GU Chews | Gear We Use | Rock Climbing

GU Chews - very important climbing accessory! ©Kitty Calhoun

GU Chews – very important climbing accessory! ©Kitty Calhoun

It was the hardest sport route I had ever attempted to redpoint.

I couldn’t rub the sweat out of my eyes, nor could I see clearly, as I reached for and held a tiny cobble in order to set up for the crux deadpoint.

My stomach grumbled.

“Now or never!” I said to myself. Then I launched, thrusting my hips into the wall.  But to no avail, my fingers only grasped the air just shy of the bucket hold and I fell back into the rope.

“Lower!” I exclaimed in disappointment.

I couldn’t give up. I was too close.  I needed to recover and then give it another try while the moves were still fresh in my head.  Clearly, I needed to rest and I needed to eat.  The problem is that I find it difficult to digest food when I am performing at my max.

Fortunately, I have discovered GU chews.

I sat down under a tree and ate a whole package of  Gu Chews followed by a third a quart of water. Then I continued to rest for a full half an hour as my stomach easily digested the Chews with just the right amount and ratio of glucose and fructose.

When I tied back into the rope, I felt strong again.

And, sure enough, when I finally held the tiny cobble to set up for the crux, my stomach did not grumble and I could see clearly. Then I launched and caught the bucket hold like it was never a hard move at all!

Now, I ‘m not saying sending my hardest redpoint to date was all because of GU chews, but I’m not saying it wasn’t either…

Your Hips Are Your Power Center

Magali Lequient climbing "Liquid Zipper" (11b) at "The Pipeline Crag" in Maple Canyon, Utah.

Magali Lequient climbing “Liquid Zipper” (11b) at “The Pipeline Crag” in Maple Canyon, Utah.©Chris Noble

“Do the Elvis!”

Two young men, whom I barely knew but had eagerly suggested we go sport climbing together, yelled up at me.

“What?” I yelled back, trying to maintain composure. What the hell were they talking about?

I was struggling at the crux of a moderate sport route and when I looked down both of the guys were grinning and gyrating their hips.

At the time, most of my experience was in trad climbing. “I must be missing something,” I thought. I’d never heard of “doing the Elvis” in trad climbing.

Later, I went to a local climbing gym to learn better technique from a coach. After many sessions, it finally dawned on me: my hips should not act like an anchor on a ship! They are in fact my power center.

If you think about it, you can move your hips in many ways to your advantage, just like those boys were trying to show me all those years ago.

  • Move your hips out from the wall so you can see your feet.
  • Once you place your feet, rock your hips over them so that you can stand up.
  • Engage your hips forcefully (as if doing a squat) to get power from your lower body rather than trying to do all the work with your less powerful upper body by pulling only with your arms.
  • Wind up with your hips for momentum when making a big side-to-side or upward movement like a deadpoint or dyno.
  • On steep technical rock, focus on keeping your hips “married” to the wall for better balance.

I bet Elvis never dreamed he’d be invoked as a model for efficient climbing movement!

You Can Do All Of The Things!

Rad Rifle Women: L- R Caitlin, Taz, Katie, Evana, Tracee, Sue, Michelle, and Jennifer. Rifle, CO. ©Elaina Arenz

“You can do ALL of the things. You can do ALL of the things.”

Fresh out of our Rifle, CO clinic, I repeat, “You can do all of the things!”

At Rifle, a group of rad women learned new skills and discovered strengths (and muscles) they never knew existed.

“You can do all of the things” encompassed everyone’s goal at Rifle because if you can do all of the things, you’ll be more confident and independent climbing partners.

Sue, back on the rock for the first time in 10 years, updated her past experience with current best practices. Rope gunning on Day 1, Sue continued to push herself through Day 3.

Caitlin and Evana are regular climbing partners. Together they learned how to project a climb at the edge of their ability. Taking turns, they tag-teamed to get the rope to the anchor. Along the way, they learned how to stick clip through moves that were too hard and to French free (pull on a draw) instead when possible.

Jennifer wanted to improve her climbing technique. Also, on lead from day 1, she successfully practiced opposition type movements.

Taz and Katie both walked away with the confidence to catch a lead fall. They also practiced mock leading to gain comfort and experience being on the sharp end.

Tracee has tons of alpine climbing and mountaineering experience. Her goal was to improve her rock climbing skills in order to move more quickly through technical sections in the mountains.Tracee mastered lead belaying with a GriGri and improved her footwork immensely.

Last but not least, we had Michelle. With tons of experience and knowledge, Michelle showed us her method for anchor cleaning and helped teach this skill—a great way to reinforce the knowledge. Michelle also worked on her lead head, took some practice falls, and was leading more confidently by the end of the weekend.

