Mental Fortitude, Piper Musmanno

piperPiper Musmanno’s been exploring Colorado’s fourteeners for several years now, and she’s just about summited them all. Piper’s not one to go up the easy way, either. She chooses the exciting routes. Piper recently completed the traverse between the Maroon Bells.  Well known for its extreme beauty as well as its challenging terrain, this route in the Elk range offers a scenic , steep snow climb followed by some tricky route finding up fourth class rock to the first summit. At this point the fun is only part way through. The traverse offers exposure and more route finding followed by continuing to stitch one’s way down through more challenging rocky geometry back down to the finale of a beautiful alpine meadow.

While Piper is a strong mountaineer and climber, she has faced a few of her own challenges to reaching her climbing goals. Last — Piper took a lead fall resulting in a badly broken leg. The injury might’ve delayed her progress, but it did not deter her spirit. As many of us know, the steepest terrain does not always present in the geographical topography, but often, surmounting our own emotional hurdles offers the greatest challenge.” Overcoming the mental aspect has been the hardest part of my recovery. I am slowly gaining confidence back in myself and my body.

Mental fortitude goes a long way in climbing and mountaineering. One must have the ability to stare down her fears as well as retain an unerring belief that her body will see her through the rough spots. Consistent work on technique is also a given, but the ability to believe in one’s own strength can (and will) save the day.  After Piper’s hip gave out, leading to having her hip resurfaced in June 2007, Piper faced a steady, long road to physical recovery. Following this up with a lead fall and subsequent broken leg has forced Piper to be more mindful than ever as she recovers her physical and mental strength. “I can no longer just run all night if I need to get out of bad situations… I’ve gotten much more skilled and better w/ maps, decision making and general mountain skills to keep myself from getting in bad spots.

Knowing what it’s taken for Piper to continue to reach her climbing goals is inspirational. When you meet Piper climbing with Chicks, you’d think she’s just like you- and she is- (with an exceptional amount of mental fortitude) as well as a few extra metal pieces helping to hold her together.

Chicks November Newsletter

Find out what’s new with Chicks Climbing, Holiday Specials, updated clinic information..what more could you want?

Just clickety-click-click here.

Black Friday Deals from Moosejaw!!

Click on the links below to get these hot deals!

Free Shipping on ANY Order that Includes a Moosejaw Brand Item of $5 or more! No code needed

Free 2 Day Shipping on any Arcteryx Item over $149 – Use code ARC2DAY. Starts tomorro, Valid until 12/22.

Cyber Monday Only: Free $51 eGiftCard with the purchase of any one The North Face Item over $149 with code TNF51

Moosejaw’s 20% Off Sale – Brands include Gregory, Native, Sierra Designs, Sorel, Icebreaker

Free Moosejaw Hoody with any $75 item with Code HOODY

Trinity Right

by Caroline George

This Fall, I set my eyes on a 12a route in Little Cottonwood Canyon: Trinity Right. I had followed it once last year to clean it after Adam had been on it. The route traverses so much that it even goes down a little and I was terrified following it. The potential for pendulum was scared me.
Click here to

Girly guide Mattie Sheafor-Hong gets down to business

By Mattie Sheafor-Hong

Conditions yesterday were as hard as they get, barring avalanche. disease, pestience or famine. The ice was boilerplate hard, prone to this specious, wicked fracturing calledl “dinner plating” (every contact strike makes a discolored shape about the size of a turkey platter, which means it has fractured around and under the ice and you trust it at your peril). It means a boat load of work on the sharp end and your belayer is probably going to get shelled unless you’ve been very wise and very thoughtful and luck doesn’t hurt.

Click here to

Weekend Shopping Bag – latest deals from Moosejaw

Check out these smok’in hot deal from Moosejaw!

20% Off Select Patagonia Styles at – No Code Necessary

Moosejaw Fleece Jackets are only $99.99 (regularly $119.99). Sale ends Sunday, 11/22, so hurry! No code needed,

Free 2-Day Shipping at for Orders over $99 with code 2DAY!

Practice makes perfect…my pee funnel experience.

by Hillary Nitschke

It’s pre-dawn on Saturday, and I’m happily cruising down the interstate on my way to meet some friends for this season’s first winter mountaineering adventure. Despite the awfully early alarm clock, and the true shiver in this morning’s coming dawn, I’m happy. While I haven’t had to pack this much gear for a few months, I’m going over the day’s potential in my head, and I’m appreciating my place in the world.

Some of us switch purses to suit our needs, and others among us switch back packs. Suddenly I recall… the pee funnel! I will spend enough of the day in a harness, and it’s going to be chilly, too. I’d rather not shimmie out of my harness and bare my butt to the wind when nature calls today. I’d rather not be in a spot where harness removal is not an option. My bladder was still recovering from several pitches earlier in the week!

Alas, no pee funnel. What’s a girl to do but cope? I have a great fondness for my funnel. I knew the day would be just a little different without it. I must say, I liked it especially on a rope team where I was the only woman. I will admit, however, to one occasion of equipment failure. That is to say…yes, I’ve peed down my leg instead of in to the funnel, but only once! A couple of times I simply couldn’t make myself let go standing up. It takes a little practice. When all your life you’ve done it another way, and then you pee down your leg… Well, it gets even harder after that. I’ll now admit when I peed down my leg, all sorts of more accomplished climbers and guides were right nearby. I felt really silly (I wasn’t new at this great and complex skill after all, and to top it all off, I’d practiced at home before taking her out on the trail), but until now, no one ever knew.

