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.

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)

Sending “Black Angel”, a Chicks’ first 5.10 trad route

Rock Chicks is a South African website dedicated to all the women and girls in South Africa who are climbing alongside the men and boys. They say “We may be a minority at present in the sport of rock climbing but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t climb up and get noticed (or have a website dedicated to just us). After all, everyone knows girls just look better climbing than guys do.”

Chicks alumna Almine Barton has a special connection to the South African climbing scene not just through her family but with her ongoing pursuit of empowering women & girls to climb. Almine writes “Delaney [of Rock Chicks] & I have spoken several times, and we both have the same dream: to heal racial differences, and to empower young South African girls through climbing. My dream is to work with her in the future, via a non-profit I’m working on spear-heading to get gear (harnesses, shoes, etc.) to underprivileged girls in South Africa. Delaney & I are both of the belief that climbing can be a neutral “playing field” for racial issues. When you have a black girl belaying a white girl, there is an automatic friendship & bond that becomes established between climber & belayer. This relationship can prove beneficial, with far-reaching implications. This is where climbing can become bigger than all of us. Nature is the neutral playing field. It does not see race or income. Climbing will be the way Delaney & I make a difference together in Africa. ♥”

Rock Chicks recently interviewed Almine on her first 5.10a trad route lead of “Black Angel” in Smith Rock. Check it out below to see how Almine mentally HTFU to lead this project that last fall she took a major whipper on (bloody picture below!).

“I began moving away from sport to trad climbing about six months back,” Almine begins. “The last time I was able to jump on Black Angel due to the weather (it’s been snowing until recently here) was last year. So, I’ve been a bit “stuck” with it. I had that big fall on it, wanted to get back on it immediately, but couldn’t, because it started to snow several days after, until recently. Outdoor climbing season has now arrived here, so I could work the route again.”

Fortunately it was a fair-weather day, being about 60 degrees and along for support were Liz Coleman, Stewart Mills and Julie Ziedman.

So, what was the hardest part of the route? “The route itself isn’t extremely difficult,” Almine tells us, “Except for the roof section. It’s a lie-back (or you could stem it, but then you’re face-climbing it more than crack climbing). It’s where I took my big fall on it last year. It was my first time trying to lead it and I fell off the roof. It’s a very thin section, that’s a finger-crack sized ‘crux’. It’s a bit tricky to place small gear in this section, because the crack is irregular (the rock is volcanic tuft) and very small.”

And did Black Angel do you an injury? “Really just bled a lot when I fell on it last year. ‘Cheese-grated’ all the way down, almost to the bottom of the route (volcanic tuft is very sharp) from the top of the ‘crux’. Knocked the ‘wind’ out of myself a bit. It was a ‘decent’ fall!”

We can only imagine how Almine must have felt after sending her ‘nemesis’ but we are wrong. Almine admits to feeling: “Just ‘okay’. I didn’t send it as smoothly as I would’ve liked the first time I lead it. I hung out at the ‘crux’, paralyzed with fear, to be honest. I had to wrestle with a lot of ‘mental demons’ at the roof section. I was doing everything I could to calm my breathing and mind, but all I could think about was my fall from the year prior. It was one of my more scary leads. And it wasn’t the difficulty rating of the route, per say, just the psychological ‘story’ in my head about how I fell, the sound of my body against the rock, the blood that stained the rock (that I could see out of the corner of my eye), etc. I would like to lead it with more finesse, less fear, more elegance. That will happen this climbing season. I feel like my first lead on Black Angel was a bit ‘choppy’ due to how mentally strenuous it was for me.”

Nevertheless, Almine sees the best in nearly everything and her send of Black Angel was no exception. “I like the challenge of a ‘worthy opponent’,” Almine says. “This route has everything I like in a route. Wide sections (for perfect ‘fist-jams’), lie-backing, a nice roof section, stemming at the beginning of the route. It’s all there.”

Well done for facing your ‘demons’ and conquering “Black Angel.”

We at Chicks also want to congratulate Almine for sending “Black Angel”!!!! 🙂

Almine Barton is a licensed acupuncturist and certified personal trainer and “CrossFit” coach. She runs two sports medicine clinics in Bend, OR., and Portland, OR.  She works closely with climbers, olympians, and competing “CrossFit” athletes in her practice, and enjoys seeing her patients achieve their fitness and wellness goals. Almine lives near “Smith Rock,” thoroughly enjoying the immense climbing opportunities that Central OR. has to offer. She is an avid sport and trad climber, “CrossFitter,” mountain biker, trail-runner and Adventure Racer. She has two Malamutes named Tallon and Anok, who keep her running trails all winter long. Learn more about Almine at her new website