Summertime and the climbing is fine!

Here on the Chicks Climbing Gossip Report you can catch up on all of the great gossip (articles, videos, and other assorted cool stuff) we talked about over the past week at Chicks Climbing!

Last week we drew the winners of our Chicks Ambassador Poster Plaster! Katie from Pennsylvania took home the Osprey Hornet 24 daypack, New York’s Margaret scored the pair of Julbo Guide Glasses, and Paula from Missouri will never be lost in the dark again thanks to her new Princeton Tec Fuel headlamp! Thanks a million to all of the awesome Chicks ambassadors that helped out with the poster plaster giveaway; it was so fun to see posters popping up across the country. Check out the full wrap-up of the event here.

Also last week our monthly newsletter came out – check out all that is new and exciting in the world of Chicks here!

Finally, we posted a great recipe for happiness concocted by our own Head Chick (who is also a certified life coach)! Check out her wise words of advice here.

All of the other articles we linked to this past week through either the Chicks Climbing Twitter account, or on the Chicks Climbing Facebook fan page (and some on both!). We provide this wrap-up because we come across a TON of great resources each week, but understand that not everyone is online all the time, or even on both (or either) of these social media platforms. So you can check here each and every week for the latest and greatest in Chicks Climbing resources here on the blog.

However, we know WE may have also missed some cool stuff this week, so if there is something of interest we missed that you came across this week please, let us know so we can share with everyone else!

Climbing
– Chicks alumna Vera sends Lobster Claw at Hueco Tanks! Check out the video here:  http://bit.ly/mkQ8R8
– Great blog by Girly Guide Mattie Sheafor up at Pemba Serves (@pembaserves) on how she learned to climb at Devil’s Lake: http://bit.ly/lB6I4H (P.S. You can too in our upcoming Chicks Rock! clinic July 29-Aug. 1!)
– Nice article on Emilie Drinkwater – the lynchpin of our Aug. 19-21 Daks weekend climbing clinic – up at Alpine Athena written by Chick Dara Miles (@daramiles): http://ht.ly/57RLv
– A really lovely article remembering the spark and spunk of climber Karen McNeill written by Girly Guide Margo Talbot (@margotalbot): http://ht.ly/57QFq
– Great report of lessons learned from Lizzy & Luke (@lizzy_t@lstefurak) bailing on an El Cap route last weekend in epic weather http://ht.ly/57MOC
– Great climbing partners aren’t always easy to find; Brendan (@semi_rad) talks about “The Friend You Want Along On Every Climb”: http://ow.ly/58C1O
– Great new blog up at ClimbFind (@climbfind): “Becoming Wily: A Story About Expectations And Failure”: http://t.co/BFZczXV
– Nonprofit set up to honor Chloe Graftiaux with purpose to give small “nudges” to other aspiring climbers http://ht.ly/58P9v
– Climbing mom Erica (@cragmama) has some great advice on choosing a crag when you have little ones tagging along: http://ht.ly/5aUyv

News
– Climbers boost Arizona’s economy: http://bit.ly/k3d1kX
– This week’s outdoor and climbing news from AAI (@alpineinstitute)! http://tinyurl.com/3ne3rx8
– Congrats to Alex Puccio., Angie Payne, and Alex Johnson for your showing at the 2011 IFSC World Cup Bouldering Final! http://ht.ly/5aTbu

Gear
– Ever wondered how you can be sure your gear is safe? Check out these UIAA Gear Testing Videos posted by the American Alpine Institute: http://tinyurl.com/3nuwwqs
– Erica (@Cragmama) has ended searching for an approach shoe after falling in love with this pair from The North Face: http://ht.ly/578Jm
– Gear review by Katie Levy (@k8tlevy) of the Black Diamond GridLock carabiner, made to prevent cross loading:  http://bit.ly/jm7m92

Fun Stuff
– Maybe you need to start dressing up a bit when you climb??? America’s Next Top Model – Rock Climbing Photoshoot (HILARIOUS!) http://ow.ly/59npw

Inspiration
– She’s almost done (hopefully!) recovering from a broken foot – see what Whitney (@whitneyio) has learned while injured: http://ht.ly/578Hd
– “Make conscious choices that will lead us to our own personal fulfillment” – lovely, short blog from Girlly Guide Margo Talbot (@margotalbot) http://ht.ly/57Lq4
– Michaela, a Vertical Girl (@verticalgirl) climber gets to work with the *next* generation of climbers on a weekly basis: http://ht.ly/58Na4

Trip Reports
– Erica (@cragmama) goes bouldering in Grayson Highlands, VA and reports back on the trip: http://bit.ly/lcjqCV
– Review of the Super Topo (@SuperTopo) Yosemite Sport Climbs & Top Ropes guide book: http://bit.ly/iu6aRV

Giveaways
– Do you know a guy who wears a size L climbing harness? Check out Amy (@TheGearcaster)’s giveaway of an Arc’teryx R320: http://bit.ly/j1hJHy

If you have a blog entry that you think would be of interest to the women of Chicks Climbing please let us know! We love getting contributed content from other women – anything from trip reports, nutrition and training tips, to videos. We want to share your resources with the community – much like we do with the Gossip Report and are more than happy to re-publish and share links on behalf of the women’s climbing community!

