Mammut Barryvox S Transceiver – Gear We Use

mammut barrivo s transceiver

Get stoked for winter with a new Mammut Barryvox S Transceiver.

Pop Quiz

  1. Should you face your transceiver towards your body, or away from your body?
  2. Why should you wear your avalanche transceiver under at least one layer of clothing?
  3. How far away from your transceiver should you carry any metals or electronics? (i.e cell phones, insulin pumps, go-pros).
  4. How full should your batteries be? 

Watch Kitty to get answers:

Avalanche Skills Checklist

backcountry skiers make a skin track used to emphasis avalanche skills checklist

How do you know if you know enough to recreate in a winter snowpack without a guide?  

There is no cut and dry answer but this Avalanche Skills checklist is a good start.

It can be risky business going out with confident friends. Choose your backcountry friends carefully!  This is a critical decision. Don’t be cavalier. Who will you leave the trailhead with? This goes for skiing, riding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ice climbing.

Bottom line – consequences are high.  Decisions in the backcountry can be the most important ones you may ever make.  The mountains don’t care.

To quote Jeremy Jones,

Some days the mountains are screaming “get out of here,” and some days the mountains are going, “come on in, it’s time to party.”  

You and your group need to be able to discern the difference. It is never black and white.

Here’s a baseline list of skill sets I consider crucial for any recreational backcountry enthusiast, friends and partners included:

Avalanche Skills Checklist

  • __I own and know how to use avalanche safety equipment: transceiver, shovel and probe.
    • __I understand and I practice all my avalanche transceiver functions.
    • __I know how far away from my transceiver I have to carry my other electronic devices.
    • __I can check my partner’s transceiver at the trailhead and not miss any steps.
    • __I know how to probe and I practice probing.
    • __I know how to shovel and I practice shoveling.
  • __I do two or three companion-rescue drills every winter.
    • __I can find a buried transceiver in less than 5 minutes.
  • __I can identify avalanche terrain on small and large slopes.
    • __I carry an inclinometer and know how to check slope angle.
    • __I know the correct answer to the following true/false questions*:
      • __Avalanches can occur on slopes less than 30 degrees.
      • __Most avalanches occur on slope angles of 36 to 38 degrees.
      • __Lower-angled slopes can be connected to steeper slopes that pose risk.
      • __Slab avalanches are the most dangerous type of avalanche.
      • __Wind can increase avalanche danger.
      • __9 out of 10 avalanches are triggered by someone in the party.
      • __An avalanche-burial victim has 15 minutes before odds for survival decrease dramatically.
  • __ I have bookmarked my local weather and avalanche forecasts and I read them.
  • __ I’m unafraid to ask:
    • __Do you have avalanche training?
    • __Have you taken an avalanche rescue course?
    • __What’s the plan?
    • __What won’t we ski?
    • __Can we agree to evaluate a slope before anyone skis it, even if we’ve skied it before?
    • __If anyone feels uncomfortable with any slope, can we agree that we won’t ski it?
    • __What’s in your pack?
    • __Who has a first aid kit?
    • __Do you have a working communication device, repair kit and tarp or emergency blanket?
    • __Is your avalanche airbag functioning and is the handle ready to deploy?
  • __I have visited Know Before You Go.org and watched the 15-Minute General Audience Avalanche Awareness video.
  1. Get the Gear
  2. Get the Training
  3. Get the Forecast
  4. Get the Picture
  5. Get Out of Harm’s Way

*(All answers are true.)

Click on the following links for more information:

Chicks | Avalanche – Silverton Avalanche School Courses

Mammut Barryvox S Transceiver – Stoked For Winter Pop Quiz | Gear We Use

22 Years of Avalanche Fatalities | Ice Climbers At Risk

Snow Safety Epiphany

group of women ski touring as it relates to my snow safety epiphany

It was my second season backcountry skiing that I had a snow-safety epiphany. 

