Stuck Cam – How to Remove a Stuck Cam? | Chicks Climbing

Kitty calhoun explains how to remove a stuck cam

Kitty Calhoun answers How to Remove a Stuck Cam?

Have you ever struggled to remove a stuck cam?

When trying to remove a stuck came it helps to know how it got stuck in the first place.

Most of the time a cam gets stuck when a leader gets pumped and scared. In a rush, the leader pulls the trigger bars back and rams the cam into the crack. And even if it is too big, they are too sketched to replace it with the proper size. Instead they clip and keep climbing.

It’s also common for cams to get stuck when they walk back into the crack. This can happen when the leader used a short sling. A short sling can encourage the rope to jiggle the cam. The jiggling causes the cam to walk back. Flaring cracks are particularly prone for this. The problem with a cam walking back is that you can no longer reach the trigger bars in order to release it.

Tips to Remove a Stuck Cam:

1. Look to see how the cam was placed. Was it placed from below, above or straight in horizontally? Try to remove it the same way it went in.

2. Use a nut tool to

  • Pry against the groove and get movement in the cam leg that is most wedged.
  • Pull the cam out horizontally if appropriate.
  • Hook the trigger bar to pull down while pushing up on the stem. You can also use a sling for this technique. See video –


Patagonia Sports Bra – Gear We Use | Rock Climbing

Kitty Calhoun, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing showing her Patagonia Sports Bra and Indian Creek scar on her right shoulder. ©Kitty Calhoun Collection.

Kitty Calhoun, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing, showing her Patagonia Sports Bra and Indian Creek scar on her right shoulder. ©Kitty Calhoun Collection.

For years, I climbed cracks in Indian Creek in just a Patagonia Sports Bra. Or, for wide cracks and off-widths, I wore just a Patagonia Sports Bra covered with a long-sleeved shirt to protect my skin from being abraded.

I love climbing in a Patagonia Sports Bra!

  • They don’t bind—binding Sports Bras are horrible for climbing.
  • They have cute patterns and flattering designs.
  • They are made from recycled polyester, which helps to reduce our dependence on petroleum products.
  • And, the soft, next-to-skin, moisture-wicking, odor-controlled fabric dries quickly.

Anyway, one day, after years of Indian Creek climbing in just a sports bra, I found myself at the start of a perfect, splitter hand crack. Or, so I thought. I looked up from the bottom and couldn’t see any corner or wide parts. So, I started up in my usual Sports Bra outfit—leaving my long-sleeve shirt in the dirt.

Unfortunately, from the bottom of the climb, I couldn’t see that there was a slot at the top of the climb. Worse, the slot required a shoulder scum. However, I was so focused on my effort that I didn’t even feel the fine grit sandstone rub all the skin off my shoulder. That is until I got down and my husband poked my shoulder and said, “What’s that?”


Now my Indian Creek wardrobe is still a Patagonia Sport Bra, but always under a t-shirt. I make sure my shoulders are covered even if it’s just a splitter, hand-sized crack with no visible pods.

Take it from me, reduce scars by always wearing a t-shirt over your Patagonia sports bra when you go climbing in Indian Creek!

Yeti Hopper BackFlip 24 – Soft Backpack Cooler | Gear We Use

Yeti Hopper BackFlip 24 soft cooler packed and ready for adventure

Yeti Hopper BackFlip 24 Soft Backpack Cooler ready for an adventure. ©Kitty Calhoun.

I have a Yeti Hopper BackFlip 24 backpack cooler but my husband is always borrowing it.

Yeti is one of Chicks Climbing and Skiing’s newest sponsors. A company who in their own words values experiences, restlessness, playfulness, durability and togetherness, Yeti makes a great partner! And now, you’ll have the opportunity to demo Yeti products on our courses – from coolers, mugs, stackable pints and basecamp chairs.

As I said, my husband’s favorite Yeti product is my Hopper 24 Soft Cooler. With its backpack carrying system, he easily carries the Hopper with him on adventures that are away from the car.

Yeti Hopper BackFlip 24 Soft Cooler Features:

  • High-density fabric that is waterproof and resistant to mildew, punctures and UV rays
  • Cold-cell, rubber foam insulation that is far superior in performance to ordinary soft coolers
  • A Hydrolock zipper that is the toughest, highest performing waterproof and leak-proof cooler zipper in the world
  • A weight that is only 5.3 lbs. Yet, the Hopper is big enough, so they say, to carry 20 cans of beer!

My husband gave me the Hopper for a present, but because it’s so easy to carry, it became his “go-to” cooler.

Truthfully, the Hopper BackFlip looks really nice and one day soon we may own two!