Recipe for Happiness

Ingredients:
1 Quart of Healthy Choices
2 Cups of Helping Others
1 Cup of Community
½ Cup of Passions
3 Tablespoons of Contemplative Space
2 teaspoons of Learning<
1 pinch of Creativity

I just returned from the Telluride Mountain Film Festival which is the most inspiring and thought provoking weekend of my year. One of my favorite films was called Happy– it reinforced some of my core values as a person and a Life Coach. As a Coach, I help people to really “Shine”, be the best they can be, get unstuck, take a closer look at who they are and mix things up in order to ultimately be happy.

Presently, I am challenged by my recent shoulder surgery and slow recovery.  It has prompted me to look at what makes me happy in the face of not being able to participate in activities I am use to. Do I take being happy for granted? Am I happy now? What are the ingredients to living a happy life?

There are many recipes to happiness – this is the one I want to mix up this week:

1) Healthy Choices we are what we eat (and think)!  It matters what we put in our bodies…fruit, vegetables, protein ….good fats, organic, non-processed food.  Fueled by good choices our bodies function well and feel better. In concert with good eating habits is daily exercise – it tones our bodies and brings more oxygen to the brain. When we feel “good in our skin”, we sleep better and yes, we ARE happier. Another way we feed our body is with thoughts – make sure you feed yourself positive words, they will directly affect the outcome of your actions.

Tip: start with making good choices at the store. Read a book on healthy eating, don’t starve yourself, eat well-balanced yummy meals. Do exercise which is fun, get a friend to join you for a walk or a bike ride. Make a climbing date. Make the time to exercise outside! Catch the negative thoughts and replace them with positive, more powerful, life affirming words.

2) Helping Others – the best way to get out of your head or engage in self-doubt is to give back and serve others. It is the most fulfilling, satisfying activity you will ever take part in. Years ago, I co-founded a non-profit organization called The dZi Foundation helping the people I fell in love with in the Himalayas. This looks pretty good on paper, but I soon realized that helping people is small ways, everyday, is just as…if not more…important. I have often posed this question: What if everyone on earth woke up and asked “how can I help someone today?” I truly think the world would be a different place. These small acts of kindness have a ripple effect that will ultimately create profound change on a large scale. Try it and see what happens!

Tip: find a way to help someone each and every day. Perform random acts of kindness that are entirely anonymous. Donate to your favorite organization. Write a letter about an issue that moves you. Point out peoples gifts & talents to them.

3) Community – family, friends, special interest groups, church etc. We are not meant to be alone, we are social beings who feel a deep desire to belong, share ideas and values with like-minded people.  We want to belong and feel validated for our values and beliefs.

Tip: call your family members once a week, let your friends know you love them, have a pot luck, join a book group, find a place you can have the conversations that matter most to youWe have a need to be seen and heard by others…give this freely and it will be given to you!

4) Passions – What blows your skirt up? You may have heard the phrase “follow your bliss”. What are the things that excite you and make you feel most alive? This is very different for each of us. Allow your passions to change and evolve over time as you change. Remember…your passions are ‘not who you are’ – they come from a more authentic you…not your ego.  When you are passionate; you are vibrant, enthusiastic and very happy.

Tip: mix it up and try new things!  Be adventurous. Make sure you do the things you love each and every day. Notice how easy it is to put these things off for the “to do” list. Go dancing, draw a picture, write a song, sing Karaoke or climb a mountain.  See the world through the eyes of a child.

5) Contemplative Space – It is important to put aside time to tap into your spiritual, sacred and divine nature. This will be an activity that gives you the space to go inside yourself, be fully present in the moment and give you the sense of something bigger than yourself. Nature is a place where I easily feel awe and wonder for this amazing life. It is harder to take life for granted when you feel this deeper connection.

Tip: meditation, yoga, walking in nature, church, spiritual group, prayer or setting daily intentions. Practice paying attention to gratitude, abundance and appreciation. Get up a half hour early to be still.

6) Learning – keep the brain firing. Studies show it staves off disease and increases happiness. It will inspire you to remain conscious and aware of the wonders of the world. Challenge yourself to be a life long learner…never be complacent as the wonders of this world are endless.

