The Journey to IFMGA Certification

Do you sometimes wonder which fork in the road led you down this wild and precious path you’re on?

Karen Bockel IFMGA

When I was a kid, I wanted to become either a Nobel-Prize winning Physicist working at CERN in Geneva or a Certifed Mountain Guide. The latter seemed so far-fetched and impossible – my only connection to the mountains was the countless hours I spent in my hometown library pouring over coffee table books of Reinhold Messner climbing the 8,000m peaks, that I stuck with Physics.

I studied atomic and laser physics and spent most of my graduate school days and nights inside a lab.  The black blinds shut out any stray light, and any sign of life or weather outside.  I spent the daytime hours tuning the lasers and solving page-long differential equations, and the nighttime hours, when everyone else and their perturbations had left the building, running experiments.  Laser cooling of atoms, Rubidium atoms to be precise, was my project, and it required a lot of planning, calculating and designing to eventually create a vacuum system containing a cloud of atoms in the crosshairs of 3 perpendicular laser beams. When everything lined up one fine day, a few weeks after having passed my Master’s thesis, the diode laser measuring the atom cloud’s temperature finally produced the expected signal, and the pale image of my Rubidium atom cloud hovered there, suspended in space, at a temperature of a few microKelvin.

Not long afterwards, I realized that, while I loved the research and academia, I missed the outside more, and something had to change.

After sneaking away for several trips into the mountains, I finally told my advisers that I was headed for the hills for good. I moved to a little mountain town in Southwest Colorado, learned to ski on leather boots and tele gear, worked as a carpenter, and spent most of the next few years either above treeline or on some rock wall, exploring all the beautiful San Juans had to offer.

I started ski patrolling and traveling to ski in far away places. I planned and took part in an expedition to ski Denali with three other women, and through two of my teammates got introduced to expedition guiding. I was intrigued. My neighbors owned Mountain Trip, a company guiding the 7 summits, and I timidly asked if I could hire on as an apprentice.  They took me on, and the next summer I found myself back in Alaska. Under the tutelage of Dave Staeheli, who when I asked him to teach me, basically provided me and the other co-guides (and even all our clients) with an entire alpine course while slowly climbing our way up the West Buttress. We got caught in a major storm at High Camp, leaving us stranded at 17,000’ for 8 days, before we fought our way back down to more livable places. It took perseverance, teamwork, and skill to get the teams down safely. The hard work of expedition guiding felt good.  I was hooked.  I was finally on my path toward this old, nearly forgotten childhood dream of becoming a mountain guide.

Karen Bockel IFMGA

The following fall, Mountain Trip offered a contract AMGA Rock Instructor course to their lead guides taught by Angela Hawse and Vince Anderson, and I, the rookie, somehow got in. I frantically tried to find some climbing partners to get ready for the course, but most my friends were runners and bikers. Nonetheless, I showed up on the first day, eyes wide open. It was great.

I’ll never forget that moment of Angela telling me when I was short pitching, braced behind a small boulder “that rock is not strong enough to hold us if we fall – look for a better solution, keep it real.”  I got that one, not just for right there, but for life!

I also remember that she taught us a ‘munter pop’ maneuver to get two clients safely established on a single rope lower – she might as well have spoken Chinese.  Mostly, though, the guiding instruction and climbing were really informative, fun, and inspiring, and I felt at home on the rock and on the rope. In the evaluations, Vince told me I had mountain sense, the ultimate compliment. I’ve had a chip on my shoulder about that ever since.  Needless to say – I’d found my path with the encouragement from these two extraordinary mountain guides.

Fast forward seven years, many vertical feet, footsteps, rope lengths and a couple knee surgeries later, and I found myself tied to my examiner and a co-candidate, breaking trail up the Quien Sabe Glacier of the Boston Basin in the heart of the North Cascades. We are on our last two days of the alpine exam, my final AMGA program on the path to IFMGA certification. It is only fitting that I finish the alpine track last, the queen discipline that combines the worlds of skiing and climbing, the one with the most tradition, the one I dreamt of as a kid. The moments of sunshine from earlier have given way to dense clouds, crevasses and handrails have disappeared into the mist, and I can see nothing, and yet somehow I see everything.  Years of training, experience and guiding days come together. I find the top of the glacier, lead the rope across the moat and climb onto the ridge above. We keep going into the clouds, in the cold wind, a fresh foot of snow covering the rocks. As we move together, chilled to the core, precariously but perfectly counterbalanced on the ridge, the sentiment I felt on Denali years prior returns: we are at home in the mountains.  For me, the exam finished on a high note in a wild and amazing place. I couldn’t have been more stoked.

