Black Diamond Reactor – Gear We Use | Ice Climbing

black diamond reactor

Black Diamond Reactor Ice Tool | Gear We Use ©Black Diamond.

Sold Out!

Black Diamond has done it again!

Their latest and greatest Reactor Ice Tool could be the best ice climbing tool on the market.

Over two years BD’s R&D team developed and refined this axe with their athletes. The end result… sold out!  Our inside scoop let us know the Reactor will be available again soon. But it just goes to show they’ve come up with another winner.

Key Nuggets that Set the Black Diamond Reactor Apart:

Versatility

The Reactor climbs steep, mixed and moderate waterfall ice well and converts to an alpine machine simply by swapping out the head for BD’s alpine adze or hammer.

Swing and Weight 

A steel head & aluminum shaft combo gives the Reactor a well-balanced swing with good driving power.

Shaft

Generously bent for clearance over bulges.

Grip

Refined and innovative. An adjustable insert makes the grip more comfortable for different hand sizes. An upper grip is versatile for mixed climbing and ice climbing.

Pick

A new design makes it like “a needle going in and out of the ice,” explains BD’s Colin Powick in this quick video (along with some good ice climbing footage from Austria). 

Basically, like-a-needle means BD shortened and thinned their classic ice pick to create a more precise and penetrating Reactor pick.

If you’ve climbed on and like BD Fuels or Cobras you’ll love Reactors. 

We do!  And, we’re stoked to get them into the hands of Chicks for all our upcoming ice and mixed climbing clinics.

Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carryon | Gear We Use

Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carryon ready for a long weekend.

Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carryon ready for a long weekend.d. ©Elaina Arenz.

Osprey’s Transporter Wheeled Carryon is perfect.

I’m a frequent flier so it’s very important for me to have a roller carryon that floats easily through security and airport throngs. 

Carryon compatible with most domestic airlines, the measurements are sewn into a tab on the side as living proof for any overly scrutinizing gate attendant.

At 38 liters the Transporter Wheeled Carryon is big enough for a long weekend away from home. I can cram all my stuff into it so I don’t have to check a bag. 

Made from a very durable, weather-resistant, TPU coated fabric, this wheeled carryon glides along super smoothly even when it’s stuffed! Yet, fully loaded it’s still super stable standing on its bottom.

Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carryon Features I love:

  • RIFD security pouch for wallet and passport 
  • Mesh compartment dividers make organization a breeze
  • Dedicated toiletry pocket up top to quickly pull out liquids and gels for TSA inspection
  • Padded laptop sleeve fits a 15” screen
  • Open flat design makes packing easy 
  • Compression straps keep it all in place. 

Lastly, Osprey’s Wheeled Carryon weighs only 5 pounds, so if I do decide to check it, most of the weight is my stuff and not the bag itself.

Thanks Osprey for making such a sweet roller bag! My travels are much smoother with you in my life.

You might also be interested in Angela Hawse’s review of

Osprey Transporter 95 & Snowkit Organization Duffel

 

Mammut Barryvox S Transceiver – Gear We Use

mammut barrivo s transceiver

Get stoked for winter with a new Mammut Barryvox S Transceiver.

Pop Quiz

  1. Should you face your transceiver towards your body, or away from your body?
  2. Why should you wear your avalanche transceiver under at least one layer of clothing?
  3. How far away from your transceiver should you carry any metals or electronics? (i.e cell phones, insulin pumps, go-pros).
  4. How full should your batteries be? 

Watch Kitty to get answers:

Grabber Toe Warmers – Gear We Use

Early season on the Mer de Glace with Grabber Toe Warmers in our boots. Chamonix, France. ©Karen Bockel.

Early season on the Mer de Glace with Grabber Toe Warmers in our boots. Chamonix, France. ©Karen Bockel.

 

It’s early winter and my body hasn’t adjusted to the cold yet.

I have to convince myself to get out and do things like ice climbing when my body still remembers warm, sunny rock. So, I grumble and pack lots of layers.

But, layers won’t suffice for my feet!

I always struggle to keep my feet warm whether I’m climbing or skiing.

Over the years, I’ve tried heated insoles and boot-warmers but neither seemed to work.

Thus, to keep my feet warm, my fallback has become Grabber’s Toe Warmers.

Grabber’s toe warmers are simple. They’re easy to apply, they last all day and they’re affordable. Even more important, they can’t break like some electrical contraption.