Tip: take a class, learn a language, take music lessons, find a dance partner, join a book club, read about topics you know nothing about. Take interest in current events, make a difference on this planet, take an on line class, travel.

7) Creativity – is something that is “inspired”, it comes from the Supreme force and divine nature of the planet and of ourselves. It is present in our hearts, not our heads. You can not think it up, it will come to you when you allow yourself the space to be open.  Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself and have fun in the process.

Tip: whether you believe it or not, everyone is creative. Try things that are not familiar to you such as writing, drawing, painting, sculpting, gardening, decorating, cooking, poetry or dancing. The possibilities are endless.

Feel free to mix the ingredients and add new flavors as you go. If you find the combination that is right for you….you WILL be fulfilled and happy. If this seems challenging, I’d love to point you in the right direction!

For a free Life Coaching sample session, please give me a call! 970-623-2442. Get in on our three-month summer special. Call to inquire.

Kim Reynolds
Certified Coactive Coach

Spring is in full swing!

Here on the Chicks Climbing Gossip Report you can catch up on all of the great gossip (articles, videos, and other assorted cool stuff) we talked about over the past week at Chicks Climbing! This week we have a fun new feature to introduce on the blog – “The Climbing Chef” aka Lauren is going to be sharing some amazing “gourmet” recipes born on a camp stove in a van. Look for her first blog later this week!

We also want to remind everyone that signed up for the Chicks Ambassador Poster Plaster to make sure you post the pics of your posters and tag us on Facebook @ChicksClimbing so we can give you your entries into the June 1 drawing for an Osprey Hornet 24 daypack, a pair of Julbo Guide Glasses, and a Princeton Tec Fuel headlamp!

So, last week on the Chicks blog we had a post from Girly Guide Caroline George who shared the details of her one day ascent of the Eiger’s north face! Check out her complete recount of the day in words and photos here.

We also had a guest blog from Chicks designer Kellie Day who wrote about the “Evolution of a Betty” and wants to know what YOU are inspired by. Share with us in the comments and you will be eligible to win one of three Chicks T-shirts! So make sure you check it out and leave a comment by May 17!

All of the other articles we linked to this past week through either the Chicks Climbing Twitter account, or on the Chicks Climbing Facebook fan page (and some on both!). We provide this wrap-up because we come across a TON of great resources each week, but understand that not everyone is online all the time, or even on both (or either) of these social media platforms. So you can check here each and every week for the latest and greatest in Chicks Climbing resources here on the blog.

However, we know WE may have also missed some cool stuff this week, so if there is something of interest we missed that you came across this week please, let us know so we can share with everyone else!

Climbing
– A cool video of Girly Guide Jen Olson patiently working through a tough move at Indian Creek on our FB page! Check it out (may need to scroll down the page to see it): http://ht.ly/4MmDj
– Awesome article on Gripped about some Canadian women climbing in their 40s & 50s & crushing it! http://ht.ly/4P0t8
– Another awesome example of women working to inspire each other to climb hard – GirlBeta.com!  http://bit.ly/m9nABc thanks to Katie Levy (@k8tlevy) for sharing!
– A couple of strong chicks are featured in this bouldering video! http://ht.ly/4OVZy
– ANOTHER video of some strong Chicks bouldering! These three are crushing it at Joe’s: http://ht.ly/4P1al
– Climbing  is a sport that can keep you active, engaged & stimulated for decades! The latest evidence coming from Steph Davis (@highstephhttp://ht.ly/4Mo9Y
– A beautiful new alpine route in the Canadian Rockies that saw its FA May 1: http://ht.ly/4NXrH
– SCARPA’s newsletter hit the wire: http://ow.ly/4Md1e – read about Caroline George “on the rock.”
– The AAI (@AlpineInstitute) posted some great insight on self-arrest techniques and how to safely practice: http://ht.ly/4N8uI
– Fun blog from our web developer & Outdoor Research (@ORGEAR) athlete Jason Nelson on the seven things to be afraid of while ice climbing: http://ht.ly/4NhIM
– A thought definition of climbing “The voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles” http://bit.ly/iJ7THP
– Fear of frogs and climbing – believe it or not there is a connection for Whitney (@whitneyiohttp://ht.ly/4Pxfr – she’s just better with her climbing fear 😉
– A few sweet climbing videos that are keeping Lizzy and Luke inspired on Dreaming in Vertical (@dreaminvertical): http://bit.ly/lIyqo2
– A climbing mom shares how she assesses risk when bringing the kids on a climbing trip: http://ht.ly/4Qstp – do you have any other tips to share?

