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!

Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard | Book Review

Cover of "let my people go surfing" by Yvon Chouinard

Book Cover of Yvon Choiunard’s “let my people go surfing.”

Book Review by Angela Hawse

Yvon Chouinard is the author of “let my people go surfing.”

And, Yvon Chouinard is also the founder of Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and gear company.

For forty years, Yvon Chounaird has led Patagonia with his vision and passion. He is the driving force that keeps Patagonia true to its core values. As a result, Patagonia is a sustainable business practices leader.

Recently, Patagonia changed its mission statement.

It’s new mission statement is “We’re in business to save our planet.

This bold, focused, and purposeful mission statement is true to Chouinard’s core values. Patagonia is using its resources to get political about environmental threats and taking action in the fight to address our climate crisis.

Let my people go surfing  by Yvon Chounaird tells the story of Patagonia.

It’s Chouinard’s story of building a business with heart and soul. It’s his story of challenging conventional wisdom. And, it’s his story of leading a simpler, more purposeful existence.

Let my people go surfing is a great read for all who love the outdoors. It’s also a must read for entrepreneurs and forward thinkers.

In conclusion, let my people go surfing by Yvon Chouinard provides a fresh outlook on finding opportunity in change, having a positive impact and making a difference one step at a time.

To  purchase and check out the video click let my people go surfing.

Thank Grabber for Toe Warmers

Put Grabber Toe Warmers on top of your socks

Place Grabber Toe Warmers on top of your socks, arranged over your toes ©Chicks

Grabber Toe Warmers just got me (and my toes!) through a deep arctic front.

I was teaching an avalanche course for the American Avalanche Institute—a Pro 1 course for ski patrollers at A-Basin and Breckenridge.

A storm had recently left the region. This left room for an arctic air mass to descend onto Colorado, dropping the temps to -17˚F with a -46˚F wind-chill.

Being ski patrollers, we were outside all day, digging holes to assess the snowpack’s structure and stability.

I don’t have very good foot circulation to begin with. So, with -47˚F, I had a major problem.

How was I going to keep my toes from freezing while teaching the course?

Thank Grabber for Toe Warmers!

Seriously!

Grabber’s little packets of chemical heat are amazing.

Every morning, I took a pair of toe warmers out of theirpackage and set them gently on my dashboard while I was driving up to the ski area. Before I put my boots on, I peeled the paper backing off and stuck them over my ski socks. I placed them on top of my toes, right over my socks. Then I slipped my worried little feet into my ski boots.

The toe warmers generated enough heat to get me through the arctic days.

To say that my toes were warm would be an overstatement, but they did not freeze!

My toes and I made it through the coldest week of the year.

Pro tip:

I place the Toe Warmers on top of my toes so I don’t have a weird-layer under my toes.

Stick the adhesive back diagonally across the top of your toes. Line up the rounded edge with the front of your toes, and the back corner over the middle part of your foot. It works like a charm!

Sterling PowerCord Cordelette – light, compact, strong

Sterling Powercord Cordelette set up for a two bold quad anchor.

Atticus approves! Sterling Powercord Cordelette set up for a two-bolt quad anchor. ©Elaina Arenz

Is a skinny 5.9mm cordelette strong enough?

You bet it is!

Since a cordelette is almost always on my harness, my cordelette of choice is the Sterling PowerCord, 5.9mm in the 18ft length—the lightest, most compact cordelette that I can get my hands on.

I use cordelettes primarily for rigging anchors (both single and multi-pitch). Learn more about Building Climbing Anchors and Quad Anchor in our blog. However, cordelettes are also useful for self-rescue.

Sterling PowerCord isn’t just a normal nylon-type of cordage that you can buy for pennies by the foot at most climbing shops.

PowerCord is special. It’s made of Technora, which is twice as strong as your standard nylon cord of the same diameter—this is why PowerCord can be 1-2mm skinnier than other cordelettes. In fact, the 5.9mm Powercord has a minimum breaking strength (MBS) of 4429 lbs or the equivalent of 19.7 Kn. That’s plenty strong for any anchor rigging I’ll be doing with it.

The secret to the PowerCord’s strength lies within its braided Aramid core fibers. Aramid is similar to Kevlar, the material that bulletproof vests are made from. It has 4 characteristics that make it a good cordelete material:

  1. High tensile strength
  2. Low elongation
  3. Low water absorption
  4. High melting point. A high melting point is especially important for use in a rescue scenario.

How do you get your hands on one of these?

You can find it here on the Sterling Rope website, or ask at your favorite local retailer.

 

Women’s-Specific Alpine Touring Boots | Scarpa Gea

Galibier Mountain Boots and Scarpa Gea Alpine Touring Boots

We’ve come a long way, baby!  Real female empowerment from leather climbing boots through to Scarpa Gea alpine touring boots©Scarpa and Galibier

We’ve come a long way, baby!

I can’t help myself.

I keep thinking of the Virginia Slims cigarette campaign, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”

If it’s not wrong enough that something we now know to be very unhealthy (cigarettes) were used as a symbol of female empowerment, it’s even more wrong because when I think “You’ve come a long way baby!” I think about boots!  In this case, I’m thinking about my ski boots.

My first backcountry ski boots were my much-loved Galibier mountain boots.

These boots were state of the art for climbing and I was very proud of them. All leather with a stiff shank, they were not meant for skiing but I made them work. I attached them with cable bindings to my metal-edged cross-country skis. This was far from a perfect skiing set-up. It was especially bad for skiing downhill through breakable crust with a heavy pack. However, back then I was on skis just to make it to the base of winter alpine climbs. So, as long as it was after the climb, it didn’t matter that each time I fell, I became like an overturned turtle—anchored to the bottomless snow with my backpack.

Eventually, backcountry ski gear improved and I bought a pair of boots and skis just for alpine touring. Then I discovered that alpine touring boots are just as warm as climbing boots, nearly as light and you can fit crampons on them. The tables turned. Whereas before I used climbing boots for skiing, I found I could use ski boots for climbing. One time, while guiding Denali, the lip of my climbing boots wore out and my crampons would not to stay on so I summited in my alpine touring boots instead.

For the next twenty years or so, I skied a in my Scarpa Magic alpine touring boots.

I loved their comfort, warmth, and lightness. I thought I would never need another ski boot. I was sure I wouldn’t find a better one. Eventually though, the little holes that hold the bindings on wore out. I was devastated. I grieved the retirement and loss of my Magics. We had so many bluebird days together, I remembered them dipping in and out of the powder on every turn, a bright grin on my face.

To my extreme relief, Scarpa continues to develop top of the line alpine touring boots and I was able to replace my Magic boots with the also women’s-specific Gea.

An all-round performer, the Gea is Scarpa’s best selling women’s ski boot. It is warm and light and fits like a glove. I have no doubt the Gea are as durable as my Magic boots were. and I look forward to adventures shared with my Gea’s for the next twenty years.

How to Choose the Right Ice Climbing Tool

The Grivel factory solar-panel-clad roof in the Italian Alps. Using the sun to power climbing.©Grivel

The Grivel factory solar-panel-clad roof in the Alps. Using the sun to power climbing.©Grivel

I’ve had my hands on a lot of ice axes since climbing on Terrordactylsin the ‘80s.

For me, choosing the right ice tool is hard to describe because it’s about feelings. It is about the emotion of the body, heart and mind.

Body

With the right tools, I feel joyful. I feel invincible. I feel ready and motivated for action. I feel strong and focused and fearless.

The right tools have a balance and swing weight that makes intuitive sense. It is as if the tools become natural extensions of my arms.

Looking for this feeling, in fact coming to expect it when I climb, I always find myself going back to Grivel tools. I swear I could put a blindfold on (with many different tools to chose from) and, guarantee, I’d pick Grivel.

Heart

Deeply seated in my psyche is an undeniable connection that draws me loyally to Grivel.

One of my most influential mentors, George Gardner, climbed on Grivel tools. I’ll always remember the way he so deliberately gripped the narrow shafts of his Mont Blanc’s with his frozen Dachstein mittens. My relationship to this most present and encouraging mentor instilled in me a connection to Grivel tools that is more than an extension of my arms, it is an extension of my heart.

The truth is, the real essence of climbing is about our partners and relationships. George has passed now but when I climb with my Grivel tools, I am reminded of him. I feel as if his inspiring presence whispers through the mountains and I climb with focus and strength to meet the standard that he set for me.

Mind

As I’ve personally become more aware of and committed to reducing my carbon footprint, I love that Grivel makes all of their products in the Alps of Italy. And at the foot of Mount Blanc, Grivel harnesses the power of the sun with solar panels the size of a football field. Every day Grivel saves 1000 barrels of oil and eliminates 1500 lbs of CO2 gases from entering the atmosphere because of their investment in renewable energy and environmental sustainability.

Grivel’s committed action to the environment and addressing climate changematters to me. When I’m climbing with my Grivel tools, I think about this and I know I’m on a team turning our passion into purpose.

In summary, I want to encourage you. When choosing the right ice tools for you, let yourself be swayed by emotion, feeling and intuition.

If the tool feels right, it is.