Send The Youth USA Mixed Climbing Team To France

Youth mixed climbing team

Georgia Witchel – Youth Mixed Climbing Team & Chicks Alumni

Back in the day, using ice axes and crampons on rock was just considered a mandatory part of alpine climbing. Today, Mixed climbing is quickly growing into its own style and discipline of climbing. No longer do we consider mixed climbing to be “off route”. Instead, today’s climbers seek out large rock faces with small ice features.

Some train endlessly for climbing on artificial comp structures, hours perfecting figure fours and nines, understanding the power and stamina required to execute a series of moves. All these hours of training just to see what they can do for 7-9 min of competition climbing.  Then take those hours of work to enjoy climbing outside  The popularity is booming at crags around the country. The USA Youth Mixed climbing team out of Durango, Colorado is evidence that the future of the sport lies within the youth.

Meet one of the USA Mixed climbing team members, Georgia Witchel. Georgia is also a Chicks Alumni. Georgia is a highschool student in Durango Colorado. She has spent the past two years training at the Durango Rock Lounge with coach Marcus Garcia. Together, each team member and coach Garcia have been working toward the goal of competing in the 2017 UIAA Ice World Championships in France. Last year was the first time the United States sent a youth team to the world cup competition. In 2016, Georgia was the only female representing the United States at the youth world cup level. In 2017, again, she will be the only American female heading to France.

Youth mixed climbing team

Georgia practicing her figure 4’s.

This year Georgia has had a great comp season.  In December 2016, Georgia won her age division at the UIAA World Cup event in Durango. Then, during the 2017 Ouray Ice Festival, Georgia broke the record for the youngest female competitor. She placed 10th in women’s difficulty and 5th in women’s speed.

The USA Mixed Climbing Team is still very much in need of  your help to get to France. Donations will be used to offset the costs of travel, housing & entry fees. This team has big goals, and more than enough motivation to achieve them.

Please help four kids achieve their goal of competing in this prestigious competition. For information go to:

USA mixed climbing team

To make a donation please go to:

USA Mixed Climbing donation

Which Ice Climbing Clinic Is Best For You?

If you have the following questions regarding our ice climbing clinics, you are not alone.

  • Ice ClimbingWhat if I don’t have any gear, or experience in ice climbing?
  • How am I going to stay out all day and not get cold?
  • What if I am not fit enough?
  • What if I haven’t climbed in a while and can’t climb as well as I used to?
  • What if I am afraid of heights?
  • What if I am placed in a group of women that climb better than me?
  • What if I want to learn to lead?

All of our Ouray-based Ice Climbing Clinics are for all levels, you will be placed in groups of women with similar experience, the guide-to-guest ratio is 4:1 so the instruction is tailored to you, and we have demo gear and clothing.  Which course you choose is more a matter of time and expense.  Obviously, the longer the course, the more you will learn, but our four day Complete is just as suitable for a beginner as it is for an advanced climber and vice-versa.

If you are interested in an adventure and learning more about multi-pitch climbing in the backcountry, then Cody or Iceland are just for you.  These clinics are for those who know the basics and are ready to learn to be more efficient as a follower on a multi-pitch climb.  These clinics are also for those who already lead and want to observe a guide’s decision process regarding choosing the objective, gear selection, route finding, weather and snow analysis, and efficient climbing and descent strategies.

As your goals change, we are here to help you reach the next level and our courses are designed to optimize that experience.  Join us!

What is backcountry and why is it so awesome?

BACKCOUNTRY SKIING Q & A WITH CHICKS GUIDES NORIE KIZAKI AND KAREN BOCKEL

Backcountry SkiingChicks:  Let’s start with the basics:  What is backcountry skiing?

KB:  It’s skiing outside and away from a ski resort, on unmarked, ungroomed, and unpatrolled snow slopes.  It’s my favorite kind of skiing!  Usually, you have to earn your turns by hiking uphill to get to the top of the run.  You need special equipment, including climbing skins that attach to the bottom of your skis, ski boots that have a walk mode, and avalanche rescue gear.  You also need skills to navigate the snow-covered mountains beyond the resort.

Chicks:  Why is backcountry skiing so special?