It’s been an amazing path, and I have been lucky to share the rope with great friends, co-guides, mentors, and clients.  I have also been lucky to work for a number of great guide services.  I am thankful for every moment (except maybe the many hours on the trail down from the Grand Teton). In particular, I want to thank my Chicks Co-Owners for our partnership and friendship.

  • Angela Hawse for encouraging me at the start and always having my back
  • Bill and Todd at Mountain Trip for opening the door to the guiding world
  • Kitty Calhoun for climbing El Cap and becoming friends along the way
  • Dan Starr for letting me tell him all my guiding reflections and for practicing rope tricks in the garage
  • The Telluride Ski Patrol for the best early morning ski runs and letting me stick my head into the snow
  • Eric Larson for being there for me in spite of telling me not to become a guide
  • Emilie Drinkwater for an amazing climbing trip to the Alps
  • Larry Goldie for turning me loose in the Cascades
  • Thomas Olson at Howard Head Sports Medicine for getting me back onto two legs
  • And for my family who allowed me to take the fork less travelled.

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.

What it takes to be an IFMGA Mountain Guide

mountain guideMeet IFMGA Mountain Guide & Chicks Co-Owner Angela Hawse

Outside Magazine recently interviewed Angela Hawse about her path towards becoming the sixth American Woman to become a IFMGA Certified Mountain Guide. This is a huge accomplishment and it doesn’t come easily.

Aspirants spend years honing their skills in the mountains and must past a series of grueling courses and exams in three mountain disciplines: Rock, Alpine & Ski. To hold a certification in all three disciplines like Angela has, is the equivalent of having your PHD in Guiding.

She is in the small circle of elite few who can call themselves an American Mountain Guide. We are so proud of Chicks Co-Owner Angela Hawse and the folks at Outside Magazine were pretty impressed with her too. Read more


Real Life Chick: Kristi Curry #ClimbingMom

Kristi Curry Red RocksSunshine, dogs, heavy packs clanging with gear, dirty hands, sand…

All these things remind me of climbing. I started climbing on a Colorado Outward bound trip in 1992.  I dappled with climbing through college, then really hit the ground running when I met my future climbing partner at a Starbucks where we both worked in Colorado Springs.  From 1997 to 2004 I was climbing every weekend and vacation.  Our little clan camped and played, climbed and ate.  We got stuck in lightening storms 5 pitches off the deck and had to actively ward off heat stroke at Indian Creek in Utah.  These experiences were intense and fully satiated my scorpio/tiger firyintense personality.  We felt like badasses and it felt good.  We were trad climbers who loved moderate routes.  I loved the meditation aspect climbing provided.  As soon as I would ask the question ‘Belay on?’, all the other noise in my head would quiet and I just focused on each move upward.  I had never been so happy…

Then life shifted…

I was about to journey down some very dark alleyways far far away from climbing crags.  My Mom died in 2006 and it was devastating.  Her belief that I if I could dream it, I could achieve it, protected me from the skepticism and loneliness in the world.  Her death left a deep empty hole in my soul, that to this day, hasn’t fully healed.  Soon after, my new husband and I moved to Seattle for work.  This was a new place where we had no connections, it rained and rained (and rained), and they have these things called glaciers which intimidated the hell out of me.The recession hit and I had to sell my climbing rack, all my crampons, and ice axes so that we had money to pay the rent.  I was selling off a part of me, my history, and I was devastated.

Then, I got pregnant and that didn’t go as planned.  I envisioned pregnancy yoga classes and a midwife home birth.  Instead I experienced the opposite.  In this new dark city with no friends to visit, I was put on bed rest for five months.  My days were filled with doctors appointments and no exercise. I hate doctor offices because they make you feel like you are sick, and feeling sick makes you feel depressed.  The lack of exercise reduced my strong body to an empty shell.  I was so weak.  My daughter was born a month early.  While she was in the NICU, I was in the ICU being treated for post pardom preeclampsia (which is extremely high blood pressure) and then a pulmonary embolism.  Everyone around me was afraid I was going to die, but I was more afraid that my soul was going to permanently disappear if I didn’t find a way out of this hospital to have an adventure out in nature.I was so sick of being stuck with needles.

