Avoiding a Ground Fall & DIY Stick Clip

Written by: Dawn Glanc

Bolts. They are the protection that make face climbing possible. However, the first bolt is often placed higher than you may feel comfortable climbing to unprotected. A high first bolt can result in a ground fall if you fail to clip it.  The consequences can be so high, that a climber may decide to retreat from the route. There is no need to be reckless at the crag – use a stick clip to help you mitigate the risk of a ground fall!  Here is a quick stick clip recipe to help you send those beautiful routes that have high first bolt placement.

How to make a stick clip:



1 extendable painter’s pole
1 spring clamp
2 hose clamps
Various stickers are optional

Tools needed:
Flat head screwdriver

Step 1:

Slide hose clamps onto the painter’s pole (do not tighten yet).


Step 2:

Slide spring clamp onto pole, trapping an “arm” of the spring clamp into the hose clamps.


Step 3:

Tighten hose clamps with the screwdriver to secure the spring clamp. Alternate tightening each hose clamp to be sure you make the hose clamps as tight as possible. Decorate handle of pole with stickers if you so choose.


How to Use the Stick Clip:

Step 1:

Insert top carabiner of the quickdraw into the spring clamp. Use spring clamp to hold the top carabiner of the quickdraw open. Clip the rope with a big loop of slack into the bottom carabiner on the quickdraw.


Step 2:

Extend the pole. With patience and grace, hook the bolt with the carabiner.


When the quickdraw is secure to the bolt, pull down on the stick clip with force to free the spring clamp of the quickdraw.

Once the carabiner is hooked, pull down on the stick clip to pull the quickdraw from the spring clamp. The first bolt is now clipped and you are ready to climb!


Dawn Glanc is a co-owner and a guide for Chicks Climbing and Skiing. Dawn has been climbing rock and ice for nearly 20 years. When she is not working you can find Dawn out climbing with friends. She loves sport climbing and considers herself a cragger at heart. “I have been using a stick clip for years,” says Dawn. “Sport climbing is meant to be fun, there is no need to risk a ground fall.  You can use this ‘stick clip’ trick to help keep yourself safe whether you are rock climbing or mixed climbing.”

Dawn and the other guides will be hosting a variety of rock clinics this fall in some of the premier climbing areas in the U.S. Look for Chicks in the Red River Gorge, Keene Valley, Red Rocks and Rifle. Beginner to advanced climbers are welcome. Don’t miss your chance to learn new skills and techniques from some of the best female guides in the industry.

Get Psyched! The New Chapter of Chicks

Kitty Calhoun, Dawn Glanc, Angela Hawse, Elaina Arenz, and Karen Bockel are pleased to be moving forward with Chicks Climbing and Skiing.  Our vision is to empower women through mountain sports and continue the tradition of giving back to the community.  We are excited to add new event locations to our line-up as well as ski mountaineering and alpine climbing.  Don’t forget to check out our updated website in a day or two.  Additionally, we are working on an Alumni Membership Package, full of benefits, which will be announced shortly. We look forward to re-connecting with you and taking the Chicks experience to a new level.
You all know at least one of us, the new Chicks partners, but you may not be aware of the unique strengths that each of us brings to the management team.

Kitty CalhounKitty has an MBA and was a founding partner of Exum Utah Mountain Adventures. She’s also a recipient of the AAC Underhill Award for excellence in mountaineering.  She has guided for 33 years, including 16 years for Chicks.

Dawn GlancDawn has a BS in Outdoor Education, is an AMGA certified rock and alpine guide, and has place first in the women’s division of the Ouray Ice Fest competition several times.  She has guided for 11 years, including 6 years for Chicks.

Angela HawseAngela has a BA in Outdoor Education and a Master of Arts degree in International Mountain Conservation.  She is an IFMGA certified guide and trains and examines aspiring AMGA guides.  She also works as a heli-ski guide.  She has guided for 30 years, including 15 years for Chicks.


Elaina ArenzElaina has a BS in Advertising and is owner/operator of New River Mountain Guides. She is on the board of the Access Fund (AF) and has been awarded the Sharp End award by the AF for outstanding contribution to climbers’ advocacy. She is an AMGA certified rock guide. She has guided for 12 years, including 5 years for Chicks.