NK:  Backcountry skiing is special because it can take us to places where we could not go otherwise. Skinning can take us a longer distance in a shorter amount of time than being on foot.  Though there is mechanized skiing in the backcountry these days, if we are talking about human powered skiing, the cost of equipment has become reasonable for most people. It is the oldest, purest and simplest method to enjoy skiing.  It was the only way for me to ski every day in winter growing up.  The very best part of backcountry skiing is the relationships you develop with people you ski with, whether they are clients, friends or your significant other.  When I think of backcountry skiing, the first thing that comes to my mind is the people with whom I have shared joyful moments.

Chicks:   What is your favorite backcountry skiing range?

KB:  The San Juan Mountains!  This is where I learned to ski (and be!) in the mountains, and therefore they are really close to my heart.  It’s where I cut my teeth, and where learned about snow and avalanches.  The high alpine terrain is just beautiful.  There are endless opportunities for big and small ski tours with good access off the high passes such as Red Mountain Pass.  The snowpack can be challenging, but when we get blue skies and powder, it’s dreamy out there.

NK:Japan!  That is where I am from.That is where I speak the language and understand the culture. That is where I do most of my ski guiding.  That is where I share joy and laughter with many of my clients, friends and my husband.  That is where I excel and can provide the best skiing experience to my clients.  I look forward to many more years of skiing and ski guiding in Japan.

Chicks:  Who can go backcountry skiing with Chicks?

KB:   Good question!  If you are an intermediate to advanced alpine skier or snowboarder, you can join Chicks with Stix.  For our Backcountry Skiing clinic on Red Mountain Pass, no prior backcountry experience is required – this course will teach you all about the backcountry!  It’s perfect for someone wanting to explore the backcountry for the first time, or for refreshing basic backcountry skills.  The Bird is also a great way to explore powder skiing in the San Juans – via helicopter!  No backcountry experience is required for this clinic either, but the pace will be a little faster and there is opportunity for lots of vertical.  If you’ve ever thought about trying heliskiing, this is the perfect intro.  By the way, we have a good description of our ski levels on our website.

NK: In terms of our In Deep trip to Japan, you would want to be intermediate resort skiers or rider, and you would want to have a few days of powder skiing experience. If you are an intermediate skier, you can learn to ski in powder quickly.  Guides can instruct you on how to ski in deep powder efficiently.  Besides skiing ability, if you enjoy the experience of a different culture and food, you will have a great time!

Chicks:  When is the best time to go backcountry skiing?

KB:  Each mountain range has their season.  Right now, at the beginning of the December, the snow cover is thin and more dangerous here in the San Juans and in the Tetons.  By January, things begin to fill in, and good skiing can be found in many areas – but always watch the avalanche danger!  In March, the sun begins to warm up the snow, and we transition into spring skiing – the time to go up high, ski big peaks and big lines.  Each part of the season has its challenges.  Make sure you and your partners are prepared.  Going with Chicks is a great way to learn from AMGA/IFMGA guides and get the best training possible!

Chicks:  Tell us about your favorite backcountry skiing day.

NK:Every day I go out is my favorite day.  I enjoy skiing with my husband whether it is a mellow tree skiing day or it is a 50-degree couloir type of day.  We also had awesome days with the Chicks In Deep last year in Hokkaido, Japan, skiing some amazing lines and laughing so hard that my stomach was hurting.   If you know me, I cannot stop smiling when I am skiing.

Why Choose Chicks?

On the fence about attending a clinic this winter? We sat down with Chicks Co-Owner and Guide to get her insight on what makes Chicks unique.

The Ouray Ice Park. Photo by: Bill Grasse.

The Ouray Ice Park. Photo by: Bill Grasse.

Chicks started in 1999 with a vision to help women experience ice climbing, and like a fine wine we have aged and matured over time. Our vision is unchanged: We want to empower women through mountain sports. On rock, ice and snow, we are committed to teaching women to take the lead in the outdoors and in life.

Chicks offers a very unique experience that is often imitated but never duplicated. We provide a supportive atmosphere which creates a positive learning environment. We feel strongly that through education and skill development, we can create a community of confident women who are independent leaders in climbing and skiing.

Why choose Chicks?

