Chicks Legacy

chicks legacyAs we look forward to winter, we take a look back at the Chicks legacy and it’s roots with Chicks founder Kim Reynolds

Its not long now before the temperatures will be falling, mountains will be receiving the first snowfall of the year, and water running over rock will be freezing at night. At Chick’s world headquarters, we are excitedly lining up new winter programs. At the same time, we are mindful of the traditions and accomplishments of Chicks that began with Kim Reynolds 18 years ago. With that in mind, I recently interviewed our founder.

Kitty: Why did you start Chicks?

Kim: I started ice climbing in 1982 and there weren’t many women ice climbers then – maybe just you and I and a handful of others. Then the Ouray Ice Park opened around 1997 and I noticed that there were more women climbers but they didn’t seem to be leading or setting up their own anchors. Instead, they were relying on their more experienced counterparts. So I started Chicks.

Kitty: Why do you like ice climbing?

Kim: I fell in love with ice climbing when my boyfriend took me out to climb in the Ice Park (it wasn’t open then but there was still ice) and to climb Bear Creek Falls. I fell in love with the winter magic and the beauty and obscure places. I appreciated the fact that not many people did it. It felt adventurous.

chicks legacyKitty: Why do you like skiing?

Kim: It is just pure fun. They are my favorite days. I like walking up hill. There is nothing like getting to the top, taking in the view, and making fresh tracks downhill.

Kitty: What do you miss most about Chicks?

Kim: I miss the participants and an amazing community of women. I love the friendships. Do you remember the time we had a clinic where 22 of 24 women were Alumni? It is a sisterhood. Chicks became a life of its own. I also miss the giving back. Women faced fears during the clinics but energy also grew from giving back and the community got involved too and became a part of Chicks.

Kitty: What is your most memorable moment at Chicks?

Kim: There are many. There was the 22 out of 24 participants returning as Alumni, as I mentioned. The night at our fundraiser when the money raised over the years hit $100,000 for the local women’s shelter – that was a significant contribution. The day Mark Miller looked over at some of our Alumni climbing and asked it they had been to Chicks. I said yes and asked why. He said because they are good climbers. Then I knew we had arrived.

chicks legacyKitty: What are you taking away from Chicks that you are using in your new profession?

Kim: When I left Chicks, I had become an administrator. I had gotten away from what I am good at – which is working with others. From Chicks, I learned how to take a unique idea and make it happen. When I sold the business, I made a commitment to take my skills to the next level. So I I got a second coaching certificate and more leadership training. Now I work for think2perform where I grow leaders and teams through focusing on the human side of business. It helps leaders make better decisions under pressure like we do in climbing.

Kim added, “I loved the creativity part of the Chicks business and trying to do something different every year.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. In honor of our roots and Kim’s vision for Chicks, we are continually looking at ways to serve you better. That’s why we are super excited to share our new ice climbing, skiing, and avalanche courses with you this winter.

Real Chick: Dede Rosenburg, Subaru Scholarship Winner 2016

Last year I was the lucky winner of one of Subaru Adventure Team’s big prizes: a trip to City of Rock in Idaho to attend a climbing clinic put on by Chicks Climbing. In the spring, a friend of mine told me about the essay contest SAT was having. He thought it would be right up my alley, and it was! I have been an aspiring mountaineer for many years and the one piece I was working hard at (but struggling with in Minnesota!) was rock climbing. I wrote my essay and submitted my photos. For days after, I talked about how amazing it would be to have this opportunity. And as more days went by, it sort of fell off my radar. Like contests do. Much to my surprise, months later, I received an email that I had in fact won. And that I had two weeks to figure everything out for travel, because Idaho was calling! And there was no way I would miss out on such a rare and rad event.

In order to get to Idaho from Minnesota, I had to drive by so many beautiful parts of the country. So naturally this turned into a glorious road trip of National Parks and National Forests. Dirtbagging steadily out west. Surviving on quick oats, tuna packets and instant coffee. It was bliss. Every day that I woke up, I was somewhere new and glorious. And so aware that none of this would have been possible without winning the climbing scholarship.