To learn more about pee funnels, and have a good chuckle click here:

Lessons from my Cushion

My Cushion

My Cushion

Upon my return from a 10-day silent retreat with 100 hours of “extreme meditation”, it dawned on me that the experience is reminiscent of coming off of a major alpine climb. Whenever I’ve come down from above, the world always looks different – or at least I am different.  Colors appear more vibrant, odors are pungent, a feeling of accomplishment resonates throughout my tired body, I’m glad it’s over and best of all, I feel very alive, acutely aware and transformed in some way. Another handy side effect is I don’t take as much for granted, loved ones feel extra dear, simple moments are precious and my dog is more happy to see me than usual!

I let go of climbing big peaks and living a more vagabond lifestyle over ten years ago and with that, part of me has felt left behind and nostalgic. Last week while sitting on my cushion learning Vipassana meditation, I began to understand the restlessness climbers experience when they attempt to replace this passion with more “responsible” options such as family and/or professions. Sometimes we don’t have a choice and the path we’ve been on is altered forever.



If the root cause of human suffering comes from keeping our attention on our cravings and aversions, it is easy to become miserable in the process of this obsession.  Most of us have a sense that true happiness and contentment comes from living in the present moment where the law of nature/life exists. We can know this, say the words and even believe it, but it is a monumental leap to fully live it. This is why people climb and now I understand, this is why people meditate.  Climbing is a delicate balance between mind and matter as the body experiences pain, fear and the assortment platter of suffering, the mind is constantly working to create equanimity and ease the discomfort.  I use this strong mental determination when I step up to a difficult lead and it is this discipline that commits me to sitting perfectly still on my cushion for an hour at a time, moving through each sensation as they arise, trusting they will pass. This sharpness of my mind points me towards the moment and nowhere else.

Climbers keep going back for bigger and harder climbs with the addiction to recapture this delicate edge where life feels pure and harmonious. At the point we can’t or don’t want to venture to those heights, how do we fill that glass? I am grateful for meditation, an opportunity that is available in my simple, daily life – the highs, the concentration, the challenge, the insights and the fulfillment all survive on my cushion.  I never knew it was so simple.

June Newsletter

News from the Chicks with Picks Nerve Center:

Chicks Rock!We have officially launched our new women’s rock climbing program appropriately named Chicks Rock!

All Chicks are welcome as we are offering beginning to advanced clinics. We even have different packages you can sign up for.  You can come and climb with us in the daytime only or join us for dinners, slide show and camping. You choose.
Register Now!

2009 Dates:
Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin
September 7-10: Full or Daytime Package available

Red Rocks, Nevada
Option 1: October 1-4:
3-Day Weekend, Full or Daytime Package available
Option 2: October 1-5: 3-Day Weekend Plus Multi Pitch Day, Full or Daytime

Chicks Climbing

It’s our  new Social Networking group that combines Chicks with Picks and Chicks Rock as the go-to place for women’s climbing!  Interacting & networking over the internet is the sign of the times!
We have created three great opportunities for like- minded women to connect, have conversations and discuss hot topics about women & women climbers.

Chicks Climbing Facebook Group
Chicks Climbing Blog
Chicks Climbing Twitter

"Happy Home" Kathmandu Nepal

"Happy Home" Kathmandu NepalMedia:


This month Kim got great exposure with an interview on Everest Mind Camp a web site founded with a simple yet powerful mission in mind: To inspire people to take conscious and empowered action to achieve their personal and professional goals. Check it out

Everest Mind Camp: Go to Guests and then Previous Guests to read the interview with Kim

Women's Adventure Retreats

Women's Adventure Retreats

MIND OVER MOUNTAINS: Thought Provoking Retreats

Don’t forget our Women’s Adventure Retreats, combining yoga, workshops, outdoor activities, spa treatments, Life Coaching and lovely accommodations! Sign up for these transformational retreats soon, as they start in July!

Passion and Potential
Location: Chipeta Sun Lodge & Spa, Ridgway, Colorado
Dates: July 16 – 20, 2009
Difficulty: High Aerobic
Min/Max group size: 4/12
Price: $2250 – all inclusive

Circling Back to Simplicity
Location: The Nature Place, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Dates: August 23- 28, 2009
Difficulty: Moderate Aerobic
Min/Max group size: 4/12
Price: $1550 – all inclusive

Nothing is Constant But Change
Location: Colorado Chatauqua, Boulder, Colorado
Dates: September 17- 21, 2009
Difficulty: Low Aerobic
Min/Max group size: 4/12
Price: $1550 – all inclusive

Chicks Rock!

We have officially launched our new Chicks Rock! women’s rock climbing program starting this September in Devils Lake, WI and October in Red Rocks, NV. See web site for details and dates.

Chicks Rock!“Chicks” has become well known for more than just climbing – our women become really good climbers, learn self-reliance and confidence that funnels into everyday life. We not only climb hard all day, we gather at night for dinners, discussions and slideshows. Chicks is as much about community as it is about climbing! We have created THE place for women to network, make friends and find climbing partners.

Our clinics have the reputation of being well-organized and they run like clockwork – this enables you to get more out of the experience than you ever imagined. Best of all, you get to climb with our famous Girly Guides. We welcome beginner to advanced rock climbers, with 5 different levels you can choose from. Chicks Rock will enable you to pursue your passion of rock climbing and take it to the next level in a super safe, supportive, fun atmosphere.