Play – Summer Solstice in the City of Rocks

chicks city of rocks participants enjoying dinner together after a day of play, learning to climb

Chicks City of Rocks Climbing clinic participants enjoying a summer dinner with the telling of heroic climbing deeds ©Kitty Calhoun.

Ah the benevolence of God to provide mortal climbers with such a place to play as the City of Rocks!

One of my favorite things to do is climb during summer solstice in a landscape littered with giant, granite domes and towers! Lucky for me, that is exactly what I’ll be doing this summer solstice in City of Rocks, Idaho at our City of Rocks Climbing clinic.

It’s just March, but last week, during a brief warm-spell, I caught myself thinking about summer. Especially the part about wearing nothing but a long-sleeve shirt and shorts. Summer evenings––gathered with fellow climbers to laugh and tell stories of heroic deeds, both real and imagined––are the best. Then, I was brought back to winter as the wind picked up, temperatures plummeted and it started to snow.

You may not think of a rock climbing Mecca like City of Rocks as a playground. You may not think play is important.

But, think again… Play is a “voluntary, intrinsically motivated activity normally associated with recreational pleasure.” And, according to Play, Creativity, and Lifelong Learning, there are many benefits to playing:

“Play is a doorway to learning. It stimulates our imaginations, helping us adapt and solve problems. Play arouses curiosity, which leads to discovery and creativity.  The components of play – curiosity, discovery, novelty, risk- taking, trial and error… are the same as the components of learning.”

Not only does City of Rocks fit the description of a climber’s playground. With over 1000 traditional and sport-climbing routes, the City of Rocks is endowed with tons of high-quality granite climbing classics. Renowned for solution pockets and chicken-heads, good footwork and balance are key climbing skills at the City. Meanwhile patience rewards you as you learn to play the fine-granite long game, figuring out sequences and learning to trust small holds.

It’s a pity that for most, “play” connotes triviality because it’s just as important for adults as it is for children. Remember, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing,” said George Bernard Shaw.

So, stop growing old! Come and play with Chicks at our City of Rocks Climbing – Idaho Rock Climbing Clinic over summer solstice.

Grivel G Zero Mountaineering Axe

Grivel G Zero Mountainneering axe available in 5 great colours! ©Grivel

Grivel G Zero mountaineering axe available in 5 great colours! ©Grivel

The Grivel G Zero mountaineering axe stands in a long, illustrious line of climbing equipment dating back to when climbing equipment was first manufactured. The climbing equipment manufacturing company, Grivel, is over 200 years old!

The G Zero is an awesome lightweight classic mountaineering axe, designed and manufactured at the foot of Mont Blanc, the home of alpine climbing.

It’s time to start planning for summer mountaineering adventures! As occasional warm spells arrive with more frequency, spring is soon approaching. 

Mountaineering axes stands out as the symbol of mountaineering itself.  

A good mountaineering axe is both climbing equipment and protection–as in self-arrest and snow anchor.

We recommend the elegantly-designed Grivel G Zero as a great choice for our Easton Glacier – Intro to Mountaineering Course.

At 425g the 58cm G Zero is light and Light is Right!

Here are some of the features of a classic mountaineering axe:

Longer Length. You use a classic mountaineering axe primarily in your uphill hand as a slope traversing tool. We recommend at least 60-70 cm. You can also use a mountaineering axe as a snow anchor.  

Straight Shaft. The straight shaft of a mountaineering axe provides more leverage should you need to self-arrest.

Classic Curve Pick. It is easier to engage a classically curved pick in a self-arrest.

Spike. The pointed metal at the end of the shaft gives you support and balance.

Go to Chicks Easton Glacier – Intro to Mountaineering Course to learn more about mountaineering.

How to Pack for a Mountaineering Trip – Light-is-Right

Learning how to pack for a mountaineering trip is important because a lighter pack is easier to carry.Going mountaineering. Wildflowers line the trail on the approach to Mt Baker.

Going mountaineering. Wildflowers line the trail on the approach to Mt Baker. ©Kitty Calhoun

The main tenant when it comes to how to pack for a mountaineering trip is that light is right! 

Light is right for many reasons not least of which is that light is much easier and more enjoyable to carry.

However, light-is-right is especially important to me because I go to the mountains to get away from stuffGetting down to basics allows me to focus simply on what I need and to be more appreciative of what I have. I find freedom in knowing what I can do without.  

With light-is-right in mind, here are my top weight-saving tips for how to pack for a mountaineering trip:


The most important thing when packing mountaineering gear is don’t bring more than you need and know how to use it all!

Knowing what you’ll need is often a process of trial-and-error as you gain experience. And knowing how to use all your gear takes a willingness to practice. For example, set up your tent in your living room a few times before you leave. Or, take a wilderness first-aid course. 