I and fellow AMGA Rock Guide, Tracy Martin facilitated this fun weekend of sport climbing in one of the nations best (and hardest) climbing areas.

The climbing in Rifle Canyon is amazing, the camping is super convenient and perhaps the best part is that the approaches are all of 5 minutes or less. Rilfe is the perfect place to advance your sport climbing skills, especially if you want to work on leading.

It was great to see the progress that each of these rad women made during three short climbing days. All of us at Chicks get so much satisfaction seeing women transform into confident climbing partners and leaders who can do all of the “things!”

Until next time,

Elaina

 

 

 

Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack | Gear We Use | Rock Climbing

Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack in use at the crag

Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack at the crag ©Elaina Arenz

I just discovered that my guy “borrowed” my Osprey Ultralight Dry Sacks for his expedition to Pakistan!

Now, not only have I lost my summer cragging partner, I’ve lost my trusty, adventure ditty bags!

Osprey Ultralight Dry Sacks (I call them ditty bags) have a roll down closure and a snap buckle so you can seal in whatever you like.

I use the 3L size for all the little day-at-the-crag items I may need: snacks, athletic tape, sunscreen, nail clippers, chap stick, belay glasses, and all other small items that get lost floating around inside my pack.

The sacks come in 5 sizes: 3L, 6L, 12L, 20L and 30L. I use the larger ones to organize bigger items like my quickdraws and anchor materials—when I keep all my stuff organized, I’m less likely to lose track of things and end up with missing gear.

I recommend that you get a few different colors so it’s even easier to stay organized. If you know which bag holds what, you’ll be ready to rock when you arrive at the crag.

Unless, of course, your partner finds them equally useful and makes off with them without you!

BTW, when you attend a Chicks Climbing or Skiing program you get a 3L Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack in yourWelcome Kit!

Grivel Air Tech Evolution aka Grivel “Evo” – Gear We Use | Alpine Climbing

Grivel Air Tech Evolution aka Grivel "evo" Ice Axe

“I can confidently say I’ve seen more alpine guides wielding the Grivel Air Tech Evolution than any other single alpine ice axe out there.”–Angela Hawse. ©Angela Hawse

Alpine climbing calls for lightweight gear for (just about) everything.

But for some routes, I won’t cut weight on tools. A solid, well-built ice axe is one of the few places where I’ll invest in grams. I need my swings to matter because my security must be as high as possible. I want confidence in my placements and the Grivel Air Tech Evolution gives me confidence. It’s always in my hand in the mountains where ice, neve, and rock is the norm.

For more technical routes like the North Ridge of Mt. Baker or the North Face of Mt. Shuksan you can pair the Evo with a technical hammer like the Grivel North Machine Carbon (with the hammer instead of adze). Together an Evo and a Machine make a fine set of tools for both low-angled glacier travel and steeper, “swinging” terrain.

Note: For ski mountaineering, when the conditions are all snow, I’ll often cut weight and use the Ghost Evo.

However, when climbing alpine ice and rock, I’ll always save weight elsewhere and invest my trust in the Evo, a tool made by a Grivel, who started making ice axes in 1818, over 200 years ago!

 

Alpine Butterfly Knot

alpine butterfly knot

Alpine Butterfly Knot. ©Elaina Arenz

The Alpine Butterfly Knot is primarily used to create an attachment point to the middle of a climbing rope in alpine or glaciated terrain.

However, for rock climbing the alpine butterfly knot is also great for isolating a bad section of rope and using the rope for the anchor.

The reason why an Alpine Butterfly is a good choice for the middle of the rope is that once it’s tied, the knot can be loaded in any direction. This makes it the perfect choice for roping up several people on one climbing rope—for crossing glaciers or other low-angle terrain that might be easy but where you still want security.

To clip into a butterfly knot it’s best practice to use a triple action carabineer designed to protect against cross loading like the Sterling Falcon Talon. Clip the bite of the butterfly knot to your belay loop.

As with any knot, it’s important that you can recognize a correctly tied knot. Be sure to dress it by pulling both strands tightly.

The simplest way to tie the Alpine Butterfly is the hand-wrap method. The advantages are:

  • Easy to tie while wearing gloves
  • You’ll consistently tie it correctly
  • Easy to untie after it’s been weighted

Check out this video demonstration of the Alpine Butterfly Hand-Wrap Method, watch it and then practice until you commit it to muscle memory. Remember, perfect practice makes perfect.

How Do You Know When You Know Enough?

