GU Hydration Drink Tabs

GU Hydration Drink Tabs in amongst Karen Bockel's climbing gear

My GU Hydration Drink Tabs are part of my climbing gear. ©Karen Bockel

Hello Everyone,

Karen here, checking in from Smith Rock State Park, Oregon.

It’s warm. The days are long and everything is screaming, “Sun’s out, guns out.”

My fingertips have been feeling the brunt of all the climbing but the rest of my body isn’t far behind.

Being out in the hot, dry desert all day takes a toll, especially when you aren’t used to it.

Luckily, I have GU Hydration Drink Tabs with me.

GU Hydration Drink Tabs have been a lifesaver! They are helping me stay hydrated and maintain my fluid balance. I like that they don’t have a lot of calories or sweeteners in their ingredients. Instead, they focus on replenishing electrolytes, which is what I want.

The drink tabs come in a small plastic tube with a lid that stays attached—so you don’t accidentally litter!

Each tablet can be dissolved in 16 oz of water.

To replenish the sodium and potassium I lost during the day of climbing I usually take one a day. It’s such good stuff! I feel like a wilted flower after climbing all day, but GU Hydration brings me back to life J. Try it for yourself!

Now, back to the crimps on the volcanic tuft…

Until next time,

Pull-Ups For Beginners

Pull-ups for beginners. Carolyn Parker, co-founder of Ripple Effect Training and AMGA Rock Guide, demonstrates good pull-up form.

Pull-Ups For Beginners. Carolyn Parker, founder Ripple Effect Training, AMGA Rock Guide, demonstrates good pull-up form using a band for assistance.

Pull-Ups For Beginners is a training program for anyone who has ever wanted to do a pull-up.

Why are pull-ups so hard?

Over the years, I’ve trained many women (some over 60!) to do their first pull-up ever and let me tell you, every first is as thrilling as the last. It’s truly empowering to be able to hold on and lift your own body off the ground.

Of course, being able to do a pull-up won’t hurt your climbing either!  ( :

How to do your first pull-up?

Over 8-weeks the Pull Ups For Beginners program will teach you how to start doing pull-ups.

I won’t lie to you. Fully unassisted, body-weight movements like pull-ups are challenging!

Many women shy away from trying to do pull-ups because they feel embarrassed.

Time to get over it.

How to get better at pull-ups you wonder?

  1. You need to train
  2. And, you need to learn proper form.

You see, learning a pull-up is like learning any new sport.

First, you must develop a base. Being unfit is not good for anything, let alone sports or pull-ups!

Find more information on developing a general fitness base at Training For Mountaineering | Back to Basics.

Second, you must learn the technique. Your body needs to understand the movement.

Third, you must increase your strength.

Fourth, voila! Crank a pull up.

Breaking it down like that makes it sound easy doesn’t it?

That’s because, in essence, doing a pull-up is easy. However, in practice, doing a pull-up takes dedicated work.

So let’s go!

Pull-Ups For Beginners | Chicks Training


In addition to your regular training you will add focused pull-up work twice a week.

Begin practicing pull-ups using assistance. An assistance band is best because it allows you to practice the movement in the purest form with no external stabilizing.

Note: beginners should not drop all the way into their shoulders. Dropping all the way into shoulders can be hard on an un-practiced shoulder joint.

Learn Proper Pull-Up Form

5 Steps to a good pull up.

  1. Arch your back slightly to activate your lats
  2. Pull with your lats,
  3. Pinch your shoulder blades together
  4. Pull up with your arms. Your elbows should end up slightly behind you.
  5. Lead with your sternum not your chin.

Week One:

Do 2 sets of 10 pull-ups twice a week

Use appropriate assistance—you should be able to execute proper form but also feel a challenge on the last few reps of each set.

Rest for a few minutes between sets.

Week Two:

If week one went well do 3 sets of 10 pull-ups twice a week.

Again, without sacrificing proper form it should feel challenging for the last few reps of each set.

Week Three:

Do 3 – 4 sets of 10. Same plan.

Week Four:

Do 4 sets of 10. Same Plan.

After week four, you should have a pull-up base. Your body knows the movement and you have some strength.

Now we need to increase your strength. We increase strength by increasing challenge and we increase challenge by decreasing reps and assistance.

Week Five:

Use the amount of assistance that allows five repetitions to feel difficult.

Do 5 sets of 5 reps.

Rest for a couple of minutes between sets.

Rep 4 and 5 should feel hard.

