You Can Do All Of The Things!

Rad Rifle Women: L- R Caitlin, Taz, Katie, Evana, Tracee, Sue, Michelle, and Jennifer. Rifle, CO. ©Elaina Arenz

“You can do ALL of the things. You can do ALL of the things.”

Fresh out of our Rifle, CO clinic, I repeat, “You can do all of the things!”

At Rifle, a group of rad women learned new skills and discovered strengths (and muscles) they never knew existed.

“You can do all of the things” encompassed everyone’s goal at Rifle because if you can do all of the things, you’ll be more confident and independent climbing partners.

Sue, back on the rock for the first time in 10 years, updated her past experience with current best practices. Rope gunning on Day 1, Sue continued to push herself through Day 3.

Caitlin and Evana are regular climbing partners. Together they learned how to project a climb at the edge of their ability. Taking turns, they tag-teamed to get the rope to the anchor. Along the way, they learned how to stick clip through moves that were too hard and to French free (pull on a draw) instead when possible.

Jennifer wanted to improve her climbing technique. Also, on lead from day 1, she successfully practiced opposition type movements.

Taz and Katie both walked away with the confidence to catch a lead fall. They also practiced mock leading to gain comfort and experience being on the sharp end.

Tracee has tons of alpine climbing and mountaineering experience. Her goal was to improve her rock climbing skills in order to move more quickly through technical sections in the mountains.Tracee mastered lead belaying with a GriGri and improved her footwork immensely.

Last but not least, we had Michelle. With tons of experience and knowledge, Michelle showed us her method for anchor cleaning and helped teach this skill—a great way to reinforce the knowledge. Michelle also worked on her lead head, took some practice falls, and was leading more confidently by the end of the weekend.

I and fellow AMGA Rock Guide, Tracy Martin facilitated this fun weekend of sport climbing in one of the nations best (and hardest) climbing areas.

The climbing in Rifle Canyon is amazing, the camping is super convenient and perhaps the best part is that the approaches are all of 5 minutes or less. Rilfe is the perfect place to advance your sport climbing skills, especially if you want to work on leading.

It was great to see the progress that each of these rad women made during three short climbing days. All of us at Chicks get so much satisfaction seeing women transform into confident climbing partners and leaders who can do all of the “things!”

Until next time,





Chicks Climbing and Skiing Celebrates 20 Years During the 2019 Ouray Ice Festival

Ouray, Colo. (December 11, 2018) – In the third quarter of 2018, it was reported that the already small percentage of female Fortune 500 CEOs is falling. Thankfully, the number of women leaders who continue to send in the mountains is rising. And to the leaders and fans of Chicks Climbing and Skiing, that’s cause for celebration.

Chicks Climbing and Skiing celebrates a landmark anniversary in January, 2019: 20 years of providing a launch pad, permission, support resources, stoke, camaraderie, and a path to success for female climbers, alpinists, skiers and riders.

Unlike the boardroom, the mountains have always been the Great Equalizer. Whether you’re female or male, your level of dedication, motivation, focus, talent and stoke are what determine your success.

Chicks Climbing and Skiing continues to be on the sharp end, preparing and launching more female climbers and skiers to both the world’s highest peaks and cliffs, and local crags and skiing areas across the country.

And the Chicks team wants to celebrate the mission and to honor all of the people who’ve made the impact of Chicks possible. The Ouray Ice Festival is the most fitting global venue to support this important effort and in true Chicks style, a legendary party is in the works that you’re invited to.

A 20thanniversary party will be held January 25, 2019 at the Ouray Community Center during the 2019 Ouray Ice Festival.  To start, we will host a 30 minute social/performance by Bibi McGill, known as the lead guitarist and musical director of Beyonce’s backing band, the Suga Mamas. Immediately following, there will be a showing of 20/20, a new film chronicling the remarkable mountaineering achievements of women from the pioneering climbers of the 1800s to modern day mavens, sending lines and laying down first ski descents.

From climber Annie Peck waving a suffragist flag at 21,000 feet in the Andes, to skier Caroline Gleich showcasing environmental activism, the 20-year Chicks celebration will be a once-in-a-lifetime gathering of women pushing the limits on what it takes to further American alpinism and skiing.

