Crested Butte &The Ouray Ice Park

Crested Butte Ski Buddy

Crested Butte Ski Buddy

Besides skiing & climbing, I love to dance and with this knowledge my girlfriend Alison invited me to the Red Lady Ball in Crested Butte. Since I love to do-it-all, going from a soft shell to a strappy red dress is my version of the perfect contrast. I even got a ‘Red Lady Transport’ from my cop friend, Mr. X (names have been changed to protect the innocent), who now also poses as my belay slave. Sweet.

Warming up in the Ice Park

Warming up in the Ice Park

After a fun night on the town, the next day proved to be one of best ski days I’ve ever had at a ski area. It didn’t hurt to get the insiders tour from Alison (my ripping ski buddy) and five other locals until my legs were absolute noodles by the end of the day.  My nearly perfect weekend ended with a backcountry ski with Mr. X’s good friend Steve before heading to Ouray that afternoon to get a lap in under the bridge in the Ice Park. My warm up for leading Bridalveil the next day.

Whorehouse Hose, Eureka CO

1st Pitch (photo: Sandy Heise)

1st Pitch (photo: Sandy Heise)

Whorehouse Hose is another San Juan classic that is tucked up in one of those really cool places deep in a narrow canyon. You can see the first pitch from the road, but the rest is always a bit of a mystery as it steps up and meanders to the third pitch several hundred feet above. I love being there tucked away, out of site and out of mind. It’s places like this that first drew me to the aesthetic beauty of ice climbing.

I ventured here with my X-office assistant, Sandy Heise, since Mr. X was off doing his Cop thing in Crested Butte. Besides, I do love climbing with the girls! Especially Sandy after having shared plenty of office time together at the Chicks with Picks head quarters, it was fun to get her out to play! Sandy left the job three years ago after falling in love with a man from Durango…sweet. I’ve missed her calm presence amidst the chaos of the never-ending to do list that being self- employed offers.

Photo: Sandy Heise

Photo: Sandy Heise

The first pitch was really thin and I could see the water rushing underneath it about an inch away at times. The climbing was so delicate and fragile that I was grateful that I am relatively light at 110 pounds. The first pitch is an honest full rope length followed by a small snow field and easy 2nd pitch that was a snow ramp. Then you have to walk a little ways to third pitch around the corner. This pitch looks so different each time I’ve climbed it, this time it was easy with a lot of small ledges for some super fun climbing. Two rappels and you are down. Great day out with a good friend.

Chicks with Picks 2010

March 5, 2009

Since our clinics fill up fast, here are the dates for our 2010 women’s ice climbing clinics:
Totally Chick: Monday 1/11 – check out  Sat 1/16 (4 climbing days)
The Complete: Sunday 1/24 – check out Fri 1/29 (4 climbing days)
The Betty Ice Ball: Friday 1/29 – check out Mon 2/1 (2 climbing days, ½ day clinics)
The Sampler: Monday 2/1 – check out Friday 2/5 (3 climbing days)
civi-chicks.biz for more information

Alta Lakes Hut Trip, Telluride CO

Now for more girl-time at Alta Lakes Lodge near Telluride with 14 women skiers, best known as the annual mom’s hut trip. How did I get invited since I’m not the breeding type? That’s easy, Sara Ballantyne asked me to go so she would have someone to ski with. Sara is a world-class athlete: two-time world mt. bike champion and winner of the Eco-challenge, leading her pack of boys to victory. If there is someone to get my Grrr back in the realm of backcountry skiing, Sara’s at the top of my list.

Dropping into Ophir

Dropping into Ophir

Day 1 – Feb 27
As a warm up for the hut trip, we skied from Trout Lake to Ophir dropping into one of the many couloirs off the ridge. This turned into a five-hour tour as our local guides Donna & Nan, got us a wee bit lost…but who’s counting. Sara and I still had a 5-mile ski into Alta Lodge that same day, so after 7 hours of sliding on skis, we crashed at the hut and I could barely move. A good warm up for our spring tic list to come!

Sara & Kim

Sara & Kim

Day 2 – Feb 28th

We climbed a ridge and spotted this beautiful shot that is featured as this sliver of sunlight between Sara & I – so off we went descending, traversing and finally booting up the couloir for a variable ski down. With one more ridge to climb, we dropped into the hut via a steep face that sits above the hut with all mom’s watching and cheering us on as they drank beer in the sun. Once again, Sara and I were the last to return to the hut that evening. A great day with three fun descents.

Silver Chute - above & to the rt of Sara

Silver Chute - above & to the rt of Sara

Day 3 – March 1st
The entire weekend, we eyed the Silver Chute above the hut that is certainly the most classic line in the area. As the mom’s skied out to their cars, Sara & I skinned up to check out the conditions. When we got to the couloir, we decided to give it a go, threw on some crampons and up we went. I always love climbing the terrain I am going to ski as it gives me a good feel for the snow pack and the exposure. This line certainly had plenty of both! At the top, we did a few Brain Gyms to calm and center our nerves before skiing down. The snow was soft enough to hold a solid edge as it was not a place you would want to fall. That was the icing on the weekend and we skied to the car pretty jazzed. God I love to ski!