Limit yourself to a 45L pack lined with a trash bag (if it’s going to rain).


Share a light, 3-season tent such as the Slingfin 2Lite.  


Down compresses more, but if it’s going to be wet, it will not hold up. Synthetic is a better choice for rainy weather and wet conditions.

Sleeping Bag

Use a 30° bag and wear clothes to sleep or tuck in with a hot water bottle if it’s colder. 


Use a small Therm-a-Rest, such as the NeoAir.


Food is heavy, yet proper nutrition is important for long mountaineering days.

  • Add hydration tabs to your water bottle for increased electrolytes.
  • Use an Energy Drink mix with Roctane to get more branch-chain amino acids.
  • Always drink a recovery drink when you get to camp.  
  • Eat easily digestible, complex carbs when you’re moving. 
  • Eat protein and fat at camp when you’re resting and can digest better.  
  • Choose nutrient rich, calorie dense food.  


  • Use collapsible water bottles.
  • I treat my water with iodine tabs because they are so light!


Don’t bring any more clothes than you can wear at one time. For summer mountaineering approaches I’ll bring runners, synthetic shorts and a t-shirt. 

However, for most mountaineering trips I only bring– 

Upper Body:

  1. Next-to-Skin layer
  2. Insulating layer 
  3. Shell (for rain) 
  4. Belay Jacket (for cold)

Lower Body:

  1. Next-to-skin layer 
  2. soft shell 
  3. hard shell (rain) layer

Other Mountaineering Essentials

  • Small repair kit
  • Small first aid kit
  • Communications device such as SPOT or Delorme 
  • Map and compass
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses 
  • Toothbrush (toiletries)
  • Phone/camera

We cover How to Pack for a Mountaineering Trip in detail before we begin all our mountaineering courses. Go to All Chicks Mountaineering Courses to learn more.

You can also refer to for more information.

Black Diamond Reactor – Gear We Use | Ice Climbing

black diamond reactor

Black Diamond Reactor Ice Tool | Gear We Use ©Black Diamond.

Sold Out!

Black Diamond has done it again!

Their latest and greatest Reactor Ice Tool could be the best ice climbing tool on the market.

Over two years BD’s R&D team developed and refined this axe with their athletes. The end result… sold out!  Our inside scoop let us know the Reactor will be available again soon. But it just goes to show they’ve come up with another winner.

Key Nuggets that Set the Black Diamond Reactor Apart:


The Reactor climbs steep, mixed and moderate waterfall ice well and converts to an alpine machine simply by swapping out the head for BD’s alpine adze or hammer.

Swing and Weight 

A steel head & aluminum shaft combo gives the Reactor a well-balanced swing with good driving power.


Generously bent for clearance over bulges.


Refined and innovative. An adjustable insert makes the grip more comfortable for different hand sizes. An upper grip is versatile for mixed climbing and ice climbing.


A new design makes it like “a needle going in and out of the ice,” explains BD’s Colin Powick in this quick video (along with some good ice climbing footage from Austria). 

Basically, like-a-needle means BD shortened and thinned their classic ice pick to create a more precise and penetrating Reactor pick.

If you’ve climbed on and like BD Fuels or Cobras you’ll love Reactors. 

We do!  And, we’re stoked to get them into the hands of Chicks for all our upcoming ice and mixed climbing clinics.

Lock-Off Training for Mixed Climbing

Carolyn Parker lock off training for mixed climbing.

Carolyn Parker lock-off training for mixed climbing. Begin with tools (dowels) at the same height.  © Carolyn Parker.

Winter is ice and mixed climbing season in Colorado.

If you haven’t tried it, mixed climbing is a blast!

Tools that you’d normally apply by swinging and kicking into ice are now placed carefully onto rock. Then you balance on front points and move around your placement in an entirely new way.

Mixed climbing requires a new set of abilities and one that’s particularly helpful is lock-off ability.

Learn more about mixed climbing here.

However, all climbing requires strong, stable shoulders, not just mixed climbing. So, before you train lock-off strength, make sure your shoulders are strong. Find out more about Shoulder Strength.

Now, if you’re all set with strong shoulders, we’re going to add in some lock-off practice. 

Remember, we always want to take as much load as possible with our feet, legs and core. For more about lock-off technique and another great lock-off strength training exercise called The Hover, go to my previous post Lock-Off Strength.

But sometimes we need to hold our body with a single arm (plus the aforementioned) for a few moments while we find just the right crack or edge to set our tool securely.  In which case we may need to “lock-off” at different angles while in a pulling position.

Lock-Off Training for Mixed Climbing

Ideally use ice climbing tools. However, dowels (or something similar) that allow you to hang with your hand, wrist and grip in a position that mimics holding an ice climbing tool also works. (If using tools, prep them by wrapping the pick in cardboard and tape so it doesn’t chew up your gym’s pull-up bar, rings or climbing holds.)