Karen BockelKaren has an MS in Physics and competed on a professional level in road biking and ski mountaineering.  She is an AMGA certified ski guide.  She has guided for 6 years, including 3 years for Chicks.




As guides, working with you has been a rewarding experience in so many ways.  That is why we are psyched to carry the torch and expand the horizons.

Here’s to more adventures together!
Kitty, Dawn, Angela, Elaina & Karen

A Farewell from Head Chick, Kim Reynolds

Dear Friends,

Kim Reynolds Hall of FameAfter 16 years holding the vision of Chicks Climbing: Chicks with Picks and Chicks Rock!, I am moving on and passing the torch. It is a rewarding journey to create a climbing program that is unique, that gives back and inspires women to be more than they can imagine. This mission is simple and achieved through motivating our participants to push beyond their self-imposed limits and believe in what is possible!  And, in the process, these ladies also become really good climbers. I love that!  This intended design means a lot to me. And, as Chicks has evolved, so have I.

The women who make the magic happen are our infamous Girly Guides, and I am happy that five of them have banded together to fill my shoes and take this organization to the next level. I have complete faith in them because no one understands the spirit of Chicks better than they do. I am happy they will carry on in service of our beloved “Chicks” who have been part of this adventure for the past sixteen years.

I believe that there are no coincidences, and as I bring this chapter to a close, I received the distinction of being inducted into the American Mountaineering Hall of Excellence —an honor that combines a lifetime achievement of climbing/adventure with giving back to the outdoor community. I am incredibly moved by this recognition, which comes at a time when I can pause and fully appreciate the value of this amazing journey.

With joy and appreciation for the people I’ve met along the way,

Getting Pumped for Elevation Weekend

It’s hard to believe, but there once was a time when you didn’t have to queue up for a route at the crag, or get up at 3a.m. – not to beat the weather, but to beat the other party to the climb.  I recently heard that Discovery Channel was going to kickoff their Elevation Weekend (this weekend) with Valley Uprising, a film that explores the stories of those pushed the limits and pioneered our sport in Yosemite, and I couldn’t help but think of the few bold women who helped champion the sport at a time when there was no crag crowd.

I was discussing climbing during this era with Chicks Guide, Kitty Calhoun, who began climbing in the late 70’s and quickly became an inspiration for many women with a multitude of radical ascents  including the first American female ascent of Dhaulagiri, the first female ascent of Makalu, new Grade VI rock routes in Kyrgyzstan, a new Grade VI new route on Middle Triple Peak in Alaska, and a rare ascent of the Diamond Couloir on Mt Kenya.

We actually didn’t talk much about her accomplishments, because when you talk about bold women and Yosemite, one woman came to Kitty’s mind….you guessed it, Lynn Hill.

7-Lynn-Hill-on-Half-Dome,-ph-Charlie-Row-1977“Lynn Hill and I grew up in the same generation and each of us faced the same challenges – we were trying to find our way in climbing which was, at the time, dominated by men,” said Kitty.  “I met Lynn for the first time in the early 90’s and at that time, she was a World Cup sport climber and most of those women were primarily concerned about their strength to weight ratio. Not Lynn – she ate as much as any man at the table.  Since then, we became fellow ambassadors for Patagonia and I have grown to appreciate her appetite for knowledge (she is always asking questions) and her analytical style.  I am very excited to see her highlighted in Elevation Weekend.”

Set the DVR, VCR, or maybe even stay home to check out some of Discovery Channel’s Elevation Weekend this weekend.  This event takes viewers to rarely seen, striking destinations, following men and women on their journey to conquer the elements. A weekend of epic documentaries, Elevation Weekend documents new conflicts and obstacles as well as reflects on the history of heroic expeditions and how they inform modern explorations.

Elevation Weekend commences with the premiere of the award-winning documentary, VALLEY UPRISING, on Saturday, April 25 at 8 PM ET/PT. VALLEY UPRISING explores the stories of those who pushed the limits of what’s possible at Yosemite Valley, CA, going beyond the risk and commitment over the span of 50 years as rock climbing evolved from a group of self-reliant, bold mountain men who took months and years to scale the peaks of Half Dome and El Capitan into the sports of aid climbing, free climbing, speed climbing and freebase climbing, where both legendary peaks could be scaled in a single day, leading to today’s extreme sports that include BASE jumping.


