Ice Climbing Cody, WY – The Wild West

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Ice climbing Cody is 
Written by: Marilina Kim, Chicks Alumni

 


One of the great things about ice climbing in Cody, Wyoming is its combination of Wild West and wilderness.  You can easily feel like you are in a different time and a million miles away from development.  From the Shoshone Valley where we were at, the possibilities for climbs seemed to go on forever, and they made the seven chicks – four participants and three guides – super excited to climb.

Women Ice Climbing Cody WyomingThough each day, was different they shared the following sequence in common.  Start the approach on a flat path (we were so thankful they were already broken!), continue gaining some altitude, and, suddenly around a corner: WHOA! Hello ice!  The ice climbing in Cody in drainages, so getting to each pitch can be a mini adventure in and of itself.  You meander up them, do some ice scrambling, find yourself in little amphitheaters with a chunk of ice to climb, repeat to the next pitch.  It was like nothing I’d ever seen.  The surroundings were so beautiful; it was hard to not stop periodically to gaze while hiking around.

The seven of us set off in separate groups, and we climbed the same climbs on different days. Broken Hearts offered a full day of sunshine (i.e. nice, sticky ice), and each pitch was super fun.  We were lucky to get last licks on good ice for the season, or for a while at least, at the top of pitch three.  We got to the bottom of pitch five – a fat, tall pillar – twenty minutes before our turnaround time.  A bummer, but it made me all the more excited the next day.

A totally different but equally fun climb was Cabin Creek.  Though we climbed fewer pitches, each was long and distinct from each other, so I felt like we had climbed more.  I was really sad when the day ended, and I couldn’t believe we only had one more day to climb.  I felt like I could climb for days and days!

women ice climbing in CodyWell, I woke up with a change of heart the next morning.  I was definitely feeling the cumulative effects on my calves and arms.  It was a good day to work on V-threads and mock leads and blow out all that we had left climbing top-roping different sections of Too Cold to Fire.  By the end of the day my hands struggled to unscrew my water bottle.  I was very happy!

Of course, it can’t be a Chicks trip without good food.  Matt at the Double Diamond X Ranch whipped up delicious meals using local and environmentally conscious meats.  And the desserts.  Let’s just say that the dessert tray was never left empty, and the leftovers served us well as delectable snacks the next day.

Karen Bockel, my Chicks guide, was a constant source of wisdom and tips.  She patiently answered my many questions thoroughly and pointed out a whole slew of things I wouldn’t have thought to ask about.  Equally important, it was so much fun to climb with someone as stoked on the place and moment as I was.  This is what keeps me coming back to Chicks.

Mixing Up The New Year – Women’s Mixed Climbing

Chicks Climbing and Skiing wrapped up the 2016 climbing season in Ouray. The inaugural Chicks Mixed Climbing clinic was the perfect way to end an amazing year of climbing. The weather was great and the stoke was high.


Womens Mixed Climbing

Each morning we were shuttled to the trailhead by Andy at Western Slope Riders. It felt like valet service as we never had to worry about driving the snowy mountain road or finding parking. Plus each day we got into a warm van to ride home. It was deluxe.

Western Slope Riders

Seven out of the eight women who attended the clinic were Chicks Alumni. We knew we had some very talented climbers in the group.  As guides, it is awesome to watch the ladies use all the movement skills from rock climbing and translate it to mixed climbing. Grades were no obstacle for the ladies. No one turned down the opportunity to climb a route even if it looked challenging.

Womens Mixed Climbing

The last day, half of the group went to the Hall Of Justice, a dry tool cave above Ouray with some of the hardest lines in town. Kitty took three ladies to the Ouray Ice Park. This day was amazing to see how far each woman had come in just three days. It was a beautiful process to watch and be a part of.

Mixing It Up

If you missed your chance to attend the Chicks Mixed Climbing clinic, don’t worry. We have added another clinic the weekend of March 3-5. Our guides will be looking forward to the opportunity to climb with you.

Mixing It Up

Attacking the Legendary Rifle Limestone

Written by: Diane Mielcarz

Diane rock climbing rifle

Diane enjoying all Rifle has to offer. Photo by: Monika Leopold.

Take six eager participants, throw in a little bit of snow, rain and temps in the 20s, add two awesome guides, temps in the 70s, great food, a blazing fire, challenging routes and what do you get – another successful Chicks Climbing Clinic.

Although the weather made every effort to discourage us from our objective of attacking the legendary Rifle limestone (we fell asleep to the sound of rain and woke up to a covering of snow) our badass Guides Elaina Arenz and Dawn Glanc were not to be deterred. As we waited for the weather to improve, we spent a very productive morning inside the Community House learning various skills and techniques for belaying, clipping rope, setting/cleaning anchors and knot tying.

Once the weather cleared, there was no stopping this determine group of women as we headed to the snow cone wall to put together all of our new skills. We worked on climbing movement as well.

Sunday the group awoke to sunny weather. We headed to the middle ice caves area with a mission to lead as many routes as possible. By the end of the day everyone had a chance to work on leading. We also learned skills to help project harder grades.

Rifle Canyon

Rifle Canyon. Photo by: Dawn Glanc

As an Alumni of Chicks, I am continually amazed and impressed by the camaraderie and teamwork that develops among the participants during these clinics under the tutelage of the guides. During this clinic, as with others, the skill level varied from one extreme to another (i.e. never having climbed outdoors to climbing and/or leading 5.9s or higher), however, the guides are adept at molding the group into one cohesive unit that enables everyone to achieve their personal goals. These ladies kicked some butt leading, lead belaying and sending. I know each participant walked away from this clinic on Sunday feeling a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

A huge thanks to Elaina and Dawn (and Chef Dawn), my fellow clinic climbers and Chicks for a truly enjoyable and rewarding weekend. You have provided me with the skills and encouragement necessary to be a competent and capable climber.

Chicks On Steep Standstone – Red River Gorge Trip

Written by: Laura Sabourin

Chicks Rock Red River Gorge. Photo by: Brendan Leader.

Chicks Rock Red River Gorge. Photo by: Brendan Leader.

Fifteen ladies joined Chicks Guides Dawn Glanc, Elaina Arenz, Rachel Avallone, and Laura Sabourin for a beautiful Labor Day weekend in the Red River Gorge. The three day clinic was jam-packed with climbing, skill development, and laughter. The participants ranged widely in experience, from beginning climbers tying in and belaying for the first time to chicks alumni honing their trad skills and learning to give the perfect lead belay. It was so inspiring to see the women support each other over the three days to push their limits and achieve their goals.Our days were spent enjoying the steep sandstone of Muir Valley Nature Preserve, a privately owned climbing area in the southern region of The Gorge. Muir Valley is the perfect learning environment for climbers of all levels. The crags host a high concentration of moderate routes to work on new techniques, and the practice anchor stations at the base of each crag are perfect for practicing technical skills.

While the women came from diverse backgrounds, climbing together helped them bond and form life-long friendships. One woman came to the clinic on her own with no climbing experience. As a single mom of two teenage daughters-working full time and going to school- it was difficult to get time off for herself. She had been interested in attending a clinic for a long time, and finally made it work over the holiday. She had many personal breakthroughs over the weekend, from learning to belay to getting to the top of her first route. On the last day, two groups joined together to encourage her to climb a 5.8, her hardest route of the trip. This is the magic of Chicks events; the community comes together to support each other and discover abilities that they never knew existed within them.

Chicks Refueling. Photo by: Brendan Leader.

Chicks Refueling. Photo by: Brendan Leader.

