Game On

Kitty Calhoun climbing Filo e ferru, 6c+. Cala Luna, Sardina, Italy.

My climbing partner, Pete, and my son, Grady, and I are competitors.

The first one to redpoint a route on lead gets to win.

Though I’m younger, Pete is stronger and a foot taller.  Pete and I have been climbing for decades. Grady has only been excited about climbing for a year—but he’s 23 and when climbing he reminds me of a racecar going full speed until he runs out of gas!

The other day we were projecting a short, powerful climb.

First, I belayed as Pete methodically linked all the moves on top rope.

Then I fell off the crux again and again. I felt like beating my head against the rock.  Near the end of summer, I always feel like time is running out.

I needed to make a powerful twist-lock move to reach a pocket. I’d visualized the move over and over. But I kept falling.

“This is a dumb game,” I thought.

Then Pete said, “Try the twist-lock from the hold at your chest instead.”  I started to say, “Yeah, but…” Yet it sounded like he really believed I could do it, so I had to try. To my surprise, his suggestion worked and I found myself miraculously making the reach.

Then Pete led.  The higher he led, the more sure he became. At the chains he was practically floating.

Back on the ground, Pete caught my eye and handed me the rope. “You can do this,” he said matter-of-factly.

Inspired by his support, I tied in. My friends Elaina, Diane and Nikki were there too and they encouraged me.

With Pete’s beta I climbed the crux without falling and sent the route. Grady gave up a whole-hearted cheer.

Later, at the Cheesecake Factory, I raised a toast. “As much as I learned from The Game, the greatest pleasure is sharing, talking and experiencing climbing with my competitors.”

A Love Letter to My Black Diamond Magnetron Gridlock Carabiner

Chicks Chamonix Alumna Kristy Lamore clipped in with the BD Magnetron after a successful summit of the Eiger. ©Karen Bockel

 

My dear Magnetron Gridlock,

You hold my heart (and my life).

Despite the pain—we’ve had a tough relationship at times—I want you to know that you are so important to me.

Many of my climbing partners and guests, mostly those who haven’t met you before, don’t like you at first. They get frustrated when they have to perform fifteen maneuvers to install you on their harnesses. Then they get disdainful when they have to re-learn how to correctly load the belay device with the rope.

It’s true; there’s a steep getting-to-know phase with you. One must learn how to squeeze your magnetic lock buttons between thumb and forefinger. Then one must learn how to hold the gate open in such a way as to easily install the “cradle” on the belay loop.

However, after the getting-to-know phase everybody finds you easier and faster than any other locking carabiner mechanism out there (especially when wearing gloves!).

Magnetron Gridlock I trust you completely.

Your locked gate does not pinch the rope.

You stay oriented in the best loading position. When I go sport climbing you hold my belay device so steadily that I can focus completely on feeding the rope to my climbing partner.

You never accidentally open your gate. This trait of yours I am particularly grateful for on my glacier travels. Other carabiners can jostle open during glacier travel but you, Magnetron Gridlock, hold my rope securely for hours on end.

You never let me down. Only once some water got into your gate mechanism and froze momentarily, but it was quickly resolved.

You are beautiful.

You are light on my harness.

Your metal stock allows the rope to run smoothly over your rounds.

Your design fits well into my hand for either for operating belay devices or rope grabs.

You’re always there for me. I could not ask for more from a locking carabiner.

Yours truly,

Karen

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Rest Is Best

Relax. ©Carolyn Parker

It’s August and rock climbing season is in full swing.

It’s a good time for a mid-season check in.

I always check in with my athletes before we start training. I check in to make sure they aren’t working around pain or discomfort.

Recently a young, strong athlete came into my gym for her training session. Let’s call her Lucy.

When I checked in with Lucy, she sheepishly admitted that her shoulder had flared up again—it felt irritated, like her old injury was coming back.

Lucy also admitted to tripling up on strength training, adding a fingerboard workout, and lots of rock climbing. She was motivated and pushing hard because she had just “sent” her first 5.12.

However, Instead of continuing with her training session, I sent Lucy home. What Lucy really needed was to take a week off and to get a massage. I also explained to her the importance of learning to “listen” to her body.

Learning to listen to what your body is telling you is the most effective path to continued improvement.

Lucy did as I recommended and I’m happy to report she is now back on track, pain free.

The problem of not listening to our bodies arises because it is too much fun getting stronger, progressing, and climbing well. We get attached to the fun.

However, our bodies need to rest and recover and they start to send us messages when it’s time. It’s best to listen and not ignore these signs.

Why do we need rest and when?

Stress is stress: training stress, work stress, general life stress. All stress needs to be balanced with adequate sleep, good nutrition, time with friends, and time for you. I cycle all my athletes through harder and easier weeks, tapering before big events or climbs, and active recovery weeks afterward.

Most of us love to continue to do what we love to do. However, in order to continue to do what we love without getting injured, we must rest and recover. Also, the best path to continuing to get better, fitter, faster, stronger, is through rest and deep recovery.So, if you haven’t taken appropriate rest, gotten a massage, spent time on deep recovery now may be the time!

Schedule some you-time, take a nap, eat some vegetables, laugh with a friend and attend to any aches or pains before they become an injury that shuts you down.

Until next time!

All my best,

Carolyn

 

Contact me for further training information and programming @

Carolyn Parker

carolyn@rippleffectraining.com

970-773-3317

Founder Ripple Effect Training

We Joined

We are proud to announce that we have joined the UNFCCC’s Sports for Climate Action initiative as a signatory to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework.

This UN initiative acknowledges the contribution of sports organizations to climate change and our responsibility to actively and collectively strive towards climate neutrality.

As a signatory, Chicks Climbing and Skiing has committed to get on track for the net-zero emissions economy of 2050, in line with the aim of the Paris Agreement.

Through collective action and bold leadership, we have the power to make this fast and drastic transformation.  By signing the Framework, we have demonstrated our commitment to playing our part to ensure the sports sector is on the path to a low-carbon future.

In line with the five core principles enshrined in the Framework and the aims of the Paris Agreement, Chicks Climbing and Skiing will strive to:

  • promote greater environmental responsibility;
  • reduce the overall climate impact from sports;
  • use our platform to educate for climate action;
  • promote sustainable and responsible consumption; and
  • advocate for climate action through our communications.

Speaking at the launch event for the Framework, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa explained that sports organizations and athletes are in a unique position in the race against climate change “because sports touches on every cross-section of society”.

With this in mind, we hope our commitment will inspire our fans, community and government to raise their climate ambition in a united effort to limit global warming to 1.5oC.  This is a race we can—and must—win to avoid significantly worsening the risk of droughts, floods, extreme heat, increased mountain hazards and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

For the love of mountain sport we hope our leadership in joining this initiative will inspire a team spirit amongst our community to take action and responsibility for our own climate footprint.

Stay tuned for tech tips on how Chicks is working to reduce our carbon footprint, raise awareness and offset the footprint of our programs.

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.