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.

Whorehouse Hose, Eureka CO

1st Pitch (photo: Sandy Heise)

1st Pitch (photo: Sandy Heise)

Whorehouse Hose is another San Juan classic that is tucked up in one of those really cool places deep in a narrow canyon. You can see the first pitch from the road, but the rest is always a bit of a mystery as it steps up and meanders to the third pitch several hundred feet above. I love being there tucked away, out of site and out of mind. It’s places like this that first drew me to the aesthetic beauty of ice climbing.

I ventured here with my X-office assistant, Sandy Heise, since Mr. X was off doing his Cop thing in Crested Butte. Besides, I do love climbing with the girls! Especially Sandy after having shared plenty of office time together at the Chicks with Picks head quarters, it was fun to get her out to play! Sandy left the job three years ago after falling in love with a man from Durango…sweet. I’ve missed her calm presence amidst the chaos of the never-ending to do list that being self- employed offers.

Photo: Sandy Heise

Photo: Sandy Heise

The first pitch was really thin and I could see the water rushing underneath it about an inch away at times. The climbing was so delicate and fragile that I was grateful that I am relatively light at 110 pounds. The first pitch is an honest full rope length followed by a small snow field and easy 2nd pitch that was a snow ramp. Then you have to walk a little ways to third pitch around the corner. This pitch looks so different each time I’ve climbed it, this time it was easy with a lot of small ledges for some super fun climbing. Two rappels and you are down. Great day out with a good friend.

Chicks with Picks 2010

March 5, 2009

Since our clinics fill up fast, here are the dates for our 2010 women’s ice climbing clinics:
Totally Chick: Monday 1/11 – check out  Sat 1/16 (4 climbing days)
The Complete: Sunday 1/24 – check out Fri 1/29 (4 climbing days)
The Betty Ice Ball: Friday 1/29 – check out Mon 2/1 (2 climbing days, ½ day clinics)
The Sampler: Monday 2/1 – check out Friday 2/5 (3 climbing days)
civi-chicks.biz for more information

Alta Lakes Hut Trip, Telluride CO

Now for more girl-time at Alta Lakes Lodge near Telluride with 14 women skiers, best known as the annual mom’s hut trip. How did I get invited since I’m not the breeding type? That’s easy, Sara Ballantyne asked me to go so she would have someone to ski with. Sara is a world-class athlete: two-time world mt. bike champion and winner of the Eco-challenge, leading her pack of boys to victory. If there is someone to get my Grrr back in the realm of backcountry skiing, Sara’s at the top of my list.

Dropping into Ophir

Dropping into Ophir

Day 1 – Feb 27
As a warm up for the hut trip, we skied from Trout Lake to Ophir dropping into one of the many couloirs off the ridge. This turned into a five-hour tour as our local guides Donna & Nan, got us a wee bit lost…but who’s counting. Sara and I still had a 5-mile ski into Alta Lodge that same day, so after 7 hours of sliding on skis, we crashed at the hut and I could barely move. A good warm up for our spring tic list to come!

Sara & Kim

Sara & Kim

Day 2 – Feb 28th

We climbed a ridge and spotted this beautiful shot that is featured as this sliver of sunlight between Sara & I – so off we went descending, traversing and finally booting up the couloir for a variable ski down. With one more ridge to climb, we dropped into the hut via a steep face that sits above the hut with all mom’s watching and cheering us on as they drank beer in the sun. Once again, Sara and I were the last to return to the hut that evening. A great day with three fun descents.

Silver Chute - above & to the rt of Sara

Silver Chute - above & to the rt of Sara

Day 3 – March 1st
The entire weekend, we eyed the Silver Chute above the hut that is certainly the most classic line in the area. As the mom’s skied out to their cars, Sara & I skinned up to check out the conditions. When we got to the couloir, we decided to give it a go, threw on some crampons and up we went. I always love climbing the terrain I am going to ski as it gives me a good feel for the snow pack and the exposure. This line certainly had plenty of both! At the top, we did a few Brain Gyms to calm and center our nerves before skiing down. The snow was soft enough to hold a solid edge as it was not a place you would want to fall. That was the icing on the weekend and we skied to the car pretty jazzed. God I love to ski!

Sara half way down Silver Chute

Sara half way down Silver Chute

Ames Ice Hose, Telluride CO

amesPic

2nd Pitch

OK truth be told, I haven’t been on the sharp end of my rope in a few years, but who’s counting? I got busy, I lost ambition or didn’t feel like I had it in me to lead anything sort-of hard anymore. Who knows?

So here we go. My new climbing partner actually showed up as planned so we headed off for our first climb together on Ames Ice Hose near Telluride – a classic three pitch climb that offers steep, narrow and long leads. We hiked in and had to wait for the second shift, getting us on the route around 2:00 PM which was perfect. Kitty Calhoun and I had been on it a week before though we only had time to each lead one pitch before she had to pick up her son Grady at the ski area. I lead the first pitch with Kitty so I let Mr. X jump on it this time before I took the 2nd and 3rd as to complete my goal to lead the entire route this season. Mr. X looked solid enough and I thought to myself that he will make a fine partner…plus he was proving to be a lot of fun.

Kim pointing to the third pitch

Kim pointing to the third pitch

When I was half way up the third pitch a certain unnamed party came up and ruined our wilderness experience by the seriousness of their need to climb everything in one day, pass us by and set the world’s record on speed coiling. Whatever. After the satisfaction of making fun of their serious mood, we hiked out after a successful and fun first climb together. Nice! Off to dinner in Telluride before Mr. X had drive home to his girlfriend. What a pity.