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The Chicks Legacy Continues

Lindsay Fixmer

The Chicks Legacy Continues!

The former owners – Angela Hawse, Elaina Arenz, Karen Bockel, and Kitty Calhoun – of Chicks Climbing & Skiing are pleased to announce that we have passed the torch to Dan Zokaites, a longtime friend and IFMGA Guide from Ridgway, CO. He then asked the preeminent guide, Lindsay Fixmer to be Director of Chicks. We couldn’t have dreamed of a better succession team.

Only a week after becoming Director of Chicks and delving into the unseen business side of her role, Angela and Kitty, sat down with Lindsay to have a chat about their vision for the future of Chicks.

 

Kitty: As you may know, Lindsay is an adventurer at heart who desires to share her love of the unknown with others. I first remember guiding backcountry ice with Lindsay in Cody, WY four years ago. We were discussing the common routes we climb and Lindsay patiently listened to me as she turned through the pages in her well-thumbed guidebook to the area. Then she presented her plan for the next three days – hidden climbs that she and her group would likely have to themselves. Lindsay’s signature trait might be her going above and beyond what is expected of her. As I worked side by side with her, I noticed that she is a meticulous teacher with a genuine desire to impart her knowledge of rope systems and movement skills. Her memory of one-liners in comedies and movies kept us laughing throughout the day. It all appears effortless for Lindsay, but I have seen the way she anticipates, organizes and prepares for what is to come. What an awesome soul to take the lead.

 

Kitty: What is your vision for Chicks?

Lindsay: Our Chicks resurgence will offer new programs both in style and content in the beautiful outdoor landscapes you love and have desired to visit. We will strive to be a company that is welcoming to people getting into climbing and skiing. Chicks is a community built upon our passion for outdoor pursuits where we see familiar faces and learn and grow together. That same passion, community, and camaraderie that drew you to Chicks will continue to drive our programming. 

 

Kitty: How do you see the past legacy of Chicks continuing into the future?

Lindsay: What I love about history is it informs where we are going. Chicks has always been a leader. Kim Reynolds noticed in 1999 there were not many women climbing ice. We want to open doors for people who haven’t had the opportunity to come into these sports.

 

Kitty: What is your vision for creating and maintaining community within Chicks?

Lindsay: Chicks will always value the friendships and camaraderie built on courses. It’s exciting to see Chicks alumni return with friends for another step in their learning and progression as climbers and skiers. Continued interactions through newsletters and social media is a way to keep our guests informed and stoked!  

 

Kitty: What attracted you to working for Chicks?

Lindsay: Chicks is uniquely rewarding work; every clinic I build amazing relationships. It’s a testament to the fact that women’s community building is so important: particularly in large landscapes with women pushing themselves. For example, I was guiding Louise and Vivian in Iceland a few winters ago and when Louise topped out on the climb, she said with big eyes, “I can’t believe I climbed that!” I had no doubt Louise could climb the route. Because Louise was so shocked by her abilities, it dawned on me we are giving women opportunities to realize their potential and what that means in a larger realm. Another example of this unique work are the numerous replies from Chicks’ guides when the dissolution of the business was announced (before we found this opportunity to keep Chicks continuing into the future) what Chicks has meant to them – that’s revolutionary.

 

Kitty: How will Chicks courses look in the future?

Lindsay: We’ve only been thinking about this for a week (laughs). Our first priority is to get the word out that the ice courses are up and running. While managing COVID, we will climb with small group numbers and not include group gatherings. Once spring arrives, camping provides one solution. We are planning to continue rock programs in places like Indian Creek, City of Rocks and Maple. We are also brainstorming new areas.

 

Angela: We are so stoked for you to take the helm. From our very beginning, Chicks has been a leader in providing safe spaces for women to learn mountain sports together.  I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge any misunderstanding our gender specific name has caused. And also that we respectfully acknowledge that the lands on which we operate are sacred territories of ancestral Native Americans. I am excited to continue to be involved with the company and am particularly looking forward to helping develop LBGQT and BIPOC courses.

Do you see the opportunity for the company to expand its boundaries to be more inclusive?

Lindsay: Definitely. Moving forward we are committed to diversifying our offerings to create the same opportunities for the LBGQT and BIPOC communities and being a welcoming and respectful community to all.

 

Kitty: Let’s talk about Covid.  How will Chicks cope with the pandemic?

Lindsay: Chicks has up-to-date Covid policies on the website, including refund and cancellation policies. We have adapted our programs and follow CDC guidelines. We encourage people to travel and climb in pods or groups that are familiar to them.

 

Kitty: What kinds of relationships do you envision with Chicks sponsorship partners?

Lindsay: We value our sponsor relationships. While Covid can put a strain on our industry, maintaining those solid connections is important. Chicks can provide quality feedback on sponsor’s demo gear being the testing ground for participants. Tangible evidence that participants like demo items are when they purchase the gear following a clinic. 

 

Kitty: Can you say a little about what makes Chicks guides unique?