  1. All Levels are welcome. We operate in the Ouray Ice Park, home to 200 ice climbing routes of varying grades. It’s the perfect venue to learn how to ice climb for the first time or advance your skills. We offer 4 levels of instruction offer a progression of skills, so you will be paired up with others of your same experience and goals. Choose from The Jiffy (2 day), The Sampler (3 day) or The Complete (4 day) day programs.
  2. We will dress you warmly from head to toe. Patagonia and Outdoor Research provide clothing for you to demo at no extra cost. You can show up in your street clothes, and we can outfit you for climbing.
  3. We provide all of the technical ice gear. Petzl, Black Diamond and Camp all supply tools, crampons, helmets and harnesses for you to use at no extra cost. La Sportiva, Asolo and Scarpa provide boots for you to demo too. This is your opportunity to try the sport and all the newest gear on the market and you don’t have to buy a ton of new gear to sign up.
  4. Ouray, Colorado is a picture perfect town located in the heart of the San Juan Mountains.

    Ouray, Colorado is a picture perfect town located in the heart of the San Juan Mountains.

    Delicious meals and cozy lodging. Our evening meals are catered at the Secret Garden B&B. You will be taken on a world culinary tour each evening, starting out with soup to warm your bones, a main course and dessert. At night, you’ll rest your head at the Victorian Inn, located walking distance to the Ouray Ice Park.

  5. Experienced Guides. The Chicks guides are the best women ice climbing guides in the field. Each guide is educated, experienced and reputable. You’ll enjoy getting to know each of them and they are sure to inspire you.
  6. Community of women. The all female environment is supportive and encouraging. Allowing each woman to excel and break through barriers. You’ll be sure to make new friends and connect with other Chicks Alumni. Many women walk away with new climbing partners for future adventures.


Our Goal at Chicks Climbing and Skiing is to help you become confident, competent and independent on the ice (rock and snow). So what are you waiting for? No more excuses. Sign up for a Chicks program today and join us in Ouray.

Tired, Hungry, Happy: Alpine Chicks

Teton Alpine Camp – Trip Report

Alpine climbing with Chicks

Chicks Alpine Alum! Photo by: Angela Hawse

Our first flock of mountain climbers has returned to the valley after our inaugural Chicks alpine clinic, and when everyone got together for a celebration dinner, they all showed the true signs of alpine climbing:  Tired, hungry, and happy faces.  Nowhere else does success come as hard earned as in the alpine, and nowhere else is the reward as great.

Taking place in the famed Grand Teton National Park, the first ever Chicks alpine clinic was completed just a couple weeks ago with three Chicks guides and nine Chicks climbers.  At the helm was lead guide Angela Hawse, an IFMGA Mountain Guide with extensive alpine climbing history and a longtime career in guiding on the Grand Teton for Exum Mountain Guides.  The group of Chicks climbers encompassed seasoned climbers from the Cascades, strong young guns from California, a Texan turned Coloradoan who fell in love with mountaineering at age 64, and few veteran ice and rock climber Chicks.  A fine team, and that was of importance:  Teamwork is a large part of alpine climbing, and this team showed it’s true colors of camaraderie, trust, and friendship up in the high country.  When the going got hard, the steps got steep, anchors had to be built, and climbers belayed, these women were there for each other.

The clinic began and ended at the American Alpine Club’s Climber’s Ranch in the national park, a home in the mountains that is both comfortable and rustic.  We started the opening meeting with a good introduction to what was to come, and everyone got outfitted with demo gear and boots, before fueling up on a big homemade dinner.   During the first day spent at the Hidden falls training area accessed by boat across Jenny Lake, the group got to ready themselves with the tools of the trade for alpine climbing:  They practiced movement skills in their approach shoes, worked on rope management, completed multi-pitch climbing, learned to belay each other with alpine techniques, performed overhanging rappels, and refined their down-climbing skills.  The evening was spent back at the Climber’s Ranch with another home-cooked dinner and prep-work for the next morning’s departure into the mountains.

Chicks Alpine Tetons

Getting Alpine Skills. Photo by: Angela Hawse

Now came the real deal, as the group climbed 7 miles and 5,000’ to the Exum Hut on the Lower Saddle, a beautiful flat perch below the Grand Teton, towering above at 13,784’.  It was a long day, complete with gentle to ever steepening trails, snowfields, and stormy clouds.  It was a great accomplishment when the group was assembled at the hut and cozied up inside with hot drinks and dinner made on the propane stoves as the sun set bathing the mountains in a purple glow.

The next morning dawned beautifully, and no time was wasted getting to work on full day of snow climbing.  The guides used the Glacier route on the Middle Teton as their venue and the group split into climbing teams, practicing self-arrest, ice axe and crampon use, snow anchor building and belaying.