Angelika Reiner

Steph Davis

Kitty Calhoun

Mayan Smith-Gobat

Caroline Gleich

Chantel Astorga

HIlaree Nelson

Alison Osius, executive editor of Rock & Ice, and a pioneering female climbing journalist, will moderate a panel of the women starring 20/20, which anchors the celebration.

The film and panel discussion will offer a first-ever deep dive into the motivation, risk, vision, and the future of women pushing the limit in mountain sport. Hearing this first hand from the unique perspective of the women who have excelled in their respective mountain sports will make this a historic occasion. We hope you’ll join us!” said Kitty Calhoun, co-owner of Chicks Climbing and Skiing.

The Ouray Ice Fest is the “annual gathering of the tribe” and the main fundraiser for the Ouray Ice Park, which depends entirely on donations. All proceeds from the Chicks 20thCelebration will go to the Ouray Ice Park.  For more info on the Ouray Ice Festival, go to

Chicks Climbing and Skiing would like to thank the generous support of Patagonia as the 20th-anniversary event title sponsor.

Chicks Climbing was founded in 1999 with the goal of Empowering Women through Mountain Sports. Chicks Skiing launches in 2015, and will round out the vertical experiences designed specifically for adventurous women seeking to explore their limits and build friendships in the mountains. Chicks offers transformational experiences for women climbers and skiers domestically and internationally. The organization upholds a strong tradition of both community and of giving back, especially in areas of access and land management. To learn more about Chicks Climbing and Skiing, visit

Chicks Climbing and Skiing Raises $4,800 for SheJumps

Bidding at the annual Chicks Auction

Real Social: Good times at Chicks Auction

“Thank you, thank you, thank you. We are so honored.”
Claire Smallwood, Director of SheJumps

Chicks Climbing and Skiing is made strong through support, community and the core value of giving back.

On Jan 6, 2018, the 19th Annual Chicks Climbing and Skiing Fundraiser raised $4,800 for SheJumps, an organization with the mission to increase the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities.

As usual, the evening began with socializing. To keep us hydrated, Ouray Brewery served beer and KJ Wood Distillers made stiff drinks.

Next came our signature and raucous Chicks live auction of sponsor-donated gear, followed with films presented by NoMansLand film festival. Of course, Mixtress, produced by Chicks co-owner, Dawn Glanc, about the coming of age of women mixed climbers, was our favorite.

For almost 2 decades Chicks events have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for women’s shelters, the Ouray Ice Park, and, now, SheJumps.

We are very proud of and grateful for our community. Together with our sponsors, our Chicks family, and all of our climbing friends who’ve joined us over the years to mingle, be entertained and to throw down for great climbing gear, we have raised over $230,000!

How to Build your Multi-Pitch Climbing Kit

Are you asking yourself, what in the world is multi-pitch climbing? The answer is pretty simple but the process of multi-pitch climbing can seem daunting at first. Let’s start our with the basics. First of all, a single pitch climb is a route that you can climb without any intermediate belays. That is to say that you climb up to an anchor and you descend by either lowering or rappelling back down to the ground where you started. Therefore, multi-pitch climbing is very simply a bunch of single pitch climbs stacked on top of each other.

multi-pitch climbing

To have a fun and rewarding multi-pitch experience, you’ll need to prepare and put together a slightly modified gear list from what you would typically use for a day of single pitch climbing. Our friends at Petzl have but together a great article on How to Build Your Multi-Pitch Kit. Petzl breaks it down into a gear list and some things to consider when putting it all together from choosing personal equipment, rope selection, what the second should bring, and the best rack for the job.

Still a little apprehensive about the whole idea of climbing hundreds of feet off the ground? Not to worry! Chicks is road tripping to Red Rock, NV just outside of Las Vegas on October 5-9, 2017. Red Rocks is one of the best places to be introduced to multi-pitch climbing because there are literally over a thousand options for multi-pitch climbing, for all grades and abilities. It’s the perfect place to gain experience with multi-pitch climbing and see what it feels like to climb hundreds of feet off of the ground and take in the beautiful desert wilderness of Red Rock National Conservation Area.

multi pitch climbing in red rock

Your Chicks Guide will literally show you the ropes and teach you what you need to know to get off the deck on a multi-pitch climb. Skills you’ll learn along the way are: lead belaying, how to follow and “second” a multi-pitch climb, rappelling, anchor building and lots of rope management strategies.

