Chicks Alumna Interview: Amy Jurries

We love catching up with Chicks Alumna and getting inspired by their adventures – we hope you do too.  Recently we caught up with Amy Jurries.

AmyJFaceShotWhen was your first Chicks clinic?

My first Chicks was January 2008. I came to the Complete as a total beginner.

Why Chicks?

I wanted to learn how to climb vertical ice in order to tackle harder alpine climbs. I liked the idea of learning how to ice climb from women, with women as I learn better and push myself more in a supportive rather than competitive environment. Ouray is a great place to learn how to ice climb as you have the ice park a short walk from town and can run laps all day.

How many clinics do you have under your belt?

I returned to Chicks every year for the next 4-5 years, taking the Complete and eventually the Graduate program.

Why do you keep coming back?

The world class guides, the other women in the program, and the opportunity to keep progressing my skills year after year.

AmyJClimbingWhat have you been doing since your last Chicks clinic?

By my last Chicks clinic, I acquired enough skills to start heading out on my own (with a climbing partner of course). I continue to climb every year, traveling to places like Canada, Colorado, Montana, and even France in search of ice! We don’t get much ice here in San Francisco…. I still climb with many of the women I met at Chicks and consider them among my dearest friends.

Now you are thinking of attending another Chicks event.  What is the draw?

I am heading to Iceland with Chicks this February–can’t wait! The chance to discover and climb in parts of the country or even the world where I might not go on my own was one reason to come back for more Chicks. Plus the opportunity to learn even more from the great guides in a “wild ice” environment. There is always more to learn.

More than climbing? Chicks alumna takes on Ironman

Persistence, determination, dedication, drive, commitment, adventurous….it takes a unique person to be a climber, right?  It’s no secret that we’re more than climbers, and these characteristics blend into our professions, personal lives, and other activities.   Chicks co-owner and guide, Dawn Glanc, catches up with one of Chicks most popular alumna, Anne Hughes to learn more about her recent Ironman adventure.

Anne stoked at the finish line!

Anne stoked at the finish line!

First year with Chicks?
1st year at Chicks with Picks: 2002

How many clinics have you participated in as a client? As a volunteer?
16 Chicks clinics as a client, 8 sessions volunteering

Why did you choose to compete in the Ironman?
I wanted to see what it would be like to take up a brand new sport, apply total dedication and see what would result. I love cycling, but didn’t know how to swim and didn’t care for running. I liked the challenge of seeing what I was made of on the long haul. It would be cool to qualify for worlds and I thought I had a good chance at that.

What was the thing that helped you get through the training process?
To be first at my first Ironman wasn’t going to be easy; I would have to work hard every day. Races are won on the days others skip a training, shorten a set, cheat a little, let themselves off the hook, hold back when it gets painful, settle for good enough. My first place goal kept me out of that camp. When I really felt burdened and down, my long time trainer, Pat Gilles, was there for me. A qualified, compassionate coach with very high standards is invaluable. My triathlon plan was written by pro triathlete and coach Patrick Brady who also talked me through the lows from his perspective with years of experience in the sport.

Was there a time during the race where where you felt the euphoria of the moment?
I felt euphoric in the last minute of the 14 1/2 hour race. I felt a rare kind of joy that only delayed gratification from dedication to a really long, hard challenge can deliver. The best high ever!

Anne enjoying the Wisconsin hills during her 100 miles on the bike.

Anne enjoying the Wisconsin hills during her 100 miles on the bike.

Did you ever want to quit?
Long endurance races are about keeping to your plan for many hours. Quitting never crossed my mind, but during the marathon it was painful enough to want really badly to just be done. The more it hurt, the more I was not going to quit, not after 50 weeks of training! This was what it was all for so quitting wasn’t an option. Patrick Brady was there for me, supporting and keeping track of the women I was still chasing. I wanted to catch them. At about mile fifteen of the marathon Pat Gilles, an Ironman finisher himself, assured me it would not hurt any more to run faster, it would just hurt for less time…. hmmm…could this be true? I sped up from an 11 min/mile pace to a 9 min./mile pace and he was right! Not long after I moved into second place. I’m so glad my coaches and friends were there as I ran, keeping me focused.

