So much more than ice…

There are the obvious reasons people sign up to attend Chicks:
– Ouray, Colorado is THE place to learn to ice climb;
– Chicks alumnae are known for being really good, technically proficient, self-sufficient climbers;
– To gain access to the Chicks network of super cool women by becoming one yourself! The women you meet at Chicks you will likely climb with again whether at another Chicks clinic, or out on your own;

Those are the sorts of benefits we advertise on our website because it’s easy to write about. It’s simple to say “our women become really good climbers” (which they REALLY do) but what we don’t say is how deeply the experience will affect your life – sink into your skin and under your fingernails!

It’s the intangibles that year after year seem to have the most profound impact on the women who turn up at Chicks. The funny thing is, they don’t even realize what is about to hit them, except of course for the alumnae who return year after year because they need another fix. We do have Chicks Anonymous and a few have successfully moved on and taken up mentoring other Chicks!

As the Head Chick, it is this indescribable magic of Chicks that has inspired me over the last 13 years!  A highlight of every clinic is our closing ceremony where each woman describes what she is taking away, how she is moved by the experience and what she learned about climbing and herself. There are often tears and heartfelt revelations which have manifested into life changes for many of our alumnae back at home. For this, I feel eternally grateful that Chicks is both my passion and my job!

With this in mind, I decided to dig around in the many emails that have been sent to me over the years and share some of your wonderful comments:

*Being at CWP, I faced my own fear—realizing I was my own biggest obstacle.  Upon returning home, my life changes have been vast and each day is only better than the next.  Margo and Angela were like gold to me, from Angela’s incredible technical prowess and positive outlook to Margo’s inner peace and her ability to get you to face yourself and overcome whatever it was that was keeping you from achieving your goal.

*What is your biggest take away from Chicks with Picks?
Ok, this will sound like therapist babble but really … Believe in yourself and you will do it. Whether that is a physical thing like leading ice (which I did this year) or deciding to change your career, it really is about staying positive and believing in yourself.

*I am coming back to Chicks to be renewed and replenished by the amazing women and guides, by the beauty of the mountains and by the challenge and pleasure of swinging an axe.  Although I came initially to learn to ice climb, I  am primarily returning for the companionship and camaraderie of the other women.  I learn so much from the interactions, guides included, not just about ice climbing, but about life.  The support and encouragement is amazing.

*I see a lot of parallel between climbing and my work.  Being a woman in engineering/science, even though there are so few of us around, I have been fortunate enough to have women as mentors.  Most people do not appreciate what a world of difference that makes – that there is a support structure that nurtures and empowers women so that they might develop, perform and even excel in an area usually dominated by men.  This aspect of the workshop resonated with me the most.

*Suddenly, there is a memory; somewhat faded in mind and yet so vivid  in heart, of the very first time I ever climbed anything, at Chicks in February 2005, on a snowy, very cold New Hampshire day. How I had never done anything so difficult, nor wanted something so much. The universe’s possibilities ever since, seem a little more within my reach. I really needed to remember today how clear my head is when I have to focus on climbing and how much nonsense that mental white space has allowed me to let go when I’m not climbing. How rich my life is with friends I’ve met though Chicks and how much love I’ve felt from them despite not being able to be part of their adventures.

Check out our complete 2012 Chicks with Picks lineup here, and find out how you can save $$ by signing up in DECEMBER here! We hope to see you out in Ouray! 🙂