News
– AAC (@AmericanAlpine) members can now access short-term and long-term climber friendly health insurance: http://ht.ly/4LoRs
– New update from First Ascent athlete Melissa Arnot who is prepping to move to Camp II on Makalu: http://ht.ly/4LoJm

Training & Nutrition
– A Denver Post (@denverpost) series looks at sports changing body types. First entry: climbing in the form of a strong, fit chick! http://is.gd/gd1u3E

Gear
– Make sure you regularly take time to inspect your climbing gear! A great reminder from REI (@REI): http://ht.ly/4LBF4

Fun Stuff
– New grad with no job? Don’t worry, Jenn Fields (@jennfields) has advice on how you tell your folks: no job for you, you’re gonna be a dirtbag: http://ow.ly/4OLjR
– A fun love letter to winter from Aleya (@aleyajean) – we couldn’t agree more! http://ht.ly/4Qs7k

Inspiration
– A lovely post on identity or rather mistaken identity from the thoughtful Tali – aka @cupcakemafiahttp://ht.ly/4OTXd

Trip Reports
– Miss out on the Yosemite Tweetup last month? Get an insider look at what went down from Elizabeth (@eliz_rocks) in her blog post: “#Yostweetup 2011: The People” http://bit.ly/lBm26B and check out the amazing shots she captured in the valley: http://bit.ly/jmx0sO

If you have a blog entry that you think would be of interest to the women of Chicks Climbing please let us know! We love getting contributed content from other women – anything from trip reports, nutrition and training tips, to videos. We want to share your resources with the community – much like we do with the Gossip Report and are more than happy to re-publish and share links on behalf of the women’s climbing community!

Evolution of a Betty

Lots of gals ask about the Chicks with Picks logo and what’s the story behind it. When I created her, the sassy climbing gal that is our dear logo was all of us at the time. Me, Kim, all my girlfriends –  free as a bird and off to the next adventure at the drop of a hat. Climbing road trips with girlfriends were the best that life could offer – in my opinion.

A typical scenario: Susan, and me, footloose and fancy free in the Needles of southern California. Towering, stunning, granite spires with names like The Sorcerer and The Witch. We ate French toast with peaches from a can and life never tasted better. We were photographed by a famous photographer and published in a Climbing magazine. These were my 15 minutes of fame.

The desert towers – Castleton, Fine Jade, Sunflower Tower, Coffee Pot Tower – there was no feeling as exhilarating as sitting atop one of these and seeing as far as the desert could reach. Sun baked, parched, taped up hands and sand in the eye. These adventures morphed into drawings I did for Chicks T-shirts, The North Face T-shirts, posters and more.

Through all of this I supported myself with graphic design. Starting with the Chicks logo, I began to support other women who were launching businesses they were passionate about. I drew bike logos, surf logos, yoga logos, ski logos. I designed brochures and websites for mountain guides and outdoor companies. My passion had permeated into what I did for a living. I knew these people and I could capture the spirit of their business with design.

In Winslow, Jen, Wendy and I sat for a day in the back of Wendy’s pick up truck, waiting out a wind storm, drinking camp coffee, wanting to get down in Jack’s Canyon and pull on some limestone. We had no idea what was ahead of us: children, life, death, relationships, responsibility. The metal roof of the camper took the nonstop hit of sand. We were fit and energetic, the world was whatever we wanted it to be.

In 2009 I found myself painting in Mexico for a week with my teacher. Every morning we ate papayas and yogurt, drank coffee on her porch, and watched the whales breach. We painted cactuses and waves outdoors in the morning, and then worked on canvases in the studio in the afternoons. I took long naps and did yoga. I swam in the ocean. I had finally found my bliss.

So this is Betty in evolution. The rock face has changed. It’s more complex now. I still have my graphic design business, but the Betty that was once on the rock every spare moment is now exploring this new passion – my art – and raising my beautiful son. My love of the outdoors has morphed into a keen sense of the beauty that it is. I have slowed down. I’m an artist and a mother.

Recently my sister gifted me with an hour on the phone with her Shaman from New Orleans. I had never spoken with a Shaman before and she told me lots of things. I am from Cereus. I am an Indigo child. But what really stuck is this: “You have a gift for seeing beauty, and sharing it in your paintings. Other people do not notice the things you notice. You need to look at your life like one of your paintings.”

So this is my new challenge. I am morphing into a butterfly, but I am still climbing out of the cocoon. This is how women are, I think. We grow and love and put our hearts on our sleeve. We search so hard for our peace and our passion. And all along the way, we are in the process of blooming.

Kellie has lived in Ridgway, Colorado since 1998. Before that she worked for the U.S. Forest Service as a ranger surveying, wilderness rangering and fighting fire in Alaska, Idaho, Arizona and California.
To see more of Kellie’s art and graphics, visit her websites: http://dayzigngraphics.com/ and http://kelliedayart.com/

We want to know – ‘what’s making you blossom these days?’ Let us know in the comments below. On May 17 we will select three random comments as the winners of a free Chicks T-shirt designed by Kellie!

