Angela Hawse on using judgement when evaluating anchor placement

Angela Hawse gives a full day self-rescue clinic during The Complete Chicks with Picks clinic, which we always get rave reviews about.

Here’s a short clip from her class on the importance of evaluating your surroundings and using good judgement when preparing to build an anchor:

What crampon configuration is right for you?

Recently, I’ve been doing some thinking about crampon configurations and have asked some tech-weenie guys their opinions as well.  The choices between crampon configurations are: duo-point vs mono-point and horizontal points vs vertical points.  I wondered if one crampon worked better for mixed, if one crampon was better for longer routes, if one was better for brittle ice (or soft).

I asked three of the most techy guys I know: Mark Miller, Will Gadd, and Bill Belcourt  (tech guy at Black Diamond).  Each had a different opinion.  Mark liked his mono-points for everything – mixed and ice and does not believe that a mono-point gives any less support on long routes than dou-points.  He does not think that a mono-point is any more likely to shear in hollow ice or fracture brittle ice than a duo-point , whether horizontal or vertical.

Will Gadd likes his horizontal points for mixed and ice routes.  He finds duo-points more stable than mono-points.  Furthermore, he says that horizontal points allow you to climb ice more like you climb on rock because when you raise your heels, they are less likely than vertical points to break the ice and shear out.  There were only a few unique places and conditions where he thought any other configuration out-performed horizontal points.

Bill Belcourt said that everyone has their own theory as to which configuration is best but none are verifiable by science.  He does not like mono-points in less than vertical terrain because he feels it is more work to stand on your feet and keep your balance.  The Black Diamond vertical duo-points (Cyborgs) have front-points with serrations on the teeth so they feel more secure when standing on mushrooms.  They are heavier than the horizontal points, but you can change out the front points to mono-points or replace the points when they become worn out so the crampons last longer.

I would love to write more about choosing crampons, but space does not allow.  I think that it is best to demo all types of crampons to find out what you like best.  In the meantime, it is fun to play with different configurations because it tends to focus your attention on your feet, which in itself would cause you to climb better!

– Kitty Calhoun

Kitty Calhoun talks boot fit for ice climbing

Kitty Calhoun talks about how to make sure your ice climbing boot fits YOU in this short clip:

P.S. Sorry about all the commotion behind Kitty! Don’t let that distract you from her explanation of what constitutes a good FIT.

How to be a good partner on multi-pitch ice climbs

Chicks alumna Amy Jurries, aka The Gearcaster, recently spent a few days with us during “The Graduate” doing multi-pitch backcountry ice climbs. She reflected on her experience as a “second” or follower on these multi-pitch climbs in a recent blog, which she is allowing us to post here to get your tips on what it takes to be a great “second” climbing partner.

For the past two weeks, I have been in Ouray, Colorado ice climbing with great friends, taking clinics at the Ouray Ice Festival and participating in Chicks With Picks. I have learned so much, especially about backcountry multi-pitch ice climbing, as well as what it takes to be a good “second” or true climbing partner (I am not quite ready to lead ice yet!).

From my fabulous friend Cheryl, who led me up many pitches of ice, to the guides at the Ouray Ice Fest and Chicks, I picked up some great tips on how you can be a good second.

1. Anticipation- knowing what needs to happen next and taking charge such as flaking the ropes when you arrive at a climb while the leader racks up.

2. Climbing fast and efficiently so the leader doesn’t freeze at the belay.

3. As you clean the route, make sure the ice screws are cleared of snow, otherwise they are useless on the next pitch. If you can’t knock the snow out, put the screw down your jacket so the snow will melt by the time you reach the top of the pitch.

4. Be ready with your personal carabiner to clove hitch into the anchor when you reach the top of the pitch or use your Personal Anchor System to clip into the anchor or bolts at the top of a climb.

5. If rappelling off a route, make sure to pre-rig yourself as well as the leader so that you can both double check each others setup. Also, before you clean the anchor and rappel down yourself, double check which color rope you need to pull when you get down.

6. Pull and coil the ropes at the end of the climb.

7. Know how to build and use a V-thread in case you need to get out of a bad situation.

8. Don’t complain when ice and snow is dropping on your head.

9. Be sure to always thank the lead climber and tell them what a great a job they did as their climb was much harder than yours!

I would love to hear your tips on being a great second or climbing partner in general.

So Chicks, what other tips do you have?

Technique and confidence

Recently we caught up with Arlene, an alumna of Chicks with Picks, who simply thrives on adventure and thin air. See what Arlene had to say about her Chicks with Picks experience and how the clinics gave her the technique and confidence to jump into leading, as well as branching out to seek adventure on mountain peaks around the world. Thank you Arlene for sharing!