But the darkness continued.

My body was so weak and I was so tired and we had no one around, no community, to help us take care of our daughter so I could get a rest.  I finally went crazy… no I really went crazy.  I was suicidally depressed.  I remember getting into my truck one night and headed to lake Washington so I could drive right off the 520 bridge and plunge into the cold dark lake.  No one was understanding.  No one around me had ever climbed.  They didn’t understand why my soul had died and they didn’t know how to help.  My light was finally extinguished and I was cold and dark inside, but had to suffer through my daily mundane human life.

Then I was finally rescued.  8 years later we pointed our UHaul east to Colorado and didn’t shed a tear as we drove away.  As soon as we landed on Colorado soil, I took off my Washington license plates and drop kicked them into the garbage can.  I was back… to sun, friends, family, and most importantly to my favorite climbing stomping grounds like Eldorado Canyon and the Ouray Ice Park.  And then I met the Chicks…

The Chicks brought me back to life…

they re-ignited my inner fire.  My husband gave me the Jiffy Ice clinic as a Christmas present but that present was so much more.  To meet these women I had read about in books, admired… I felt so lucky to be in there space (and the space of the other participants), climbing, having dinner, sharing stories not just about climbing but about our lives.  I had finally found a group who understood what my inner soul was screaming for back in Seattle.

That ice climbing trip brought me to Chris Noble.  The Chicks wanted to get some new photos and video so they could update their website and our course was the group who got to be ‘the models’.  I didn’t even know who Chris was at the time… just the nicest, calmest, zen like person I had met in a long time.  Then I heard about his book “Women Who Dare”, who brought me back to Elaina and Dawn, which brought me to the Red Rocks climbing clinic, which gave me the sun, sand, dirty hands and rock I had craved for so many years.

kristicurry2Reading his book made my heart explode.  He talks about climbers being a tribe… how we all look the same and seem to look at life the same, noticing stars in the sky and birds singing in the upper parts of cliff walls.  He talked about the personal tight bonds climbers build when we experience, together, all our emotions: fear, exhaustion, happiness, success. Like Dawn said, everyone is always on their cell phone, participating in Facebook relationships (I added that part), but when we go climbing, we shut off our phones and have 100% real human intimate experiences with our climbing partners.  I wanted to SCREAM to everyone in Seattle who just couldn’t understand, “See! I’m not crazy!  I was in mourning because I lost my people, my tribe.”

I was free.

So I want to say to all the climbing women who are part of this amazing Chicks tribe… continue to kick ass!  You are awesome and strong!  Live your life to the fullest.  I loved climbing with my guy friends, but my heart craves the intimacy and honesty you get when you climb and open your heart to other women.  Like Chris said “I believe there are things in this life that are intrinsically beautiful… like the remarkable grace of women who dare.”  I love you all.  Climb On!

Written by: Kristi Curry

How to Choose the Best Rock Climbing Clinic For You

CityClimbWebAt Chicks, we have climbing clinics in all disciplines from rock to alpine climbing. Choosing which one depends on what type of skills you’d like to learn, the climbing clinic style you like and the place you want to travel to do it all. If you’re new to climbing, looking to refresh your skills or want to learn more advanced skills, we have a clinic that makes it all possible.

Keep in mind that we offer 4 different levels that you can choose when you sign up for one of our trips. That way we can pair you up with others who have similar experience and your individual goals can be met in a low ratio group setting in each climbing clinic. As you advance your skills and knowledge you will move up through the four different instructional levels until you are at the point that you feel ready to fly the coop and cast out on your own.

Your guides are all certified by the AMGA and are some of the most highly trained female guides in the country. They do a great job at creating a positive environment and will teach you the “what and the why” so you walk away with knowledge and deep understanding of climbing systems.

Here is a breakdown on some of the skills you will learn on each of our programs:

rock climbing red rocks

Photo by: Irene Yee

Red Rock, NV: March 30-April 4

Great for never-evers and those who want to work on their lead climbing skills. The sandstone is super user friendly and there are climbs of all grades. Las Vegas is an affordable destination for everyone and this is a great stay-cation learning experience.