Climbing leads to confidence, fitness & independence: Janet’s story

Janet onsighting Nightmare on Crude Street, 10d in the Black Corridor

Janet is another amazing climber breaking the 60+ barrier still leading 5.11s that we want to introduce you to.

She began climbing at the age of 44, and has been going non-stop for 18 years ever since. She is a mother to two step sons and still works a full-time job. Most weeks, she’s able to go climbing 2-3 times.

Her initial introduction to climbing left her less than impressed, but can you blame her? It was in a converted racquetball court at Oregon State University – under the bleachers! It wasn’t until she got to climb outside, at Carver, that she discovered what all the excitement was about!

Over the years Janet has noticed that her climbing has definitely improved as she ages – and not necessarily because she is climbing harder, but just climbing smarter, more efficiently. She also tells us there are more and more “older” climbers that are still pulling down hard.

Most significantly, with age has come a change in perspective towards climbing projects. Janet finds herself picking routes more selectively – routes she thinks she will enjoy instead of just throwing herself at routes simply because they are deemed “a classic.” As she said in our interview, “I’m still doing laps on 11’s in the gym and I think it’s an accomplishment to be where I am at my age.” We agree! Read on to see our interview with Janet!

Profile
Name:  Janet Linebarger
Age: 62
Years climbing:  18 years
Lead climb at: 5.11 sport
Mom: Two stepsons
Working: Yes!

Q&A
Can you talk about your first climbing experience?
My first climbing experience was in the old gym under the bleachers in converted racquetball courts at Oregon State University.  I thought it was ok, but didn’t see what all the excitement was about.  Then I went outside to climb (at Carver) and found out what all the excitement was about!

Has your climbing improved with age?
My climbing has improved with age.  I don’t climb as hard, but I climb better.

How many days do you try to climb a week?
I climb 2-3 days a week.

What do you do on rest days?
On rest days I sometimes rest.  Or I will hike or work my legs in the gym.

What other activities and/or sports do you do? (Any cross training or cardio?)
I bike, mostly on the road these days due to lack of availability to trails; I love to cross-country ski or snowshoe; or train in the gym on the StairMaster or treadmill for a cardio and leg workout.  I love to read, play cards (bridge or 500), watch movies, and go out to eat.

How do you avoid injuries?
Well, I don’t know that I do avoid injuries.  I try to listen and pay attention to aches and pains but those seem to increase with age, and if you pay too close attention then you never do anything.  So, it’s a balancing act which sometimes pays off and sometimes not.

If you are injured, how do you deal with it?
If I am injured I try to rest and take care of the body part.  This doesn’t always work as a strategy.  Like with elbow tendinitis.  After 4 months rest and no improvement, I started using a Flexbar and started climbing again.  I think it will always be painful to some extent.  With knee and leg injuries I usually do what the PT tells me to do.  I haven’t had other types of injuries in a long time. Knock, knock.

As you’ve gotten older, how has your body changed as a climber?
As I’ve gotten older, my body has changed as a woman, not as a climber.  I still have a lot of muscle definition but I also have the requisite weight around the middle.  If I hadn’t continued to climb and stay active, that would be worse by far.

Who do you look up to as a mentor in the climbing world? (Or, who influences your climbing (if anyone)?)
I look up to all the older climbers that are still pulling down.  There are more and more of them.

What kinds of projects do you find yourself focusing on now? Is this different from what you worked at in the past?
I’m more modest and realistic about climbing projects now than I used to be.  I really wanted to climb 13’s but never got there.  I really wanted to do Chain Reaction and now I won’t.  But that’s OK.  One has to put things into perspective.  I’m still doing laps on 11’s in the gym and I think it’s an accomplishment to be where I am at my age.  So now I don’t do a route just because it’s a classic or a certain grade.  I really want to like the route for its ascetics and how much fun it is and how well it suits me.  I don’t throw myself at any route relentlessly like I used to.

What kind of training plan do you employ?
I have no formal training plan.  I take it one day at a time.  If I’m tired then so be it.  Some days are better than others.  That’s life.

Nutrition – how conscious are you of fueling your body for performance?
I use good nutrition and supplements but I don’t starve myself of fats.  If I lost the fat in my face I would look ten years older.  Older women with a single digit body fat number look like older, skinny women.  My opinion.

