Osprey Sylva 12 Women’s Hydration Pack

sylva 12 front pockets

Osprey’s Sylva 12 Women’s Mountain Biking Hydration Pack. ©Elaina Arenz.

As the world hunkers down in the wake of the pandemic and we practice “social distancing”, including no climbing at popular crags, I’m finding new ways to enjoy the great outdoors. To breathe a little fresh air, my go-to form of socially distanced recreation has been to hop on my bike and hit the trails.

On my rides, my Osprey Sylva 12 Women’s Mountain Biking Hydration pack has been a trusty companion.

The Hydrapak water bladder holds 2.5 liters of liquid refreshment which keeps me hydrated while I rest at the top of the uphill slogs. 

But what I love most about the Osprey Sylva 12 is its super ventilated back panel. Osprey’s Airspeed technology keeps air flowing down my back so I don’t get swamped in my own sweat. 

Winged shoulder straps made of breathable mesh distribute the weight evenly so the Slylva doesn’t shift around as I navigate through obstacles.

Sometimes I forget where I stashed my GU, or my extra set of gloves, because there are so many storage pockets. Or, maybe I’m disorganized? 

The women’s specific Sylva 12 has 3 large zipper compartments. One compartment for the hydration bladder. One compartment large enough for my Houdini, buff and gloves. And a third compartment with organizational, mesh pockets for tools, trail snacks and a bike pump. 

The Sylva 12 is loaded with all kinds of other features too:Osprey sylva 12 inner pockets

  • An integrated rain cover tucks away into its own compartment 
  • Mesh outer pockets allow for quick and easy access 
  • A stretchable, mesh sleeve adds an ability to stow an extra layer, 
  • There’s a clip-in point for a Blinkie light 
  • Compression straps keep everything in place.

Lastly, I love the color of my Sylva 12. It’s not black for starters. Black cooks the contents on a hot, sunny day. Rather, my Sylva 12 is a nice, light gray shade with subtle aqua accents. 

Thanks Osprey for all your attention to detail on this women’s specific hydration pack, a perfect companion for my solo, mountain biking adventures.

Patagonia Sports Bra – Gear We Use | Rock Climbing

Kitty Calhoun, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing showing her Patagonia Sports Bra and Indian Creek scar on her right shoulder. ©Kitty Calhoun Collection.

Kitty Calhoun, Co-Owner Chicks Climbing, showing her Patagonia Sports Bra and Indian Creek scar on her right shoulder. ©Kitty Calhoun Collection.

For years, I climbed cracks in Indian Creek in just a Patagonia Sports Bra. Or, for wide cracks and off-widths, I wore just a Patagonia Sports Bra covered with a long-sleeved shirt to protect my skin from being abraded.

I love climbing in a Patagonia Sports Bra!

  • They don’t bind—binding Sports Bras are horrible for climbing.
  • They have cute patterns and flattering designs.
  • They are made from recycled polyester, which helps to reduce our dependence on petroleum products.
  • And, the soft, next-to-skin, moisture-wicking, odor-controlled fabric dries quickly.

Anyway, one day, after years of Indian Creek climbing in just a sports bra, I found myself at the start of a perfect, splitter hand crack. Or, so I thought. I looked up from the bottom and couldn’t see any corner or wide parts. So, I started up in my usual Sports Bra outfit—leaving my long-sleeve shirt in the dirt.

Unfortunately, from the bottom of the climb, I couldn’t see that there was a slot at the top of the climb. Worse, the slot required a shoulder scum. However, I was so focused on my effort that I didn’t even feel the fine grit sandstone rub all the skin off my shoulder. That is until I got down and my husband poked my shoulder and said, “What’s that?”


Now my Indian Creek wardrobe is still a Patagonia Sport Bra, but always under a t-shirt. I make sure my shoulders are covered even if it’s just a splitter, hand-sized crack with no visible pods.

Take it from me, reduce scars by always wearing a t-shirt over your Patagonia sports bra when you go climbing in Indian Creek!

Yeti Hopper BackFlip 24 – Soft Backpack Cooler | Gear We Use

Yeti Hopper BackFlip 24 soft cooler packed and ready for adventure

Yeti Hopper BackFlip 24 Soft Backpack Cooler ready for an adventure. ©Kitty Calhoun.

I have a Yeti Hopper BackFlip 24 backpack cooler but my husband is always borrowing it.

Yeti is one of Chicks Climbing and Skiing’s newest sponsors. A company who in their own words values experiences, restlessness, playfulness, durability and togetherness, Yeti makes a great partner! And now, you’ll have the opportunity to demo Yeti products on our courses – from coolers, mugs, stackable pints and basecamp chairs.

As I said, my husband’s favorite Yeti product is my Hopper 24 Soft Cooler. With its backpack carrying system, he easily carries the Hopper with him on adventures that are away from the car.

Yeti Hopper BackFlip 24 Soft Cooler Features:

  • High-density fabric that is waterproof and resistant to mildew, punctures and UV rays
  • Cold-cell, rubber foam insulation that is far superior in performance to ordinary soft coolers
  • A Hydrolock zipper that is the toughest, highest performing waterproof and leak-proof cooler zipper in the world
  • A weight that is only 5.3 lbs. Yet, the Hopper is big enough, so they say, to carry 20 cans of beer!

My husband gave me the Hopper for a present, but because it’s so easy to carry, it became his “go-to” cooler.

Truthfully, the Hopper BackFlip looks really nice and one day soon we may own two!

Grivel G Zero Mountaineering Axe

Grivel G Zero Mountainneering axe available in 5 great colours! ©Grivel

Grivel G Zero mountaineering axe available in 5 great colours! ©Grivel

The Grivel G Zero mountaineering axe stands in a long, illustrious line of climbing equipment dating back to when climbing equipment was first manufactured. The climbing equipment manufacturing company, Grivel, is over 200 years old!

The G Zero is an awesome lightweight classic mountaineering axe, designed and manufactured at the foot of Mont Blanc, the home of alpine climbing.

It’s time to start planning for summer mountaineering adventures! As occasional warm spells arrive with more frequency, spring is soon approaching. 

Mountaineering axes stands out as the symbol of mountaineering itself.  

A good mountaineering axe is both climbing equipment and protection–as in self-arrest and snow anchor.

We recommend the elegantly-designed Grivel G Zero as a great choice for our Easton Glacier – Intro to Mountaineering Course.

At 425g the 58cm G Zero is light and Light is Right!

Here are some of the features of a classic mountaineering axe:

Longer Length. You use a classic mountaineering axe primarily in your uphill hand as a slope traversing tool. We recommend at least 60-70 cm. You can also use a mountaineering axe as a snow anchor.  

Straight Shaft. The straight shaft of a mountaineering axe provides more leverage should you need to self-arrest.

Classic Curve Pick. It is easier to engage a classically curved pick in a self-arrest.

Spike. The pointed metal at the end of the shaft gives you support and balance.

Go to Chicks Easton Glacier – Intro to Mountaineering Course to learn more about mountaineering.

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:


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.


Generously bent for clearance over bulges.


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.


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.