Kitty Calhoun on the Cassin Ridge, Denali, AK 1985

Kitty Calhoun on the Cassin Ridge, 1985, Denali, AK.©Kitty Calhoun Collection

Many years ago I climbed Denali’s Cassin Ridge. I decided to climb the Cassin even though I had never climbed in Alaska before. And, although my partner had some Alaskan experience—he had climbed Denali’s West Rib— we were generally equal in climbing experience and ability.

Undertaking the Cassin was daunting. Yet, I knew that if I didn’t challenge myself, I would never learn and grow as a climber.

For me, success in climbing is all about strategy. For example, I diligently push myself little by little to build confidence, but I also understand that I’ll never know unless I give it a shot.

However, if you’ve been diligent, pushing boundaries little by little, then you should know enough to commit with confidence within your risk-tolerance level.

So how do you come to know enough?

  1. Start with climbs that are short and easy. Work up to longer, more technical, and more remote routes.
  2. Choose your partner(s) carefully. Even if your partner is more experienced, you must be able to exercise your own judgment. Be an active voice in all decisions. The best partners are team players with similar goals, time, money, and risk tolerance.
  3. Read all accounts of the climb. Study the best season, approach, gear, descent, possible challenges, and alternate routes or peaks. Also, make a plan in case of emergency or the need to evacuate.
  4. Carefully consider your equipment, food, fuel, first-aid kit, repair kit, communications devices, and permits. Poor preparation leads to poor performance.
  5. Be mindful. I’m always thinking, “What’s the worst thing that can happen and what are the chances?” If I’m willing to accept the risk, then I think through what I would do if things went wrong.After I have a plan, then I refocus on the next task at hand.
  6. Enjoy the experience and be open to whatever it has to teach you.

Patagonia Fleur Tank Top – Gear We Use | Rock Climbing

Kitty Calhoun, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, in her favorite summer climbing top: Patagonia Fleur tank top. ©Kitty Calhoun Collection

Kitty Calhoun, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, in her favorite summer climbing top: A Patagonia Fleur Tank Top. ©Kitty Calhoun Collection

My favorite top for summer climbing is a Patagonia Fleur Tank Top.

For summer climbing, I want something that is light, dries quickly (from sweat or rain), has a feminine cut, and is fun to wear.

Patagonia’s Fleur Tank Top stands out from other synthetic tops because it fits my favorite-summer-climbing-top bill perfectly.

Not only is it technical, functional and fashionable, the Fleur Tank is ultra-soft!  So it’s really fun to wear!

 

More Stand-Out Fleur Tank Top Facts:

 

  • The material is 89% recycled polyester made from recycled soda bottles, manufacturing waste, and worn-out clothing. Through Patagonia’s Worn-Wear program you can mail in your used gear for store credit!
  • It is Fair Trade Certified™ Fair Trade Certification helps guarantee health, safety, social, and environmental benefits for workers.
  • BLUESIGN Approved – All chemical processes, materials, and products used in the making of a Fluer Tank Top, have met safe standards for the environment, workers, and customers.

Who would have thought that so much could go into a shirt that is so simple and beautiful?

 

Climbing Outdoors | Tips for Outdoor Rock Climbing

Climbing Outdoors, Devil's Lake Climbing Clinic participants learning outdoor climbing anchor systems. Devil's Lake State Park, WI.

Devil’s Lake Climbing Clinic participants learning outdoor climbing anchor systems. Devil’s Lake State Park, WI.©Kitty Calhoun

One day I was climbing outdoors with a partner who was less experienced but physically very strong. I climbed first, putting up the draws and figuring out the moves.

Then, when it was my partner’s turn to lead she decided to start further right than I had. Even though the rock was more overhanging, the holds were bigger, so she thought the climbing would be easier.

However, when she got to the crux at the second bolt, she was completely pumped.  As she tried to clip she fell with the rope out. Luckily I was able to run downhill as she fell and take in slack quickly enough to keep her from hitting the ground.

If I had not been familiar with this outdoor climbing technique she could have cratered.

As summer rolls along and you look to outdoor climbing to test the movement skills and fitness that you’ve practiced and gained in the gym, please remember that there are a number of differences between indoor and outdoor climbing.

From Leave No Trace ethics, to reading the rock, to belay and anchor systems, to understanding the limitations of gear, outdoor climbing is not the same as indoor climbing!

We teach outdoor climbing skills and more at climbing Mecca’s across the country like Rifle, CO, Devil’s Lake, WI, Maple Canyon, UT, City of Rocks, ID, Red River Gorge, KY and others!

I encourage you to sign up now. Learn more about the nuances of climbing outdoors.