If you could offer one piece of advice to a woman in her 40s that has never tied into a rope before but is curious to try, what would it be?
I was 44 when I started climbing.  I was already pretty fit but climbing helped me get more fit.  And I have seen many women in the gym where I climb and teach that get more fit, more confident, more independent, and really, more beautiful, with each new hurdle passed in their climbing efforts.  It’s an amazing sport in many respects but I think the things that are hardest to see until you have tried it is that you are really alone in your efforts and struggles because of the focus it takes, but you are also part of a tight community that gives you total support and encouragement in whatever your goals are.  So it is very solitary and at the same time very social.  How can you resist?  Just try it!

Pushing boundaries

Carol in Thakhek, Laos, January 2011.

Carol Simpson, a traveling Bikram yoga teacher, has been climbing for 24 years.

In that time she’s redpointed a 5.12b sport climb and a 5.11b trad.

Carol started climbing when she was 42 years old.

Wait, that means this 66-year-old mother of three and grandmother of four is still rocking out?

Yes, she is!

For anyone that’s been to a Chicks with Picks or Chicks Rock! clinic you know it’s not unusual to see at least a 20-year spread in the ages of the women that come out to scale either rock or ice with us. Most climbing publications today focus on the recent projects of young up-and-coming climbers who are rarely more than 30 years old. And because we often have women who are just starting to climb in their 40s and 50s we wanted to give you a little insight and inspiration from other amazing women who started the sport at that age, and are continuing to climb hard. First up is Carol, who is still onsighting 5.11a’s on sport routes, and 5.10a trad lines.

One thing Carol has noticed as she’s gotten older is that her climbing technique has only gotten better. She also hasn’t suffered an injury in more than SEVEN years. So how does she do it, and who does she look up to for inspiration?

Read on for our Q&A with Carol, a true inspiration for millions out there who have said “I’m too old to start…”

Profile
Name:  Carol Simpson
Age: 66
Years climbing:  24 years
Lead climb at –
Sport: Can usually onsight 5.11a, depending on the climbing area.  Hardest sport redpoint 5.12b (age 53)
Trad: Can usually onsight 5.10a.  Once again, it varies depending on climbing area.  Hardest trad redpoint 5.11b (age 60)
Mom & Grandma: 3 children and 4 grandchildren
Occupation: Traveling Bikram yoga teacher

Q&A
Can you talk about your first climbing experience?
I was 42 years old when I experienced my first climb.  Went out with a ski buddy and he put a toprope on a 5.9 for me and a young guy, Joe, who was around 21 years of age.  As I watched Joe climb, I got more and more terrified because he was falling and cursing and finally got lowered down.  I will never forget the feeling of working my way up that climb.  My whole body was quivering, my mouth was dry as a bone and my heart was racing the whole way up, yet I had the experience of being in some kind of altered state of consciousness.  I got up the climb without falling and when I got to the top, I had a feeling of elation like I’d never had in my life! A major adrenaline rush!  I only did one climb that day because I was so mentally and emotionally spent from the whole thing.  I couldn’t wait to come back out and do it again!

Has your climbing improved with age? My technique has improved over time.

How many days do you try to climb a week? When I am climbing, I climb around 3 or 4 days a week.  However, I am not consistent because we travel a lot and there’s not always a climbing area nearby.

What do you do on rest days? Bikram yoga or read, draw, cycle, hike, etc.

What other activities and/or sports do you do? (Any cross training or cardio?) Road biking, skiing, Bikram yoga, Bikram yoga, Bikram yoga!

How do you avoid injuries? Bikram yoga!

If you are injured, how do you deal with it?  I haven’ been injured since I began practicing Bikram yoga 7 years ago.  Prior to that I had shoulder, knee and foot surgery.  I handled each by resting longer than I wanted to, but forcing myself to rest until I was completely healed.

As you’ve gotten older, how has your body changed as a climber? I have muscles now that I never had in my 20s and 30s.  Arms, shoulders and back.  Very nice to enjoy while in your 60s.

I have noticed that I need more rest days between climbing days, especially if we’re climbing in a steep, overhanging area.  I will climb one day and rest the next.  Sometimes, it’s two days on, one day off if it’s, for example, an area like Smith Rock where the climbs are not as steep.

Who do you look up to as a mentor in the climbing world? (Or, who influences your climbing (if anyone)?) Someone you probably don’t know because she’s not a famous climber.   Her name is Susan Price.  Susan lives in Portland, OR .  She exemplifies an ideal climbing woman in my mind.  She is over 50, extremely strong and makes 5.12 look like a walk in the park.  She’s intelligent (former physician), humble, kind and a truly genuine person.  Really fun to be around as well.  She never tried to be one of those women who is out to please the guys, if you know what I mean.

I never really knew anyone older than me to be a role model or mentor.  That’s why it’s such a pleasure and an honor to be an inspiration to younger women.

What kinds of projects do you find yourself focusing on now? Is this different from what you worked at in the past? I don’t work projects.  I did some of that in the past but I prefer to try to onsight a climb or get it within 2 or 3 tries.