Until then, I’d been privileged with a strong group of experienced skiing partners, both male and female, to follow around.

On the day of my snow-safety epiphany, I happened to be backcountry skiing with a group of seven men. I was the only female. All day, I asked questions, “Why are we going this way? What are you thinking?” I had no idea. But nobody answered me. Instead, suddenly, one of the guys would take off, and the rest would fall behind him… “What?” Wait! I’d follow along, wondering what the heck?

But the kicker for me was that the guys had also invited a friend who had limited skiing experience. I had limited backcountry experience, but I’d been skiing my whole life. Our goal that day was a committing, 4000-foot, ski mountaineering objective. Not only was our friend a novice skier, he was hung-over, had limited water and no food. 

I stressed about our friend all day, meanwhile the guys laughed. I thought, “Great. If he breaks his leg, then what? He doesn’t even have enough water. What if he bonks?”

Later, the sun suddenly fell behind the ridge as I stood below and watched him face-plant. A humid wind pushed down the slope and met me in the face. And, I promised myself, from then on, that I’d gain the skills and knowledge to answer my own questions.

The next day I signed up for a weekend avalanche course at Brighton, Utah. And I talked to my friend and skiing partner, Julie. Together we committed to take a 3-Day Avalanche course in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Click on the following links for more information:

Chicks | Avalanche – Silverton Avalanche School courses

Angela’s Avalanche Skills Checklist

‘Tis the Season for Avalanche Training

Alana Chapko | Guide – Chicks Climbing

Alana Chapko alpine climbing in the North Cascades, Washington

Lani Chapko alpine climbing in the North Cascades, Washington

“The mountains don’t care who you are or what you look like, only that you give them every ounce of your strength.”

Alana Chapko, preferably called Lani, grew up in Seattle, Washington with the North Cascades as a backdrop, then moved to California to pursue an engineering degree at Harvey Mudd College. Between classes and through weekend excursions she fostered a love for climbing and adventure. Upon graduation, Lani decided to pursue a career of guiding and hasn’t looked back since.

Lani has traveled all across the western US, Nepal, and South America, to pursue dream lines and big adventures. One of her most memorable adventures came as she accomplished a goal partially funded by the Live Your Dream Grant from the American Alpine Club.

“We were on day two approaching a climb in the Northern Picket Range. Most of the day it felt like we were in a snow globe, when all of a sudden the clouds cleared and the most terrifyingly beautiful buttress appeared before us.”

Adventures like the one in the Northern Picket Range are the reason Lani returns to the mountains time and again. Lani is a true lover of type II fun. Whether that’s navigating storm conditions or trying hard up ice lines,

“What better way to achieve [type II fun] than climbing hard in the mega cold?”

 

Beyond the joy of trying hard in trying conditions, Alana Chapko (Lani!) loves the camaraderie of mountain environments.

“Nothing brings people together like shared experiences in the mountains. Some of my most memorable experiences guiding haven’t been on the summit, but seeing participants push themselves beyond what they thought possible.”

The idea of possibility isn’t always reaching the summit–sometimes it’s mastering a new skill or climbing higher than expected. Lani thrives when she’s helping others realize they can push beyond their constructed possibility.

“Pushing myself and learning from it is something I enjoy about climbing. It’s something I love helping students realize as well.”

Lani is relatable, which is why so many folks enjoy working with her. She grew up with a fear of heights that prevented her from even jumping off the diving board, but now she loves spending nights in a portaledge 1,000 feet off the ground.

“Climbing is a constant battle with fear, and some days I overcome it, other days I don’t. It’s an aspect of climbing I love, and it keeps me trying harder because of it.” 

Lani also has a built-out van that she travels around in. She always brings tea on her expeditions. She is planning a bucket-list trip to Chile and Patagonia. And, she is still learning how to enjoy a proper rest day!

When we asked Lani why she was excited to guide all-women’s clinics she told us one of the most important things she’s realized in mountain environments is gaining respect from your partners, whether their male or female.