I think that the Chicks program really “jump started” me to have some great adventures and hopefully more!  I had ice climbed for about 6 years before taking my first Chicks with Picks clinic in 2004, but I always just followed the guys.  The Chicks clinics gave me technique, technique, technique and instilled a confidence to go out there and CLIMB.  There have been many great ice adventures!  Another alumna (Karen K.) and I ripped it up for a few years:  Cody Ice Festival – we stayed and led some fun climbs, Bozeman Ice Festival – we stayed a day and slogged in snow, an eight day trip to Canada based in Canmore, where we climbed every day, 3 days with Clint (Lake Louise Falls, Murchison Fall, Wicked Wanda) 5 days on our own – Professor Falls was memorable!  We were beat, but what great memories! I’ve climbed all around Ouray, Silverton etc. Since, Doris (alumna) and Chuck D. have paired up with me for some great fun climbs around OIP, Redstone and Vail.  I had to deal with a neck injury in 2009, but managed to climb Bridal Veil with Mark M.  What a riot!  I started laughing, it was so much fun!

I already was involved in climbing anything that went “up” with friends from CB, finished the 14ers in 2005 and climbed Killimanjaro.  I have kept on climbing peaks – anything with thin air makes me happy.  Spent some time in Europe in 2006 hiking the Haute Route and then climbing Mont Blanc with a CB friend, went on to do the Halb Traverse of the Breithorn and Pollux before the storms hit.  I returned in 2007 to climb most of the “Spaghetti Route” with Clint.  More Breithorn, Castor, Lyskamm Traverse and then the winds prevented us from climbing Monte Rosa and assorted satellite peaks.  I’d like to return for Monte Rosa.  We did manage to get in the Matterhorn on that trip.  I returned to Peru in June this year and climbed Alpamayo.

The Chicks Girly Guides (especially Karen O’Neill, as she said “Go out there and lead”) gave me so much confidence to keep on goin’ on!  Life has knocked me down a few times, but all I need to do is walk out of that door and climb ice or climb that peak.  Well, also there is always the Steeps of CB for skiing, well skiing of any kind, biking, backpacking.  But, MOST OF ALL, I get to hand all of this fun down to my kids and grand kids.  As my daughter says, the apples don’t fall far from the tree.  So thanks for inspiring the F1 and F2 generations!

Rescue on the Valhalla Traverse of the Grand Teton

Michelle Smith from Ungrounded just sent us this video of her rescue on the Grand Teton two weeks ago.

Michelle was climbing with partner Stephen Koch when she fell about 30 feet on the Valhalla Traverse on the northwest side of the Grand Teton. She was injured so badly she needed a helicopter rescue (and some major screws and pins to repair her leg!).

Check out the video to see what a rescue like this looks like, and to see how important it is to stay mentally strong when things get scary in the mountains.

As Michelle noted, “Hopefully, I will never have to do a story like this one again.”

Rescue on Valhalla Traverse from getungrounded on Vimeo.

Check out more from Ungrounded here.

Projecting a Climb: Sage advice from Chicks alumna Anne Hughes

Part 1: Projecting a climb

Anne Hughes is a long-time veteran of Chicks Climbing (first clinic was in 2002), and many women who have been to a clinic have met her. She has been a participant in a total of 13 clinics in the past nine years and has served as the Base Camp Manager for the Chicks Rock! programs in both Devil’s Lake and Red Rocks. Her backyard crag is Devil’s Lake, where she climbs on a regular basis and just recently sent a 5.11d project she’d been working on for months.

Sarah Goldman ever so graciously conducted this interview with Anne – a very long distance interview from Northern Iraq in fact, proving that the Chicks community is literally only a click away no matter where you are! Sarah is another Chicks veteran (three times over), who is starting an adventure of a lifetime as she begins a trek throughout North America to climb. Keep up with Sarah’s new life here.

Anne, we know you are a longtime friend of Chicks Climbing, please tell us about your connection to the program.
I started at Chicks with Picks in 2002 and have gone for one or two sessions per season ever since.  Last year I was base camp manager for Chicks Rock’s inaugural workshops at Devil’s Lake and at Red Rocks.

So, how long have you been climbing rock and ice?
Rock: 13 years. Ice: 8 years.

Damn, that’s a long time, good on ya. You recently celebrated your 56th birthday, and as with other birthdays you completed a self-imposed birthday challenge.  First off, what is a “birthday challenge?”
A birthday challenge is an event that is, as the name says, “challenging”, usually involving your sport, but may also include eating and drinking challenges.  On my 55th birthday I climbed Gils Cheek, climb number 55 in the Devils Lake Climbing Guide. After that joyous ascent, I did all sorts of things including 55 burpees, 55 pull ups, a 5.5 min plank hold, climbed 5 boulder problems and 5 roped routes in the gym, traversed for 5.5 min, ate 55 M&Ms, drank 55 cc of gin among a gaggle of friends, etc. If you’ve never done a birthday challenge, I highly recommend it!