When I got to City of Rock, I was greeted with some special sights that I didn’t expect at all. Prior to this, I had no clue how lovely and rugged Idaho was. I was dazzled and honestly, quite scared for my car; a 10 year old Chevy Aveo that has seen more wilderness than most of the people I know! The color of this landscape was bright gold, with splashes of green and red. The sky a pop of blue with puffs of white cloud. The air was hot and dry and sensational. Getting to the parking lot, I saw a sign that I recognized directing me towards a campsite about a quarter of a mile in.

My things for the next few days were unloaded and I was left for the weekend. I began to set up my tent and organize my gear as some of the other ladies rolled in and began to do the same. I was struck by how windy our private site was. Putting my sleep system together, everything hit me all at once; how lucky I had been to win this opportunity, how wonderful it was that it all worked out- my job agreed, my car agreed, everything was lining up in a lovely way. When I finished setting up and emerged from the tent, I was pretty surprised to see that most everyone was doing the same. We were asked to come around the fire ring in a few to do intros and get the lay of the next few days. I think this is the part I was most nervous for at the time. I had realized while in my tent, that most of these women seemed to know one another. Through hearing them chit chatting and talking about past climbing adventures. I was a little apprehensive about being the only woman to have won my way there. And about very clearly being the least experienced climber.

During intros, my mind was eased by the friendly nature of everyone there. We all chatted some and were given very fun “gift bags” that were actually just wonderful presents- a bag from Patagonia, a hat from OR, a few Petzl items and many little items for skin care and climbing. Totally unexpected and very appreciated. We had some dinner and retired to our tents for the night. We had a big day ahead of us, with a pretty early start!

The next morning I woke up feeling refreshed and emerged from my tent to a pre-sunrise City of Rock. No one else was awake, so I took to opportunity to take a sunrise stroll down the main roads of the area. It was warm with a cool breeze and the sky was slowly turning into a rainbow of painted colors that reflected vividly off of the rock that surrounded everything. I returned to camp and was greeted by Chick Guides, Angela and Aimee, who were busy starting to get coffee going and arranging the table for breakfast. We had some great conversation and the other ladies began to rise. Breakfast was a lot of coffee and many food choices, served up buffet style. There was something for everyone, including gluten free options. I don’t think anyone ever went hungry during the next few days- between our ample breakfasts and dinners that were provided, most of us brought hearty lunches and many snacks.

Day one of climbing began with some lessons on ropes, knots and basic safety. We went over gear and were able to test out various shoes, helmets and anything else you might need! I enjoyed this part of the day. I have some sports arthritis in my left foot and have difficulty finding climbing shoes that feel okay. I tend to stay loyal to specific brands and being able to try on and use alternative brands was awesome. I particularly liked a pair of Scarpas- not too aggressive and wide enough for my crazy foot. I was most comfortable with gym-climbing at the time and had no idea what slab climbing was. Enter: the slab climbing crash course.

I was so timid about this style of climbing. Quite frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever shown such restraint in a new physical pursuit. Between the new kind of exposure and the uncertainty of almost nothing to hold on to, I had some trouble. I took two attempts at two different routes that morning. I found a lot of peace watching the other women climb, noticing the technique they used and paying close attention to where they were putting hands and feet on this seemingly very smooth but sticky rock. Smearing was everything. Using your hands to balance was everything. I took note and rested my foot a bit. I had one more attempt, using some of what I saw the other women doing, and was stunned by the reaction I had to the exposure as I climbed higher. It was enough to call it a day for me- so many new emotions and observations! Angela could tell I was feeling a little uncomfortable and took me aside to practice smearing on a small boulder nearby. “Trust the gear” was something she said a few times. And I realized that was something that I had never been told before and it was not something I had ever done. I understood using gear, but until that point I didn’t understand that to use it properly, you must trust it. This little lesson boosted my confidence and gave me something to really look forward to for the following day.