What was the finish line like?
You turn a corner and enter a block long chute with the finish arch big and bright just ahead. The backdrop is the gleaming white Wisconsin capitol building. In the chute I realized, “I did it! I did all that work! I gave everything I’ve got! I did it!” I slapped the outstretched hands of my screaming, smiling son and husband and a posse of friends (half of whom were Chicks, by the way). I heard the announcer bellow — “Anne! — Hughes! — YOU! — ARE! — an IROOOONmaaaan!!! I was thrilled beyond words! To have been moving nonstop for fourteen and a half hours and finally stop amidst the finish line bedlam of loud music, bright lights, big screens, friends waving and cheering! Chicks with Picks alumna Amy Hite appeared as soon as I came to a stop, held me up when my legs wanted to buckle and brought me food. She was so kind and excited for me even though she had just finished her own Ironman race hours before me. Amy is my role model for completing two or three Ironmans a year for years! After Amy’s care those first few minutes, I was able to leave the athlete area into the hugs of my friends and family!

Anne's support group.

Anne’s support group.

Did you reach your goals/expectations?
My finish time was an hour longer than planned. My slower than expected swim and bike legs allowed me energy for a strong run. The marathon turned out to be my proudest part of the day! I had to gear up for pain and tiredness for the entire 26 miles, and yet still speed up during the last six miles to be sure I’d given my all. Never settle, that was my plan. Don’t walk. I didn’t. Reflecting since the race I know I will never forget the thrill of completing fifty weeks of daily training, racing well, and finishing strong in a long, hard, beautiful race! I reached this goal:

I took a risk to devote a whole year to something I didn’t even know if I’d like, something totally new, I remained dedicated like a professional, and I discovered strength, toughness and perseverance I didn’t know I had.

Surely these qualities will be useful in areas of life more important than racing.

Now to Kona? When is that event? How will you race differently this time around?
I will race at the Ironman World Championships, Kona Hawaii on October 8, 2016, along side 2300 Ironman qualifiers from around the globe. This will be my final Ironman. I expect a slower time due to swimming in ocean swells without the flotation of a wet suit, bracing myself on my bike against the cross and head winds of 30 to 60 MPH, and racing all day in 90-100 degree sunny humid weather. There will be at least twenty five females age 60-64 instead of the usual six or so, and all of them will be fast, tough, and fit. Each will have more experience as triathletes than me — this was only my first season as a triathlete. So, how will I race differently? With nothing further to qualify for, I plan to be the one having the most fun!

Kona = Focus + (FUN x infinity)

Chicks Take On ‘Yosemite of the Northeast’ – Keene Valley

Keene Valley Group

Keene Valley Group – 2015

Keene Valley Recap
By Chicks Co-Owner and Guide Karen Bockel

We just wrapped up the Chicks Rock! Clinic in Keene Valley, NY.  The event ran in the famed and remote Adirondack Park, home to the beautiful High Peaks and an amazing array of rock walls, which felt like a “Yosemite of the Northeast”.  Cloudsplitter Mountain Guide Emilie Drinkwater put together this clinic for the sixth year running, and once again, it was a huge success.  We had a really great group of six women, several of which were Chicks Alumnae, quite an international crowd, and a range from seasoned sport climber to brand-new beginner.  We were able to enjoy great weather (lucky for us, as the forecast had been less promising) and visited a number of excellent cliffs within a short drive of Keene.

Rapping in on Day 1!

Rapping in on Day 1!

 

Day 1 found us at the King Phillip Cliff.  The fall foliage was in full swing, making for stunning scenery while we got busy working on rock movement skills, slab climbing, belay technique, and anchor building.  It was a fun day at the crag, and we spent the evening enjoying a delicious catered dinner, rehashing the day, getting to each other better, and telling lots of stories.  On day 2, which was Sunday, we headed to the Beer Walls, a long rock cliff with many high quality routes.  The clinic participants set up the ropes this time under our supervision, and then we rappelled to the bottom with all our gear.  We climbed lots, laughed, learned and sent some really good climbs, including a nice technical crack climb called “Rockoholic”.

Chicks enjoying several high-quality routes in Keene Valley.

Chicks enjoying several high-quality routes in Keene Valley.