What kind of training plan do you employ? No formal training plan.  I just eat right, get plenty of rest, climb and balance my climbing with yoga.

Nutrition – how conscious are you of fueling your body for performance? I don’t eat red meat, pork or chicken but I eat seafood to ensure my protein intake is sufficient.  I never eat fast food, junk food or drink sodas.  I don’t feel like I go overboard with food.  Just try to eat fresh, natural fruits, veggies and grains.  No supplements.  No secret Chinese herbs.  I’ve tried all the supplements as well as “high performance” diets off and on during my life and I have concluded that my basic concept is portion control.  I pretty much eat what I want, and yes I love chocolate AND cheese, but I eat small portions of everything, so I can keep my climbing weight.  I’m almost 5’9” and my climbing weight is 118-120 pounds.

If you could offer one piece of advice to a woman in her 40s that has never tied into a rope before but is curious to try, what would it be? Here is how you tie a figure 8 knot.

Note from Chicks: Carol doesn’t have a lot of pictures of herself climbing and noted about the one she sent: “I don’t have any good climbing shots of myself.  I’m sending this one from January, 2011 in Thakhek, Laos.  It’s OK, but unfortunately I’m toproping.  Somebody had to take the draws off cause it was so steep, so I volunteered!” 🙂

Ice brings two Chicks alumnae together in De Pere, Wisc.

The following Chicks Sighting was reported by alumna Anne Hughes, who went out with Chicks Rock! alumna Elissa Chasen for some ice climbing last weekend!

Elissa Chasen and I climbed at the Ice Pit in De Pere, Wisc. on Saturday.  For me, it was nearly my first time ice climbing at home even though I’ve been to fourteen Chicks with Picks sessions in ten seasons.  I’ve been home from Chicks 2011 for a month, but I just couldn’t wait until 2012 to ice climb again.  For Elissa this day was to be her first on ice and I had a feeling she was going to love it.  Elissa is a rock climber and an alumna of Chicks Rock! 2010 at Devil’s Lake.  She definitely rose to the occasion, especially because the boots she borrowed were a poor fit, her gloves too thin even for a warm day, and the rest of the gear awkwardly unfamiliar.  Nor was there a beginner climb to be found — The Ice Pit is in an active stone quarry with perfectly vertical walls, hence perfectly vertical climbs that all tower 100 feet above the quarry floor.  Learning to swing and kick points in on ice that relentlessly vertical is no day at the Ouray Kid’s Wall, but Elissa went at it with determination and laughter all day long.

What a sweet, sweet day.  The forecast was our first thaw.  The ice was turquoise and the locals said all of the Ice Pit climbs had come in thicker than any of them could remember.  Only a dozen climbers shared the 7 ropes.

Eleven years after my own first ice climb I found myself teaching ice climbing.  I do love to teach what I love.  In Madison I teach rock climbing but ice climbing is hard to find here in the land of horizontal ice, the upper Midwest.  Each time I gave Elissa a tip, I was hearing a cacophony of Girly Guides tips swirling in my head, the skilled instruction of Mattie (my very first Chicks guide back in 2002), Kitty, Angela, Kim C, Karen, Sarah, Dawn, Caroline, and Carolyn all came to mind as I showed Elissa what to do.  On each of my own turns, as I climbed my heart out until the Pit closed, I also heard my guide’s voices firmly urging me upwards with their focus on energy saving efficiency.

The Ice Pit is run as a private club and usually closes at 4 p.m. but the three members left at the bewitching hour let me squeeze in a climb or two past closing.  My last climb, my 7th, was the most fun, a line where I could put my mixed skills to work.  I was in heaven.  The club members had to chase me away to pull the last rope before I would tie in yet again.  It is good to know there is a training ground less than 3 hours from home.  I’ll be back and I have a feeling Elissa will be combing eBay for her own gear by the time the snow flies next season.

All photos from Anne Hughes. Pictured at the top are Anne and Elissa at the Ice Pit. Below is a picture to show the scope and steepness of the ice, while at the bottom is Elissa climbing ice for the first time!

Thanks for sending in a report on this Chicks sighting, Anne! If you have a Chicks sighting we want to know about it, please share with us 🙂

There’s always something to learn!

No matter what your experience level in climbing, there’s always something to learn at a Chicks with Picks clinic.

In fact, even the Head Chick benefits from the experience and teaching of our top-notch guides! Check out the video below as the 2011 Ouray Ice Fest women’s comp winner, Dawn Glanc, coaches the Head Chick on an M6+ climb.

Being open to learning means measurable improvements are also on the way!