Later that day, I was given the opportunity to belay a few times. It was a great rest for my tired foot and a fun way to get to know some of the ladies more. We were out on the rock for many hours and when we wrapped it up for the evening, hunger set in. There was a big healthy feast and we all gathered together to discuss our day and our plans for the next day. We decided to go to Castle Rocks State Park, which was very nearby and would hopefully provide much more shade.

When we went to bed that evening, everything from the day caught up with me and I slumbered. Hard. I woke up around sunrise and again, had some great conversation with Angela and Aimee. We had breakfast and hit the road- it was a short drive to the state park and a beautiful walk to the area we would be climbing at. I was shocked to see so many flowers and so many lizards. I also noted the couple rogue cows grazing the field and hanging out near the trail. It all felt a little surreal. We set up our ropes and began climbing. I belayed a bit and learned a lot in doing so. Any time I had a question it was answered and many tips were given to make the task easier and more comfortable. When it was time for me to attempt climbing for the day, the exposure got me good. Only this time I was encouraged from below by everyone and I went a little further than before. I knew what I had to do and how to do it, but my muscles and brain were fighting with one another. My calves gave out before my brain allowed me to get much higher. The sun was hot. I felt overstimulated. It was time for me to sit back, investigate gear, take some photos and have a bite to eat.

Later in the day I sent my first wall. It is still something I am very proud of. I was scared and unsure, but I was determined to complete a route on this trip. Even if it was one route. Going from never slab climbing to jumping right on in; I counted it as a major victory. The wind was so strong, my rope was whipping all over. I couldn’t decide if it was best to look up, down or to either side. Eventually I decided to just keep it simple, with eyes pointing only to where I needed to go. When I topped out, I could just barely hear some friends cheering below. Seemingly just as happy I was for this overcoming of fear and powering through.

It is immensely difficult to be vulnerable and not your best in front of new people. But there was no judgement, only kindness. Praise over and over again. Reminders from everyone that we all start somewhere and usually it’s from a place of complete unknowing. I took all of these encouraging and gentle words and to this day, remember them often.

After climbing, most of the ladies went to the local hot springs. I didn’t come prepared for that and stayed behind at camp. The plan was to read, write and reflect on the past couple days. But that is not how it worked out. In The City, cellphone service is quite hard to come by. As it turned out, friends and family had been trying to get ahold of me for a while. There was a family emergency back in Minnesota and before I was able to comprehend any of it, my boyfriend arrived at our camp to break this news, help me pack up quickly and make the long drive home. An imperfect ending to a life changing few days. I had made connections, achieved goals and learned so much. It felt like a haze to leave in such a rapid and surprising manner.

It’s been a handful of months since my scholarship to City of Rocks. So much has changed in my life. Profound changes that have been difficult, scary and often times like groping around in the dark. And I have thought about my time in Idaho constantly. I learned more in those days about climbing than I could possibly imagine. From technique, to language, to gear. I was able to learn about the outdoor industry in a deeper way. And I was encouraged to chase my dreams; live my life wildly and fully. I felt supported in a group of women. It was a beautiful and inspiring thing. I daydream about how excited I was when I topped out. How shocked and proud I was. It is empowering beyond words to defeat fears so big. I carry that feeling with me whenever I face sticky situations in daily life. Normal struggle seems a hell of a lot easier to handle when you’ve battled your own mind in a dangerous situation. And being supported by these strong and athletic women is empowering in a different way. I find that these days I am a bit more encouraging of others. I trust a little easier and open up a little quicker. I feel a safety with women that I never had before.

I grew leaps and bounds in The City. In many ways, my life began there. Or rather, I evolved into someone else there. Someone I care for and appreciate more. A grown woman who is braver and calmer and unafraid of the unknown. Climbing will always be a large part of my life and through this clinic, I have knowledge, confidence and a higher skill level to propel me further. Prior to this, I didn’t know slab climbing. Since that time, I have used this skill countless times. It is a technique I am proud of. My time spent in Idaho was raw and magical. It is an experience that is constantly teaching me lessons and that I will remember for the rest of my life. I am excited to return some day to conquer more fears, develop further and reminisce on the crazy few days I spent with Chicks Climbing.