A good part of the day was spent learning about traditional gear like wired stoppers and cams.  We practiced placing and cleaning gear.  After another excellent dinner, we got to hear about Emilie’s recent trip to Afghanistan with Ascend Athletics.  She showed a slide show with beautiful photos of which many she had secretly shot from the hip, and told the story of taking a big group of Afghani women into the mountains to climb for the first time, an immensely inspiring story.  Our final day 3 was the highlight of the climbing with one group working on mock leading, multi-pitch transition and difficult climbing, and the other group heading out on a classic multi-pitch adventure, the 775’ high Chapel Pond Slabs.  It was a great way to put all the skills and practice together. When we finished, no one wanted the day to end…the sign of a true Chicks clinic!

Taking in the great weather in the Dacks.

Taking in the great weather in the Dacks.

 

The camaraderie and positive group energy really stood out to me.   And, Emilie and I had sore cheeks from laughing so much.   We all had tons of fun, learned some solid skills, crushed on some beautiful climbing, found new friends, and gotten a great taste of Adirondack Park.

Thanks to Cloudsplitter Mountain Guides who we partnered with for this event.

Smiling Ear to Ear at Red River Gorge

Written by: Dawn Glanc

Ladies from all over the eastern United States came together on Labor Day weekend in 2016 to climb on some of the best sandstone in the country in Red River Gorge, KY. The sold out event was full of women who wanted to become stronger more efficient climbers.

The guide team of Dawn Glanc, Elaina Arenz, Rachel Avallone and Laura Sabourin helped each woman meet their goals. Each guide was able to work with the ladies individually to be sure their personal climbing goals for the clinic were met. Some women touched the rock for the first time ever and others learned to lead climb and place trad gear.

It was awesome to watch the progress of each participant throughout the weekend. After two hot and humid days of climbing, everybody was exhausted but smiling ear to ear.

We’re headed to the Red River Gorge again on September 28-30, 2018–join us!  Photos by Dawn Glanc.

Elaina getting warmed up at Red River Gorge

Elaina getting warmed up at Red River Gorge

Thanks to Petzl For the Demo Gear. The ladies loved the helmets!

Thanks to Petzl For the Demo Gear. The ladies loved the helmets!

Thanks to Krieg Chalk bags and Friction Labs for making climbing possible in the humidity

Thanks to Krieg Chalk bags and Friction Labs for making climbing possible in the humidity

Judy was smiling after 4 days in the Red River Gorge

Judy was smiling after 4 days in the Red River Gorge

Red River Gorge 2015

Red River Gorge 2015

RRG Guides Dawn Glanc, Elaina Arenz, Rachel Avallone & Laura Sabourin

RRG Guides Dawn Glanc, Elaina Arenz, Rachel Avallone & Laura Sabourin

Chicks guides & owners, Elaina & Dawn, thank everyone for joining us in RRG!

Chicks guides & owners, Elaina & Dawn, thank everyone for joining us in RRG!

Sending Indian Creek with Chicks Climbing

Tobie “McSends” attended the first Indian Creek clinic in 2012.  With the desert season only a few short months away, we took a few minutes to catch up with Tobie and learn why the Indian Creek clinic is still one of her favorite experiences.  She entitled this post “Indian Creak” as she feels she is old and creaky, yet it is still the perfect place for her!

Indian “Creak”

Tobclimbing_Indian-CreekI registered for my first Chicks clinic, Red Rocks, with about ten or so total “climbs” under my belt and I use the term loosely, some were really more like steep hikes. The experience absolutely blew my mind.  The confidence and camaraderie that came from climbing and camping with women, coupled with these phenomenal women they call Girly” Guides – we’re talking funny, smart, talented women who should all pretty much lead nations and have their own talk shows – helped me find abilities I didn’t dream of.  When I heard about the Indian Creek clinic, featuring the guides from Red Rocks, I was in!  You had me at Dawn and Kitty!

The Indian Creek experience exceeded my expectations.  It is so true, there is something about being in that desert.  And the climbing experience was like nothing else.  Attributes that aren’t so useful in daily life (skinny fingers, long gangly gibbon arms, ability to conjure a plethora of jokes about cracks) really came in handy!  And this sort of climbing did seem to Anchors_Kitty-Calhounbe an equalizer – it was new enough for the experienced climbers and different enough for the athletic folks that there was a universal beginner vibe that added to the bonding that happens at every Chicks clinic.