Lindsay: People choose Chicks because we are leaders in the industry with talented, experienced guides. The guides who work with Chick’s are excellent climbers and skiers, and AMGA certified and trained. What really sets us apart is our ability to teach, mentor guests through their climbing and skiing development, and foster life-long friendships.

 

Kitty: Anything else you want to add?

Lindsay: Check out the website! And stay tuned! 

If you are inspired and have ideas, we want to hear from you! What have you loved about Chicks, where are areas for improvement and what you are looking forward to in the future with Chicks?

lindsay@chickswithpicks.net

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Quad Anchor – How to Make a Quad Anchor

Quad Anchor

The quad anchor is a versatile method to equalize any anchor.

First, I’ll explain how to apply one on a 2-bolt anchor for a top rope.

Then, you can watch Angela demonstrate a number of different ways to tie one in the Building Quad Anchors for Rock Climbing video below.

The advantages to using a quad anchor are many:

  • It’s redundant.
  • It self-equalizes
  • It’s quick to tie
  • It’s easy to double check.

Gear You Need:

  • 1 Cordelette (6mm Sterling Power Cord or 7mm nylon cord, at least 15 foot in length). Join the two ends with a double fisherman’s or another knot of your choice.
  • 4 locking carabiners. I recommend 2 smaller locking carabiners like the Petzl Spirit and 2 larger, pear-shaped locking carabiners like the Petzl Attache.

Sterling cord with 4 locking miners

 

4 Steps to Building a Quad Anchor:

  1. Double your cordelette over so you have 4 even strands. Position the knot that joins the two ends to one end of your loops. 

Sterling cord tied and then folded to make 2 loops2. Tie an overhand knot on either end of the cordelette.  You should now be looking at 4 strands in the middle and two loops on either end. Keep them a little loose so you can slide them closer together or further apart depending on how much lateral movement you need. 

overhand knot makes two loops

 

tie a second overhand on a bight to the other end of the folded cord to make a quad anchor
3. Clip your SMALL locking carabiners to the loops on either end of the cordelette. You will clip this to each of the two bolts.


4. Separate the 4 center strands, and clip your 1 LARGE locking carabiners to two out of the four strands in the middle, then clip your last locking carabiner to the remaining two center strands. For best practice, make sure you opposite and oppose them. 

 

 

quad anchor5. Voila, you now have a perfectly constructed self-equalizing quad anchor rig to set up your top rope.

Learn more about Quad Anchors in our Climbing Clinics. Go to Chicks Programs to find out more. Our climbing clinics are held in many world-class climbing destinations across America.

5 Pro Secrets To Keeping Hands Warm While Ice Climbing

Being cold sucks and there’s a few things in this world that are worse than cold hands while you’re ice climbing. Fortunately, if you follow a few of the following tips, you can keep your hands warm while you’re out there on the ice.
  1. Stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol and coffee which suck all of the water right out of your body. I know it’s hard to want to drink cold fluids on a cold day, so take a thermos and fill it with hot chocolate, tea or a warm hydration mix like Skratch Labs Apple Cinnamon drink mix.
  2. Go pee. Even though it can seem like a huge deal to peel back all of your layers and put them back in place again, don’t hold it all day. Your body works hard to heat the fluids in your body, so when you gotta go, go and you’ll stay much warmer.
  3. Use several pairs of gloves to keep your hands warm, about 3 pairs does the trick most of the time. A wind-bock fleece glove that you can wear from the car to the cliff to start out with. Secondly, you’ll need a nice thin soft shell type of glove that provides enough dexterity while you’re climbing and swinging your tools.The Outdoor Research Stormtracker is one of our favorites. Lastly, when it’s your turn to belay, switch out your climbing gloves for a nice insulated leather belay glove. The Black Diamond Kingpin is a great choice. A good trick for keeping your gloves warm and dry when you’re rotating between them is to stash them inside your puffy belay jacket next to your body. This will help them stay warm and dry out so they’ll be ready for your next pitch.
  4. Grabber Warmer ice climbingUse a chemical warmer like the Grabber Hand Warmers to keep hands warm. I like to stuff them inside the cuff of my jacket near my wrists because your arteries are very close to the surface of the skin and the hand warmers can heat the blood flowing in and out of your finger tips. I also like to stuff hand warmers into my pockets of my pants, and when it’s really cold the peel and stick body warmer can be applied on your sport bra to keep your core super toasty. If your feet get cold too, Grabber also makes a footbed warmer you can put into your boots at the beginning of the day.
  5. Move it. If your hands are still cold, try swinging your arms in circles as if you’re throwing a ball. Swing in each direction about 10 times on each arm and repeat until the blood returns to your fingertips. You can also take off your gloves and put your hands on the back of your neck or stuff them into your armpits. Finally take a brisk walk, preferably uphill to raise your heart rate and generate some heat.

Chicks On Steep Standstone – Red River Gorge Trip

Written by: Laura Sabourin

Chicks Rock Red River Gorge. Photo by: Brendan Leader.

Chicks Rock Red River Gorge. Photo by: Brendan Leader.