Words and photos: Dede Rosenburg

Real Life Chick – Louise Kuhn

We get to meet the amazing women we call Chicks every day and would be remiss if we didn’t get to share some of their stories with you.  Real life Chicks are CEO’s, dirtbags, moms, grandma’s, sisters, friends, athletes, and partners – just like you.  This week, meet Louise Kuhn who just finished the Iceland Ice Climbing Clinic.
Louise Kuhn Where are you from?
The long or short version? New York City via South Africa.
What programs have you done with Chicks?
Two ice climbing clinics in Ouray and one clinic in the Adirondacks.
Who were your guides?
The first ice clinic was with Dawn Glanc, second with Anna Keeling and the Dacks was with Emilie Drinkwater.
How long have you been climbing?
15 years
What types of climbing has this consisted of?
A varied and diverse mix of climbing.  There is a fair bit of trad, a diverse mix of mountain and alpine, and a good bit of ice.  I resisted the gym until recently because I thought it was boring.   But now New York has some good gyms and I have friends who go, so now I go for the sociability. I know I should try harder while there, but I prefer to go and have fun.
Why Chicks?
I liked the idea of all women’s program – I heard the guides were excellent teachers and I wanted the best instructors.
What do you like about Chicks programs?
I like the full immersive climbing experience. In addition, I also like to hang out and spend time with like-minded folks
Sum up adventure to you.
It’s a “glimmery dream” that moves you towards something exciting. Adventure is the balance between fun and fear, uncertainty and hope. It’s the challenge of the unsure.
What’s important about adventure in your life?
Stepping outside your comfort zone allows for personal growth.  It inspires and motivates to achieve things outside your wildest dreams – further than you thought was possible.
Tell me the story about your first experience with crampons.
(she knowingly laughs with that leading question because it’s such a great story!)
I thought winter was for staying indoors until I discovered crampons. I strapped them on and stepped outside on the ice. And the ice went ‘kjieee kjieee kjieee’.
(I asked for her spelling of that sound: it’s the sound of the ice not the crampons because “ice has different sounds”)
It’s a gutteral sound. I realized I could run across the ice.
What expectations did you have about the Iceland trip?
I was deliberately careful to be open to what was here… to see and discover what was here.
What surprised you?
I’ve been surprised since I stepped off the airplane.  It’s weird, wild and wonderful!
To which we said, “good alliteration” 
So Louise responded:
I expected a wonderful group of women, but I didn’t expect them to be as weird, wild and wonderful as they were.
What’s your next climbing goal?
After a moment, without hesitation or wavering conviction, Louise responds:
I’m going to stop backing off the overhangs at the gym….(Perhaps she was considering our last pitch of steep ice she contemplated not climbing but did)
Where would you like to see climbing take you?
I would like climbing to make me more level-headed, more grounded. But also to feel more fulfilled and happy.
Do you have an expectation of that or is expectation the wrong word?
Wrong word: it’s a positive process: working thru fears, insecurities and self-doubt. Examining thoughts and feelings allows growth  to be on that path is a positive process.
What else would you like to say about this Iceland trip or reflections on Chicks, climbing, etc:
The wonderful things about climbing are … independence and self-reliance, which some times you cannot get with a guided trip. With Chicks, there’s a deep sense of equality within the group.
(Just on a side note, as a guide, her last statement really struck a chord with me. That identified so much in our culture regarding climbing and hiring a guide and the deeper meaning behind personal pursuits, adventure and our seeking more meaning in our lives … the choices we make for personal fulfillment.)

Send The Youth USA Mixed Climbing Team To France

Youth mixed climbing team

Georgia Witchel – Youth Mixed Climbing Team & Chicks Alumni

Back in the day, using ice axes and crampons on rock was just considered a mandatory part of alpine climbing. Today, Mixed climbing is quickly growing into its own style and discipline of climbing. No longer do we consider mixed climbing to be “off route”. Instead, today’s climbers seek out large rock faces with small ice features.