Grabber Toe Warmers are consistent and reliable.

Specially designed to function in low-space, low-oxygen environments like inside boots, they are ultra thin so they don’t affect toe space.  Stick the adhesive side of the D-shaped package to your socks and they’ll stay in place, warming your toes for over 6 hours. Of course, they’re not like toasty mukluks! But that’s not the point. The point is that they keep my feet from getting numb and damaged from the cold.

 

3 Pro Tips To Using Grabber Toe Warmers Effectively:

  1. Install the packets before leaving the house!
  2. Open the package and let some warm air on the packets before applying!
  3. Stick the packets on top of your toes rather than underneath!

 

Sterling – Sustainable Rope | Gear We Use – Chicks Climbing and Skiing

Sterling Sustainable Rope is about Sterling's rope recycling program

I am proud to shout out about Sterling’s Sustainable Rope Recycling Program.

Over 95% of the raw fiber Sterling purchases to make ropes goes into the final product. Everything else gets repurposed or recycled.

In 2018 Sterling used 1,110,832 lbs. of fiber to make ropes. That produced 73,649 lbs. of scrap, flat fiber and twisted fiber.  Sterling sold 100% of the scrap fiber to other manufacturers to use as was, or to melt down into pellets.

A partner company recycled 1,800 lbs. of used or damaged rope into their product line. And, Sterling sold 10,000 lbs. of prime shorts. Prime shorts are shorter-length, first-quality ropes–left over after regular inventory ropes are cut to length. Prime short lengths traditionally go to waste.

In total, Sterling recycled or sold 90,249 lbs. of potential waste into prime shorts, rope ends, used rope and recycled fiber.

Over 10 years ago, Sterling started their Rope Recycling Program. They take back any used dynamic rope, from any manufacturer and either up-cycle or recycle it. Some of this goes into art, dog leashes, hand bags and non-life-safety products. What isn’t upcycled is sent to a recycling company that chops the rope up, then sends the fibers to manufacturers making products like carpeting, action figures, key chains and skateboards to name a few.

Retired climbing ropes make great gifts for friends who are boaters, make art or have other non-safety utility needs. Don’t let your used climbing rope end up in the landfill. Send it back to Sterling Rope and give it a second life or insure it’ll be recycled as it should be.

Sterling Rope Sustainability Link:  https://sterlingrope.com/sustainability

Black Diamond Snaggletooth Crampon | Gear We Use

Kitty Calhoun and Rennie Jackson climbing in black diamond snaggletooth crampons in Zanskar, India

Kitty Calhoun, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, and partner traversing the Stegosaurus in Black Diamond Snaggletooth crampons, Chilling II, Zanskar, India. ©Jay Smith.

What’s the best all-around crampon?

When it comes to choosing crampons the first question you need to ask yourself is what kind of terrain or climbing objective do I want them for?

  1. Technical ice climbing
  2. Mixed climbing
  3. Alpine climbing
  4. All of the above

If you chose D, or all of the above, then sit tight and keep reading about the Black Diamond Snaggletooth crampon, the best all-around crampon out there.

Typically, for glacier travel, alpine climbing and neve (firm snow), horizontal points feel more stable because they provide more contact beneath your feet. On the other hand, vertically oriented front points are better suited for steep, technical ice climbing,

Why does it matter if the points are horizontal or vertical?

The answer is stability. Stability equals security and security equals confidence.

So if you’re into bagging summits like the North Ridge of Mount Baker, where you have a long, snowy approach, followed by steep neve, a section of technical ice, and a summit ridge, there’s only one crampon that excels in all of these types of terrain. The Black Diamond Snaggletooth blends the best of all worlds.

The genius in the Black Diamond Snaggletooth crampon design is that it features a horizontal mono-point. This horizontal monopoint is unique. And it’s supported by a smaller, secondary horizontal point, hence the name Snaggletooth.

One of the first things you notice when climbing with the Snaggletooth is how secure you feel whether edging on rock or standing on thin ice. The horizontal points provide a stable platform for you to perch upon, no matter what’s underfoot. Made out of stainless steel, the Snaggletooth won’t rust. It resists balling which is a real hazard in heavy snow conditions. It’s strong and lightweight and can handle all terrain and conditions. The Snaggletooth is the best all-around crampon on the market.

Try out Black Diamond Snaggletooth crampon at our Ouray, Colorado | Ice Climbing Clinics.

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