“I think the best way to gain respect from your partners is to first fully believe in your own abilities and knowledge.

All-women’s clinics provide a great space to build confidence in your own abilities and bring that confidence to your adventures and life.”

Grabber Toe Warmers – Gear We Use

Early season on the Mer de Glace with Grabber Toe Warmers in our boots. Chamonix, France. ©Karen Bockel.

Early season on the Mer de Glace with Grabber Toe Warmers in our boots. Chamonix, France. ©Karen Bockel.

 

It’s early winter and my body hasn’t adjusted to the cold yet.

I have to convince myself to get out and do things like ice climbing when my body still remembers warm, sunny rock. So, I grumble and pack lots of layers.

But, layers won’t suffice for my feet!

I always struggle to keep my feet warm whether I’m climbing or skiing.

Over the years, I’ve tried heated insoles and boot-warmers but neither seemed to work.

Thus, to keep my feet warm, my fallback has become Grabber’s Toe Warmers.

Grabber’s toe warmers are simple. They’re easy to apply, they last all day and they’re affordable. Even more important, they can’t break like some electrical contraption.

Grabber Toe Warmers are consistent and reliable.

Specially designed to function in low-space, low-oxygen environments like inside boots, they are ultra thin so they don’t affect toe space.  Stick the adhesive side of the D-shaped package to your socks and they’ll stay in place, warming your toes for over 6 hours. Of course, they’re not like toasty mukluks! But that’s not the point. The point is that they keep my feet from getting numb and damaged from the cold.

 

3 Pro Tips To Using Grabber Toe Warmers Effectively:

  1. Install the packets before leaving the house!
  2. Open the package and let some warm air on the packets before applying!
  3. Stick the packets on top of your toes rather than underneath!

 

How Rock Climbing Relates To Ice Climbing

Chicks ice climbing clinic participant demonstrates how rock climbing relates to ice climbing by hanging on a straight arm

Amy, Chicks Ouray, Ice Climbing participant climbing with her shoulders down and her arm straight. Ouray Ice Park, Ouray, Colorado. ©Kitty Calhoun.

Rock climbing relates to ice climbing in many different ways.

The following 4 tips will get you into the swing of things – from rock climbing to ice climbing.

Rock Climbing Relates to Ice Climbing when you Relax Your Grip

Rock climbing relates to ice climbing in that you don’t want to over grip. In ice climbing, just like rock climbing, over-gripping wastes energy. Worse, over-gripping when ice climbing squeezes the blood out of your fingers (making for cold hands). And over-gripping stiffens your wrists so your tools won’t roll off your hands properly when you swing.

Keep Shoulders Down and Arms Straight

Keeping your shoulders down and your arms straight helps you conserve energy on both ice and rock. When your shoulders are down and your arms are straight, you use your skeletal system for support instead of using precious muscle energy. Don’t hold on with bent arms! Straighten your elbows and hang off your shoulders so that your shoulder blades are pinned down your back.

Keep Your Elbows In

You don’t want chicken wings on rock or ice. Chicken-wings happen when your elbows aren’t in line with the front of your shoulder. When your elbows are out of line (maybe up by your ears!), your shadow will look like a strange cactus. Whether you’re on rock or ice, keep your elbows close to your center and not chicken winging out. Keep your elbows in when you’re ice climbing and you’ll get more powerful swings and better sticks.

And Rock Climbing Relates to Ice Climbing When You Make Eye Contact

Your attention goes wherever your eyes go when you’re rock climbing or ice climbing. Don’t take your eyes off the sweet spot when you place your foot or swing. And don’t squint. If you look away, or squint, you’re more likely to miss your mark. Keep your eyes on the prize when you’re ice climbing and you’ll be able to see if your tool’s teeth have engaged after you’ve struck the ice, or not!

Happy Swinging!