Sara half way down Silver Chute

Sara half way down Silver Chute

Ames Ice Hose, Telluride CO

amesPic

2nd Pitch

OK truth be told, I haven’t been on the sharp end of my rope in a few years, but who’s counting? I got busy, I lost ambition or didn’t feel like I had it in me to lead anything sort-of hard anymore. Who knows?

So here we go. My new climbing partner actually showed up as planned so we headed off for our first climb together on Ames Ice Hose near Telluride – a classic three pitch climb that offers steep, narrow and long leads. We hiked in and had to wait for the second shift, getting us on the route around 2:00 PM which was perfect. Kitty Calhoun and I had been on it a week before though we only had time to each lead one pitch before she had to pick up her son Grady at the ski area. I lead the first pitch with Kitty so I let Mr. X jump on it this time before I took the 2nd and 3rd as to complete my goal to lead the entire route this season. Mr. X looked solid enough and I thought to myself that he will make a fine partner…plus he was proving to be a lot of fun.

Kim pointing to the third pitch

Kim pointing to the third pitch

When I was half way up the third pitch a certain unnamed party came up and ruined our wilderness experience by the seriousness of their need to climb everything in one day, pass us by and set the world’s record on speed coiling. Whatever. After the satisfaction of making fun of their serious mood, we hiked out after a successful and fun first climb together. Nice! Off to dinner in Telluride before Mr. X had drive home to his girlfriend. What a pity.

My new climbing partner

Mr. X

Mr. X

I love climbing with women and by the nature of my work, I do quite a bit of it but this winter I was blessed with a new climbing partner…a cute, humorous, 39 year old, unavailable, cop from Crested Butte. Quite the package deal wouldn’t you say.  Practicalities aside, I was certainly ready for a little excitement in my life…especially since he let me do all of the leading.

So here’s the deal, when I turned 50 I didn’t feel as if my life was suddenly passing me by or I needed to head on some major adventure that would put me on top of a symbolic summit to my soul. Instead, I felt grateful for my life and the fact that I’ve always done exactly what I wanted to do.  Even so, I still  felt like a total looser for not setting any “goals” for this milestone. With that said, I quietly decided it would be fun to lead all of the major backcountry ice climbs in the San Juan’s and ski some of the classic north faces of the peaks I gaze upon everyday.  Somehow the simplicity of this goal, close to home, sounded perfect and besides, I found a new belay slave. Sweet.

Getting my Grrr Back

It’s been quite a year: not only did we celebrate our 10-year anniversary at Chicks with Picks, host the first full-on women’s ice festival and start a new program called Chicks Rock…. I turned 50, got an amicable divorce, remodeled a house, took a group of women to Nepal and got my grrrr back.  Not necessarily in that order.

Grrrr

The Head Chick

Over the past ten years, I’ve been busy starting things such as Chicks with Picks, Mind Over MountainsdZi Foundation and becoming a certified Life Coach. That all looks good on paper & web sites, but the truth is the adventurous aspect of my life, not to mention my confidence, has suffered in the last few years. It was Kitty Calhoun (one of my Girly Guides) who looked at me this winter, saw the wind knocked out of my sails and encouraged me to “get my grrr back”. She kept throwing me back on the ice to do lap after lap until my arms fell off. So thanks to her, I decided it was time to reclaim my passions.

End of the Season

Did that really just happen?  The ten-year anniversary of Chicks with Picks womens ice climbing has come and gone. Yup, time flies when you are having fun kicking axe and kicking butt! Notice that no one has tried to replicate this program but then again, why would they? Who knew that womens ice climbing would take off and gain such momentum since we hosted our first clinic in 1999 with 18 gals.  Women are smart – if you look at the odds, ice climbing is a great way to meet guys and lesbians, for that matter. Better than Match.com, Fitness Singles or E-Harmony for hooking up that like-minded, adventurous, soul mate to share gear with.

Getting to the top of an ice climb

Celebrate

In 2009, we offered our three standard clinics with a 4-to-1 ratio:  The Totally Chick, The Complete Chicks & The Sampler held court in the Ouray Ice Park and then in February, we introduced the first Annual Betty Ice Ball: a women’s festival of ice. Forty-four women gathered for half-day clinics with a 6-to-1 ratio, group dinners, slideshows, auctions and dancing to our local band “Fall Baby” – whoa some match making was going on that night! Women loved The Betty Ball and being able to attend Chicks with Picks at a more affordable price and we all know they will be back for more!

Chick Sightings

Word has it that Chicks alumni have created quite a stir out there. We want to hear and see photos of your recent gatherings and adventures because here at the Chicks Headquarters, we have the dreaded disease called FOMO (fear of missing out).   Please go to our facebook group and fill us in on all of the juicy little details!

NBC Weekend Show

Chicks on the NBC Weekend Show

Chicks on the NBC Weekend Show

Check us out on the NBC Weekend Show!  Click Here