  • Single and Multi-Pitch
  • Sport and Trad
  • All Levels

Get more info

Indian Creek, UT: April 6-10

IMG_7737 Some previous experience is required for this one, as learning the art of jamming can be challenging enough as it is. You’ll learn how to place and assess trad gear placements and the art of jamming on a wide range of crack sizes. You’ll be on your way to becoming a crack climbing machine by the end of the weekend.

  • Crack Climbing
  • Levels 2-4

Get more info

Kalymnos, Greece: April 23-May 1

Previous experience is required and this climbing clinic is best suited to aspiring lead climbers and those who can top rope 5.8 and up. It’s the perfect place to test your skill against the 3D limestone features. This is a bucket list trip of a lifetime and what could be better than the beach and climbing all in one place?

  • Limestone Sport Climbing in the Mediterranean
  • Levels 2-4

Get more info

City of Rocks, ID: June 21-24

The City of Rocks is a great destination to practice your friction climbing on the wild formations in a high desert setting. There is something for everyone here, even for first timers. You will hone your technical on technical face climbs and learn about anchor building and self rescue.

  • Single Pitch and Multi-Pitch
  • Sport and Trad
  • All Levels

Get more info

Tetons, Wyoming: Alpine Rock. June 29-July 2 

Do you aspire to climb bigger mountain objectives? If you have some rock or ice climbing experience and want to learn how to take your rock/ice skills into the mountains. Learn about traveling on steep snow and ice, cramponing technique, ice axe use and self arrest on the shoulders of the Grand Teton.

  • Alpine Rock
  • Levels 2-4

Get more info

Red River Gorge, KY: September 1-4

The Red is one of the most popular destinations in the country because climbers love the pocketed sandstone. There are thin face climbs and juggy overhangs that will inspire and challenge you. It’s so user friendly which makes it the best place to transfer your indoor climbing skills to the outdoors.

Get more info

rock climbing clinicRifle, CO: August 18-20

Rifle is all about compression climbing, meaning you will squeeze and use opposition to ascend the walls lining this narrow gorge. The approaches are about 5 minutes max and the canyon receives equal parts shade and sun during the day. We will focus on sport climbing strategies like stick clipping, leading, cleaning anchors and projecting skills.

  • Steep Sport Climbing
  • Levels 2-4

Get more info

What is backcountry and why is it so awesome?


Backcountry SkiingChicks:  Let’s start with the basics:  What is backcountry skiing?

KB:  It’s skiing outside and away from a ski resort, on unmarked, ungroomed, and unpatrolled snow slopes.  It’s my favorite kind of skiing!  Usually, you have to earn your turns by hiking uphill to get to the top of the run.  You need special equipment, including climbing skins that attach to the bottom of your skis, ski boots that have a walk mode, and avalanche rescue gear.  You also need skills to navigate the snow-covered mountains beyond the resort.

Chicks:  Why is backcountry skiing so special?

NK:  Backcountry skiing is special because it can take us to places where we could not go otherwise. Skinning can take us a longer distance in a shorter amount of time than being on foot.  Though there is mechanized skiing in the backcountry these days, if we are talking about human powered skiing, the cost of equipment has become reasonable for most people. It is the oldest, purest and simplest method to enjoy skiing.  It was the only way for me to ski every day in winter growing up.  The very best part of backcountry skiing is the relationships you develop with people you ski with, whether they are clients, friends or your significant other.  When I think of backcountry skiing, the first thing that comes to my mind is the people with whom I have shared joyful moments.

Chicks:   What is your favorite backcountry skiing range?

KB:  The San Juan Mountains!  This is where I learned to ski (and be!) in the mountains, and therefore they are really close to my heart.  It’s where I cut my teeth, and where learned about snow and avalanches.  The high alpine terrain is just beautiful.  There are endless opportunities for big and small ski tours with good access off the high passes such as Red Mountain Pass.  The snowpack can be challenging, but when we get blue skies and powder, it’s dreamy out there.

NK:Japan!  That is where I am from.That is where I speak the language and understand the culture. That is where I do most of my ski guiding.  That is where I share joy and laughter with many of my clients, friends and my husband.  That is where I excel and can provide the best skiing experience to my clients.  I look forward to many more years of skiing and ski guiding in Japan.

