Caroline George: AMGA Exam

This winter has been busy with  travels, trainings and exam. Upon returning from the Khumbu Climbing School, I headed to beautiful and  remote Silverton, CO to take my level III AIARE course/exam, which is  a necessary step to take the AMGA aspirant ski exam. After much  talking and learning about snow, I passed the AIARE III and headed to  Vegas to teach clinics at the Red Rocks Rendez Vous. A day later, I  flew to Switzerland to visit my family and friends, to ski and climb  (see my blog for pictures of that trip: carolinegeorge.blogspot.com)  and eventually, by mid april,  flew to AK to train for my ski aspirant  exam with Chicks with Picks guide, Angela Hawse.

We drove from Anchorage to the ski mountaineering and heliskiing mecca, aka Valdez, and immediately got down to business, checking out  the terrain we later be tested on and perfecting our drills: sled lowers, building shelters, beacon search, snow profile and skiing
technique. Each day, we would head up another mountain and ski. Each  night, we were greated with Anna’s – our hostess – amazing home cooked  meals and pies and share beta with the other course and exam  participants. After ten days there, we were ready for the course to  start.

We met our instructors – Howie Schwartz, Bela Vadasz and Martin Volken  – on the first day and headed out to get tested on the above
mentionned drills. We spent three days doing drills, which felt like an eternity. All we really wanted to do was ski. Eventually, the
skiing component started. We learnt new tricks of the trade, practiced  some crevasse rescue and skied amazing corn snow. On day 6 (out of  10), we flew into the range in a helicopter and got dropped off on a  little pass on a ridge. We spent the following three days traversing  back to Thompson Pass (where most of the easily accessible skiing is  located), carrying huge packs with our skiing gear (shovel, probe,  beacon, skins, etc.), our camping gear (stove, fuel canisters, tent,  sleeping bag, mat, jackets, headlamps, food, etc.), navigation gear  (maps, compass, GPS, notebooks, etc.) and glacier travel gear  (harness, ice axe, crampons, prussiks, cordelettes, carabiners, ice screw, first aid kit, tarps, etc.). Heavy! Yet, this was an amazing  trip across gigantic glaciers and we benefited from amazing weather  too. Angela and I shared the tent and the stove! We spent the last  three days getting examined.

The exam component is a new one in the advanced course, and one that  enables American guides to become IFMGA aspirant guides, once they  have passed the three disciplines offered by the AMGA: rock, alpine  and skiing. This was my last advanced course/exam. I completed the  Alpine in August 08, the Rock in September 08 and the ski just this  past April 09. With this, my lifelong dream of being an offical IFMGA  aspirant guide came true and my need to belong fulfilled. This status  will also enable me to be a better guide for Chicks with Picks… and  hopefully, I’ll be an even better guide once I have completed the full  IFMGA certification. To get there, I still need to take the exams in  each discipline: alpine, rock and ski!

To see pictures of this story, view my blog: carolinegeorge.blogspot.com

Caroline George: Khumbu Climbing School

Each year, I look forward to my time guiding at Chicks with Picks:
sharing my passion for ice climbing, meeting new ladies, spending time  in Ouray, eating great food, and above all, having a blast. This year  though, I chose to deprive myself of such a joy but donating my time  and knowledge to the Khumbu Climbing School in Nepal. The 2009 edition of the Khumbu Climbing School was run by Chicks with Picks guide Amy Bullard. So, in a way, it felt like we were having our own little CWP time over there.

The Khumbu Climbing School enables Nepali people to learn how to be  safer in the mountains. We teach them how to build anchors, walk and  climb on ice, belay, rappel, tie knots, climb up fixed ropes, etc. At  the end of the ten day course, the students take an test, which
provides them with a certificate, which, in turn, enables them to get
work more easily on Everest or other big mountains around. Working at  KCS proved to be really gratifying in that we were teaching for a
cause. Although it was a different venue than Chicks, it offered much
of the same satisfaction: at Chicks, we raise money for women
shelters, in Nepal, we provided our students with a paper that would
open doors.

