Attacking the Legendary Rifle Limestone

Written by: Diane Mielcarz

Diane rock climbing rifle

Diane enjoying all Rifle has to offer. Photo by: Monika Leopold.

Take six eager participants, throw in a little bit of snow, rain and temps in the 20s, add two awesome guides, temps in the 70s, great food, a blazing fire, challenging routes and what do you get – another successful Chicks Climbing Clinic.

Although the weather made every effort to discourage us from our objective of attacking the legendary Rifle limestone (we fell asleep to the sound of rain and woke up to a covering of snow) our badass Guides Elaina Arenz and Dawn Glanc were not to be deterred. As we waited for the weather to improve, we spent a very productive morning inside the Community House learning various skills and techniques for belaying, clipping rope, setting/cleaning anchors and knot tying.

Once the weather cleared, there was no stopping this determine group of women as we headed to the snow cone wall to put together all of our new skills. We worked on climbing movement as well.

Sunday the group awoke to sunny weather. We headed to the middle ice caves area with a mission to lead as many routes as possible. By the end of the day everyone had a chance to work on leading. We also learned skills to help project harder grades.

Rifle Canyon

Rifle Canyon. Photo by: Dawn Glanc

As an Alumni of Chicks, I am continually amazed and impressed by the camaraderie and teamwork that develops among the participants during these clinics under the tutelage of the guides. During this clinic, as with others, the skill level varied from one extreme to another (i.e. never having climbed outdoors to climbing and/or leading 5.9s or higher), however, the guides are adept at molding the group into one cohesive unit that enables everyone to achieve their personal goals. These ladies kicked some butt leading, lead belaying and sending. I know each participant walked away from this clinic on Sunday feeling a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

A huge thanks to Elaina and Dawn (and Chef Dawn), my fellow clinic climbers and Chicks for a truly enjoyable and rewarding weekend. You have provided me with the skills and encouragement necessary to be a competent and capable climber.

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