Warm Up First:

Do a few minutes of light aerobic work to get your blood flowing.

Then follow my Strong Shoulders workout for a perfect warm-up before lock-off training for mixed climbing. 

Add a few push ups and pull ups (can be assisted) 3 sets of 5 of each.

Lock-Off Drills:

Begin with tools (dowels) at the same height. (See above.)

Carolyn Parker lock off training for mixed climbing in position one

Pull up and hold for three seconds at the top of the pull up.

Then lower to 45 degrees and hold for three seconds.

Carolyn Parker lock off training for mixed climbing in position three

Lower to 90 degrees and hold for three seconds.

Lower to 120 degrees and hold for three seconds.

Lower almost all the way (back to first photo position at top) but keep a slight bend in your elbows and your shoulder blades stable with back muscles engaged. Hold for three seconds. 

Rest for 60 seconds and then repeat 2 more times for 3 total reps.

Now try the same thing with your arms offset. 

Place one tool higher than the other.

Now do the same drill: three reps of three lock-off positions with right tool higher, three reps with left tool higher. The lower arm will take the most load in the offset position.

Total rep count for the entire series is only nine but this is difficult.

Have no fear. If you cannot do pull-ups, you can try all of this with a band for some assistance. 

Over time you can add reps or sets as your body adapts.


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

Slaying Dragons with my Six-Year-Old

Grady Grissom age 6, ice climbing with his mom, Kitty Calhoun

Slaying dragons with my six-year-old. Kitty Calhoun, Co-Owner Chics Climbing and Skiing ice climbing with her son Grady.©Calhoun.

“Look, Mommy, this is re-credible!” my six year old son exclaimed as he hit the ice with his ice hammer as if slaying dragons.

The concepts of precision and balance, using the tool as a point under which to center his feet, were uninteresting to him. What was interesting was the fantasy-land of ice.

Slaying dragons with my six-year-old I realized I too have a dragon to slay, but it’s the beast within – the beast that always wants to be more – perfect mom, stronger climber, lovelier wife, astuter business partner.

I battle with this beast until I remember that Super Woman is a misguided ideal and that it’s not within my power to protect my son from challenge.

What is within my power is to guide him with wisdom gained from my experiences.

I know that adventure, reflection, play, creativity and deep learning take time. 

It’s so easy to get caught up with instant gratification and convenience. 

Even though going to the climbing gym regularly helps protect my sanity, it’s not enough.  I need to get outside, to push myself and have an adventure.

There’s more to me than what I can learn inside the four walls of a building.

Sometimes, when I find it hard to jump off the treadmill of an endless ticklist, I’ll wonder where the time went. Then I’ll think back on my life, marked by expeditions and slaying dragons with my six-year-old: open doors to adventure, summits, people, and dreams come true.  

“Yes, climbing is re-credible!”

 Join us for a re-credible start to 2020. 

We only have three spots left in our 4-Day Ice Climbing Clinic.

and two spots left in our 3-Day Mixed Climbing Clinic.

And our rock climbing programs are filling fast!

Training Partners

Carolyn Parker and training partner working on pull up together

Carolyn Parker and training partner working on some ring pull ups.

Hey Chicks,

Today we’re going to chat about the benefit of training partners. Training partners can be your ticket to motivation and success, not to mention safety.

We spend so much effort self-motivating. Sometimes it helps to know someone is ready to meet you. Just past the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, motivation can be tough.

Reach out to your girlfriends. I’ll bet they’d love to join in on some training and a bit of social catch-up time. It seems that life doesn’t afford us enough quality time with our friends .

Training Partner Benefits

1) Accountability

6 am. The alarm goes off. You really want to go back to bed. You don’t want to get up in the dark, go to the gym, go on that run, throw on a weighted pack and walk on a treadmill, but you do. Why? Because, someone is there waiting for you and you’re not going to be that person and bail.

2) Safety

A spot when you’re strength training is never a bad idea.It is also good to have someone watching for form.

3) Assistance

While you’re trying to do your first pull up, your partner can help.

4) Partnership

You can do work/rest sets or throw a medicine ball back and forth for core work.

5) Cheers!

It is a definite benefit to have someone to cheer you on! Everyone likes a little encouragement now and again. And it makes training a lot more fun.

Happy Solstice, winter, skiing, ice climbing and all your fun outdoor adventures!!


You might also be interested in

Swing! Training For Ice Climbing

Train Muscular Endurance For Ice Climbing

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

Carolyn Parker
Carolyn Parker
Founder, Instructor, Athlete, Mountain Guide
970-773-3317 work cell
Founder Ripple Effect Training