Now, It’s Like This

Now, its like this. Remembering the view from tent on Mt Baker

“View from my tent looking up towards the North Ridge of Mt Baker. Note my toes are blue from nail polish, not from the pounding they received.” ©Elaina Arenz Collection.

Right now, it’s like this. I’m spring cleaning. As I clean, I think about the time I climbed the North Ridge of Mt Baker and what I learned.

On the descent,

the sun cast filtered patterns in front of me. It tricked my eyes as I plodded along. Placing one foot in front of the other, I lost count of my steps and started counting over, again. One, inhale. Two, exhale. Three, inhale. Four, exhale. And on, and on.

My feet were barking, like angry dogs. My toes were especially pissed, they were cramping and it felt like my toes were trying to flee into separate corners of my boots. I’d have given anything to stop and take my boots off––to let my toes be free. 

But stopping wasn’t an option. A glacier is no place to stop and take your boots off and I still had a lot of ground to cover. Before too long the sun would plunge, leaving me in the shadows of the Cascade Mountain range spread out all around me. It was a long way down to our high camp, and longer still to the trailhead. 

My only option was to keep calm, breathe and march on.

I turned my mind back to my breath, focusing on in and out. As a Warrior’s Way Trainer, I knew that I needed to keep my attention in the moment, on the task. The task was to put one foot in front of the other and focus on the quality of my breath. 

In moments of stress, my mind tries to escape from the discomfort. I start wishing, hoping and willing for the situation to be different. But I know, rationally, that wishing and hoping is a waste of energy. I know there’s no escaping the present moment. I kept on, marching down from the summit of Mt Baker.

Now, in the midst of the pandemic,

I know that I have no choice but to take things one day––one step––at a time. Worrying about the future is like succumbing to barking, angry feet and stopping on the glacier. Wishing the current situation was different won’t change anything. All I can do is deal with it the best way I know. I know I need to stay focused on the task and breathe. Right now the task is spring cleaning. You wouldn’t believe how organized my gear room and my closets are!

To reward myself for my spring cleaning efforts, I’m teaching myself how to play the acoustic guitar. My mind commands my fingers to contort themselves into different shapes to play the chords. I strum the strings. My forearm cramps. The guitar twangs sharply––it’s barking at me. I take a deep breath and slowly let it out. I place my fingers on the frets and strum, again. Again and again, until I get it right.

Right now, it’s like this.

Isolation Photos and Stories – What Are You Doing?

Karen Bockel Isolation photo of slackening in backyard

Karen Bockel, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, isolation photo – slacklining under strict confinement in Chamonix, France. ©Karen Bockel Collection.

Do you have isolation photos and stories?

We’re living in crazy, unprecedented times: told not to climb or backcountry ski, not do anything risky, to take precaution to a whole new level, to stay home while businesses shutter their doors for the unforeseeable future. 

For most of us spring is a season when we’d otherwise be shooting down couloirs in prime conditions or scurrying to the desert as winter turns to summer.

Instead, we’ve canceled or rescheduled our plans with a big, fat TBD.

It’s a tough pill to swallow, especially for those who find respite, calm and mental stillness in our planet’s most wild places.

At Chicks, we’re taking moments to slow down and virtually connect.

Like Angela said in her recent What Inspires You Now? post, “As we self-isolate and social distance from each other, I’m reminded how Chicks serves as a foundation of treasured relationships and shared experiences.”

We’d love to know what you’re doing in this strange time. What are your self-isolation, quarantine and social distancing stories? We’d love to see photos. Are you training? Any good books or games? How do you feel?

To be honest, we’re feeling pretty low. We’re missing connection.

Can we share your photos and stories with our community on Instagram, Facebook and our website?

We’re all in this together. Even though we’re apart, it’s important to know that we’re not alone. And, when all of this is over we’ll be stronger and more psyched than ever.

Please email us at with isolation photos and post stories for us here!

A huge Thank You in advance from all of us here at Chicks.

GU Roctane Electrolyte Capsules – Little caps of gold

.GU Rocktane Electrolyte Capsules

Despite the fact that being confined has changed my outdoor life and my energy output and intake, I’ve found I still need GU Roctane Electrolyte Capsules.