Chicks in Tetons

The Real Deal. Photo by: Angela Hawse

Another night was spent at the hut, followed by a pre-dawn start for part of the group to put their skills to use on a climb up to the West Summit of the Grand Teton, also known as the Enclosure.   Then came the long descent of the whole group back to the valley floor, where the climbing teams had to use their freshly honed snow skills to belay each other down the steep headwall before reaching the steep, rocky trail through boulders and around waterfalls that finally gave way to a hiking trail in the timbers below.  Sun, blisters and tired legs were the companions on the descent, but so were the feelings of accomplishment and pride.

Alpine climbing does not come easy, and the whole group deserves a big hats-off for their hard work and fine performance in completing this first ever Chicks alpine clinic.  From all of us at Chicks, we can say this:  We are so proud of what you all accomplished during these 4 days!

Rocktober: East Coast Road Trip with Dawn Glanc

Last October, our own Dawn Glanc, set out with climbing partner Erica Engle, to explore the most iconic climbing destinations on the East Coast.  They cruised more than 4,000 miles and explored Shawnagunk Ridge, Seneca Rocks, New River Gorge, and Red River Gorge. It was so amazing that Mountain Hardwear created a 4-part video series to highlight their adventures.  Sit back, relax and enjoy their journey with them and then plan yours!

Part 1: The Gunks, NY

Rocktober: Gunks from Mountain Hardwear on Vimeo.

Part 2: Seneca Rocks, WV

Rocktober: Seneca Rocks from Mountain Hardwear on Vimeo.

Part 3: New River Gorge

Rocktober NRG Web from Mountain Hardwear on Vimeo.

Part 4: Red River Gorge

Rocktober: Red River Gorge from Mountain Hardwear on Vimeo.

Chicks Head to the Red

Elaina2We are excited to announce that we are launching the first ever Chicks event at the Red River Gorge, KY, September 4-8. September is prime season at the Red and you’ll enjoy crisp fall temperatures  and the opportunity to mingle with climbers from all over the world who make the pilgrimage to this climbing mecca.

The Red’s sandstone cliffs offer a lifetime of climbing opportunities at all levels. When people think of climbing in the Red, sport is probably the first thing that comes to mind, and the steep pocketed faces are a dream come true. But there’s more to the Red than hard overhanging sport lines. Many crags have a plentiful assortment of routes for the 5.10-and-under leader. What it makes for is a super friendly climbing destination suitable for all levels of climbers. It’s one of our favorite areas to climb at and we know that you’re going to love it too.

Our basecamp will be Land of Arches campground, located right in the heart of the Red River Gorge. They have an indoor meeting place for us to dole out all of the demo gear provided by our sponsors. You will have use of a large covered cooking pavilion where we will provide dinner each evening prepared by your guides.

This new event costs less than our other clinics because we are able to take advantage of local partnerships and discounts.  Although we can bring it to you for a super affordable price, you’ll still get the same quality of instruction that Chicks is known for. You can choose either a 2 day or a 4 day option, so if you’re traveling from afar you can take full advantage of all the Red has to offer. One thing is for certain, you’ll have a great time, make lots of new friends and experience the pump of your life on the sandstone walls of the Red River Gorge.

Learn more about Chicks Red River Gorge Climbing Event
September 4-6
or
September 4-8

 

Get Psyched! The New Chapter of Chicks

Kitty Calhoun, Dawn Glanc, Angela Hawse, Elaina Arenz, and Karen Bockel are pleased to be moving forward with Chicks Climbing and Skiing.  Our vision is to empower women through mountain sports and continue the tradition of giving back to the community.  We are excited to add new event locations to our line-up as well as ski mountaineering and alpine climbing.  Don’t forget to check out our updated website in a day or two.  Additionally, we are working on an Alumni Membership Package, full of benefits, which will be announced shortly. We look forward to re-connecting with you and taking the Chicks experience to a new level.
You all know at least one of us, the new Chicks partners, but you may not be aware of the unique strengths that each of us brings to the management team.

Kitty CalhounKitty has an MBA and was a founding partner of Exum Utah Mountain Adventures. She’s also a recipient of the AAC Underhill Award for excellence in mountaineering.  She has guided for 33 years, including 16 years for Chicks.