After a full day of climbing, the Chicks returned to their luxury accommodations at the Cliffview Resort. The spacious kitchen offered Dawn space to prepare delicious meals for the crew, including her famous, made-from-scratch salsa and guacamole. After dinner, we bonded over games of pool, relaxed our muscles in the hot tubs on the back porch, and shared stories and pictures in the common area. This beautiful, comfortable staging area was the perfect setting for our clinic. We cannot thank Cliffview Resort enough for sponsoring this program!

Our participants left the weekend with smiles on their faces and a new community of friends and climbing partners. It is always hard to leave after so much fun, but the women have plenty of skills to practice before their next clinic. We are so proud of all of the ladies’ achievements this weekend. Another great clinic at the Red River Gorge is in the books.

Save the date for 2017 when we return on Sept 1-4, 2017.

Chicks Alumna Interview: Rebecca Samet

We recently caught up with Rebecca Samet, an MD and mother of three.  She lives in Pismo Beach, CA and works in the Fresno Hospital ER.  She didn’t just get hooked on climbing, but got her kids into as well.  Her daughter Sarah has been to a number of Chicks clinics, and we are always so impressed with this mother/daughter team and their thirst for adventure.

Rebecca1Rebecca, tell us about you!

I live in Pismo Beach, CA, and my favorite fun activity is trail running, especially as a way to discover new places. Some of my favorites trails include the Ray Miller Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking the ocean and a new discovery; the Twain Hart Ditch Trail in California’s Gold Country. Before I started ice climbing I spent as much time snow boarding as I could. Now I love ice climbing but don’t get to do it enough. This winter I’m hoping to check out the Michigan Ice Festival and climb over a frozen Lake Superior.

What was your first clinic with Chicks?

My first Chicks Clinic was the Complete in 2013. I had never climbed at all before and it was amazing! It opened up a new world for me.

Why Chicks?

I tried Chicks because I wanted to ice climb; but I can’t explain why because I had never known anyone who did. Chicks seemed like a great way to learn and it was! It was an excellent immersion course for me.

Rebecca3How many clinics have you attended?

I’ve lost count of how many Chicks courses I’ve done; the Complete x 3, Red Rocks x 2, Devils Lake, Cody and most recently the Tetons. Wow – 8 courses!

How did you get your daughter into climbing?

I climb with my daughter because I had so much fun at my first Chicks courses that I hoped she would enjoy them too. (I think she has). We’ve had some truly unique experiences with excellent people. They would not have been possible without Chicks.

What’s next?

I’m always looking forward to the next trip. I’d like to try back country skiing or snowboarding, hopefully this year.

That’s It – We’re New River Chicks

NRG1aChicks Climbing and Skiing held their inaugural New River Gorge rock climbing clinic July 15-17. Erin Larsen and myself were the guides for the weekend. Seven energetic and motivated ladies joined the clinic. Some ladies came with friends and others came solo in hopes to find new partners. We even had a mother and her 13 year-old daughter come to the  clinic. We all came together as strangers, but left as friends and future climbing partners.

This rock climbing clinic was unique in that all seven ladies considered themselves level 3 climbers. This meant that everyone had some climbing experience and wanted to work on skills for leading sport climbs outside. As guides, this made our jobs easy. Our goal was clear – we were to focus on lead climbing skills to ascend and descend single pitch climbs. The information was delivered in a fun and memorable way. Each woman left the clinic with the skills and confidence to go and climb safely on their own.Even though the women had prior knowledge and exposure to rock climbing, the group still experienced some firsts over the weekend. One woman camped and climbed outside for her first time ever. Many women learned the appropriate use of a Grigri. Other women finally learned the importance of body positioning. For the guides, facilitating this growth and providing a comfortable environment for “firsts” is very rewarding.

Overall the clinic was a huge success. The American Alpine Club campground was a perfect base camp. The Fayetteville climbing community welcomed us with open arms and the Chicks felt the local love. The Gorge is a magical place and we will be back again next year to do it all over again.