Normally, this time of year, I spend long days in the mountains. As I traverse from ski hut to ski hut, I’m out for hours and hours at high altitude. Instead, this year, I’m limited to an hour of hiking or running near my house.

Needless to say, the energy I’m spending is very different—balancing on my slackline doesn’t quite burn the same calories as climbing a 14,000-foot peak … In order to balance reduced activity levels, I’ve also had to change my eating habits.

What I’ve found is that when things are so out of the ordinary, it’s hard to keep track of all the changes. For example, I started to notice some leg and foot cramps in the evenings and at night. What was I missing? Thinking about it, I realized that despite lower activity levels, I was short on minerals.

Enter GU Roctane Electrolyte Capsules packed with sodium, magnesium and chloride, as well as vitamin D. These little caps of gold are easily absorbed with a glass of water. Confined or unconfined I find they really help maintain electrolyte balance in my body. I find them especially practical in hot conditions, when I might become dehydrated more quickly. Also, over the years I’ve found the Rocktane Electrolyte caps are a good addition to other GU hydration and nutrition products, like for example, the recovery drink that I use frequently.

Thank you Gu! Rocktane Electrolytes have cleared up my leg and foot cramps. Now it’s time for a run. And then back to the stack of books I finally have the opportunity to read!

Slackline – Build a Homemade Garden Slackline

Karen Bockel practicing on her slackline

“I started walking on my slackline while it was still touching the ground and it was hard enough!” ©Karen Bockel Collection.

How to Build Something from Almost Nothing…

Currently, you can’t go to the gym. There’s no outdoor climbing.

How can you work on your balance?

Add a homemade, garden slackline to your home training/entertainment regime!

Luckily, using less-than-perfect materials for a slackline is ok––just keep it close to the ground. If anything fails, the consequences might be a few bruises but nothing catastrophic.

Now, here is what you need to build a slackline from almost nothing:


Most important, you’ll need two strong trees at least 12” in diameter. Strong trees are important because you’ll put them under a lot of tension. Also, the trees need to be a reasonable distance apart. For beginners, a shorter distance apart (like 20’) is a good starting place.


The best anchor material is 1” webbing, or other flat stock material, like sewn slings. Webbing is better than cord because it has more surface area. More surface area spreads out the force and reduces pressure on the tree bark (to not to kill the poor trees!). Alternatively, you could use an old rope. Wrapping the rope several times around the tree will help spread the pressure and reduce wear on the bark.

Whatever you decide to use, you’ll need two long lengths: one, long enough to wrap around the first tree; another to wrap around the second tree.

Total, you will need four to five, the bigger the better, carabiners. Locking is good, but not required.


A static rope is ideal. However, I don’t have a static rope and most likely you don’t either, so you can use a retired climbing rope like I did. Find Rules for Rope Care and Longevity Here.


For your block-and-tackle tensioning system you’ll need a cordelette/long prusik cord. Or, you could use old rope here too. However, static cord is preferred in this application. In order to get tension out of a rope, you’ll have to pull the stretch out first. Static cord transfers more power.

Other Stuff

You’ll need twine or string to tie the two strands of your slackline together.

A pulley or pulleys are not strictly necessary but can be helpful. Two pulleys are even better, if you have two.

Putting the Slackline Together

Build the Anchors

The first step in building your low-tech, garden slackline is to build single-point anchors on each tree.

Whatever material you chose, make sure to use a double wrap. Then, spread the material out if you’re using webbing or add an extra wrap if you’re using rope or cord. Next, tie an overhand knot with all of the loops together and clip a carabineer through the loops to create an anchor point.

In the photos, I’m using quadruple-length, green slings for my tree anchors. Since these are sewn slings, I did not need to tie a knot. Instead, I wrapped the sling around the tree and clipped into each end instead. You can see that the oval, locking carabineer that creates one of the anchor points (3rd photo down) is slightly cross-loaded because the tree is so fat!single point anchor on a tree

Install the Slackline

In order to make the line, double your old rope by folding it in half.