Chicks:  Who can go backcountry skiing with Chicks?

KB:   Good question!  If you are an intermediate to advanced alpine skier or snowboarder, you can join Chicks with Stix.  For our Backcountry Skiing clinic on Red Mountain Pass, no prior backcountry experience is required – this course will teach you all about the backcountry!  It’s perfect for someone wanting to explore the backcountry for the first time, or for refreshing basic backcountry skills.  The Bird is also a great way to explore powder skiing in the San Juans – via helicopter!  No backcountry experience is required for this clinic either, but the pace will be a little faster and there is opportunity for lots of vertical.  If you’ve ever thought about trying heliskiing, this is the perfect intro.  By the way, we have a good description of our ski levels on our website.

NK: In terms of our In Deep trip to Japan, you would want to be intermediate resort skiers or rider, and you would want to have a few days of powder skiing experience. If you are an intermediate skier, you can learn to ski in powder quickly.  Guides can instruct you on how to ski in deep powder efficiently.  Besides skiing ability, if you enjoy the experience of a different culture and food, you will have a great time!

Chicks:  When is the best time to go backcountry skiing?

KB:  Each mountain range has their season.  Right now, at the beginning of the December, the snow cover is thin and more dangerous here in the San Juans and in the Tetons.  By January, things begin to fill in, and good skiing can be found in many areas – but always watch the avalanche danger!  In March, the sun begins to warm up the snow, and we transition into spring skiing – the time to go up high, ski big peaks and big lines.  Each part of the season has its challenges.  Make sure you and your partners are prepared.  Going with Chicks is a great way to learn from AMGA/IFMGA guides and get the best training possible!

Chicks:  Tell us about your favorite backcountry skiing day.

NK:Every day I go out is my favorite day.  I enjoy skiing with my husband whether it is a mellow tree skiing day or it is a 50-degree couloir type of day.  We also had awesome days with the Chicks In Deep last year in Hokkaido, Japan, skiing some amazing lines and laughing so hard that my stomach was hurting.   If you know me, I cannot stop smiling when I am skiing.

More than climbing? Chicks alumna takes on Ironman

Persistence, determination, dedication, drive, commitment, adventurous….it takes a unique person to be a climber, right?  It’s no secret that we’re more than climbers, and these characteristics blend into our professions, personal lives, and other activities.   Chicks co-owner and guide, Dawn Glanc, catches up with one of Chicks most popular alumna, Anne Hughes to learn more about her recent Ironman adventure.

Anne stoked at the finish line!

Anne stoked at the finish line!

First year with Chicks?
1st year at Chicks with Picks: 2002

How many clinics have you participated in as a client? As a volunteer?
16 Chicks clinics as a client, 8 sessions volunteering

Why did you choose to compete in the Ironman?
I wanted to see what it would be like to take up a brand new sport, apply total dedication and see what would result. I love cycling, but didn’t know how to swim and didn’t care for running. I liked the challenge of seeing what I was made of on the long haul. It would be cool to qualify for worlds and I thought I had a good chance at that.

What was the thing that helped you get through the training process?
To be first at my first Ironman wasn’t going to be easy; I would have to work hard every day. Races are won on the days others skip a training, shorten a set, cheat a little, let themselves off the hook, hold back when it gets painful, settle for good enough. My first place goal kept me out of that camp. When I really felt burdened and down, my long time trainer, Pat Gilles, was there for me. A qualified, compassionate coach with very high standards is invaluable. My triathlon plan was written by pro triathlete and coach Patrick Brady who also talked me through the lows from his perspective with years of experience in the sport.

Was there a time during the race where where you felt the euphoria of the moment?
I felt euphoric in the last minute of the 14 1/2 hour race. I felt a rare kind of joy that only delayed gratification from dedication to a really long, hard challenge can deliver. The best high ever!

Anne enjoying the Wisconsin hills during her 100 miles on the bike.

Anne enjoying the Wisconsin hills during her 100 miles on the bike.