Crack Climbing Tip: Use Your Thumbs

As we near desert season, we asked Kitty Calhoun to give us a bit of beta on an important, but rarely focused on, crack climbing technique.  It’s not just for hitchhiking and texting anymore, Kitty has us considering the thumb as we’re sending splitters at Indian Creek.

Your thumb is the most important digit you’ve got.  Think about it.  Which finger do we automatically use as toddlers to suck on?  The thumb of course.  It gives us security and stability. (See image to left – who hasn’t used their thumb for this?)

Pinching & Crimping

No seriously, your thumb has the most power.  On face climbs, often on cobblestones, it pinches.  On crimpers, it wraps around and sits on top of your index finger to add support and aid in stability.

Thumb Crimping.

Thumb Crimping.


But did you ever think about how you use your thumb when crack climbing?  First off, you can use your thumb to provide opposition when you are laybacking a thin finger crack.

Thumb providing opposition.

Thumb providing opposition.

Offset Finger Cracks

Secondly, your thumb is critical in offset finger cracks (too big for finger locks and too small for hands).  In this case, you place your thumb under your first two fingers and then slide in the wide part of a crack, bring down to the constriction, and cam.  All the while, your thumb is pushing against the other two to provide stability.

Thumb in offset finger crack.

Thumb in offset finger crack.

Hand Cracks

Lastly, you use your thumb in hand cracks – especially when the crack is insecure and you are in thumbs down position.  Exact use depends on whether if is thin hands or cupped hands.

Thumb in hand jam.

Thumb in hand jam.

Suffice it to say, that the thumb is vital for leverage and stability.  To find out more about use of your thumb and other body parts in cracks, please attend our Indian Creek Climbing clinic.

Written by: Kitty Calhoun

Saddle Up – Chicks are Heading to Rifle!

CanyonShotRifle Canyon, Colorado is emerging as one of the best hidden gems of sport climbing in the United States.  This two-mile canyon boasts hundreds of limestone routes, beautiful views and short approaches. Rifle also maintains quite the reputation and is a dream destination for many sport climbers.

The Chicks Rifle Clinic has been added to the Chicks Climbing’s repertoire because the area is creating a buzz in the climbing community and women want the chance to master this tricky limestone.  “Rifle has a technique that is very specific to climbing on this type of limestone.  What makes it great for Chicks is that, once learned, these techniques are extremely transferrable,” explains Dawn Glanc, Girly Guide at Chicks Climbing who developed the Rifle Clinic.

“Spending several days focusing on a few specific techniques means that you are more equipped to efficiently move through problems on routes in your home crag.  For example, at the Rifle Clinic, we will be working on overhanging routes that are not full of jugs.  Clinic participants can then transfer that skill to easily pull overhanging roofs common in a variety of climbing areas,” explains Dawn.  In addition, Chicks participants will be working on the ultimate transferrable skill, mental training – facing intimating routes, breaking them down and ending the day with a feeling of success.

While Rifle has a reputation of being an intimidating climbing area that humbles even your most aggressive sport climbers (see Climbing Magazines blog), there is also a lot of route development happening in the canyon that allows a wider variety of climbers to visit, but beware, that reputation was earned and climbers can’t just waltz in and expect to climb at the same grade as other places.  “Rifle has a technique that is very specific to climbing on this type of greasy limestone.  In the clinic, we will spend hours working on enhancing skills for sidepulls, open handed slopers, tiny crimps, underclings and a variety of other oppositional climbing techniques,” explains Dawn.  “You won’t believe how this clinic will improve your foot technique!  You’ll be climbing a grade harder when you leave and possess the confidence to continue climbing at several areas similar to Rifle and push your lead grade at your favorite crag.”

Join us in Rifle, September 18-21, 2014

For more information:

Check out new routes at the Rifle Climbers Coalition website.

Rifle Mountain Park Guidebook by Dave Pegg

Author of Women Who Dare to Present Jan 27

WomenWhoDareWe recently caught up with Chris Noble, author of Women Who Dare: North America’s Most Inspiring Women Climbers.  Of course, you can see just from the title why Chicks loves this book, but it also happens to feature some of our Girly Guides.  In addition, Chris will be presenting in Ouray during our Sampler clinic.  The presentation is Monday, Jan 27 at the Ouray Community Center and is open to the public so please join us!

Why did you write Women Who Dare?