Wow, that sounds great and TOUGH, I’m thankful it’s only my 31st birthday coming up!  What did you do for 56?
I wanted to send Flatus Triple Direct (5.11d) on top rope.  I’ve worked this Devil’s Lake classic off and on for years and seriously last fall and this spring.  I’ll bet I’ve made 35-40 stabs at FlatusTD through the years. I worked it obsessively this season. I could climb it in my mind several times a day and I was physically on it once or twice a week May through June. Then, joy of joys, I sent it clean a week before my birthday!

Any advice for Chicks on projecting a climb?
Pick an aesthetic climb that intrigues you, that is just out of reach as far as the ratings go, and that is in your neighborhood, because it is going to take a lot of practice.  Find some partners who can work it with you or would like to work a nearby project perhaps of a different rating not far from your own project.

What about breaking it down even further – any specific advice for the head game so many climbers face while projecting tough routes?
Get to work!  Climb your project regularly and with different people so you can glean different ideas that may help you.  Don’t be discouraged.  Skip the crux when you can’t do it and work other sections — batman up, lower down from the top, or climb an easier route beside yours to bypass the area that has you stymied.  Work the climb in overlapping sections once the pieces begin to fall into place.  Memorize the sequence exactly.  Visualize it at the speed you normally climb in as much detail as you can conjure up, including sights, sounds, smells.  Remain positive and present in the moment as you climb.  Avoid the distraction of worrying about getting to the top or the crux a ways ahead.

Part two of Sarah’s interview with Anne will be published later this week. In part two, Anne discusses her physical and mental training, as well as how she pays it forward, mentoring other women in the climbing world.

Leadership and teamwork fundamentals – in climbing and life

- Photo from the Angela Hawse Collection at Marmot

This is the second feature Angela Hawse has written for Chicks this week, with her earlier report on the “Spirit of Service” available here. In this blog Angela talks about the basic fundamentals required to be effective at anything in life – be it a high-altitude alpine ascent or leading a team of co-workers. Thanks for the insight Angela! Great stuff 🙂

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to fly from the Tetons down to Colorado Springs to deliver a Keynote Speech and run a team initiative challenge for a small group of 20 regional leaders for Taco Bell.  They put me up at the famous and luxurious Broadmoor Hotel and we spend a great day exploring Manitou Springs and doing a Mission Impossible Team Challenge together.

Over the past 4 years I’ve worked a few gigs like this with Corporate Teams as a Keynote Speaker for a range of Leadership Development Conferences with large corporations, such as the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, Taco Bell and Yum! Brands.  These gigs are always interesting and never the same.

The woman who runs Corporate Teams, Liz Hafer was a client of mine that Kim Reynolds hooked me up with, years ago to ice climb in Ouray.  After spending the day together and hearing of my adventures and expeditions, Liz was super enthusiastic about bringing me on board to work with her in developing high functioning teams with her program at Corporate Teams.

Initially I wondered what I had to offer top executives and high powered managers about leadership and teamwork.  After my first keynote, with them on the edge of their seats with enthusiasm and questions about my expedition and life experiences I knew I was a good fit.

Fundamentally it all comes down to the simple things that matter to be effective with anything in life, especially teamwork; communication, listening skills, problem-solving, decision-making, taking risks and managing stress under adversity.  Alpine mountaineering and particularly Himalayan Expeditions bring out the best or the worst in leadership and teamwork.  I’ve experienced both sides over the past two decades of leading expeditions, with over 20 high altitude expeditions under my belt.  Each one different, each one challenging in its own right.

Looking back and having the chance to reflect on some of my experiences in preparing for my talks I know I certainly have grown and learned from my many endeavors.  Rarely do I take the time to stop and think about what I’ve done, and where I’ve been.  It’s been a real gift to go back to the past and reap rewards again in sharing stories and experiences with others.

Chicks Climbing, and especially Chicks with Picks has certainly been a foundation for me over the years and I treasure the relationships and experiences I’ve had with so many women, during the clinics and on adventures further afield.  After my busy guiding season in the Tetons, which I am grateful for, I’m really looking forward to the upcoming Chicks Rock! clinics in WI and WV!  Hope to see you there!

As Angela noted, she will be at the Chicks Rock! Devil’s Lake Wisc. clinic Sept. 9-16, and at the Chicks Girly Gathering Sept. 24-26 in NRG! You can check out Angela’s Web site here at Alpinist007.