Check out my blog for pictures of KCS: www.carolinegeorge.com

You Tube – NBC Today Show

Chicks on the Today Show

Chicks on the Today Show

Watch Chicks with Picks on YouTube. The NBC Today Show and Nightly News: featuring an interveiw with Chicks alumni Amy Boebel.  Learn what ice climbing has done to help this cancer survivor overcome her fears and embrace life with new a passion.

Mt. Everest Mind Camp Interview

Kim Reynolds

Kim Reynolds

I want to share a recent interview posted on The Mt. Everest Mind Camp website, which was founded with a simple yet powerful mission: to inspire people to take conscious & empowered action to achieve their personal & professional goals. I am honored to be chosen as their featured guest for June and have the opportunity to share my passions.
Life is full!  Happy Summer, Kim

The Mt. Everest Mind Camp:
Our Number One Goal is to inspire YOU to take conscious and empowered action to achieve your personal and professional goals.

To get started, we suggest you ask yourself the following questions.
Commitment: Is your goal tangible and specific?
Development: Will the journey to achieving your goal require you to grow as a person?
Integration: How will achieving your own goals help your friends, family, or community?

To learn how the worlds most accomplished mountaineers, philanthropists and self development leaders found their own answers to these same questions, visit our monthly Featured Guest page.

May Newsletter

Welcome to Chicks Rock!
Brought to you by Chicks with Picks

Okay, girls, you finally get your way… Chicks with Picks is taking our infamous ice climbing clinics into the realm of rock climbing.  Shed your soft shell and don your favorite tank top… we’re taking it to the rocks!

Chicks has become well known for more than just climbing – our gals become solid climbers, learn self-reliance and gain confidence that funnels into everyday life. We not only climb hard all day, we also gather at night for dinners, discussions, slideshows and campfires. Chicks is as much about community as it is about climbing! We have created THE place for women to network, make friends and find climbing partners.

Our clinics have the reputation of being well-organized and they run like clockwork – this enables you to get more out of the experience than you ever imagined! Best of all, you get to climb with our famous Girly Guides which is always worth the price of admission. Chicks Rock will enable you to pursue your passion for rock climbing and take it to the next level in a super safe, supportive, fun atmosphere.

Photo: Anne Hughes

Photo: Anne Hughes

Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin
Three day “weekend”:
September 7-10, 2009

Located in the picturesque Baraboo Hills in south-central Wisconsin, Devil’s Lake State Park offers some of the best rock climbing in the Midwest. Surrounded on three sides by 1,400-foot bluffs, the Park is home to purple quartzite rock cliffs that measure a hundred feet in height, attracting climbers from all over the country. With 1600 rock climbs available to us, needless to say, there is no shortage of climbable rock in the park! We’d love to see you there with us in September!

Photo: Angela Hawse

Photo: Angela Hawse

Red Rocks, Nevada
Three Day Weekend: October 1-4, 2009
3-Day Weekend Plus Multi Pitch Day: October 1-5, 2009

Red Rocks is a world-class climbing area 20 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip. A three-thousand foot escarpment of Aztec Sandstone rises off the desert floor, offering multiple red rock canyons and endless adventure. With steep but moderate routes, long cracks and bolted faces, bouldering and short sport routes, there is something for every climber here! Come join us for your desert fix in October!

What does Chicks Rock include?
Price includes guided climbing, group camping (tents & sleeping bags provided), meals, and demo gear. You may stay at a hotel with your own reservation, if preferred. This is truly the “full package” affair – you don’t have to worry your pretty little head about anything except showing up to climb!
Climbing levels include beginning to advanced levels.