The short answer is because I love women and I love climbing.  Together, the two make an irresistible combination.

The broader answer is that I’ve been working with women athletes for years and I feel that too often women do not receive the same level of media attention their male counterparts do.  Case in point, no one had produced a book that examines the climbing lifestyle from a woman’s perspective.

Why climbing?  What’s the appeal?

My work is all about re-connecting people with nature. I believe the earth is literally dying due to our lack of connection.

I also believe that a fully realized human life (whether one is male or female), requires not only a strong, regular dose of nature—but liberal injections of adventure, challenge, courage, commitment, and community as well— and climbing is one of the few activities remaining that offer us all those benefits combined.

I love the realm of adventure and the people who make their homes there.  I want to help those individuals share their stories, their struggles, their passions, and what they’ve learned.

And I want to inspire readers to find their own personal connection with the wild, to follow their own hearts, and become the hero of their own stories.  In fact, I would say modern Americans are starved for heroism and meaning in their lives, a need pop culture does little to satisfy.  Instead, our culture tells us the opposite, that rather than heroes, we are at most needy little consumers, and that if we feel something lacking, the best we can do— is to go shopping.

What did you learn from writing Women Who Dare?

The biggest thing I learned was to fully embrace my own inner climber.  By spending time with the women profiled in the book I realized I was still partially operating under an outdated point of view inherited from my parents— that climbing and similar activities are something we eventually grow out of.

But the women profiled in Women Who Dare clearly demonstrate the power of embracing one’s passions, and what can be accomplished when we do.  In fact, as Britanny Griffith points out in her chapter, if one orients all the different aspects of life around a central axis such as climbing, then all the other spokes of the wheel— relationship, career, community— are much more likely to properly align.  Most of us do the opposite. We push our passions off to the side, then wonder why nothing else is working.

The second big lesson I learned was how open and unguarded women are when it comes to climbing.  Unlike men, they are not continually trying to shield their egos.

Why don’t men ask questions?  Because they don’t want anyone to know that they don’t know… everything!

But again and again, the women I interviewed talked about how they are continually asking questions, how they are endlessly striving to learn more, about climbing, and about life.  These are some of the most accomplished climbers in the world, but they are not resting on their laurels, not hiding behind their reputations or accomplishments.  They are not afraid to admit their fears and weaknesses.  In fact, these women demonstrate that the best way to overcome a weakness is to first acknowledge what it is, and second to address it directly.  In that way, women are far more courageous than men.

What was the biggest challenge in producing the book?

By far the biggest challenge was scheduling.  Herding cats is a cinch compared to trying to get full time climbers (who will jet off on a new adventure at a moment’s notice), to commit to a date then stick with it.  The flipside however, was that once they did commit, everyone profiled in the book was a consummate professional, and gave 100% if their time, attention, and talent to making the project a success.

Last Ascents – Ted Talk with Kitty Calhoun

Below is excerpt from Kitty Calhoun’s recent Ted Talk entitled Last Ascents.  Watch the video to see all of her amazing presentation.

I’m morphing, changing from one role to another.  But I needed something in my life that didn’t change.  Something that was permanent.  Until I found God, I found that in the mountains.  The mountains have been used as my techer for over 30 years and it’s hard to admit that mountains are changing but they are.  I’m here to tell a story about a Last Ascent.  A route that I climbed that may not get a repeat because of climate change.  It’s hard to admit that the mountains are changing but they are.  We may or may not be able to affect climate change, but I think we should at least try and I have a new approach.

Initially I wasn’t interested in climbing at all, because I was afraid of heights.  But I went to Outward Bound and rock climbing was part of the course.  I learned my fear would dissipate if I would just focus on the next move that I needed to make to move upward.

Climbing was totally engaging.  At a certain point I wanted to as Thoreau would say, “suck the marrow out of life.”  To live each day as if it were my last day on Earth.  I went to the University of Vermont and I learned to ice climb, afterward, I lived to climb.

Learn how Kitty’s ascents all over the world shaped her views on climate change, minimalism, micro-goals vs. micro-possessions and our relationship with the mountains in her Ted Talk – Last Ascents.

This Week’s Gossip – Oct. 7

The Summit PosterEddie Bauer Scholarship for Red Rocks Clinic UPDATE: we have received all of the wonderful applications and will be announcing winner this week.