 

Climbing Outdoors – Tips for Outdoor Rock Climbing

  • Make sure your rope is long enough – Unlike the consistent height of a gym, natural cliffs are variable. One route can be longer than the next.  Either have the belayer tie into the end of the rope, or tie a knot into the end. This way the climber can’t get lowered off the end of the rope.
  • Someone should know how to set up and clean the anchor. In the climbing gym, you top-rope through fixed anchors. At the crag, it is not proper to top-rope through the fixed anchors because this causes undo wear on the anchor. Instead, it is expected that you will top-rope off of your own gear clipped to the anchor. Therefore, the first person has to set up the anchor and the last person has to clean it.
  • Practice clear communication. Verbalize your plans with your partner. Who will clean the anchor? Will they rappel or lower?
  • Learn to read a guidebook and recognize features like dihedrals and arêtes.
  • You need experience reading sequences on rock. The holds are not color-coded outside!
  • It is handy to know how to use a stick clip and also how to clean an overhanging route.
  • Be wary of loose rock – both leading and belaying. Know how to test the rock and how to use it if you must.  Know where to safely position yourself for the belay if there is rock fall hazard.

Re-mindfully yours!

Kitty Calhoun

Mobility Exercises for Performance and Injury Prevention | 15 Minutes of Mobility

Mobility Exercises for Performance and Injury Prevention – 15 Minutes of Mobility Exercises

 

Go-Go-Go!

“I know, I should go to yoga”

 

Today I want to stress the importance of a proper warm-up and mobility exercises. It is important to do 15 Minutes of Mobility both before AND after any activity. If you do 15 Minutes of Mobility in a mindful way, you’ll get 10x the gain from your workouts and you’ll get less injuries!

I call it “too-much-of-a-good-thing” syndrome.

We love climbing and skiing so much. These activities calm our minds and feed our souls. But too much repetitive movement can create structural imbalances. And left uncorrected, these imbalances can lead to pain and injury. In addition, most of us sit too much: 10 – 12  hours a day on average.

(If you don’t know by now, sitting is horrible for you:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005

https://www.washingtonpost.com/apps/g/page/national/the-health-hazards-of-sitting/750/

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-02/many-reasons-chair-killing-you)

So, even if you think you’re active, you probably sit too much. Even if you always exercise after work and hit it hard on the weekends–you still probably commute to work sitting, and drive a desk all day.

Loss of mobility causes pain whether it is in the back, neck, shoulders, or hips. Loss of mobility creates range-of-motion issues, muscle imbalances, and joint stress.

15 Minutes of Mobility Exercises

Doing these exercises will create a neuromuscular stimulus that turns on under-performing muscles and “chills-out” overactive muscles, increasing mobility over time.  

Execute the movements precisely. Stay in alignment. Build balanced strength. As a result you’ll be stronger and with the added benefit of decreasing your risk of injury.

Remember quality over quantity. Smarter, not harder, creates results.

(Don’t do any of these exercises if they cause pain.)

Before activity stretches should be dynamic: move in and out of the stretch, holding for 3 – 5 secs and repeat 10+ times.

After activity stretches should static: hold for 30+ sec to lengthen the muscle. Longer stretches fatigue muscles, so they shouldn’t be done before training or activity.

15 Minutes of Mobility

Upper body

Hold spine in neutral and core stable so that your back doesn’t arch.

If these are easy, lay on a bench or foam roller to increase available range of motion.

1) Chest Opener

chest opener exercise

15 Minutes of Mobility Exercises – chest opener

2) Elbows at Sides

mobility exercises - elbows at sides

15 Minutes of Mobility – elbows at sides

3) Overhead Reach

15 Minutes of Mobility – overhead reach

4) Shoulder Openers Video

Lower Body

For all stretches maintain a neutral lumbar spine and do not mash low back into floor

1) Single Leg Hamstring Stretch (Use squat rack or door jam.)

15 Minutes of Mobility – single leg hamstring stretch

2) Hip Opening 

hip opening mobility exercise

15 Minutes of Mobility – hip opening

3) Lying On Back Twist

mobility exercises - back lying twist

15 Minutes of Mobility – back lying twist

4) Hip flexor (lie on bench, bed or chair)

hip flexor mobility exercise

15 Minutes of Mobility – hip flexor stretch

5) Frog stretch

hip mobility exercise - frog stretch

15 Minutes of Mobility – frog stretch

6) Quad stretch

quad stretch

15 Minutes of Mobility – Quad Stretch

7) Calf stretch (Ideally on a ramp but a step will work as well.)

calf stretch exercise

15 Minutes of Mobility – calf stretch

 

Carolyn Parker

Founder, Instructor, Athlete, Mountain Guide

970-773-3317 work cell

Founder Ripple Effect Training

Coach for Uphill Athlete

AMGA Certified Rock Guide

Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor