Osprey Mutant 52 Climbing Pack | Gear We Use

trace metcalfe on the Ripsaw Ridge in the Gore Range, Rocky Mountains, Colorado

Tracee Metcalfe on the Ripsaw Ridge in the Gore Range, Rocky Mountains, Colorado ©Karen Bockel.

My Osprey Mutant 52 saved me from a kind of panic a few weeks ago when I was getting ready for an overnight trip to the Gore Range in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

The Gore Range is remote!

I needed a pack that could carry overnight gear (tent, sleeping bag, stove) and some climbing gear (harness, helmet, rope) and could do it well. It’s no joke carrying all your things 10 mi into the range before you even start the climbing!

I pulled out my Osprey Mutant 52L and breathed out a sigh of relief.

Got it, the pack that does it all: carries gear like a mule and climbs mountains like a goat.

Here are a couple Osprey Mutant 52 features that you might want to know about:

Removable hip belt: a nice option when you’re trying to go light. For example, after you set up basecamp and leave the heavy stuff behind. While, I didn’t remove the hip belt on this trip, it is a helpful feature when you’re wearing a climbing harness because you can access your gear much more easily.

Gear loops on the hip belt: a handy feature that I actually used on this trip. I brought a couple slings and carabiners and I clipped them right to the hip belt. Easy storage, done!

Removable lid: another weight saving benefit of the Mutant 52. Leave the lid behind, or, as I often do, stick the lid inside the pack for climbing. This makes the pack shorter, and keeps it from hitting the back of your helmet when you look up.

Double ice tool attachments: gotta have ice tool attachments. In case you don’t know, ice climbing is the heart and soul of Chicks. We go ice climbing. While, I didn’t use this feature on the recent trip, I would never get a pack without ice tool attachments.

Compression Straps: useful to cinch your pack down when the camping kit is being used rather than being carried. Also, the place to stick your skis when they are being carried rather than being used… needless to say, compression straps are extremely practical for all things mountain.

The Mutant 52L shines for a few other great features like it’s helmet attachment. But, for me, the features described above: removable hip belt and lid, gear loops, double ice tool attachments and compression straps are the pack’s heaviest hitting features.

Most importantly, however, the Mutant feels great on my hips and shoulders, even when fully loaded!

Thanks, Osprey, for making classy packs!

Zim’s Max Freeze | Gear We Use | Chicks Climbing and Skiing

Kitty Calhoun, co-owner of chicks climbing and skiing applies Zim's max freeze to her sore back

Kitty Calhoun, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing applies Zim’s Max Freeze to ease the pain after a hard climbing session. ©Kitty Calhoun.

Oh my Zim’s!

I knew I would pay the price but I kept working the dynamic deadpoint anyway.

And, sure enough, when I awoke the next morning my right-side oblique muscles were very sore.

I had several options: take vitamin I(buprofin), apply cold or reach for my Zim’s Max Freeze.  I chose Zim’s.  Why?

According to Climb Injury Free by Dr Vagy there are ways to deal with inflammation and other ways to deal with pain.

Inflammation occurs when your body tries to repair itself after an injury. There is controversy as to whether, and to what extent, you should try to reduce inflammation. You may want to decrease inflammation because it reduces pain, eliminates cellular waste, and increases circulation.  However, decreasing inflammation prevents the natural healing processes from occurring.

Should you decide to reduce inflammation, there are several methods.  A cold compress and elevation are the most effective for reducing inflammation from acute injuries – with icing times from 10-20 minutes.  A warm bath is most often used for stiffness. You could also take an anti-inflammatory medicine, such as Vitamin I(buprofen), but only for short-term use(less than two weeks).

I prefer to let my body heal naturally. Still, I’ve got to take the edge off the pain. You can reduce pain in two ways: through pain relievers such as Tylenol or through topical analgesics such as Zim’s Max Freeze. Both of these options block the pain cycle by reaching the brain before the slower nerve fibers from your injury.

I reach for my Zim’s.  It comes in roll-on or gel and original strength (3.7% menthol) or pro formula (7% menthol). I feel the effects immediately and find it really works for me.  I especially like the Zim’s formula, as opposed to other topical pain relievers that I have tried, because in addition to menthol, its ingredients include organic ilex, aloe and arnica, as well as vitamin e and tea tree oil – all healing nutrients. What could be better?

Patagonia Sunshade Hoody | Gear We Use | Rock Climbing

patagonia sunshade hoody

Posing in Patagonia Sunshade Hoodies during Chicks Red Rock Clinic

I love my Patagonia Sunshade Hoody.

If you spend as much time outdoors in the sun as I do and you have a fair complexion like I do, it’s critical to minimize sun damage to your face and neck.

Call me vain, but the last thing I want is to look like a leather handbag with sunspots and wrinkles prematurely.

When the laugh lines on my cheeks developed their own tan lines, I knew it was time to duck for cover underneath my favorite article of clothing, the Patagonia Sunshade Hoody.

I live and guide full time in Red Rock, Nevada, just outside of Las Vegas and I spend a lot of time out in the sunshine.

Sunscreen alone doesn’t do the trick and it’s inconvenient to have to reapply it at the crag. So my go-to sun protection and “climbing uniform” is my Patagonia Sunshade Hoody, oversized sunglasses, and a visor hat that fits underneath my helmet. The sunshade hoody is SPF 50+ after all.

I love how the scuba-like hood doesn’t blow off in a breeze like other sun hoodies tend to do, and it fits overtop my helmet without pulling on my neck. Also, the high cowl neck covers my décolletage, and the thumb loops keep the back of my hands covered.

Not only does it keep the sun’s rays off my face, neck, and upper body, it dries quickly, breathes well, and smells acceptably fresh between washings. I’ve collected every color over the past few years and if you open my closet you’ll see every color under the sun.

I’ve tried other SPF clothing options out there and the Patagonia Sunshade Hoody continues to be my perennial favorite.

No matter if I’m guiding our desert programs like Red Rock and Joshua Tree, or the higher elevation crags like Rifle and Maple, you’ll find me underneath my own personal sunshade.

A Love Letter to My Sterling Evolution Velocity Rope

Sterling Evolution Velocity hot off the press at the Sterling Factory in Biddeford, Maine. ©Angela Hawse.

Dear Sterling Evolution Velocity,

Although you’re not always my first rope (the Skinny Bitches often get more of my attention), when push comes to shove, the skinny ones stay home and you come with me to get the goods.

Evolution Velocity you’re my trusted go-to for big adventures and when I’m pushing myself on testy sport climbs.

Whenever I really need the #freedomtofocus, you’ve got me. You’re my gal. 

Remember that hard project we worked together at Rifle last year? It was a team effort. I couldn’t have done it without you. I was scared shitless but after those two big falls into your soft catch, you gave me the confidence to send.

Your integrity, fine handling, burly sheath and dry treated core all combine to make you dependable, trustworthy and solid.

Evolution Velocity, you are so available: from 35 meters to 80 meter lengths, both solid with a middle mark and bi. Your availability makes you even sexier. 

And, I’m not sure how you do it, but Evolution Velocity, you have the uncanny ability to make 9.8 feel like the new 9.5.  

You’re going to love our next project!

Xxo Angela

 

A Love Letter to My Black Diamond Magnetron Gridlock Carabiner

Chicks Chamonix Alumna Kristy Lamore clipped in with the BD Magnetron after a successful summit of the Eiger. ©Karen Bockel

 

My dear Magnetron Gridlock,

You hold my heart (and my life).

Despite the pain—we’ve had a tough relationship at times—I want you to know that you are so important to me.

Many of my climbing partners and guests, mostly those who haven’t met you before, don’t like you at first. They get frustrated when they have to perform fifteen maneuvers to install you on their harnesses. Then they get disdainful when they have to re-learn how to correctly load the belay device with the rope.

It’s true; there’s a steep getting-to-know phase with you. One must learn how to squeeze your magnetic lock buttons between thumb and forefinger. Then one must learn how to hold the gate open in such a way as to easily install the “cradle” on the belay loop.

However, after the getting-to-know phase everybody finds you easier and faster than any other locking carabiner mechanism out there (especially when wearing gloves!).

Magnetron Gridlock I trust you completely.

Your locked gate does not pinch the rope.

You stay oriented in the best loading position. When I go sport climbing you hold my belay device so steadily that I can focus completely on feeding the rope to my climbing partner.

You never accidentally open your gate. This trait of yours I am particularly grateful for on my glacier travels. Other carabiners can jostle open during glacier travel but you, Magnetron Gridlock, hold my rope securely for hours on end.

You never let me down. Only once some water got into your gate mechanism and froze momentarily, but it was quickly resolved.

You are beautiful.

You are light on my harness.

Your metal stock allows the rope to run smoothly over your rounds.

Your design fits well into my hand for either for operating belay devices or rope grabs.

You’re always there for me. I could not ask for more from a locking carabiner.

Yours truly,

Karen

 

 

 

 

 

 

GU Chews | Gear We Use | Rock Climbing

GU Chews - very important climbing accessory! ©Kitty Calhoun

GU Chews – very important climbing accessory! ©Kitty Calhoun

It was the hardest sport route I had ever attempted to redpoint.

I couldn’t rub the sweat out of my eyes, nor could I see clearly, as I reached for and held a tiny cobble in order to set up for the crux deadpoint.

My stomach grumbled.

“Now or never!” I said to myself. Then I launched, thrusting my hips into the wall.  But to no avail, my fingers only grasped the air just shy of the bucket hold and I fell back into the rope.

“Lower!” I exclaimed in disappointment.

I couldn’t give up. I was too close.  I needed to recover and then give it another try while the moves were still fresh in my head.  Clearly, I needed to rest and I needed to eat.  The problem is that I find it difficult to digest food when I am performing at my max.

Fortunately, I have discovered GU chews.

I sat down under a tree and ate a whole package of  Gu Chews followed by a third a quart of water. Then I continued to rest for a full half an hour as my stomach easily digested the Chews with just the right amount and ratio of glucose and fructose.

When I tied back into the rope, I felt strong again.

And, sure enough, when I finally held the tiny cobble to set up for the crux, my stomach did not grumble and I could see clearly. Then I launched and caught the bucket hold like it was never a hard move at all!

Now, I ‘m not saying sending my hardest redpoint to date was all because of GU chews, but I’m not saying it wasn’t either…

Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack | Gear We Use | Rock Climbing

Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack in use at the crag

Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack at the crag ©Elaina Arenz

I just discovered that my guy “borrowed” my Osprey Ultralight Dry Sacks for his expedition to Pakistan!

Now, not only have I lost my summer cragging partner, I’ve lost my trusty, adventure ditty bags!

Osprey Ultralight Dry Sacks (I call them ditty bags) have a roll down closure and a snap buckle so you can seal in whatever you like.

I use the 3L size for all the little day-at-the-crag items I may need: snacks, athletic tape, sunscreen, nail clippers, chap stick, belay glasses, and all other small items that get lost floating around inside my pack.

The sacks come in 5 sizes: 3L, 6L, 12L, 20L and 30L. I use the larger ones to organize bigger items like my quickdraws and anchor materials—when I keep all my stuff organized, I’m less likely to lose track of things and end up with missing gear.

I recommend that you get a few different colors so it’s even easier to stay organized. If you know which bag holds what, you’ll be ready to rock when you arrive at the crag.

Unless, of course, your partner finds them equally useful and makes off with them without you!

BTW, when you attend a Chicks Climbing or Skiing program you get a 3L Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack in yourWelcome Kit!

Grivel Air Tech Evolution aka Grivel “Evo” – Gear We Use | Alpine Climbing

Grivel Air Tech Evolution aka Grivel "evo" Ice Axe

“I can confidently say I’ve seen more alpine guides wielding the Grivel Air Tech Evolution than any other single alpine ice axe out there.”–Angela Hawse. ©Angela Hawse

Alpine climbing calls for lightweight gear for (just about) everything.

But for some routes, I won’t cut weight on tools. A solid, well-built ice axe is one of the few places where I’ll invest in grams. I need my swings to matter because my security must be as high as possible. I want confidence in my placements and the Grivel Air Tech Evolution gives me confidence. It’s always in my hand in the mountains where ice, neve, and rock is the norm.

