Reflections on Indian Creek from Chick Kelsey McMaster

“Dumbo didn’t need a feather to fly, he only thought he did.”

Dawn Glanc, one of our inspiring guides made that brilliant climbing analogy while coaching during the Chicks Rock Indian Creek climbing clinic.

I met Dawn during the Winter Teva Games at an ice climbing competition that she was competing in.  She connected me with Kim Reynolds whom graciously gave me the opportunity to be the event photographer for the Indian Creek clinic.

I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I had to do this for the photographer and passionate climber in me.  Even if I couldn’t crack climb, I had to try and accepted the job.  So off I went to Indian Creek, understanding that I would learn a lot.  Little did I know I was going to have a life-changing experience.

From arrival to departure, all of the ladies were super sweet and supportive.  Everyone pitched in and went out of the way to ensure no woman was left “hanging”.  It really instilled a teamwork atmosphere and sense of community even though we were together for only a short time.  There was a lot of joking, laughter and fun during the approaches, climbing and back at camp; the camaraderie was good and set the trip to a great tone.

Indian Creek was the perfect setting for this clinic to take place. The cracks were perfect for climbing and in contrast to city living survival, we were enabled to concentrate on the present, with each other, and in our own mind, body and spirit.

I’m not sure that we consciously recognize how much the distractions of the concrete jungle occupy our thoughts and emotional energy, but it makes it hard to get in touch with oneself and connect with others.

None of the guides stood for bad attitudes or any negative self-talk which provided a safe environment for vulnerability and learning to take place.  It forced a kind of self-respect and love.  If you were struggling, it was ok. I struggled, and it was ok.  It showed me my strengths and weaknesses that I need to work on. It put priorities into perspective.  It got me in touch with myself and I was humbled.

Climbing can be a very revealing sport.  It really shows you and those you are with what you’re made of.  I wasn’t expecting to be faced with so much, but because it was a safe environment it was ok, and I was able to experience a lot of healing, perspective and self-love.

“Its weird leaving the comfort of one crack for another crack,” said Chick Tori Labs while mid route.

That’s just it though, isn’t it?  Humans love comfort.  It’s nice, easier and well… it’s comfortable because it familiar.  Climbing anything- whether it’s rock, ice, crack etc., many are faced with fear that can come in a variety of forms.   However, because of this, climbing enforces a kind of mental training that makes you overcome obstacles whether it’s physically, emotionally or spiritually.

It’s good for us to leave comfort however scary or hard it is because part of fostering the developing of character is leaving a comfortable place whether it is in life or in the middle of a route on a cliff face.  So when Dawn said, “Dumbo didn’t need a feather to fly, he only thought he did,” it made sense because climbing is such a mental game.  That feather was Dumbo’s comfort; he could fly the entire time, he just had to believe it.

I learned so much from this clinic, nothing I ever expected.  I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to climb with and learn from the Chicks guides.  They are well-rounded, strong women that are beautiful to the core.  Women that I not only now call friends but women I respect and look up to.

So much wisdom was shared on just this one adventure and now we Chicks can pass it onto others.

All photos courtesy of Kelsey McMaster.