I loved it so much I went back to Indian Creek the following year.  And dammit if it didn’t happen again.  All of the excellent stuff from first clinic – awesome guides I want to be like, beautiful, serene setting, challenging but accessible climbs – with the addition of another group of astounding women.  It is true – I started doing Chicks to become a better climber and that has happened.  But Chicks clinics, and Indian Creek in particular, accomplish much more.  They are a chance to be vulnerable, supported, challenged, mentored, entertained (and entertaining for some), humbled, and built up in an environment of strong women and awe-inspiring nature.  This is an experience I wish I could gift to every woman – climber or not.

The next Indian Creek clinic starts April 8.

TobSmiles

 

Eddie Bauer Scholarship Winner – Sophia Navarre

Chicks received several amazing applications for the 2015 Eddie Bauer Chicks with Picks Quickie Scholarship.  After many hours of deliberation the judges from Eddie Bauer and Chicks Climbing picked Sophia Navarre as the winner.  Sophia is a kind-hearted, passionate, budding climber who is excited to absorb everything offered in the Chicks with Picks program.  To give you a good idea of what this young climber has already experience, here is an excerpt of her recommendation letter written by her employer, coach, mentor & friend, Josh Harris

2015 CwP Scholarship Winner SophiaIt is my pleasure to recommend Sophia Navarre for the Eddie Bauer “The Quickie” Scholarship. I supervised Sophia for three years in my capacity as General Manager at Climb Nashville. I also had the opportunity to coach and instruct Sophia while directing the Nashville School of Climbing. During Sophia’s tenure at the Nashville School of Climbing, she instructed and co-lead programs for young climbers ages 6 – 12. She motivated young participants with her stoke for climbing; managed the risks of climbing with focused discernment; showed attentive, empathetic client care; and empowered young climbers to challenge themselves and achieve their goals.

Sophia has the good fortune of powerful female mentors – and her climbing has been transformed by it. But this is not a one-way street, I have seen her bridge the mentor / mentee relationship, quickly becoming a peer and climbing partner to the ladies that have shared so generously. I have also observed Sophia modeling this to her female students in programs – inspiring the next generation of female climbers.

Adventure and challenge are driving forces behind Sophia’s climbing. I observed this as she learned to lead – witnessing her break through the fear of being on the sharp end, to embrace the power and learning that comes from stepping into the unknown and being open to the possibilities and challenge.

Sophia possesses a unique combination of kindness, determination, and initiative that has enabled her to excel at work and at play. She is a life long learner and in constant pursuit of new knowledge and experience. When shown a new climbing technique or training system, she would quickly master and apply the technique in her own climbing and instruction. I believe this thirst is motivating her interest in ice climbing.

Congratulations Sophia and welcome to the Chicks clan!  There are still a few spaces left in the Quick Ice Climbing Clinic.  To register or learn more, click here.

The Adventures of Chicks in Cody, WY

Graduate2014ViewWritten by: Kitty Calhoun

2014ChicksCrossingRiverIn all my years (16), of Chicks ice clinics, this Cody Graduate Chicks Clinic was without a doubt the most adventurous.  This clinic was Dawn Glanc’s idea and something about it appealed to chicks immediately.   I don’t know if it was the promise of good food by a fire, private cabins, solitude, the 2:1 chick/guide ratio, or numerous multi-pitch climbs for all levels of climbers – but before we knew it, we had at least 9 chicks and 5 guides signed up.  This was going to be as large a graduate clinic as we have ever had.

Challenges presented themselves right away.  Two chicks had to cancel due to injuries (we missed you); another chick missed the first two days due to a family emergency.  On top of that, the weather had been warm and we had to look far and wide for routes that would accommodate all our teams.  The prize for “going the distance” goes to Rebecca, Sarah, and Karen for hiking six miles to reach their climb on day three and then hiking back six miles afterward.  Another consequence of unusually warm weather was the fact that the river crossing, which is part of the approach to many routes, was not frozen.  We had been counseled to double up some trash bags and pull them up over our boots and pants.  I bought “extra-heavy duty trash bags at Walmart and away Graduate2014Clinicwe went.  Too bad the bags ripped before Sandy, Lucy and I got across the river and our boots got wet.  We get the “guinea pig” award.  The rest of the women stripped and crossed.   Jess stripped and nearly fell in the river, got her boots wet and still went climbing.  She gets the “baddest ass” award.  That night, Ashley asked us all what we learned during the clinic.  She gets the “unquenchable curiosity” award.