Reminder: this is twice a week in addition to your other training.

Week Six:

Repeat 5 sets of 5 reps like week 5.

Reminder: Focus on form!

Week Seven:

Decrease assistance again.

Do 5-6 sets of 3 repetitions.

Rest a couple of minutes between sets.

Reminder: Do this workout 2 x a week, with really good form.

Week Eight:

Decrease the assistance again.

Do 5-6 sets of 2 repetitions.

Rest for a couple of minutes between sets.

Reminder: Twice a week.

Pull-Ups For Beginners (Week Nine):

Here it is!

Voile. Time to crank a pull-up.

Warm up properly as for any workout, then add a few assisted pull ups, make them easy, maybe 5 reps focusing on form for a couple of sets. Rest 5 minutes and then give it a go, try hard, it doesn’t have to be pretty, you can lift your knees, kick your legs, whatever just try! Have a friend there to cheer you on or give you the tiniest little bit of help for confidence!!

And remember, Even if you didn’t quite do that pull up you are stronger and you will, repeat the above eight week process with less assistance on all. Remember difficult things are just that, difficult. They require lots of hard work to achieve and focused training. That’s what makes the achievement so special!!

Side note: if you have any injuries or limitations that create shoulder pain or discomfort, address those injuries with a professional before trying to add this to your training plan.

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


Carolyn Parker

Founder Ripple Effect Training

Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor

AMGA Certified Rock Guide

The Rest Step

Click on the video above to watch Kitty Calhoun explain and demonstrate the rest step while carrying a heavy Indian Creek climbing backpack.

Use the Rest Step to conserve energy when hiking in the mountains and approaching rock climbs. You can also use the Rest Step while backcountry skiing.

Learn more about climbing and skiing from Kitty on a number of different Chicks Programs.

Learn more than the rest step. Kitty teaches Spring 2019 Chicks Indian Creek participants how to tape up before climbing

Kitty teaching Spring 2019 Chicks Indian Creek participants how to tape up before climbing.

Fun | Or, “It Doesn’t Have to be Fun to be Fun.”

fun in the present moment watching sun-shadow line on approach to chandelle du tacul, chamonix, france

Fun in the present moment — watching the drama of the sun-shadow line play out on the approach to Chandelle du Tacul, Chamonix, France. ©Kitty Calhoun

“It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun.”

—Mark Twight, alpinist extraordinaire

When it comes to alpine climbing and mountaineering-style climbing objectives, one of the things you’ll learn about yourself is how much you can endure.

Tough conditions

like post-holing to your waist, sleep deprivation (check out Kitty’s Unplanned Bivouac story), heavy packs, and suboptimal weather will all test you.

When you go alpine climbing or mountaineering, you’ll find yourself immersed in the wild, miles away from the trailhead without a choice but to soldier on.

Ladies, you’ve got to put one foot in front of the other and keep marching!

Sound like fun?

To some, it’s not fun while they’re doing it. It only gets fun once they look back on the experience and realize how much they stretched themselves. Fun comes from having gone beyond perceived personal limits. Only in retrospect can some appreciate the amount of personal growth they’ve gained through a climb.

However, in my personal experience even more fun is possible by focusing on being in the moment. Trying to escape my current situation by wishing I were somewhere else, or complaining, just prolongs my personal suffer-fest.

I’ve found a better approach

is to focus on what the present offers: beautiful views, fresh mountain air, and the camaraderie of a shared experience with friends. Sometimes, it also helps to think of all the skills I’m learning that will take me on to bigger goals.

If you’re a rock climber or a blossoming mountaineer and you’re looking for the next step in your personal progression as a climber, consider joining our Mt Baker, Washington trip. Mount Baker is a great introduction to climbing glaciated mountain summits. You’ll also learn the skills you need to camp, climb, and travel on snow.

If you’re more of a multi-pitch rock climber at heart, kick things up a notch on our Chamonix trip. The alpine rock routes in the French Alps are fantastic. Alpine climbing in Chamonix is world class with lift-based access to some of the highest peaks in Europe. Quaint French villages, delicious food and wine every evening and all under the wing of experienced and fully certified AMGA Chick Guides.

Now that sounds like fun!


Unplanned Bivouac, West Face – Grand Teton, 1984

morning after unplanned bivouac. Kitty Calhoun traversing on the west face of the grand teton, 1984

Kitty Calhoun, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, traversing back on route the morning after a forced bivouac on the West Face of the Grand Teton, 1984 ©Kitty Calhoun Collection

There is nothing like an unplanned bivouac to make me swear:

“I will never make that mistake again.”