Pricing:

Chicks Rock 3 day “weekend” September 7-10, 2009 – Devil’s Lake, WI
Option 1) Full Package: Guiding (4-to-1 ratio), Camping & equipment, all meals, evening activities = $875
Option 2) Daytime package: excludes everything except Guiding (4-to-1 ratio) = $695

Chicks Rock 3 day weekend October 1-4, 2009 – Red Rocks, NV
Option 1) Full Package: Guiding (4-to-1 ratio), Camping & equipment, all meals, evening activities = $975

Option 2) Daytime package: excludes everything except Guiding (4-to-1 ratio) = $795

Chicks Rock 3 day weekend plus Multi-Pitch Day:
October 1-5, 2009 – Red Rocks, NV
Option 3) Chicks Rock 3 day weekend October 1-4 (4-to-1 ratio) plus the Multi-Pitch day October 5 (2-to-1 ratio) Full Package= $1280
Option 4) Chicks Rock 3 day weekend October 1-4 (4-to-1 ratio) plus the Multi-Pitch day October 5 (2-to-1 ratio) Daytime only (no camping or meals) = $1100

Our Web Page is under construction… keep checking the
Chicks with Picks website for the new page and more info!
Call or email in the meantime…
info@civi-chicks.biz
970.626.4424

We can’t wait to see you on the rocks!

Freelance Adventures, Inc. | P.O. Box 486 | Ridgway, CO 81432 | 970.626.4424

N. Face Mt Sneffels, Ridgway CO

Mt Sneffels

Mt Sneffels

The jewel of the San Juan Mountains is Mt Sneffels, a fourteener that splits the long ridge running above the skyline of Ridgway CO. It is simply breathtaking and rivals the beauty of the Tetons…at least us locals think so. I stare at this peak from the picture window of my house and have always drooled over the Snake Couloir slicing the north face in half.

Traversing into the Snake

Traversing into the Snake

On May day, they finished plowing the road to Yankee Boy basin making the peak much more accessible by four wheel drive. Sara, Megan & I headed up with the gear to climb Sneffels and ski the Snake which means you come out on the other side of the range near the Blue Lake’s trailhead. There was only one catch, we didn’t set up a shuttle or have a ride out…..yet.  On the drive in, we started to make calls to see if anyone was free to rescue three cute girls after the descent and with no luck, we started skinning up anyway with the option to ski back to the car.

We cramponed up one of the south couloirs and when we reached the summit it was a windless and beautiful – I whipped out my cell phone and to my surprise, I had coverage. I began making calls for a pick up which sounded something like this “Hi Chris, it’s Kim. I’m standing on the summit of Mt Sneffels with two other girls and we were wondering what you are doing in a couple of hours? Would you be willing to pick us up at Blue Lakes after we ski the Snake? Oh look up, you might be able to see us waiving to you.”  Sure enough, he said yes which was perfect.

Skiing near the top

Skiing near the top

To get into the couloir we used ropes to traverse a steep chute to the start of the descent since there was definite consequences below.  Once in the Snake, it is one of the most impressive big mountain, classic, kick ass lines I’ve skied. Not hard or even that steep (but steep enough to keep you on your toes)  just an awe inspiring place to be!  We skied one at a time and made the sharp curve into steeper terrain that gives this classic it’s name – also known to some as the “S” Couloir.

Chris & the Girls

Chris & the Girls

It took about three hours to ski the line and find our way out through the thick woods. We hit the road and my trusty friend Chris Whaling was waiting patiently, throwing snowballs for his dog with a six pack of beer. Big points for this dude!  Once in a while you just get lucky.

Viva Las Vegas

My family visiting the world of make believe

My family visiting the world of make believe

Here’s a good one….for my 50th birthday (last December) my mom wanted to take our entire family somewhere to celebrate the fact that I had actually made it this far. The destination was to be a surprise, so you can imagine my astonishment when I found out we were going to Las Vegas  – not to climb at Red Rocks but to play in the bright lights of that overwhelming city. Yikes.  Admittedly, I’m a good sport and I choose to see the best in most situations….so being wined, dined and entertained was rather fun I have to admit.  For an avid adventurer who seeks the solace of those quiet places where nobody goes…I was shocked into the reality of the human race. A city on steroids with ‘super-size me’ written all over it. If variety is the spice of life, then that trip was Hot! But there’s no place like home….there’s no place like home…..