Nothing But Stoke: Eddie Bauer Scholarship Teton Experience

Contributed by Eddie Bauer Alpine Scholarship winner, Jessica Hartwell.
Earlier this year, I applied for, and received the Eddie Bauer Alpine Scholarship to the Chicks Climbing Teton Camp.  This incredible opportunity set me up with the skills and confidence to pursue many new climbing adventures!  Many people have asked me about my Teton experience, here is a snapshot of our amazing alpine weekend.
Jessica in Teton

Photo by: Angela Hawse

Our first day we settled in to the American Alpine Club Climber’s Ranch in Grand Teton National Park. Running water, cozy bunks and a community area for eating and sharing adventures. Not much more you could ask for! The Chicks guides laid out our plan for the next day and we were off to pack and get some sleep.

The next morning started with a boat ride across Jenny Lake, followed by a quick hike up to some practice rocks. We learned about footwork and technique for confidently moving across boulders, tiny edges, indentations for smearing and safely climbing up and down. Our rope training and practice was next to the gorgeous Hidden Falls. Due to trail work, the trail was closed to other park visitors so we had the beautiful landscape to ourselves! Quite the scenic place to learn more about hip belays, nail knots, moving on rope teams, and feeding and taking in coils. In the afternoon, we put all that we had learned to practice with a relatively easy multi-pitch climb. Hidden Falls was rushing next to us the whole time and made for a stunning distraction from the heat of the climb.  🙂  Running out of time, we made the hike back down to the climbers ranch for dinner and preparation for the next day.

A seven mile hike didn’t sound too daunting, but boy is there a lot of elevation gain from the Lupine Meadows trailhead to the lower saddle of the Grand Teton! With good company and excellent guides, we set off on our way to the Exum Hut which would be our new home for a couple of days. We crossed switchbacks packed with the most beautiful varieties of wildflowers I’ve ever seen, giant boulder fields (made all the more interesting by the pouring rain!), and then we really started to gain altitude on scree slopes. By the time we reached some of the higher waterfalls, we were able to drink straight from the source without treating. We were all pretty spent when we finally arrived up to the saddle. Our guides informed us that due to the weather forecast and one of our guides needing to take a participant back down to the trail head, we would be unable to try for the summit of the Grand the following day. Not giving us much time to sit with the disappointment, we learned that we’d be heading up the Middle Teton glacier instead for a day of snow skills training. Plus, the Exum Hut is surrounded by gorgeous high alpine wildflowers, amazing views and lots of entertaining marmots and birds. Nothing but stoke for the night!

The next day was a blast (and surprisingly tiring!). We practiced making traverses across steep snow, chucking each other down the snow field to practice self arrest from different starting points, and forming rope teams to move more safely. We concluded the day in rope teams of two climbing straight up the headwall back to the lower saddle. The third guide made it up to join us late that afternoon. Back at the Exum Hut, we learned that due to time limits for getting back to the trail head, we wouldn’t be able to make the Summit of the Grand the following day either. We could push as far as we could make it, but would end up heading back down short.

Our final day was an early morning Alpine Start (which sounds way more sexy than it is) that put the team at the Enclosure as the high point of the trip. Shy of the summit, but in good spirits and excited about all we had learned and accomplished on the trip, the group started the trek back down. Grand Teton National Park is such a beautiful miracle in the way that it always provided one more thing of beauty any time I started to feel achy or tired slipping my way back down the scree, back to the water crossings and snow crossings, back to the boulder field and switchbacks and finally to the beautiful meadow and trailhead.

The guides at Chicks Climbing and Skiing are unmatched. They’re professional, kind, hard working and all around inspiring women. The lessons I learned – including disappointment – were so profoundly valuable that it’s still taking me a bit to wrap my head around it. I feel enormously fortunate to have had this experience. As we peeked around the corner before the boulder fields, the huge peaks came in to view and my eyes welled up with tears. There’s such magic in the adventures we get to have outdoors, and it’s made even more special when you’re surrounded by a tribe of such wonderful people.

Thank you to Eddie Bauer for the opportunity and sponsoring my participation. I am forever grateful.