Women in Ouray Ice Festival competition

In response to the question as to why there were only four women admitted into the Ouray Ice Festival Competition this year, the Head Chick went to the director of the Ouray Ice Fest competition to get answers.

Here’s what she found out:
“Historically, there have only been 15 men and 5 women in the comp. This year 25 men and 7 women applied. Two women didn’t make the cut. So they narrowed it to a field of 15 men and 5 women.

When one woman dropped out – the two alternates were called and both denied. So they only have 4 women this year. The comp. director said it’s nothing against women, it’s that no-one applied.”

Here are the four women that will be competing:

Zoe Hart
Emily Harrington
Dawn Glanc
Jen Olson

Best of luck to all of you!

*Update* This post was edited 1/11/11 to remove a metaphorical comment made by a third party when we were trying to find out the real deal behind the four women in the competition. The comment was not an opinion by the Head Chick on the difficulty of the route or any of the competitors’ climbing abilities.

Instant karma: my first fall

The following guest post was written by Krysia, a woman who just a few years ago discovered her love for climbing. It’s a great reminder to remain aware while climbing!

Falling.  It’s part of climbing, nobody likes to talk about it, let alone do it.  Well, I will tell you about my first fall on lead; and it wasn’t a text book fall to brag about.  No, it was sort of  the fall you never want to happen.  But hey, it happened, no one was hurt, and now I have it out of the way.

So, there I was, on my second trip to The Red, as a relatively new climber, and had never led a route.  My friend Ashely and I were the only two who weren’t leading routes in our group, but were feeling pretty good, like we could.  So on day 1 I led a 5.5 for the practice of clipping in and then after top-roping a slabby 5.8, led it and sent it, without any problem (I love slabby routes).

However, the next day, I was not so fortuitous.  I wasn’t feeling at the top of my game from the get go and I didn’t have much of a breakfast.  Not consuming enough calories a big no-no for me.   I must have a pretty fast metabolism because I bonk easily when doing any physical activity and have to constantly consume calories to avoid getting shaky. This was my first mistake, not eating enough.

So there I am, ready to onsite a juggy 5.7 , a lower grade, yet different climb than the day before.  My friends gave me the beta on it. It was pretty straight-forward; everything was right there except at the last clip, there was not much, so it was suggested to go right then traverse back left to clip in.  I moved through the first three bolts just fine, plenty of hands and feet, no problem.  But then I made my second mistake.  When going for the last bolt, I simply went on the beta I was given and didn’t take time to first analyze my options.

This was what caused me to fall, not plotting out my last move.  I had done everything else on my own terms prior to, but when I got to this point I just reacted.  I made it up to the level of the top bolt but was too far over to clip in.  It was during my traverse that my legs started to shake and I knew I was bonking.  I started talking to my foot, telling it to stay where I had placed it but, it had other ideas.  Before I knew it I found myself falling.

The cool thing was I wasn’t scared.  I knew there was nothing I could do, so I may as well just relax.  That is what I did, I called out “Falling” and just took a deep breath. I didn’t scream or get panicky.  I started to think, “Ok, so what should I be thinking about?  I guess keeping my feet out toward the wall, and relaxing, and gee, this fall is lasting longer than I imagined it would…”   And then I stopped.  “But, hmm… I am upside down that is weird and unexpected.”  And SMACK, I hit the wall, with my butt.  Everyone was pretty freaked out and I said I was ok, at least it wasn’t my head and righted myself.  And then I noticed how far I fell.  Three bolts down, (including the one I should’ve clipped into) not just one.  That was also unexpected.  So then I was a little freaked out.

Instead of stopping and looking and seeing what options I had I just blindly took advice I had been given.  This is not the way I usually climb.  Believe me, I like to get advice from other climbers and I can take advice well; but I also know, inherently, by looking at a move what may or may not work for me.  Sometimes someone from the ground will yell something for me to try and I know right away for me that would be totally wack, because something I already concocted in my head is the way for me to go and so I just go for it, and oh snap, it’s done and I’m past it.  That is how I climb, a series of stopping to think and then movement.

After my belayer and I chilled out after the adrenaline rush we just got, I watched another girl not in our group redpoint the same climb.  When she got past the fourth bolt she went straight up.  She didn’t go right like I did.  I didn’t even consider doing that.  I didn’t even look! Which means I wasn’t even present or conscious during my climb.  No wonder I fell, I deserved to.  That was all me.  Instant karma is a b*tch.

Krysia Hepatica is a mother, climber and adventure seeker.  Her love for climbing was serendipitous; what started out as a hobby for young her son became a passion for her. She’s now addicted to rock and re-arranges her life around both the local climbing gym’s hours, and the all-important road trips to the Red River Gorge! Follow her blog on climbing and all of life’s wonderful adventures here at venturesome krysia.