Next tie a big overhand knot on a bight somewhere close to the folded end. Clip both strands of the resulting overhand-on-a-bight to the anchor of one of the trees.

overhand on a bight clipped to the anchor

Now tie another overhand-on-a-bight in the doubled rope about 6’-8’ from the second tree and clip a spare carabiner through the bight. The remaining 6’-8’ feet will be for your block-and-tackle tensioning system.

Create a Block-and-Tackle Tensioning System

Whatever material you use, cord or rope, tie an overhand knot on one end. Clip the overhand into the anchor on the second tree. Now run the cord back to the unattached end of the slackline and clip it through the attached carabiner. Then run the cord back to the tree anchor. Clip/re-direct it again and then run it back to the slackline again. Here you can add a pulley if you have one. Putting the rope through a pulley here, instead of simply through the carabiner reduces friction. Continue by running the cord back to the tree anchor. Repeat until there are three loops (or six strands) and you are at the tree anchor.

tied off block and tackle


Now, call all your family members and pull on the end to get as much tension as possible. Since this system has no progress capture, once the line is tight, you’ll need to hold on while you simultaneously tie a munter hitch and clip it to the anchor. If you have one, it’s practical to add a new carabiner here just for the munter. Finally, tie a mule hitch around all the strands and secure it all with an overhand. This should keep your tension system tight. At the same time, you can release it anytime should the need occur.

Final Details

Wrap the twine around the two strands of rope that configure the slackline. This helps keep them together to form a wider platform. After all, you’re going to try to walk on this thing!

twine holding the two rope strands together

Test the tension of your line. If it touches the ground, you’ll need to heave on the block-and-tackle some more. Pull hard!

A line that is just barely off the ground, right in the middle, is a good place to start for beginner slackers like myself. Also, don’t make the line too high. Keep it below crotch height (for obvious reasons).

Not So Pro Tip:

I started walking on my slackline while it was actually still touching the ground and it was hard enough!

Black Diamond Z Poles Changed my World

Jay Smith crossing a steam in Indian using Black Diamond Z poles for balance

Kitty’s husband, Jay, using Kitty’s Black Diamond Z poles to cross a stream in India” ©Kitty Calhoun.

Back in the day,

as a young, pure minimalist climber, I scoffed at mountaineers using trekking poles.

“Why buy poles, much less carry them into the mountains, if I have strong legs?” I thought.

Then, during one particularly shameful trip to the mountains, my attitude towards poles changed quickly.

It all started on the approach

when a swollen stream barred our way to base camp. Rapidly melting snow almost completely submerged all the boulders with raging water. In high alpine terrain above tree-line, there were no tree branches to make into makeshift poles.  Sheepishly, I accepted my partner’s pole when she handed it back to me after crossing.

Later, high on the mountain while breaking trail through unconsolidated snow, I swallowed my pride again and used her pole to push up through each collapsing step.

But, the way down was what tipped me. Loaded with a full pack, my partner used her pole for support and balance to make light work of the tedious, quad-burning descent.

This made me so jealous, I got my own: Black Diamond Z Trekking poles.

Now I take my Z poles with me all the time. I take them on backcountry ice climbs, mountaineering trips, rock climbs with long approaches, long hikes and mountain runs.

My favorite Black Diamond Z poles are the Distance Z Trekking/Running Poles. I love these poles because they break down to fit in my duffle bag. They are light, durable and easily adjustable. They are also the most affordable of the Black Diamond Z poles. Even better, they’ve been upgraded with Slide Lock technology. Slide Lock Technology makes them easy to adjust and increases the strength of the joint support by 30%.

Now I smile at the young minimalists on the trail without poles. And, I wonder what they’ll experience before I see them back on the trail equipped with a new pair of Black Diamond trekking poles.

And, now, although I can’t support my local retail shop, I can still support Black Diamond.  Right now, they are offering free shipping on any order over $50.

Exercise At Home – Intermediate Workouts

It is very important to exercise even when we are stuck at home.

Try these intermediate workouts for an at-home exercise routine that you can do in your living room.

If these are too hard or you are just starting, here are the Beginner Isolation Workouts.