What amazed me is that through it all there was so much laughter and I bet there will be more over the years as these stories grow.   Do you aspire to adventure?  The first step is to sign up for one of our January chicks clinics.  See you there.  Kitty

Chicks leave Red Rock with new skills, confidence and a lot of miles!

Women Rock Climbing Red Rock Nevada

Photo by: Dawn Glanc

Chicks Climbing kicked off another rock  season with the spring Red Rock Clinic. The first weekend in April was perfect weather to explore the conservation area located just outside of Las Vegas. Due to the cooler temperatures and light winds,  we were able to climb at walls that are typically too hot this time of year. The first day we went to the Panty Wall to warm up to the perfect desert varnish sandstone. The multitude of moderate routes kept us busy all day. Day two, we went to Moderate Mecca to work on crack climbing skills. We also used this perfect terrain to practice gear placements and anchor building. The last day we ventured to the Magic Bus. This was a great area to practice all the skills we had been working on. Each climber had  huge gains in their climbing abilities over the course of the clinic. We even had three women complete their first multi-pitch climb ever!

Chicks Climbing Red Rock

Photo by: Dawn Glanc

Each woman had a break through that helped take her climbing to another level. I, as the instructor, was so pleased to see the progress. Each person pushed their limits and learned it was okay to work out moves and fall onto the rope. I bragged about the women and their successes to the recreational climbers near by. Each day I was so proud of the efforts put forth, and the positive results that arose.

I love to kick off the rock season with this Red Rock clinic. The climbing passion that was displayed by these women was infectious. The mental toughness and willingness to try hard never wavered. I learned once again that this is why I host this type of clinic. I teach to pass on knowledge, but mostly I do it to absorb the power and help fuel my own climbing. I can’t wait for the next rock clinic in Indian Creek to keep my fire burning strong.

Written by Girly Guide, Dawn Glanc (facebook.com/dawnglanc)

Climbing in Iceland with Loki the Deceiver

Kitty setting new route in Iceland

Kitty setting a new route in Iceland.

Girly Guide and Patagonia Ambassador, Kitty Calhoun, recently returned for an amazing trip to Iceland where she, Jay Smith, John Catto, and Beth Goralski put up eight new routes and two partials.  Most of which were two pitches of WI 4-5+.

Below is an excerpt, read the full article on Patagonia’s blog, The Cleanest Line.

Iceland is a land of extremes – stark beauty within a harsh, unforgiving landscape and an equally daunting climate. Volcanoes are still erupting, earthquakes are nearly constant, yet the geothermal water provides Iceland with most of its energy needs and natural hot springs ease the cold of winter. Eleven percent of the country is covered with glaciers. Sighting of the aurora borealis is common. The coast is dotted with steep cliffs, overhung by glaciers and blasted by wind off the ocean. Yet over 300 species of birds nest in these cliffs, eider ducks (think eiderdown) float in the ocean and the fishery is Iceland’s largest source of income.

In such a stark and dramatic landscape, it is easy to imagine events being controlled by the Norse gods. In fact, on our quest for virgin ice climbs, we too felt their power – one in particular: Loki the trickster, deceiver, god of chaos.

Read the full article on Patagonia’s blog, The Cleanest Line.

Eddie Bauer Scholarship Winner Trades Sunny Cali for Ice

Kat learning how to Ice Climb

Kat sending in South Park

While daydreaming of snowy weather I noticed a Facebook post for the Chicks with Picks scholarship. I know I should be thankful for the constant sunny and 75-degree weather of San Diego, but the grass sure looked…icy on the other side.

Several weeks later I received a call the congratulatory call from Kim Reynolds, Head Chick. I was beyond excited. There was ice in my future, and the next month was a blur of planning and packing.

