Hey! I Didn’t Die.

Total Bitch. Dawn Glanc wrestling with the first log, 2013 Ouray Ice Festival Competition ©Marcus Garcia

Total Bitch. Dawn Glanc wrestling with the first log, 2013 Ouray Ice Festival Competition ©Marcus Garcia

Many women who take Chicks Climbing and Skiing clinics are not athletic—I mean, they did not grow up being active. Women in their fifties and early sixties (we’ve even had seventy-year-olds) come who’ve had no sports opportunities in their entire lives. Chicks is their first athletic experience, ever.

When I’m teaching a clinic, I’ll often watch a woman realize that there’s another world, an athletic, active one, and all they have to do to live in that world is to step into it.

They wrestle with the contradiction, the shifting mental model, “Hey! I didn’t freeze to death. I didn’t die? I climbed a vertical wall of ice!”

As their guide it’s easy for me to see that what they really did was conquer themselves. They conquered their fear, their fear of heights, of failure, lack of skill, the belief that they are weak. In an ice climb, they grew strong as they pushed themselves out and over their comfort zone.

And, the best part? It was fun!

Two weeks ago, I competed in the Ouray Ice Festival Competition. I’ve competed in this competition 10 times now and each time it’s been a different experience.

At first I was just stoked to be in the finals, competing against the best climbers in the world. I felt like the luckiest person alive.

Then, I wanted to win.

Mixed climbing and ice climbing were my every thought. I trained uber hard phsically AND mentally—visualizing my success. For four years, 2009 – 2012, this dedication paid off with podium spots and cash prizes. I was on cloud nine and felt invincible.

Then, in 2013, I did not meet my competition goal and I became a total bitch.

It turns out my competitive nature is my biggest downfall. In 2014 and 2015 disappointment plagued my entire winter season. I decided to give up competition until I could learn to be a better sport.

I started commentating which came naturally: I knew the rules; I had first-hand experience; I know the competitors; I provided comic anecdotes. However, inside I suffered. I had a serious case of FOMO.

So, I decided to compete again.

Instead of winning, my goal was to be the first elected official to compete in the Ouray Ice Festival. (I was elected to town council in 2016.)

All I had to do was show up, tie in and climb.

I felt I could manage this goal and still feel successful. With this new attitude, I felt free and had fun competing for the first time ever.

Am I back? No. I’m still a terrible sport; I don’t deal well with poor performance. I’m hyper-critical of myself. Competition brings out the worst in me.

However, I met my goal. I feel really good about my climb. Instead of falling, I timed out. And, I stopped along the way to wave at the crowd. This is how I honour the competition that has taught me so much about myself, an event that I will always hold close to my heart.

See you in the Ouray Ice Park next year for some serious learning and some serious fun,

Dawn Glanc, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, AMGA Rock and Alpine Guide, Mixtress