Do one of these workouts, or two of them, or all of them in a day.

Look for a third set of advanced workouts that will build on this week’s workouts in the next regular Chicks Email.  Stay tuned and stay fit!

If you’re further committed to training and need additional support, or you need more video instruction, you can email me at and I’ll send you an access code to Ripple Effect’s private, training-video database.

All my best!


Carolyn Parker demonstrates a side plank exercise at home

Exercise at home! Carolyn Parker, Founder Ripple Effect Training, demonstrates a living room side plank.

Isolation Workouts − Warm Up

10 min of walking, light jog, heavy house work like vacuuming, wrestling with kids, zumba video! You get the idea! Get your heart rate up and get warm.

2 x 8 shoulder opener, with belt, ski pole, yoga strap, jump rope, towel.

2 x 5 push up, counter top, knees or toes.

3 x 5 air squats or sit to stands – imagine that wall is in front of you.

Also check out Fitness – Build a Solid Fitness Foundation.

At Home – Intermediate Workout 1

Warm-up (see above)


30 sec jog in place, lifting your knees as high as you can

30 sec easy jog in place

30 sec rest

4 rounds


10 x sit up 

10 x leg raise/lower

10 x windshield wiper (10 per side) 

rest 60 secs

4 rounds


8 x push ups 

10 x door-frame, body row (Grab door, pull body forward and release body away to make a body row movement.)

or fill a backpack with weight, or two water bottles/gallon jugs and do a bent over row.

10 x split jump

minimal rest

5 rounds

Cool Down with some light mobility 

At Home – Intermediate Workout 2

Warm-up (see above)


20 x jumping jack

20 x air squat

20 x mountain climber per leg

20 x lunges in place – 5 per leg

20 x side plank with a hip lower and lift (that’s what you are counting 5 per side)

20 x squat jumps

20 x burpees

Rest as necessary 

3 rounds


Cool Down with some light mobility

At Home – Intermediate Workout 3

Warm-up (see above)


4 x 30 sec push ups / 30 sec plank – 4 min total

1:00 rest

4 x 30 sec air squat / 30 sec hold in the bottom of the squat – 4 min total

1:00 rest

4 x 30 sec sit up / 30 sec with straight legs elevated 6” off the floor – 4 min total

1:00 rest

4 x 30 sec windshield wiper / 30 sec flutter kick – 4 min total

1:00 rest

4 x 30 sec lunges in place/30 sec “rest” jog in place – 4 min total

1:00 rest

4 x 30 sec bicycles / 30 sec mountain climbers – 4 min total


Cool Down with some light mobility

Osprey Sylva 12 Women’s Hydration Pack

sylva 12 front pockets

Osprey’s Sylva 12 Women’s Mountain Biking Hydration Pack. ©Elaina Arenz.

As the world hunkers down in the wake of the pandemic and we practice “social distancing”, including no climbing at popular crags, I’m finding new ways to enjoy the great outdoors. To breathe a little fresh air, my go-to form of socially distanced recreation has been to hop on my bike and hit the trails.

On my rides, my Osprey Sylva 12 Women’s Mountain Biking Hydration pack has been a trusty companion.

The Hydrapak water bladder holds 2.5 liters of liquid refreshment which keeps me hydrated while I rest at the top of the uphill slogs. 

But what I love most about the Osprey Sylva 12 is its super ventilated back panel. Osprey’s Airspeed technology keeps air flowing down my back so I don’t get swamped in my own sweat. 

Winged shoulder straps made of breathable mesh distribute the weight evenly so the Slylva doesn’t shift around as I navigate through obstacles.

Sometimes I forget where I stashed my GU, or my extra set of gloves, because there are so many storage pockets. Or, maybe I’m disorganized? 

The women’s specific Sylva 12 has 3 large zipper compartments. One compartment for the hydration bladder. One compartment large enough for my Houdini, buff and gloves. And a third compartment with organizational, mesh pockets for tools, trail snacks and a bike pump. 