Making the transition outdoors – great article by Kitty Calhoun on what to think about as you move from the climbing gym to outdoors.

Jenn Fleming shows appreciation to the National Parks, check out her video on Devil’s Tower.

Fred Beckey has a legacy of first ascents greater than that of any other climber – let’s see what he’s doing at age 89.  True inspiration.

The Summit – a film about the deadliest day on K2 opens all over the US this week, check out showtimes.

Ashima Shiraishi Makes First Female Ascent of 24 Karats (5.14c) in the Red  – view the full article at RockandIce.com


Red Rocks, NV – Oct 24-27

ICE IS ON ITS WAY (all activities in Ouray, CO):
The Graduate Jan. 4-7

The Complete Jan. 15-19

The Sampler Jan. 25-28

The Quickie Jan. 31-Feb. 2

Fem Fest, Women’s Ice Climbing Festival, Feb 21-23

Oct. 19 – 5:30pm – Front Range Chicks – Climbing for Life is hosting a screening of REEL ROCK 8 at an IMAX south of Denver.  Proceeds go to a great cause and there will be a great silent auction as well as a cash bar.  Buy tickets here.

Considerations in Making the Transition From Indoor to Outdoor Climbing

Kitty Calhoun placing solid protection

Kitty Calhoun reaching to place a great piece of pro.

Recent beautiful weather calls a lot of climbers outdoors.  Kitty Calhoun offers great insight into making the transition from gym climbing to outdoor climbing.

Times have changed. Rock and ice climbing are growing exponentially. This wave of new climbers outdoors is primarily due to the ease of getting into climbing in a rock gym – there is  relatively little expense, instruction is readily available, and all peripheral concerns are taken away indoors so you can just focus on the movement and basic mechanics of belaying, top-roping, and leading.

In making the transition to climbing outside, there are safety, ethics, and Leave No Trace (LNT) principles which should be observed so that you have fun and others around you have fun as well.

Safety issues include the following:

*Be aware that some rock is loose.  Test suspicious rock before pulling on it.  Yell “rock” if you pull off a rock, or drop a carabiner or any other hard object.  If belaying, do not be anchored in the fall-line. Consider a helmet.

*Do not climb below other parties or too close to other parties so that if you do pull off a rock or drop an object, it will not hit the other party.  Do not pass another party unless you ask and they give permission.

*Do not lower your partner off the end of the rope.  Either tie in, tie a knot in the end, or pay attention.

*If you are trad climbing, learn how to place gear from someone experienced first.

*Do not automatically trust someone else’s anchors without inspecting them first, unless you know the experience level of the person who built the anchor.

*Do not assume that a climbing partner you do not know is a good belayer or a safe outdoor climber.

*Inspect your equipment, especially ropes and webbing.  There are stories of accidents in which ropes or webbing were weakened as a result of exposure to chemicals and an accident in which a draw failed because a biner was clipped into the rubber gasket rather than the webbing.

*Learn how to back off a route (you can’t lower off webbing without the rope first going through a biner).  Learn basic self-rescue skills in the back country.

Ethics issues include the following:

*Do not chip or modify any routes.  Do not add bolts unless you have permission from the first-ascent party.

*Observe local ethics and management policies as pertains to putting up new routes.

*Do not take others gear off a route.

*Avoid top-roping directly off the chains so as to prolong the life of the chains.

*Do not project a route if there are parties waiting for your route.

*Limit the size of your party.  Spread out.  Go to different cliffs if you have to.  Social engagement can take place bouldering or in the evening.

*Do not leave your barking dog tied up at the base of a cliff while you go do a multi-pitch climb.

*Leave the ghetto blaster at home.  If you need music, plug into your iPod.

Leave No Trace issues particularly pertinent to outdoor climbing include:

*Do not leave micro-trash such as bits of climbing tape.

*Do not build new trails without permission of land managers.

*When taking a dump, dig a 6-8” hole at least 200 yards from the climbing site, trail, or water.

*If you bring a dog, bring a bag and pick up after your dog.

If we all observe appropriate safety, ethical, and LNT principles, then the exploding numbers of climbers transitioning into the outdoors will ultimately be a good thing.  After all, I think climbing brings meaning and happiness to our lives and a world full of happy people would be a good thing.

By Kitty Calhoun