We hope you will join us at one of our favorite climbing destinations in the United States, and experience multi-pitch climbing with Chicks in sunny and beautiful Red Rock, NV.


Learn how to sport climb outdoors

Learn how to sport climb outdoors with Chicks Climbing by attending one of our outdoor sport climbing trips. Our trips are perfect for indoor gym climbers who want to learn to learn how to sport climb outdoors. We have 4 different levels that you can sign up for, so you will be grouped with others who have similar experience and climbing goals.

If you’re stuck in a climbing plateau and not seeing much improvement for one reason or another, and you have the desire to be more knowledgeable and skilled, then these trips are your ticket to climbing success. Our all female climbing trips are ideal for:

  • Top rope climbers who want to learn how to lead climb
  • New lead climbers who want to try their hand at lead climbing outdoors
  • Seasoned lead climbers who want to push themselves on the sharp end and climb higher grades.

No matter what your experience level, you will walk away with the knowledge and skills necessary so you can learn how to sport climb outdoors. There is more to sport climbing than just clipping bolts. We will teach you everything you need to know to take charge of your climbing. Here are a few things that you’ll learn:

  • Rope Management and Clipping
  • How to Clean an Anchor
  • How to Project a Route
  • Stick clipping
  • Efficient Movement
  • Resting and recovery
  • Movement skills on vertical faces and overhanging climbs
  • Fall Practice
  • Lead Belaying & Giving a Cushioned Catch
  • Mental Focus

Not only will you learn valuable skills and strategies that you can take back to your home crag, but you’ll get to experience two of the best sport climbing destinations in the country. 

Maple Canyon, UT
Learn how to sport climb outdoors in Utah This area in Central Utah is known for it’s “cobble climbing” The rock is a conglomerate type rock with embedded rocks ranging in size from basketball to pebble sized round stone, naturally cemented together into cliffs ranging from vertical and gently overhanging walls.


Rifle, CO
learn how to sport climb outdoors in ColoradoLocated in Western Colorado, the blocky limestone single pitch sport climbs that characterize Rifle will teach you how to use opposition and compression forces.


Our certified female guides will provide you with a fun and supportive environment to allow you to learn and try new things. To reach your full climbing potential you may face some challenges that will push your comfort bubble. Our guides will facilitate that process with care and understanding so that you feel empowered to go for it.

This trip will be lead by Chick Guides Dawn Glanc and Elaina Arenz. They are psyched to share their combined 40 years of climbing experience to help you achieve quick results. Under their trained eyes and through individualized instruction, you will see a huge improvement in your climbing ability and technical skills by the end of these trips. What are you waiting for?








Gym to Crag Tips

I have been working as a climbing guide since 1998. It has only been in the past few years that I meet climbers who have climbed for years, but never outside. This phenomenon is new to me, and it is new to the climbing world. The rise of the gym only climber is due to the popularity of climbing gyms and access to indoor climbing. Today there are gyms in every state in the nation, giving people exposure to climbing even if there is no local crag within 100 miles. The indoor climbing gyms have produced a new generation of climbers that are stronger than ever. However, when gym climbers finally touch real rock, they may find their honed gym skills are not immediately translating into success.

Chicks is here to help you take your indoor climbing skills and apply them outside. The upcoming Maple Canyon, Utah and Rifle, Colorado programs will focus on sport climbing skills, a style of climbing that compliments the gym nicely. No matter what grade you climb inside, we can help you achieve that same grade, or higher, outside. Our all women’s outdoor rock climbing trips will teach you how to transition from the gym to crag with a little help from Chicks. You will learn:

  • Reading the rock type and identifying holds
  • Learn to lead
  • Perfect your belaying both top rope and lead belaying
  • Practice falling
  • Learn to project a route at the edge of your ability
  • Cleaning anchors and equipment retrieval

Each of our Chicks outdoor climbing clinics will give you the skills to make you an independent climber both indoors and out. Be sure to join us this summer to experience two of the best crags mother nature has to offer.

L’Escalade in Lexington, KY.

The climbing gym is a great place to learn climbing movement and basic leading skills. However, you may find you need a little help translating gym climbing to real rock.  At the Chicks Maple and Rifle clinics, our female guides will focus on your goals. Learn to identify holds, route find, and read different rock types in a supportive environment.