When I first began doing winter alpine ascents, almost 40 years ago, what I feared most was getting benighted.

Yet, as these things go, in January 1984 I found myself near the top of the West Face of the Grand Teton, in the dark. There I sat, bumping my head against my partner, Bobby Knight. The head bumping was my way of forcing us to stay awake to keep wiggling our toes. I was terrified that if we dozed off our feet would freeze.

It turns out we were off-route. Bobby and I were supposed to be on the Black Ice Couloir. But, instead we were in a nearby dihedral. The dihedral had suckered us with endless, blissful mixed climbing. However, hours of joyful climbing soon turned to concern, as it grew dark. Using night vision and our weak, circa 1984 headlamp, we were able to keep climbing. But when the dihedral ended at the base of a dark, blank-looking face we were stuck. There was nothing to do but sit on a ledge, bump heads and wait for daylight.  It’s a good thing I have a hard head!

Eventually morning came, finding us sleepy but unfrozen.

In the daylight we traversed out right onto the Black Ice Couloir and continued to the summit.

Looking back, I’m certain that if we’d had a modern, Black Diamond Icon Headlamp with 125 feet of 500 lumens we could have kept going and avoided that frightening unplanned bivouac.

Black Diamond Icon Headlamp

Black Diamond Icon Headlamp

Black Diamond Icon Headlamp

Black Diamond’s Icon headlamp shines as one of my top six most appreciated technological advances in alpine climbing gear over the last couple of decades because it prevents against unplanned bivouacs.

With a range of 125 meters—the furthest of any BD headlamp—and 500 lumens, the Icon allows for route finding in the dark. What this really means is that with an Icon strapped to my head, I can keep climbing even when the day ends. This ability to climb in the dark is an essential preventative against the dreaded unplanned bivouac!

As if avoiding a forced bivy isn’t enough, the Black Diamond Icon Headlamp has even more loveable features:

  • Red, green, and blue light modes to help protect your night vision.
  • Removable battery pack—put it in your pocket to help keep it warm and preserve battery life.
  • Three-level power meter allows you to keep track of how much power you have left.
  • Settings that allow you to toggle between range and power.
  • Brightness Memory—turn it on at a chosen brightness rather than toggling back through the settings.
  • Max burn time is 70 hours on high and 175 hours on low.

Thank you, Black Diamond, for your ingenuity in creating solutions so that I can go farther into the mountains with fewer bivouacs!

Save Room on Your Gear Loops

save room on your gear loops with the waterfall method

Save room on your harness with the “waterfall method.” ©Elaina Arenz

Save room on your gear loops with the waterfall method.

If you like to rack up on your harness like me, you’ll find that you quickly run out of gear-loop space if you’re carrying multiple sets.

The waterfall racking method saves a ton of room and helps you keep organized.

First, clip a cam to your gear loop as usual.
Then, clip a second cam to the racking carabiner of the first one.

You can see that I’ve already doubled up the purples and greens.
And then I’m clipping the second red cam to the red carabineer of the first red cam.

The waterfall method will help you save room on your gear loops. It will also help you keep better track of how many of each size you’ve already placed.

Osprey Mutant 22 Backpack – 5 Reasons Why I Love my Mutant 22

Lindsey Hamm sharpening her ice climbing tools next to her Osprey Mutant 22

Chicks guide, Lindsey Hamm, sharpens her ice climbing tools next to her loaded Osprey Mutant 22 backpack.

Osprey’s Mutant 22 is my go-to multi-pitch and alpine-climbing backpack.

The smallest of the Osprey Mutant Climbing Backpack series, I use my Mutant 22 when I need an on-route backpack.

Five Reasons why I love my Mutant 22

  1. Not too many straps and pockets. The problem with too many straps and pockets is that they can get confusing. Think, “Where did I stash my Gu?” Or, “Whoops, wrong strap.” Pack confusion is not a problem here.

  2. Perfect size. I can carry a single rack, extra clothing layers, water, and snacks.

  3. Easy to carry while climbing because it sits high on my hips. Combine this with the fact that the Mutant 22 does not have a padded hip belt and my climbing-harness gear loops stay free and accessible.

  4. Sternum Strap. Snugs the weight firmly onto my shoulders

  5. Compression Strap. Keeps everything from moving around while I’m climbing.

6 Other lovable Features:

  1. Padded with snowshed fabric–great for rock climbing and perfect for ice and alpine climbing!

  2. Removable sheet frame. Want to go fast and light? Remove the “frame” to shed weight. Need a little cushion? Sit on it at an alpine belay.