Some train endlessly for climbing on artificial comp structures, hours perfecting figure fours and nines, understanding the power and stamina required to execute a series of moves. All these hours of training just to see what they can do for 7-9 min of competition climbing.  Then take those hours of work to enjoy climbing outside  The popularity is booming at crags around the country. The USA Youth Mixed climbing team out of Durango, Colorado is evidence that the future of the sport lies within the youth.

Meet one of the USA Mixed climbing team members, Georgia Witchel. Georgia is also a Chicks Alumni. Georgia is a highschool student in Durango Colorado. She has spent the past two years training at the Durango Rock Lounge with coach Marcus Garcia. Together, each team member and coach Garcia have been working toward the goal of competing in the 2017 UIAA Ice World Championships in France. Last year was the first time the United States sent a youth team to the world cup competition. In 2016, Georgia was the only female representing the United States at the youth world cup level. In 2017, again, she will be the only American female heading to France.

Youth mixed climbing team

Georgia practicing her figure 4’s.

This year Georgia has had a great comp season.  In December 2016, Georgia won her age division at the UIAA World Cup event in Durango. Then, during the 2017 Ouray Ice Festival, Georgia broke the record for the youngest female competitor. She placed 10th in women’s difficulty and 5th in women’s speed.

The USA Mixed Climbing Team is still very much in need of  your help to get to France. Donations will be used to offset the costs of travel, housing & entry fees. This team has big goals, and more than enough motivation to achieve them.

Please help four kids achieve their goal of competing in this prestigious competition. For information go to:

USA mixed climbing team

To make a donation please go to:

USA Mixed Climbing donation

Real Life Chick – Rhonda McGovern

We get to meet the amazing women we call Chicks every day and would be remiss if we didn’t get to share some of their stories with you.  Real life Chicks are CEO’s, dirtbags, moms, grandma’s, sisters, friends, athletes, and partners – just like you.  This week, meet Rhonda McGovern who just completed Chicks with Picks – The Graduate in Cody, Wyoming.

RhondaIn one sentence, tell me about yourself.

I am from Ireland, live with my partner in New Palz, am a banker in New York City, and love the outdoors in all its forms ( climbing, hiking , biking, paddleboarding).

How long have you been climbing and what do you like most about it? 

I have been climbing rock and ice for four years and I like ice climbing more.  I like the extreme elements of winter.  I like being out when everyone else is watching TV.

What are your goals in climbing?

To become a more competent partner, lead more, become more confident in the backcountry, to set more adventurous goals for ourselves.

What are your dream trips? 

I would like to go to Chamonix to go rock and ice and alpine climbing.  We are going to start focusing on skiing more too.  I would like to go to the Bugaboos and the Cascades as well.

What obstacles do you face in meeting these goals?

Time. I don’t have the time I would like to get good at things, to climb harder.

Why did you choose Chicks? 

I wanted the confidence to go in the backcountry in the Adirondacks.  I wanted the skillset, and I wanted to focus for three days on climbing with no thoughts of work, dogs, etc.  In Cody, I was with like-minded women.  I am not intimidated by men, but it is important to see other women in the backcountry too.

What were your take-aways from the clinic? 

To get out there and go for it.  I had most of the skills, but I was able to put it all together.  I just need to get out more.  This was a reaffirming experience.  My partner, who is more experienced, will be happy to hear me say that we have this (the skills).  I also learned where my weaknesses are.  I can go to other areas that are new and discover and explore.  Sometimes I get stuck in my little world.  Also, I made connections.  That was a big part of it too.  It is inspiring to be around strong, confident women.  I definitely feel inspired after this trip.

Chicks Alumna Interview: Rebecca Samet

We recently caught up with Rebecca Samet, an MD and mother of three.  She lives in Pismo Beach, CA and works in the Fresno Hospital ER.  She didn’t just get hooked on climbing, but got her kids into as well.  Her daughter Sarah has been to a number of Chicks clinics, and we are always so impressed with this mother/daughter team and their thirst for adventure.