Chicks Allum Angela Allen on the sharp end in Rifle, CO.

When a gym allows lead climbing, they set the routes so that the spacing of the lead bolts are close together to be as safe as possible. Run outs and tricky clips are not a typical gym dilemma. Learn how to lead outside and how to properly belay long run outs at any of our sport climbing clinics. At a Chicks clinic you will learn what to do as a climber and a belayer when nature presents obstacles such as ledges, bulges and roofs. 


Each of our Chicks outdoor climbing clinics will give you the skills to make you an independent climber both indoors and out. Be sure to join us this summer to experience two of the best crags mother nature has to offer.

Chicks partners with REI Outessa

REI Announces 2017 Outessa Retreats Designed To Connect Women with the Outdoors Through Experiences, Inspiration and Adventures

REI, the outdoor co-op and national specialty retailer, announced its 2017 REI Outessa retreats with three immersive, three-day outdoor adventures designed to connect women with the outdoors in a supportive learning environment. Two of Chicks co-owners, Kitty Calhoun and Elaina Arenz, will be attending all three events to lead the instructional climbing clinics with the support of Petzl, our Gold Level Sponsor, as official REI Outessa Ambassadors.

Now in its second year, the REI Outessa getaways are filled with activities and inspiration, offer access to coveted gear and products, serve up great food and wine, and create the environment for making new friends and lasting memories. Registration is now open at
“Whether you are an experienced outdoors person or someone who’s thinking about trying new activities, Outessa is about getting away from it all and reconnecting with the outdoors,” said Susan Viscon, REI senior vice president of merchandising and board member of Camber Outdoors. “We heard some amazing stories from participants last year and we are expanding the retreats in 2017. This fun environment is designed by – and for – a supportive community of women who like adventure.”

2017 REI Outessa events will be held at three breathtaking mountain playgrounds. Destinations were chosen for their inspirational alpine environments, sweeping views, pristine lake, and adventure-ready terrain with miles of trails for running, hiking and mountain biking. Each offer resort hospitality and proximity to major airports, making travel easy for participants. The dates and locations are:

  • July 14-16: Kirkwood Mountain Resort in Kirkwood, California near South Lake Tahoe
  • August 18-20: Mt. Hood Skibowl in Government Camp, Oregon and 12 miles from the Mt. Hood National Forest
  • September 22-24: Waterville Valley Resort in Waterville, New Hampshire in the White Mountain National Forest

Be sure t0 stay up to date on the latest details through the REI Outessa Facebook Page.

Why Climb Keene Valley?

By Emilie Drinkwater

Keene Valley ClimbingChicks Rock Keene Valley is one of my favorite events of the year….but sometimes I can’t pinpoint why. Maybe it’s because of the camaraderie. Maybe it’s because of the climbing. Maybe it’s because, last year, I laughed so hard my stomach was sore for days. But really what I love most is the opportunity to expose women of all backgrounds, skill levels, and abilities to all that Northeastern rock climbing offers.

If you’ve never been to the Adirondacks, you should know that there’s a lot of climbing to be had. A lot as in, more than 3,000 routes spread throughout the vast and pristine wilderness of the 6 million acre Adirondack State Park. And the quality of the rock is, for the most part, excellent. Geologically, much of the rock we climb is Anorthosite (the same rock type found on the moon!); cracks, slabs, and faces ranging in height from short, single pitch climbs to nearly 1000′ makes for a lifetime of climbing in the Adirondacks alone!

Keene Valley Rock ClimbingIn our 3-day Chicks Rock clinic we focus on what you want to learn. Whether you’re new to climbing, or trying to become more efficient on multi-pitch routes, these small ratio clinics will work on everything from fundamental techniques (think: good footwork, how to read the terrain, and how to be a great belayer) to anchor building, rappelling, and self-rescue. And more significantly, what you’ll come away with is a new sense of confidence, a network of like-minded women climbers, and a weekend of laughter, good food, and new friends.

Chicks are heading to Keene Valley October 2-5.  Click here to learn more and register.