For more technical routes like the North Ridge of Mt. Baker or the North Face of Mt. Shuksan you can pair the Evo with a technical hammer like the Grivel North Machine Carbon (with the hammer instead of adze). Together an Evo and a Machine make a fine set of tools for both low-angled glacier travel and steeper, “swinging” terrain.

Note: For ski mountaineering, when the conditions are all snow, I’ll often cut weight and use the Ghost Evo.

However, when climbing alpine ice and rock, I’ll always save weight elsewhere and invest my trust in the Evo, a tool made by a Grivel, who started making ice axes in 1818, over 200 years ago!

 

Patagonia Fleur Tank Top – Gear We Use | Rock Climbing

Kitty Calhoun, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, in her favorite summer climbing top: Patagonia Fleur tank top. ©Kitty Calhoun Collection

Kitty Calhoun, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, in her favorite summer climbing top: A Patagonia Fleur Tank Top. ©Kitty Calhoun Collection

My favorite top for summer climbing is a Patagonia Fleur Tank Top.

For summer climbing, I want something that is light, dries quickly (from sweat or rain), has a feminine cut, and is fun to wear.

Patagonia’s Fleur Tank Top stands out from other synthetic tops because it fits my favorite-summer-climbing-top bill perfectly.

Not only is it technical, functional and fashionable, the Fleur Tank is ultra-soft!  So it’s really fun to wear!

 

More Stand-Out Fleur Tank Top Facts:

 

  • The material is 89% recycled polyester made from recycled soda bottles, manufacturing waste, and worn-out clothing. Through Patagonia’s Worn-Wear program you can mail in your used gear for store credit!
  • It is Fair Trade Certified™ Fair Trade Certification helps guarantee health, safety, social, and environmental benefits for workers.
  • BLUESIGN Approved – All chemical processes, materials, and products used in the making of a Fluer Tank Top, have met safe standards for the environment, workers, and customers.

Who would have thought that so much could go into a shirt that is so simple and beautiful?

 

Sterling’s Fusion Nano IX – Gear We Use | Alpine Climbing

The Fusion Nano IX dual color in action. Chicks alumna, Kristy Lamore, 2nd Flatiron, Boulder, Colorado. May snowstrom. ©Karen Bockel

The Fusion Nano IX dual color in action. Chicks alumna, Kristy Lamore, 2nd Flatiron, Boulder, Colorado. May snowstorm. ©Karen Bockel

Sterling’s Fusion Nano IX, 60m, 9mm rope is my most commonly used rope.

 

because I mostly go Alpine Climbing.

Pre-dawn starts, big- heavy packs, hiking, pitches, and pitches of climbing, ridges, and multiple rappels are in order. For alpine climbing efficiency is key.

The Sterling Fusion Nano IX is efficient because it’s really light and small for a climbing rope—a scant 52 g/m (grams per meter) and a 9.0 mm diameter makes all the difference when I’m out for 10-12 hours a day.

When it comes to strength, the Fusion Nano is strong enough for the job! Since I plan to lead climb, I need ropes that are single rated.

And, the Fusion Nano IX is Sterling’s lightest single-rated rope.

And, in fact, it is single, half, and twin compatible, making it a coveted triple-rated rope!

The Sterling Fusion Nano is not too stretchy and not too stiff. Its stretch lies right in the middle of commonly used lead ropes. At 26% dynamic stretch and 7% static stretch, it doesn’t drop you too far, yet still allows for a soft catch.

The Fusion Nano comes with DryXP Treatment. Alpine climbing usually involves snow and ice, in addition to rock. Snow and ice can be very wet! A dry treated rope is a huge weight-saver compared to a water-logged beast coiled around my shoulders.

Most often, the descent, particularly if there are any rappels, determines the length of rope needed for a climb. I’ve found that in most North American alpine terrain, a 60m rope works really well.

I use a 60 meter Sterling Fusion Nano IX bi-color.

CAUTION:

-Use of the Fusion Nano IX rope requires belaying and rappelling experience.

–Due to the small diameter, it is not recommended for top-roping or working routes.

 

It just goes to show, ya gotta have the right tool for the job!