We Are Officially City Chicks

Written by: Chicks co-owner and guide, Karen Bockel

Cityclimb2webWe are back from the City of Rocks!  The Chicks clinic was a smashing success with lots of good climbing, beautiful camping in the aspen groves, good food made on the camp stoves, and most importantly a great group of women.  From 14 to 60 years young, coming from far away places like Florida and Minnesota, this flock of Chicks climbed together, pushed each other, and made the program so special with all they brought to this clinic.  The guides for this program, Angela Hawse and Aimee Barnes, had nothing but progress, smiles and stoke to report.  Everyone got to practice a number of climbing techniques, work on climbing skills, and perform a rappel using an auto-block back-up.  The guides’ extensive guiding experience and knowledge of the City of Rocks climbing area and history added much depth to the bigger picture of climbing in this world-class destination.

Over the three days of climbing, the group visited a number of different climbing areas, sampling some of the City’s finest pitches.  One day was spent at the neighboring Castle Rocks State Park where ground-up climbing technique was practiced under the supervision of Angela and Aimee, and all the climbers completed a lead climb. Three Chicks stayed for the multi-pitch climb on day 4, and together they summited the Lost Arrow Spire with guide Aimee.

After all this fun we had, we can’t wait to go back to the City!  With its endless climbing potential of routes at every grade, there is so much to do for any Chick. Stay tuned for the next opportunity to climb with us at the City.

Go to City of Rocks – Rock Climbing Idaho for information on our next City of Rocks clinic.

CityGroupWeb

Chicks Alumna Interview: Dawn Rathburn

We recently had the chance to catch up with a Chicks alumna who many of you have met over the many years she has been involved with Chicks, Dawn Rathburn.

Chicks ClimbingWhich Chicks clinics have you taken? 
My first was the Betty Ice Ball years ago.  The weekend was amazing.  I took the Complete Ice clinic, which was a lot of days of climbing.  Mattie Scheafor was my guide and the last day we climbed the Popsicle.  You go..”one more move, I can make it”.  It was exhausting.  I have never felt like that before.  It felt good.

I have done a few more Complete Ice clinics, a Red Rocks, Indian Creek and Rifle clinic.  Now I am going to do a Cody Ice clinic.    I actually did two Red Rocks clinics and the first time I had a problem with this one climb that had an off-width and a crack through a bulge.  The second time I took the clinic, we did the same climb and it wasn’t a problem at all.

There is a lot to be said for Indian Creek.  It is hard, painful, yet the most rewarding thing that I have ever done.  I didn’t know I could shove my body pin a crack and push off of it.  I appreciate the guides helping us learn and pushing us.  I have photos of my bloody fingers.  Now I know what its like to be called a dirt bag (laughs).  I have developed a love for it since I know how to do it right.  Now I use cracks on face climbs with confidence.

Rifle gave me a whole new level of confidence with sport climbing.  I can use a stick clip on the first bolt so I don’t hit the ground if I fall leading.  I learned to put my brain in a different space so I can do the harder moves.  It was like a reunion with climbers from other Chicks clincis.  I want to go to Greece on my fortieth birthday in two years (stay tuned on future Chicks offerings).  I had never led before.  It felt good to learn tips ant to be trusted enough, to be allowed to lead.

DawnRathburn2What are your goals?
My goals in ice climbing are to learn transitions in multi-pitch climbing so I can climb in more areas, have more opportunities, and travel to other places to climb such as Iceland.

My goals in rock climbing – I may not ever do a big wall but I want to go to the Flat Irons and spend the night on a wall or do a short, easy wall in Zion.  So I need to get more skill sets.  If you have diverse abilities, then you become a better climbing partner outside of a guided situation.