Stairway to Heaven, Eureka CO

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

The ice climbing season is quickly coming to an end with an unseasonably warm stretch of weather. Drat, I hate to see my favorite sport melting away.  My last climb on my San Juan backcountry tic list for this season is Stairway to Heaven outside of Silverton.  Mr. X and I had tried to climb it together but two feet of snow and high avalanche danger kept us away a few weeks before. In celebration of getting my ice climbing grrrr back, I decided to solo it. I haven’t soloed anything this long so I was excited to be there by myself with that intense presence and focus I love so much. It took a little over an hour to climb it and walk off back to my pack. The ice was soft and starting to get drippy, yup, it’s time to hang up my tools.

For me, soloing (climbing un-roped & alone) magnifies the fine line between the edge of the abyss and of life itself. As a climber, skier and kayaker…I have walked on that edge for thirty years and I have seen many friends fall off into the darkness of death. The awareness of the fragility of life is always with me.

Bridalveil Falls, Telluride CO

Bridalveil Falls, Telluride CO

Bridalveil Falls

It’s been 11 years since I’ve climbed Bridalveil Falls in Telluride and back then, I didn’t lead the difficult 2nd pitch. For some reason, the climb has always intimidated me and for years it was closed, making it illegal to climb. This San Juan classic is now open to climbers and it sees ascents almost daily. It was the climb on my 50th year hit list that I most anticipated because for some unknown reason, I had decided that leading all of Bridalveil was something I didn’t want or have to do. But now that I was getting my grrr back…that perspective changed.

Mr. X and I headed up for the second shift on March 11th with a guided party ahead of us. As we walked up to the climb the beginning of the route wasn’t obvious to either of us and I kept staring at it wondering if I’d actually get on it. The party coming off happened to be good friends and we got a little beta which helped my confidence… at least I knew where to go. We got on the climb around 2:00 PM for the second shift, which was perfect.

Putting in a screw on the 2nd pitch

Putting in a screw on the 2nd pitch

This year, both the first and second pitch proved to have some interesting climbing on it and to my surprise, I actually had a lot of fun leading it.  Poor Mr. X got a scare right off the bat when I took off on the first pitch and my crampons skidded out from under me, on what we now refer to as the “gerbil ramp”. Luckily after that (not so) impressive start, I got my act together and enjoyed weaving my way through the ice on this sometimes convoluted route. As the belayer, you can only see the leader on the first few feet of each pitch – so to reassure my nervous partner, I yelled down occasionally to let Mr. X know how I was doing. I remember saying two things: “I’m having fun” and “watch me, this is tricky”, the irony being that he couldn’t actually “watch me” at all. That about sums it all up.

Kim & Mr. X

Kim & Mr. X

Climbing is an intense internal dance and I love holding it together while solving the pieces to the puzzle as I go. The complete and total focus of that moment, the camaraderie and trust of my climbing partner makes for a powerful shared experience. When Mr. X reached the top of the first pitch, we made eye contact and he said to me “who are You?”  Now that I think of it, I often wonder that myself.

Crested Butte &The Ouray Ice Park

Crested Butte Ski Buddy

Crested Butte Ski Buddy

Besides skiing & climbing, I love to dance and with this knowledge my girlfriend Alison invited me to the Red Lady Ball in Crested Butte. Since I love to do-it-all, going from a soft shell to a strappy red dress is my version of the perfect contrast. I even got a ‘Red Lady Transport’ from my cop friend, Mr. X (names have been changed to protect the innocent), who now also poses as my belay slave. Sweet.

Warming up in the Ice Park

Warming up in the Ice Park

After a fun night on the town, the next day proved to be one of best ski days I’ve ever had at a ski area. It didn’t hurt to get the insiders tour from Alison (my ripping ski buddy) and five other locals until my legs were absolute noodles by the end of the day.  My nearly perfect weekend ended with a backcountry ski with Mr. X’s good friend Steve before heading to Ouray that afternoon to get a lap in under the bridge in the Ice Park. My warm up for leading Bridalveil the next day.