Rebecca1Rebecca, tell us about you!

I live in Pismo Beach, CA, and my favorite fun activity is trail running, especially as a way to discover new places. Some of my favorites trails include the Ray Miller Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking the ocean and a new discovery; the Twain Hart Ditch Trail in California’s Gold Country. Before I started ice climbing I spent as much time snow boarding as I could. Now I love ice climbing but don’t get to do it enough. This winter I’m hoping to check out the Michigan Ice Festival and climb over a frozen Lake Superior.

What was your first clinic with Chicks?

My first Chicks Clinic was the Complete in 2013. I had never climbed at all before and it was amazing! It opened up a new world for me.

Why Chicks?

I tried Chicks because I wanted to ice climb; but I can’t explain why because I had never known anyone who did. Chicks seemed like a great way to learn and it was! It was an excellent immersion course for me.

Rebecca3How many clinics have you attended?

I’ve lost count of how many Chicks courses I’ve done; the Complete x 3, Red Rocks x 2, Devils Lake, Cody and most recently the Tetons. Wow – 8 courses!

How did you get your daughter into climbing?

I climb with my daughter because I had so much fun at my first Chicks courses that I hoped she would enjoy them too. (I think she has). We’ve had some truly unique experiences with excellent people. They would not have been possible without Chicks.

What’s next?

I’m always looking forward to the next trip. I’d like to try back country skiing or snowboarding, hopefully this year.

On Belay?? The GriGri Mistake

By Monica Esposito

I loaded my Grigri backwards and felt like a complete fool.  Now, I can recognize this mistake as a win because the only consequence of my mistake was the realization of my own stupidity. In climbing, an act of stupidity could actually kill someone.

Monica_on belayI went to Rifle Mountain State Park this past April. A perfect storm of distraction and excitement started me off on the wrong foot that day. One of the first warm spring days of sport climbing outside and I was excited. I’ll admit, I was nervous that day, I needed to get myself psyched to lead and I wanted to climb well. I wasn’t thinking about the basics and checking systems like I always do. I have probably loaded a Grigri hundreds of times in my years of climbing and it should be second nature. But, as I loaded my device I was also chatting with a couple of friends nearby and I did not notice I had loaded the Grigri backwards (the climbers side of the rope was threaded into the brake side).

Before my husband was about to lead our morning warm up climb, we peeked at each others harnesses briefly but my husband forgot to check my device as I was checking his knot. Normally, I would have demonstrated I was locked and loaded properly, why was this morning any different? As my husband ascended up the climb, I was thinking how strange it felt feeding the rope and how my hand positioning seemed awkward. But, yet I still had not comprehended that it had been loaded backwards… I was chalking up the awkwardness to one of my first days outside for the spring season, just feeling a little rusty? He hadn’t yet had any weight on the rope; so the mistake wasn’t discovered until he yelled, “take” at the top of the climb. As I started to try to take in slack and felt the device catching, the whole feel of braking seemed wrong. It was difficult to actually brake because the brake end of the rope was lying on the wrong side of the device!

My husband had tied in direct to the anchor with a quick draw once he recognized I was fumbling. The friends (whom I had been chatting with nearby only moments before) also happened to be trained AMGA guides, so while I was still fumbling with the rope and looking completely confused, one of the friends jumped in and took over as a rescue belay. My husband then unclipped from the anchor, weighted the rope and was lowered to the ground safely. All the while, I am literally still standing there dumbfounded.

MonicaI cannot imagine what could have happened if he had taken a big fall. I suppose there is some amount of friction in an improperly loaded Grigri and I did have my left hand on the brake end of the rope, but I wouldn’t say I have any faith that a big fall could have been properly arrested with that faulty setup. I could have potentially dropped my husband 50 feet and it will bother me for the rest of my climbing years ahead. We didn’t check each others systems like we normally would have; otherwise the mistake would have been caught before he had left the ground. I hope that by telling my tale, a little voice in your head reminds you to check your knot and check your systems! Whether you’re climbing at the gym, at your favorite crag or climbing El Cap, it shouldn’t matter.

