb or train, I go overboard.

During the busy season, I’m not quite a weekend warrior as I only get one or two days off a month; I’m more of a month-end or once-a-month warrior. As a result, I take on an amplified warrior mentality and pursue objectives that I should have trained for, but did not.

Straight off the belaying-and-standing-around-all-month couch I find the pump sets in and stays for longer periods of time. Then, over-activity on the back of under-activity lingers as desperate muscle soreness.

This is where Zim’s Max Freeze comes in. I’ve been using this topical muscle cream from Grabber as a go-to to support MY CLIMBING TIME this winter.

Thinking about it, Grabber is a particularly intimate partner. All day, Grabber Warmers cosy up in my pockets and keep me warm. All night, Zim’s roll-on soothes my aches and pains and helps prevent muscle cramps after long, hard days.

From freeze to thaw, from night to day, Grabber is there.

Thank you Grabber! For years and years, you’ve helped thousands of women get into ice climbing and over their FOC (Fear of Cold).

Now, when Chicks work really hard on the ice and rock and snow, then suffer from TMF (Too Much Fun), you freeze our muscle pains away. You’re the best!

Big hugs from all of us at Chicks.