The first order of business was ordering the $1000 worth of Eddie Bauer gear that was included with the scholarship. Thanks to Eddie Bauer I was warm and stylish in my MicroTherm Down Jacket. It is great to wear alone, like when we watched the opening slideshow, or in conjunction with my Frontpoint 2.0 jacket while climbing (see pics on the Facebook album). I also received Rainier Storm Shell Pants, the Igniter 0° Synthetic Insulation Sleeping Bag, and a Rolling Commuter Duffel. I was ready for travel and prepared to stay warm and dry!

Opening night I was able to meet all the women as well as our world-class guides, Dawn Glanc and Kitty Calhoun. We watched a slideshow that outlined the last 15 years of Chicks with Picks, and there were plenty of great climbing photos to heighten the anticipation of the next day’s climb.

The next morning we headed out and broke trail through all the fresh snow that had fallen the day and night before. Well, Dawn broke trail and we followed in her footsteps! Once we made it to where Kitty was set up, she informed us that the river had flooded and we had to rappel in. So we geared up and rapped down into one of the most beautiful canyons I have ever seen.

I was in Dawn’s group and she went over climbing basics, how to use the tools and what positions our bodies should be in. She even drew helpful pictures in the snow. On my first climb I tried to keep all of Dawn’s instructions in my head, but once I sunk my axe into the ice I forgot just about everything, so she helpfully yelled instructions while I was on the wall. About halfway up I thought, “Wow, this is taking some serious calf strength,” and then I kept going. It was slow, but I had made it through my first ice climb.

I did four more routes that day and by the end of the day I was hooked. It was challenging and fun and we were in a beautiful place surrounded by awesome people.

That night we listened to Kitty speak about the mental side of climbing. It was something I struggled with when I first started rock climbing. Having been an athlete for most of my life I kind of just expected to be good at it, when I wasn’t I thought maybe it wasn’t for me. Then I realized I was looking at it all wrong, and thought that is a great reason to give it another try. Not only was there a lot of room for improvement, but also climbing helped me pinpoint and work on both my mental and physical weaknesses. During her talk, Kitty mentioned that working on our weaknesses is one of the best ways to become a better climber fast. She also talked about pushing your limits. One of the women asked her how climbers decide when to give up on reaching the top. She responded that a climber always tries to find a way to send the route, even if they are tired or feel like they might not make it. They always focus on the next move, and if they can make that one, then they can surely make the one after that too.

Later that evening we had a delicious home cooked dinner at The Secret Garden and we were able to eat and enjoy each other’s company. Terri, Nanette, Gwen, Mary, Ginny, and Marsha were a diverse group of women who made for great climbing partners and many interesting conversations.

The following day we headed out again and once I made it part way up the first route I started to notice that climbing was getting a little easier than it was the day before. Dawn’s instructions swere slowly sinking in and the movements were becoming less calculated and more natural.

My roommate at the Victorian Inn, Mary, had been sick the day before, but was able to join us for the Sunday climbs. She was a total natural and even after being a little woozy from the day before she sent three routes! To make her story even more incredible I should also mention that she has a grandson who is getting ready to start college. What a badass.

There were a lot of mixed routes in the area and Dawn taught me a little about how climbing with crampons and axes on rock works. She was even able to do a demo so we could see a pro in action. I can’t stress enough how incredible Dawn and Kitty were as instructors. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life to learn from the best the world has to offer in the sport. They were helpful, encouraging, and a wealth of knowledge.

On my last climb of the day I decided to go up a different side of the wall than most people had taken. It looked a little trickier because there wasn’t a clear path and right near the top one of my feet slipped out from under me. Dawn yelled up, “Kat, you can do it! Just shake out your arms and try again.” So I did, even though I thought about giving up. Right when I made it to the top I fell again, but I had kept going and that was a great way to end my final climbing day.

As we hiked out all I could think about was how I was probably the luckiest girl in the world for having the opportunity to take part in this clinic. All the women there were inspiring, and although we all have very different lives it was incredible to be able to come together through a shared passion. At the beginning of the clinic Kim asked us what we wanted to get out of the trip. We all had different reasons for being there, but in the end and among other things, we all took home a great experience and lasting memories.

Written by: Kat Carney
See all of Kat’s photos in our Facebook photo album

Women's Ice Climbing Clinic

Kat and Dawn celebrating Kat’s first ice route.