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!

Instinct VS Rock Climbing Shoe for Women by SCARPA

stock photo of SCARPA Instinct VS Rock Climbing Shoe

SCARPA Instinct VS Rock Climbing Shoe in black aqua.

Thank you SCARPA for refining the tried-and-true Instinct VS rock shoe into a women’s-specific model that comes with a lovely, fresh new color to boot.

The original orange Instinct VS has been my go-to shoe for the past 5 seasons. They have served me well on everything from steep, overhanging sport routes to multi-pitch crack climbs.

The women’s-specific Instinct VS

has all the same performance features as the original Instinct. But, even better, the women’s specific model has a curved, asymmetrical female last. They’re also built to be a tad softer, which means they’re slightly more sensitive. Being softer and more sensitive also makes them more comfortable, more like a slipper.

Although the Instinct VS is aggressive and it will get down right gritty with you, it’s also a great all-day shoe for every style of climbing. For all-day, I just size them one size up from my approach shoes. Anyway, I hate tight shoes, always have. I’ve even got a pair that I can wear with socks for cooler weather or easy long routes.

Although, just like most new shoes, the Instinct VS’s are pain machines out of the box, they stretch and mold to your feet within just a couple of days out.

The Vibram XS Edge rubber is as good as any “stickier” resole rubber I’ve used. New, they should last you for a couple of seasons. Then the burly Italian construction will further last you through multiple resoles. With years of use, the Instinct VS’s are sure to become your trusted companions.

To get the best fit, go to your local SCARPA dealer to try these bad girls on. Just make sure you don’t let them talk you into a pair that’s too tight!

Buy local, think global.

MSRP $185

You may also like to read my love letter to SCARPA’s Gecko approach Shoes.

Black Diamond Icon Headlamp

Black Diamond Icon Headlamp

Black Diamond Icon Headlamp

Black Diamond’s Icon headlamp shines as one of my top six most appreciated technological advances in alpine climbing gear over the last couple of decades because it prevents against unplanned bivouacs.

With a range of 125 meters—the furthest of any BD headlamp—and 500 lumens, the Icon allows for route finding in the dark. What this really means is that with an Icon strapped to my head, I can keep climbing even when the day ends. This ability to climb in the dark is an essential preventative against the dreaded unplanned bivouac!

As if avoiding a forced bivy isn’t enough, the Black Diamond Icon Headlamp has even more loveable features:

  • Red, green, and blue light modes to help protect your night vision.
  • Removable battery pack—put it in your pocket to help keep it warm and preserve battery life.
  • Three-level power meter allows you to keep track of how much power you have left.
  • Settings that allow you to toggle between range and power.
  • Brightness Memory—turn it on at a chosen brightness rather than toggling back through the settings.
  • Max burn time is 70 hours on high and 175 hours on low.

Thank you, Black Diamond, for your ingenuity in creating solutions so that I can go farther into the mountains with fewer bivouacs!

Osprey Mutant 22 Backpack – 5 Reasons Why I Love my Mutant 22

Lindsey Hamm sharpening her ice climbing tools next to her Osprey Mutant 22

Chicks guide, Lindsey Hamm, sharpens her ice climbing tools next to her loaded Osprey Mutant 22 backpack.

Osprey’s Mutant 22 is my go-to multi-pitch and alpine-climbing backpack.

The smallest of the Osprey Mutant Climbing Backpack series, I use my Mutant 22 when I need an on-route backpack.

Five Reasons why I love my Mutant 22

  1. Not too many straps and pockets. The problem with too many straps and pockets is that they can get confusing. Think, “Where did I stash my Gu?” Or, “Whoops, wrong strap.” Pack confusion is not a problem here.

  2. Perfect size. I can carry a single rack, extra clothing layers, water, and snacks.

  3. Easy to carry while climbing because it sits high on my hips. Combine this with the fact that the Mutant 22 does not have a padded hip belt and my climbing-harness gear loops stay free and accessible.

  4. Sternum Strap. Snugs the weight firmly onto my shoulders

  5. Compression Strap. Keeps everything from moving around while I’m climbing.

6 Other lovable Features:

  1. Padded with snowshed fabric–great for rock climbing and perfect for ice and alpine climbing!

  2. Removable sheet frame. Want to go fast and light? Remove the “frame” to shed weight. Need a little cushion? Sit on it at an alpine belay.

  3. Internal Hydration Pocket. It’s easier to stay hydrated when you sip. Our experience is that if you stay hydrated, you need less water.

  4. Big Buckles–all the more easy to open with gloves on!

  5. Easy Rope Attachment. Carry your climbing rope on the outside. Drape it over the top/opening lid. Cinch it down so it doesn’t flop around (or off!) as you approach. Easy!

  6. Top Lid Top-Zip Opening. Don’t worry about your things falling out when you access your stuff. But remember, you still have to be careful not to drop stuff on multi-pitch climbs!

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.