For more ice climbing specific technique and training beta check out:

Cramponing Technique, by Ice Climbing Guru and Lead Chicks Ice Climbing guide, Lindsay Fixmar.

Swing! Training For Ice Climbing, by AMGA Rock Guide and Founder Ripple Effect Training, Carolyn Parker

It Takes 20 Hours To Learn A New Skill

It takes 20 hours of practice to become skilled enough to enjoy a new activity

Chicks Ouray, Ice Climbing 3-Day clinic participant progressing on steep ice in the Ouray Ice Park, Ouray, Colorado. ©Angela Hawse.

It takes 20 hours, not 10,000 hours to learn a skill.

Last week I stood on the beach in Kauai and jealously watched kids catch small waves on their surfboards.

Even as they fell off their boards they laughed. But, I hesitated.

Why start now?” I asked. Surfing has a slow learning curve and requires regular practice. I only get to do this once a year.

My friends beckoned from the waves and called, “The conditions are perfect!”

“Okay,” I thought, “I have to work up to this. I can’t be afraid.”  I had no illusions that I’d figure out how to catch and ride a wave in the hour before sunset.

Kneeling on my board, I let a few waves pass under me. Then I paddled as hard as I could, my friends yelling, “Paddle! Paddle! Paddle!”

“Holy S—!” I rode the wave into shore like a big kid.

Musing over my surfing misgivings, I came across an interesting interview, Josh Kaufmen: It Takes 20 hours, Not 10,000 Hours To Learn a Skill, by Dan Schawbel.

Most of us are deeply disturbed at the prospect of being horrible at something, even temporarily. When you try something new, you’re usually very bad, and you know it. The easiest way to eliminate that feeling of angst is to quit practicing and go do something else, so that’s what most of us do.

The early hours of trying something new are always challenging, but a little persistence can result in huge increases in skill. The human brain is optimized to pick up new skills extremely quickly.”

It turns out it takes 10,000 hours to reach the top of competitive fields. However, for most of us, the aim is not the top of a field but to be skilled enough or proficient enough to enjoy an activity.

Kaufmen’s research suggests people can usually reach a level where they can have fun in just 20 hours of “deliberate practice.” Deliberate practice is marked by targeting performance levels, breaking skills down into smaller parts and practicing the most important, or “base” skills first.

At Chicks, our gold standard is the 3-day (24 hours of climbing) course.

Learn where you are in your progression of skills on our Ice Climbing Levels page.

Sterling – Sustainable Rope | Gear We Use – Chicks Climbing and Skiing

Sterling Sustainable Rope is about Sterling's rope recycling program

I am proud to shout out about Sterling’s Sustainable Rope Recycling Program.

Over 95% of the raw fiber Sterling purchases to make ropes goes into the final product. Everything else gets repurposed or recycled.

In 2018 Sterling used 1,110,832 lbs. of fiber to make ropes. That produced 73,649 lbs. of scrap, flat fiber and twisted fiber.  Sterling sold 100% of the scrap fiber to other manufacturers to use as was, or to melt down into pellets.

A partner company recycled 1,800 lbs. of used or damaged rope into their product line. And, Sterling sold 10,000 lbs. of prime shorts. Prime shorts are shorter-length, first-quality ropes–left over after regular inventory ropes are cut to length. Prime short lengths traditionally go to waste.

In total, Sterling recycled or sold 90,249 lbs. of potential waste into prime shorts, rope ends, used rope and recycled fiber.

Over 10 years ago, Sterling started their Rope Recycling Program. They take back any used dynamic rope, from any manufacturer and either up-cycle or recycle it. Some of this goes into art, dog leashes, hand bags and non-life-safety products. What isn’t upcycled is sent to a recycling company that chops the rope up, then sends the fibers to manufacturers making products like carpeting, action figures, key chains and skateboards to name a few.

Retired climbing ropes make great gifts for friends who are boaters, make art or have other non-safety utility needs. Don’t let your used climbing rope end up in the landfill. Send it back to Sterling Rope and give it a second life or insure it’ll be recycled as it should be.