Monica Esposito lives in Fort Collins, Colorado and is a long time Chicks Alumni.

Chicks Alumna Interview: Dawn Rathburn

We recently had the chance to catch up with a Chicks alumna who many of you have met over the many years she has been involved with Chicks, Dawn Rathburn.

Chicks ClimbingWhich Chicks clinics have you taken? 
My first was the Betty Ice Ball years ago.  The weekend was amazing.  I took the Complete Ice clinic, which was a lot of days of climbing.  Mattie Scheafor was my guide and the last day we climbed the Popsicle.  You go..”one more move, I can make it”.  It was exhausting.  I have never felt like that before.  It felt good.

I have done a few more Complete Ice clinics, a Red Rocks, Indian Creek and Rifle clinic.  Now I am going to do a Cody Ice clinic.    I actually did two Red Rocks clinics and the first time I had a problem with this one climb that had an off-width and a crack through a bulge.  The second time I took the clinic, we did the same climb and it wasn’t a problem at all.

There is a lot to be said for Indian Creek.  It is hard, painful, yet the most rewarding thing that I have ever done.  I didn’t know I could shove my body pin a crack and push off of it.  I appreciate the guides helping us learn and pushing us.  I have photos of my bloody fingers.  Now I know what its like to be called a dirt bag (laughs).  I have developed a love for it since I know how to do it right.  Now I use cracks on face climbs with confidence.

Rifle gave me a whole new level of confidence with sport climbing.  I can use a stick clip on the first bolt so I don’t hit the ground if I fall leading.  I learned to put my brain in a different space so I can do the harder moves.  It was like a reunion with climbers from other Chicks clincis.  I want to go to Greece on my fortieth birthday in two years (stay tuned on future Chicks offerings).  I had never led before.  It felt good to learn tips ant to be trusted enough, to be allowed to lead.

DawnRathburn2What are your goals?
My goals in ice climbing are to learn transitions in multi-pitch climbing so I can climb in more areas, have more opportunities, and travel to other places to climb such as Iceland.

My goals in rock climbing – I may not ever do a big wall but I want to go to the Flat Irons and spend the night on a wall or do a short, easy wall in Zion.  So I need to get more skill sets.  If you have diverse abilities, then you become a better climbing partner outside of a guided situation.

My ski goals – I grew up skiing and switched to snowboarding.  I got bored.  I would like to go into the backcountry because lift skiing is not getting any cheaper.  I would like to get back into skiing.  I need avalanche training.  I would also like to be able to ski to get out to ice climbs.  I used to aspire to alpine climbing but don’t know why I stopped.  I just don’t have time to dedicate to it I guess.  I need to make priorities between work and what I am doing in the next year.  I want more time off.

What do you do for work? 
I am a subject matter expert for a medical equipment company.

Tell me about partnering/networking through Chicks.
For ten years I have climbed with Chicks Alumni, Monica Esposito, who also lives in the Front Range.  There are others too – Sarah, Angela, Kerri.  Kerri went through a rough patch recently and everyone was very supportive of her.  Chicks is a good place to help you out if you need.  We build relationships on Facebook.  We talk outside of Chicks.  Seeing Chicks Alumni get married, have kids and go on adventures – we are super supportive of all.

Any parting words?
My knowledge (of climbing) didn’t just appear.  I learned at Chicks.  It is empowering.  It is a wholly different world now.