The Sylva 12 is loaded with all kinds of other features too:Osprey sylva 12 inner pockets

  • An integrated rain cover tucks away into its own compartment 
  • Mesh outer pockets allow for quick and easy access 
  • A stretchable, mesh sleeve adds an ability to stow an extra layer, 
  • There’s a clip-in point for a Blinkie light 
  • Compression straps keep everything in place.

Lastly, I love the color of my Sylva 12. It’s not black for starters. Black cooks the contents on a hot, sunny day. Rather, my Sylva 12 is a nice, light gray shade with subtle aqua accents. 

Thanks Osprey for all your attention to detail on this women’s specific hydration pack, a perfect companion for my solo, mountain biking adventures.

Isolation Workouts – Exercise At Home

Isolation Workouts 

Across our nation and across the globe we’re all being impacted by the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Many are under “shelter at home” restrictions, juggling life with kids at home too. Many are far worse off. Some will not get sick, some will. I send my best to all of those who have lost a family member, or who are caring for someone who is seriously ill. It takes its toll.

In times like these, it’s difficult to take care of ourselves.

We’re thrown out of routine without a way to get outside or go to a gym. But it’s important to try and stay healthy so you can help those around you! 

Remember that physical and mental health are inseparable. Exercise has an important, positive impact on mental health. We need to keep exercising even when we are sheltering at home.

You can do one of these workouts, or two of them or all of them in a day.

Next week, I’ll send out a second set of Isolation Workouts that build on this week’s workouts.  So stay tuned!

If you’re further committed to training and need additional support, or you need more video instruction, you can email me at and I’ll send you an access code to Ripple Effect’s private, training-video database.

All my best to you!


Isolation Workouts − Warm Up

10 min of walking, light jog, heavy house work like vacuuming, wrestling with kids, zumba video! You get the idea! Get your heart rate up and get warm.

2 x 8 shoulder opener, with belt, ski pole, yoga strap, jump rope, towel.

2 x 5 push up, counter top, knees or toes.

3 x 5 air squats or sit to stands – imagine that wall is in front of you.

Also check out Fitness – Build a Solid Fitness Foundation.

Beginner Isolation Workout 1 – Strength

Warm-up (see above)


5 x sit up 

5 x leg raises/lifts

10 x windshield wiper (5 per side) 

Rest 60 secs

4 Rounds


5 x push ups 

10 x door-frame body row (Grab door, pull body forward and release body away to make a body row movement.)

10 x lunges 

rest 60 secs

4 rounds


Cool Down – with some light mobility

Beginner Isolation Workout 2  Aerobic

Warm-up (see above)


10 x Jumping Jack

10 x Air Squat

10 x Mtn climber per leg

10 x Lunges in place – 5 per leg

10 x Side plank – hip lower and lift (that’s what you are counting 5 per side)

10 x Squat Jumps

10 x Burpees

2 times through all – rest as necessary 


Cool Down – with some light mobility

Beginner Isolation Workout 3 – Anaerobic

Warm-up (see above)


3 x 30 sec work/30 sec rest – Push Ups – 3 min total

Then 1:00 rest

3 x 30 sec work/30 sec rest – Air Squats – 3 min total

Then 1:00 rest

3 x 30 sec work/30 sec rest – Sit Ups – 3 min total

Then 1:00 rest

3 x 30 sec work/30sec rest – Windshield Wiper – 3 min total

Then 1:00 rest

3 x 30 sec work/30sec rest – Lunge in Place – 3 min total

Then 1:00 rest

3 x 30 sec work/30 sec rest – Floor Bicycles – 3 min total


Cool down with light aerobic work or stretching 10min.

Confined to Dream – Isolation in Chamonix, France

Confined to Dream, Karen Bockel, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, armchair mountaineering during Covid Isolation in Chamonix, France. ©Karen Bockel Collection.

Confined to Dream, Karen Bockel, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, armchair mountaineering during Covid Isolation in Chamonix, France. ©Karen Bockel Collection.

Hello Friends,

I’ve been in Chamonix, France since the beginning of March and strictly confined for a week now. Strict confinement means no excursions beyond the grocery store and the occasional neighborhood sport walk. No mountain activity is allowed: no skiing, no climbing, no trail running, no biking.