Sterling Rope Sustainability Link:  https://sterlingrope.com/sustainability

Strength Training For Backcountry Skiing

strength Training for backcountry skiing helps Angela Hawse make perfect turns in Iceland

Strength Training For Backcountry Skiing helps Angela Hawse, Co-Owner Chicks Skiing make perfect turns. Iceland, 2019

Hey Skiing Chicks!

I hope you enjoyed last month’s training tip: Uphill Training for Backcountry Skiing workout because now it’s time to add in strength for the downhill skiing part.

After a month of building uphill stamina in your legs and lungs, we need to build a reserve of strength and power for the downhill.

All the exercises in this Downhill Training for Backcountry Skiing workout link to videos of the movements. The full workout takes just over an hour with a few minutes extra for cool down. As always, if you’re unsure about a movement, hire a professional coach. A coach can help you train properly and stay injury free.

Ideally, plan strength workouts after rest days and one or two times a week, depending on your time and your fitness.

Commit to this workout 1-2 days a week for 4-6 weeks and enjoy the benefits come December! (Or whenever ski season begins for you.)

Strength Training For Backcountry Skiing Workout:

Warm up:

10:00 mins row, run, ski erg etc.

2 x 8 Shoulder openers

2 x 5 Cuban press

3 x 5 Wall squat 

2 x 5 Squat jump

Then:

Find your weight and box of appropriate height.

5x

5 Goblet Squat + 8 Box Jump @ 12 – 24” (If no box available you can substitute jump with a KB swing.)

Then:

5x

60 sec wall sit with a weight in your lap (medicine ball or slam ball work well)

30 secs split jumps

Rest 60 secs

Then:

3x

10x Push up

10x Leg lower

Cool down with light aerobic work and mobility:

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

If you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me at:

carolyn@rippleffectraining.com

970-773-3317

 

Carolyn Parker

Founder, Instructor, Athlete, Mountain Guide

Founder Ripple Effect Training

AMGA Certified Rock Guide

Coach for Uphill Athlete
Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor

Bring It! – Ski Season

Karen bockel and friends during 2019 ski season on the Zermatt to Chamonix haute route

Karen Bockel, Co-Owner Chicks Skiing with Chicks enjoying 2019 ski season on Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route. ©Karen Bockel Collection.

It’s November and the ski season is chasing us down in big steps—

The high mountains glow with their white slopes. I’ve had to scrape my windshield a couple times. And I drove through a snowstorm coming back from my last climbing trip in the desert Southwest. Some ski areas have announced early openings.

Bring it!

I feel like a kid (almost!) at the beginning of every new winter, barely able to contain my excitement. And, why not, it is FUN to be excited!

Time to go into the basement, dig out the ski gear, give my boards a fresh coat of wax, put new batteries in my beacon, fill the backpack with shovel, probe and extra layers.

Then, I’ll have to wait some more. Because it isn’t actually time to go skiing yet, at least not out-of-bounds or in the backcountry.

I don’t go into the backcountry much in early season conditions because I find it too dangerous. Thinly hidden obstacles like rocks and roots could end my ski season in a hurry. So I wait patiently until there’s a bit of a base on the ground. I might take a few laps on a groomer at the ski area just to hold me over until the backcountry games begin. And when they do, backcountry skiing is about the best thing on earth.

So, be patient. And then, have fun!

If you need a little help with the fun part, come join us for an early-season Avalanche Rescue Course. 1-day Avalanche Rescue Courses are essential for backcountry newbies and as refreshers for experienced backcountry travelers. They’re a fantastic way to kick-start the ski season.

If you are just starting out in the backcountry, Chicks has a 1-day Intro to Backcountry Skills in January and a Backcountry Hut Trip in February.

If you’ve got some backcountry experience and are looking for a mind-blowing, powder-skiing extravaganza, come join us in Hokkaido, Japan.