  3. Internal Hydration Pocket. It’s easier to stay hydrated when you sip. Our experience is that if you stay hydrated, you need less water.

  4. Big Buckles–all the more easy to open with gloves on!

  5. Easy Rope Attachment. Carry your climbing rope on the outside. Drape it over the top/opening lid. Cinch it down so it doesn’t flop around (or off!) as you approach. Easy!

  6. Top Lid Top-Zip Opening. Don’t worry about your things falling out when you access your stuff. But remember, you still have to be careful not to drop stuff on multi-pitch climbs!

Gigantic – Step from Skiing to Climbing

Where skiing meets climbing. A view of the Matterhorn from the Haute Route.

Where skiing meets climbing. A view of the Matterhorn from the Haute Route.

Hello everyone, it’s Karen here checking in about the gigantic step from skiing to climbing.

This year I’m spending the spring in the Alps guiding the Haute Route. The Haute Route is a week-long, high-alpine ski tour that starts in Chamonix, France and ends in Zermatt, Switzerland. Along the way, we spend the night in mountain huts and traverse across big glaciers and high peaks all day.

On Friday, my friend and co-guide, Caro North and I finished a Haute Route tour late in the evening. The next day we drove back from Zermatt towards Chamonix to start another Haute Route tour. Along the way we stopped at a local climbing crag.

I felt like a beginner.

Basking in the spring sun, warm rock under my fingertips, I felt happy.

I also felt like a beginner climber again.

Slowly and carefully, I explored the rock features. The footholds were so small and hard to see! Yet piecing the sequences together exhilarated me.

After our climbing session (which did not take very long to get to!), we continued to Chamonix.

Changing seasons can be painful.

Driving along, I got to thinking that changing seasons can be painful. I think it has to do with change being hard in general. Change often requires pushing yourself to take a step. It might be a different step, a next step, or a huge step. In this case, it is the step from one activity to another, the step from skiing to climbing.

For me, stepping into rock shoes instead of ski boots always feels like a gigantic step.

And every spring, I try to figure out ways to make that step feel smaller and more manageable.

This time I had an advantage because I had Caro.

Not only did I have a good friend to hang out with. In Caro, I had a super strong rope gun.

Watching Caro lead up the climbs helped me figure out the moves when it was my turn to climb. Somehow mirroring Caro was part of the exhilaration I felt when I finally did the moves for myself, and it made me realize how important it is to have good partners.

So, if stepping from ski boots to rock shoes feels gigantic for you too, then here are my top tips to help this change feel less huge for you this season:

Easy Transition from Skiing to Rock Climbing

  1. Climb with fun partners that you can trust and emulate.
  2. Stick to the easier routes. Seriously! Only do easy routes.
  3. Stop before your arms turn to spaghetti.
  4. Don’t set your expectations too high.
  5. Don’t define success by how hard you climbed.
  6. Define success instead by feelings of fun and exhilaration.

The first day of rock climbing season should leave you with a smile on your face as you crack open the door to rock climbing season just a tiny bit.

Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard | Book Review

Cover of "let my people go surfing" by Yvon Chouinard

Book Cover of Yvon Choiunard’s “let my people go surfing.”

Book Review by Angela Hawse

Yvon Chouinard is the author of “let my people go surfing.”

And, Yvon Chouinard is also the founder of Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and gear company.

For forty years, Yvon Chounaird has led Patagonia with his vision and passion. He is the driving force that keeps Patagonia true to its core values. As a result, Patagonia is a sustainable business practices leader.

Recently, Patagonia changed its mission statement.

It’s new mission statement is “We’re in business to save our planet.

This bold, focused, and purposeful mission statement is true to Chouinard’s core values. Patagonia is using its resources to get political about environmental threats and taking action in the fight to address our climate crisis.

Let my people go surfing  by Yvon Chounaird tells the story of Patagonia.

It’s Chouinard’s story of building a business with heart and soul. It’s his story of challenging conventional wisdom. And, it’s his story of leading a simpler, more purposeful existence.

Let my people go surfing is a great read for all who love the outdoors. It’s also a must read for entrepreneurs and forward thinkers.

In conclusion, let my people go surfing by Yvon Chouinard provides a fresh outlook on finding opportunity in change, having a positive impact and making a difference one step at a time.

To  purchase and check out the video click let my people go surfing.