These are tough rules but ones I support to help protect the vulnerable and the front-line health care professionals. Those who can, work from home. Those who can’t, try to occupy themselves (and their families) with indoor projects, home exercise programs, yard work and the like. The financial impact is only beginning. Most of us have never experienced such a time of uncertainty.

As I sit here, underneath granite and glacier behemoths, having lost my entire spring season of ski guiding work and possibly that of the summer as well, my longing for the mountains, I am now not allowed to visit, remains. Yet I’m at peace.

While mountain guides aren’t used to being confined, we’re used to uncertainty.

Guiding includes a near constant stream of uncertainties: Is this itinerary appropriate? Is everyone healthy and prepared? Are the conditions as expected? Will the weather hold? When do we need to turn around? Do I have the right gear? What’s my margin for error? What if we have to bail? What if we get lost or get hurt?

In the valley, I have a garden. I have a comfortable little studio. And, most of all, I have beauty to behold. I don’t even have to lift my eyes to see my beloved peaks. Tiny flowers are blooming. The grass is a shade greener every day. The neighbors little cat comes to visit.

I built a slack line with an old rope and a block-and-tackle tensioning system.

I’m reading a mountain literature classic: Lionel Terray’s Conquistadors of the Useless. As I read, I stop and look up the route descriptions for all the incredible routes Terray climbed.

And I dream, endlessly inspired to go climbing again when the time comes. Until then, take good care of yourselves and those around you!


What Inspires You Now? | Chicks Climbing & Skiing – Angela Hawse

What Inspires You? Angela Hawse, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing working on the Grand Teton, Grant Teton National Park, WY. ©Angela Hawse Collection

What Inspires You? Angela Hawse, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing working on the Grand Teton, Grant Teton National Park, WY. ©Angela Hawse Collection.

Given the gravity and chaos in the world all around us right now, I turn to inspiration. And I wonder, “What inspires you?”

We are all experiencing loss, struggle, uncertainty and fear of the unknown on many levels. Many have it far worse than being asked to hole up and not go on trips. Schools are closing and people are suddenly working from home. I’m cancelling upcoming trips to Iceland and Svalbard.  Many guides, and I’m sure many of you, are out of work into the foreseeable future.

As we self-isolate and social distance from each other, I’m reminded how Chicks serves as a foundation of treasured relationships and shared experiences. I think about the skills I’ve learned from climbing and skiing like managing stress under adversity, problem-solving, will power and thinking on my feet.

Our goal at Chicks is to inspire and support emerging, female climbing and skiing leaders. And, in the spirit of service, we hope the lessons of climbing carry over to support women as leaders in their communities at large.

In these difficult times does it help to ask, “What Inspires Me?” Can you focus on inspiration and motivation instead of fear? Can you adopt a spirit of service to help others in need if you’re able?

Climbing has taught me many healthy exercises.

It’s taught me to go inside to find my own passion instead of looking outward at streaming distractions of media-sensationalized narratives of super-climbing heroines. Comparing myself with my heroines only belittled my efforts and obscured my inner drive and motivation. Focusing inward taught me that I have the ability to shape my experiences into a fulfilling and meaningful journey that is my own.

It doesn’t matter if you’re striving for a redpoint or simply caught up in the moment of moving over rock, what matters is unplugging and tapping into what makes your heart sing. This exercise helps, not just in climbing, but in everything.

We all have an “Everest.” Currently, a novel coronavirus is our collective Everest. Try to remember in these difficult times that climbing has taught us, no matter how high, how far or how difficult the mountain, it’s ultimately the journey that matters.

Wherever you’re holed up, isolated or socially distanced, you have the ability to tap into the presence you’ve learned from climbing. Focus and try not to get distracted by fear, sucked up in following the news every hour or anxious with uncertainty.

Take this opportunity to focus, just like you do on every pitch and be present. That will create a ripple effect that positively influences everyone around you.  It’s living in the moment that inspires me, whether on the rock, a high mountain or in line at a grocery store behind someone hoarding toilet paper.  It’s the energy we bring to every moment that determines its outcome.

What inspires you?

Stay healthy and strong!