My ski goals – I grew up skiing and switched to snowboarding.  I got bored.  I would like to go into the backcountry because lift skiing is not getting any cheaper.  I would like to get back into skiing.  I need avalanche training.  I would also like to be able to ski to get out to ice climbs.  I used to aspire to alpine climbing but don’t know why I stopped.  I just don’t have time to dedicate to it I guess.  I need to make priorities between work and what I am doing in the next year.  I want more time off.

What do you do for work? 
I am a subject matter expert for a medical equipment company.

Tell me about partnering/networking through Chicks.
For ten years I have climbed with Chicks Alumni, Monica Esposito, who also lives in the Front Range.  There are others too – Sarah, Angela, Kerri.  Kerri went through a rough patch recently and everyone was very supportive of her.  Chicks is a good place to help you out if you need.  We build relationships on Facebook.  We talk outside of Chicks.  Seeing Chicks Alumni get married, have kids and go on adventures – we are super supportive of all.

Any parting words?
My knowledge (of climbing) didn’t just appear.  I learned at Chicks.  It is empowering.  It is a wholly different world now.

Chicks Alumna Interview: Piper Musmanno

We recently had the chance to catch up with an Alumna who many of you have met over the many years she has been involved with Chicks, Piper Musmanno.
PiperWhat was your first clinic with Chicks?
My first year with Chicks was the 2008/2009 ice season in Ouray. First event was the Inaugural (I believe) “Betty Ice Ball”. My first clinic was with guide, Sarah Hueniken, it was a footwork clinic. The remaining clinics I attended that weekend were with Dawn Glanc – it was her first season as a Chicks instructor.
Why Chicks?
I had ice climbed once the winter before and was instantly hooked.  I bought tools before the next winter, so when winter did come around the following year, I was ready and excited to go.  I don’t actually remember how I found out about Chicks, but I do remember being interested in it and mentioning it to some girl friends at the Boulder Rock Club.  At which point, one of them said, “I have another friend who is going for her first time. I will introduce you.”  And this is how I met Jenn Fields who became my roomie for the trip and would become my partner in crime and climbing while I chased bolts up walls for the next few summers to come.  I was also introduced to Erika Napoletano to carpool down and she became a good friend as well.
How many clinics have you attended?
I attended Chicks clinics for my first two years of ice climbing and have been volunteering ever since.
Not sure how many actual clinics I took within those events, but know they ranged from “Footwork” (my first), to “Speed and Efficiency” to “Mixed Climbing” (any chance that there was a mixed clinic, I took it.  Thanks Dawn for the introduction!!!) , “Anchors” (Angela Hawse) and more  I’m forgetting.
And then ever since I have tried to volunteer to help with clinics whenever I have been in town at the same time.
What kept you coming back?
The Chicks. 🙂  Both the participants and the instructors. The opportunity to learn from some of the best female climbers in the world is not to be passed up, but also, they were always a lot of fun.  That the Chicks’ instructors and amazingly talented, is a given, but they are also incredibly relatable and are great at understanding how to communicate their knowledge so the ladies in their clinic come away feeling empowered and inspired.  They take time to understand the ladies’ fears or limitations, and look for attainable goals so everyone feels like they progressed during the course.
And the chicks in the clinics are a blast.  No matter what their level.  Their excitement is contagious and rekindles my own excitement for my sport.
What have you been doing since last Chicks clinic?
Hiking, climbing rock and ice and unfortunately recovering from a few surgeries.  My last surgery to finally fix my hip with a total replacement was in spring of 2014 and I’ve been enjoying my sports fairly pain free since then.  Also, I’ve been spending time fixing my new old house in Ouray and hope to be able to spend more time there all year around each year.
What was your most memorable moment at Chicks?
Does it have to be climbing?  Because I think it was probably the dance party at the first Betty Ball, where I met a lot of the ladies who have since been my climbing partners and friends in the years since.  I believe there is still a video out there of some of us dancing on tables…that night was so much fun and sparked some great friendships. Some of us have gone different directions in the years following, some are still very close friends, but they were there at the beginning of my love of the sport and were a part of the memories that keep me coming back.