Chicks Alumna Interview: Piper Musmanno

We recently had the chance to catch up with an Alumna who many of you have met over the many years she has been involved with Chicks, Piper Musmanno.
PiperWhat was your first clinic with Chicks?
My first year with Chicks was the 2008/2009 ice season in Ouray. First event was the Inaugural (I believe) “Betty Ice Ball”. My first clinic was with guide, Sarah Hueniken, it was a footwork clinic. The remaining clinics I attended that weekend were with Dawn Glanc – it was her first season as a Chicks instructor.
Why Chicks?
I had ice climbed once the winter before and was instantly hooked.  I bought tools before the next winter, so when winter did come around the following year, I was ready and excited to go.  I don’t actually remember how I found out about Chicks, but I do remember being interested in it and mentioning it to some girl friends at the Boulder Rock Club.  At which point, one of them said, “I have another friend who is going for her first time. I will introduce you.”  And this is how I met Jenn Fields who became my roomie for the trip and would become my partner in crime and climbing while I chased bolts up walls for the next few summers to come.  I was also introduced to Erika Napoletano to carpool down and she became a good friend as well.
How many clinics have you attended?
I attended Chicks clinics for my first two years of ice climbing and have been volunteering ever since.
Not sure how many actual clinics I took within those events, but know they ranged from “Footwork” (my first), to “Speed and Efficiency” to “Mixed Climbing” (any chance that there was a mixed clinic, I took it.  Thanks Dawn for the introduction!!!) , “Anchors” (Angela Hawse) and more  I’m forgetting.
And then ever since I have tried to volunteer to help with clinics whenever I have been in town at the same time.
What kept you coming back?
The Chicks. 🙂  Both the participants and the instructors. The opportunity to learn from some of the best female climbers in the world is not to be passed up, but also, they were always a lot of fun.  That the Chicks’ instructors and amazingly talented, is a given, but they are also incredibly relatable and are great at understanding how to communicate their knowledge so the ladies in their clinic come away feeling empowered and inspired.  They take time to understand the ladies’ fears or limitations, and look for attainable goals so everyone feels like they progressed during the course.
And the chicks in the clinics are a blast.  No matter what their level.  Their excitement is contagious and rekindles my own excitement for my sport.
What have you been doing since last Chicks clinic?
Hiking, climbing rock and ice and unfortunately recovering from a few surgeries.  My last surgery to finally fix my hip with a total replacement was in spring of 2014 and I’ve been enjoying my sports fairly pain free since then.  Also, I’ve been spending time fixing my new old house in Ouray and hope to be able to spend more time there all year around each year.
What was your most memorable moment at Chicks?
Does it have to be climbing?  Because I think it was probably the dance party at the first Betty Ball, where I met a lot of the ladies who have since been my climbing partners and friends in the years since.  I believe there is still a video out there of some of us dancing on tables…that night was so much fun and sparked some great friendships. Some of us have gone different directions in the years following, some are still very close friends, but they were there at the beginning of my love of the sport and were a part of the memories that keep me coming back.

You’re Invited: The Sisterhood of Chicks + Alumni Social at Ouray Ice Fest

IMG_3541Our Chicks Alumni program has arrived! Welcome to the Sisterhood, the place where Chicks connect.  If you have taken a Chicks clinic, then you are one of us.  Join the community. We are having our opening event at the Ouray Ice fest, please come to celebrate the history of Chicks with us.

We have created a group site that gives you special access to message boards, deals, alumni events, news, and more! Visit the Sisterhood page to learn all about the exclusive benefits.

Mark Your Calendars: The Sisterhood Social

Join us for a fun evening at the Ouray Ice Fest, an event exclusively for Chicks Alumni. We are meeting at Kitty Calhoun’s house on Friday, Jan 15 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm  (address will be disclosed on the Sisterhood page), to enjoy food, drink, and good times together.  Then we’ll head to the slideshows at the Ouray Ice Fest.  Please BYOB, we will have dinner and appetizers for everyone.  See you there!

How to Join The Sisterhood Group on

Once you have registered as a member or our group ‘The Sisterhood’, you can click on your member portal in the upper right hand corner of your user page. From the member portal, you can choose your options in the menu on the left side, such as reading messages in the discussions, checking out upcoming events, and more.  The Sisterhood site will keep you posted with news, message boards, and events.  Thanks for joining!