Did you ever want to quit?
Long endurance races are about keeping to your plan for many hours. Quitting never crossed my mind, but during the marathon it was painful enough to want really badly to just be done. The more it hurt, the more I was not going to quit, not after 50 weeks of training! This was what it was all for so quitting wasn’t an option. Patrick Brady was there for me, supporting and keeping track of the women I was still chasing. I wanted to catch them. At about mile fifteen of the marathon Pat Gilles, an Ironman finisher himself, assured me it would not hurt any more to run faster, it would just hurt for less time…. hmmm…could this be true? I sped up from an 11 min/mile pace to a 9 min./mile pace and he was right! Not long after I moved into second place. I’m so glad my coaches and friends were there as I ran, keeping me focused.

What was the finish line like?
You turn a corner and enter a block long chute with the finish arch big and bright just ahead. The backdrop is the gleaming white Wisconsin capitol building. In the chute I realized, “I did it! I did all that work! I gave everything I’ve got! I did it!” I slapped the outstretched hands of my screaming, smiling son and husband and a posse of friends (half of whom were Chicks, by the way). I heard the announcer bellow — “Anne! — Hughes! — YOU! — ARE! — an IROOOONmaaaan!!! I was thrilled beyond words! To have been moving nonstop for fourteen and a half hours and finally stop amidst the finish line bedlam of loud music, bright lights, big screens, friends waving and cheering! Chicks with Picks alumna Amy Hite appeared as soon as I came to a stop, held me up when my legs wanted to buckle and brought me food. She was so kind and excited for me even though she had just finished her own Ironman race hours before me. Amy is my role model for completing two or three Ironmans a year for years! After Amy’s care those first few minutes, I was able to leave the athlete area into the hugs of my friends and family!

Anne's support group.

Anne’s support group.

Did you reach your goals/expectations?
My finish time was an hour longer than planned. My slower than expected swim and bike legs allowed me energy for a strong run. The marathon turned out to be my proudest part of the day! I had to gear up for pain and tiredness for the entire 26 miles, and yet still speed up during the last six miles to be sure I’d given my all. Never settle, that was my plan. Don’t walk. I didn’t. Reflecting since the race I know I will never forget the thrill of completing fifty weeks of daily training, racing well, and finishing strong in a long, hard, beautiful race! I reached this goal:

I took a risk to devote a whole year to something I didn’t even know if I’d like, something totally new, I remained dedicated like a professional, and I discovered strength, toughness and perseverance I didn’t know I had.

Surely these qualities will be useful in areas of life more important than racing.

Now to Kona? When is that event? How will you race differently this time around?
I will race at the Ironman World Championships, Kona Hawaii on October 8, 2016, along side 2300 Ironman qualifiers from around the globe. This will be my final Ironman. I expect a slower time due to swimming in ocean swells without the flotation of a wet suit, bracing myself on my bike against the cross and head winds of 30 to 60 MPH, and racing all day in 90-100 degree sunny humid weather. There will be at least twenty five females age 60-64 instead of the usual six or so, and all of them will be fast, tough, and fit. Each will have more experience as triathletes than me — this was only my first season as a triathlete. So, how will I race differently? With nothing further to qualify for, I plan to be the one having the most fun!

Kona = Focus + (FUN x infinity)

Get Psyched! The New Chapter of Chicks

Kitty Calhoun, Dawn Glanc, Angela Hawse, Elaina Arenz, and Karen Bockel are pleased to be moving forward with Chicks Climbing and Skiing.  Our vision is to empower women through mountain sports and continue the tradition of giving back to the community.  We are excited to add new event locations to our line-up as well as ski mountaineering and alpine climbing.  Don’t forget to check out our updated website in a day or two.  Additionally, we are working on an Alumni Membership Package, full of benefits, which will be announced shortly. We look forward to re-connecting with you and taking the Chicks experience to a new level.
You all know at least one of us, the new Chicks partners, but you may not be aware of the unique strengths that each of us brings to the management team.

Kitty CalhounKitty has an MBA and was a founding partner of Exum Utah Mountain Adventures. She’s also a recipient of the AAC Underhill Award for excellence in mountaineering.  She has guided for 33 years, including 16 years for Chicks.

Dawn GlancDawn has a BS in Outdoor Education, is an AMGA certified rock and alpine guide, and has place first in the women’s division of the Ouray Ice Fest competition several times.  She has guided for 11 years, including 6 years for Chicks.