The Adirondacks: Small Mountains, Big Training Ground

With our Keene Valley, Adirondacks Chicks Rock Climbing Clinic in just a few short months, I caught up with Emilie Drinkwater – friend of Chicks and Co-Owner/Guide for Cloudsplitter Mountain Guides in New York.  Emilie has climbed some of the most amazing routes and peaks, is a professional (sponsored) athlete, and an all around amazing person.  Emilie cut her teeth in the Dacks, so as we all consider signing up for the clinic, I asked her to remind all of us why climbing in the Dacks is so special.


In 2001 I moved to Lake Placid, NY with $30 in my pocket and no idea what to do next.  I’d recently graduated from college with a fancy degree in Anthropology and African Studies but all I wanted to do was rock climb.  Mostly, I dreamed of all the exotic places I could go to climb (you know, Colorado, California, West Virginia).  Ice climbing, alpine climbing, and ski mountaineering never even crossed my mind at that time so neither did places like Alaska, the Himalaya, or the Alps.

If you’ve never been to the Adirondacks, you should know that there’s a lot of climbing to be had.  A lot as in, more than 3,000 routes spread throughout the vast and pristine wilderness of the 6 million acre Adirondack State Park.  And the quality of the rock is, for the most part, excellent.  Geologically, much of the rock we climb is Anorthosite (the same rock type found on the moon!); cracks, slabs, and faces ranging in height from short, single pitch climbs to nearly 1000′, make for a lifetime of climbing in the Adirondacks alone!

Though the park is huge, Keene Valley and the High Peaks region are often considered the epicenter of climbing activity (but if climbing isn’t your thing, there are also lakes, streams, rivers, trails, and historical sites, to name a few).  My first introduction to the area and to outdoor climbing (during those early days of having no money and no life plan) was on the ever-popular Beer Walls crag.  I fell in love with climbing that day, even though by the end of it, my arms were so tired I could barely grasp the steering wheel to drive myself home.

Focus_KeeneValley_EmilieToday, I’m a full time mountain guide, athlete, homesteader, and writer.  My climbing background on the traditional and high quality, technical routes of the Northeastern mountains has led to adventure, exploration, and sometimes even success, in climbing venues, big and small, around the world.  Though I spend a lot of time in other ranges, the Adirondacks will always remain my home base and the place I credit with introducing me to the pleasure and challenge of climbing mountains!

For more information on attending the Chicks Keene Valley Clinic this Fall, click here.

Resolutions: Self-Improvement or Us-Improvement


2013 Chicks with Picks – Women climbing with women for women

I don’t know why we can’t resolve to improve ourselves any day of the year, but today, I’m taking a moment to celebrate the New Year by defining my resolution.  Sure, I need to train more, read more, complain less, organize my life, eat better, among countless other things, but I recently read a stat that made me forget about self improvement and focus on “us” improvement.

Women invest 90% of their income in their families and communities (  This is an astounding and almost overwhelming stat.  While we may not all fit exactly in that percentage, the point is, caring for others is in our blood.  So, I resolve to care more for others.  It’s as simple as that.  Each month, I will do something to help empower women, so they can empower more women, and more gets invested into communities.

Chicks recognizes this; it is even part of our mission – Women climbing with women FOR women. Yes, climbing, by nature is an internal sport, but it doesn’t always have to be.

As both a Chicks with Picks and Chicks Rock! alum, I understand that there is so much more to the clinics than just climbing.  Yes, it is inspiring that women are climbing with women because we bond; we encourage, cheer and laugh at each other, but what is even more amazing is that during a Chicks clinic we are climbing FOR women.

The Chicks community cares for women, and the caring goes past the crag. We inspire each other to look outside ourselves and give back to the larger community.  Over the past 15 years, Chicks Climbing has hosted a series of public events that have raised $175,000 for The Tri-County women’s shelter in Montrose, Colorado – currently, we are their largest donor.  The next fundraiser is January 17 –  so, for my resolution, I resolve to do everything I can in January to help Chicks raise even more money for this shelter.  Who knows what February might bring!

In addition to the women’s shelter, Chicks started an endowment fund for The Ouray Ice Park where we teach our clinics – to date, we have raised $15,000 for this incredible resource.  Chicks is now reaching out to food kitchens, shelters and other organizations within the regions we run our women’s rock climbing clinics, including Devil’s Lake, New River Gorge and Red Rocks, Nevada, among others.

Written by: Tori Barnett