Dawn GlancDawn has a BS in Outdoor Education, is an AMGA certified rock and alpine guide, and has place first in the women’s division of the Ouray Ice Fest competition several times.  She has guided for 11 years, including 6 years for Chicks.


Angela HawseAngela has a BA in Outdoor Education and a Master of Arts degree in International Mountain Conservation.  She is an IFMGA certified guide and trains and examines aspiring AMGA guides.  She also works as a heli-ski guide.  She has guided for 30 years, including 15 years for Chicks.

 


Elaina ArenzElaina has a BS in Advertising and is owner/operator of New River Mountain Guides. She is on the board of the Access Fund (AF) and has been awarded the Sharp End award by the AF for outstanding contribution to climbers’ advocacy. She is an AMGA certified rock guide. She has guided for 12 years, including 5 years for Chicks.

 


Karen BockelKaren has an MS in Physics and competed on a professional level in road biking and ski mountaineering.  She is an AMGA certified ski guide.  She has guided for 6 years, including 3 years for Chicks.

 

 

 

As guides, working with you has been a rewarding experience in so many ways.  That is why we are psyched to carry the torch and expand the horizons.

Here’s to more adventures together!
Kitty, Dawn, Angela, Elaina & Karen

A Farewell from Head Chick, Kim Reynolds

Dear Friends,

Kim Reynolds Hall of FameAfter 16 years holding the vision of Chicks Climbing: Chicks with Picks and Chicks Rock!, I am moving on and passing the torch. It is a rewarding journey to create a climbing program that is unique, that gives back and inspires women to be more than they can imagine. This mission is simple and achieved through motivating our participants to push beyond their self-imposed limits and believe in what is possible!  And, in the process, these ladies also become really good climbers. I love that!  This intended design means a lot to me. And, as Chicks has evolved, so have I.

The women who make the magic happen are our infamous Girly Guides, and I am happy that five of them have banded together to fill my shoes and take this organization to the next level. I have complete faith in them because no one understands the spirit of Chicks better than they do. I am happy they will carry on in service of our beloved “Chicks” who have been part of this adventure for the past sixteen years.

I believe that there are no coincidences, and as I bring this chapter to a close, I received the distinction of being inducted into the American Mountaineering Hall of Excellence —an honor that combines a lifetime achievement of climbing/adventure with giving back to the outdoor community. I am incredibly moved by this recognition, which comes at a time when I can pause and fully appreciate the value of this amazing journey.

With joy and appreciation for the people I’ve met along the way,
Kim

The Trip by Kitty Calhoun

Girly Guide, Kitty Calhoun, gives us a taste of her latest adventure on El Cap.  She reminds us that while our lives have many moving parts, you can never stop learning from climbing and applying those lessons to everyday life.  To read the full blog post, check out Patagonia’s Cleanest Line Blog.

Written by: Kitty Calhoun

Kitty_CleanestLineArticle

Look close: Kitty leading pitch 4, bewildered at the crux. Photo: Tom Evans

I anticipated the change with dread and excitement. My son was leaving the nest for college and I was determined to return to my former goal-driven climbing lifestyle. Fred Becky would be proud of me. After a night of mourning, alone under the desert stars, I promptly returned home, found my address book, and started calling all the girls I knew who might be interested in my next project.

I had become fixated on Tangerine Trip, VI A2 or C3F, on El Cap for a number of reasons. Nothing compares to the nights spent sitting on a portaledge, hundreds of feet above the valley floor, where only a few have earned the position. There is nothing to do but eat dinner—a bagel with cream cheese and tuna, perhaps—and slip into the sleeping bag. I savor the brief escape from the concerns and busyness of the world, where silence is broken only by the whoops of joy from other souls perched high on the wall and swallows swoop through the air, enjoying themselves just as much as the climbers.

Even though aid climbing is out of vogue, I’ve found that leading hard aid pitches challenges me and scares me just as much as any other form of climbing. No, I’m not ready to live vicariously just yet.

But the slip into retirement started to feel inevitable as my phone calls were returned. A couple of girls were recovering from surgery, two more couldn’t fit it into their schedules, and another two didn’t feel qualified. My own work obligations were piling up and free time was disappearing. So when my friend, Karen Bockel, showed up at Red Rocks and agreed to climb The Trip as soon as I finished work, I didn’t look twice at the metal knee brace she was sporting. My old attitude—that I could get myself and my partner up anything—had taken hold of me once again.

Read the full post here.