Angela HawseAngela has a BA in Outdoor Education and a Master of Arts degree in International Mountain Conservation.  She is an IFMGA certified guide and trains and examines aspiring AMGA guides.  She also works as a heli-ski guide.  She has guided for 30 years, including 15 years for Chicks.


Elaina ArenzElaina has a BS in Advertising and is owner/operator of New River Mountain Guides. She is on the board of the Access Fund (AF) and has been awarded the Sharp End award by the AF for outstanding contribution to climbers’ advocacy. She is an AMGA certified rock guide. She has guided for 12 years, including 5 years for Chicks.


Karen BockelKaren has an MS in Physics and competed on a professional level in road biking and ski mountaineering.  She is an AMGA certified ski guide.  She has guided for 6 years, including 3 years for Chicks.




As guides, working with you has been a rewarding experience in so many ways.  That is why we are psyched to carry the torch and expand the horizons.

Here’s to more adventures together!
Kitty, Dawn, Angela, Elaina & Karen

A Farewell from Head Chick, Kim Reynolds

Dear Friends,

Kim Reynolds Hall of FameAfter 16 years holding the vision of Chicks Climbing: Chicks with Picks and Chicks Rock!, I am moving on and passing the torch. It is a rewarding journey to create a climbing program that is unique, that gives back and inspires women to be more than they can imagine. This mission is simple and achieved through motivating our participants to push beyond their self-imposed limits and believe in what is possible!  And, in the process, these ladies also become really good climbers. I love that!  This intended design means a lot to me. And, as Chicks has evolved, so have I.

The women who make the magic happen are our infamous Girly Guides, and I am happy that five of them have banded together to fill my shoes and take this organization to the next level. I have complete faith in them because no one understands the spirit of Chicks better than they do. I am happy they will carry on in service of our beloved “Chicks” who have been part of this adventure for the past sixteen years.

I believe that there are no coincidences, and as I bring this chapter to a close, I received the distinction of being inducted into the American Mountaineering Hall of Excellence —an honor that combines a lifetime achievement of climbing/adventure with giving back to the outdoor community. I am incredibly moved by this recognition, which comes at a time when I can pause and fully appreciate the value of this amazing journey.

With joy and appreciation for the people I’ve met along the way,

Eddie Bauer Scholarship Winner – Sophia Navarre

Chicks received several amazing applications for the 2015 Eddie Bauer Chicks with Picks Quickie Scholarship.  After many hours of deliberation the judges from Eddie Bauer and Chicks Climbing picked Sophia Navarre as the winner.  Sophia is a kind-hearted, passionate, budding climber who is excited to absorb everything offered in the Chicks with Picks program.  To give you a good idea of what this young climber has already experience, here is an excerpt of her recommendation letter written by her employer, coach, mentor & friend, Josh Harris

2015 CwP Scholarship Winner SophiaIt is my pleasure to recommend Sophia Navarre for the Eddie Bauer “The Quickie” Scholarship. I supervised Sophia for three years in my capacity as General Manager at Climb Nashville. I also had the opportunity to coach and instruct Sophia while directing the Nashville School of Climbing. During Sophia’s tenure at the Nashville School of Climbing, she instructed and co-lead programs for young climbers ages 6 – 12. She motivated young participants with her stoke for climbing; managed the risks of climbing with focused discernment; showed attentive, empathetic client care; and empowered young climbers to challenge themselves and achieve their goals.

Sophia has the good fortune of powerful female mentors – and her climbing has been transformed by it. But this is not a one-way street, I have seen her bridge the mentor / mentee relationship, quickly becoming a peer and climbing partner to the ladies that have shared so generously. I have also observed Sophia modeling this to her female students in programs – inspiring the next generation of female climbers.

Adventure and challenge are driving forces behind Sophia’s climbing. I observed this as she learned to lead – witnessing her break through the fear of being on the sharp end, to embrace the power and learning that comes from stepping into the unknown and being open to the possibilities and challenge.

Sophia possesses a unique combination of kindness, determination, and initiative that has enabled her to excel at work and at play. She is a life long learner and in constant pursuit of new knowledge and experience. When shown a new climbing technique or training system, she would quickly master and apply the technique in her own climbing and instruction. I believe this thirst is motivating her interest in ice climbing.

Congratulations Sophia and welcome to the Chicks clan!  There are still a few spaces left in the Quick Ice Climbing Clinic.  To register or learn more, click here.