Fifteen ladies joined Chicks Guides Dawn Glanc, Elaina Arenz, Rachel Avallone, and Laura Sabourin for a beautiful Labor Day weekend in the Red River Gorge. The three day clinic was jam-packed with climbing, skill development, and laughter. The participants ranged widely in experience, from beginning climbers tying in and belaying for the first time to chicks alumni honing their trad skills and learning to give the perfect lead belay. It was so inspiring to see the women support each other over the three days to push their limits and achieve their goals.Our days were spent enjoying the steep sandstone of Muir Valley Nature Preserve, a privately owned climbing area in the southern region of The Gorge. Muir Valley is the perfect learning environment for climbers of all levels. The crags host a high concentration of moderate routes to work on new techniques, and the practice anchor stations at the base of each crag are perfect for practicing technical skills.

While the women came from diverse backgrounds, climbing together helped them bond and form life-long friendships. One woman came to the clinic on her own with no climbing experience. As a single mom of two teenage daughters-working full time and going to school- it was difficult to get time off for herself. She had been interested in attending a clinic for a long time, and finally made it work over the holiday. She had many personal breakthroughs over the weekend, from learning to belay to getting to the top of her first route. On the last day, two groups joined together to encourage her to climb a 5.8, her hardest route of the trip. This is the magic of Chicks events; the community comes together to support each other and discover abilities that they never knew existed within them.

Chicks Refueling. Photo by: Brendan Leader.

Chicks Refueling. Photo by: Brendan Leader.

After a full day of climbing, the Chicks returned to their luxury accommodations at the Cliffview Resort. The spacious kitchen offered Dawn space to prepare delicious meals for the crew, including her famous, made-from-scratch salsa and guacamole. After dinner, we bonded over games of pool, relaxed our muscles in the hot tubs on the back porch, and shared stories and pictures in the common area. This beautiful, comfortable staging area was the perfect setting for our clinic. We cannot thank Cliffview Resort enough for sponsoring this program!

Our participants left the weekend with smiles on their faces and a new community of friends and climbing partners. It is always hard to leave after so much fun, but the women have plenty of skills to practice before their next clinic. We are so proud of all of the ladies’ achievements this weekend. Another great clinic at the Red River Gorge is in the books.

Save the date for 2017 when we return on Sept 1-4, 2017.

Tech Tip: Keep Calm & Carry On – Breathing

RRG3_DawnGlanc_webThat saying appears everywhere and while it is super cliché there is something to be learned from this. There are so many seemingly uncontrollable factors at play when you’re climbing. There is one thing that you can control that has a profound effect on your physical and mental status, your breathing.

Breathing is an autonomic bodily function, meaning you just do it without having to think about it. But, the most important thing to be aware of when climbing is your breath.

So the question is, how do you keep calm, cool and collected when climbing? I think you already know the answer…breathe deliberately. Do the following exercise and see if it makes a difference to your mental and physical state:

Choose a route that is easy for you to climb without exerting too much effort. You will climb this route two times.

Lap #1. Set an intention to be aware of your breath. Notice if you’re holding it, breathing evenly, rapidly/slowly, deep/shallow.

Lap #2. Breathe Intentionally. Climb the route a second time, this time making a conscious effort to breathe the whole way from top to bottom.

Compare the two. Did you feel more relaxed and focused on the second lap? Did you feel less scared?

When you’re stressed, most people have tendency to hold their breath. This elevates your heart rate which causes you to breathe more shallowly and rapidly. This in turn makes the mind anxious, so you lose focus and get tunnel vision. Your climbing performance suffers as a result.

Be more aware and set an intention to breathe, ask your belayer to remind you, breathe evenly and deeply and you’ll feel much more focused, relaxed and less anxious when climbing.

If you want to learn more about this technique and many others to help improve your climbing performance, sign up for the Red River Gorge, Red Rock and Rifle clinics. We will share lots more of our secrets of success.


Written by: Chicks co-owner and guide, Elaina Arenz.

 

Chicks Gear Review: Sterling Hollowblock

Written by: Elaina Arenz, Chicks co-owner & guide

sterling hollowblockAs a full time Certified Rock Guide there are a few pieces of gear on my harness that I can’t imagine living without. At the top of the list is the Sterling Hollowblock, it’s like the swiss army knife, the one tool that does it all. What is this magical piece of gear? It’s a pre-sewn prussic cord that I use for backing up my rappel and lowers, ascending the rope and performing load transfers.

What makes this piece of gear so special you ask? The features and benefits are many, giving it a decisive edge over prussics you can make yourself with 6mm cordage.

-Flat woven construction doesn’t get twisted up like cordage does. This proprietary weaving pattern makes it faster to tie up than cordage does because you’ll spend less time dressing the friction hitch. This thing practically dresses itself when you twist up an Autoblock, Klimheist or Prussic wrap.

-It’s made out of Aramid fibers, which is the same stuff that Kevlar bulletproof vests are made out of. It’s heat resistant up to 900 degrees so it can easily withstand the heat of any friction hitch you throw it’s way. Again cordage falls short in this department. Aramid fibers allow it to slide easily without seizing up and it even works great on icy ropes.

sterling hollowblock-Excellent gripping power on climbing ropes no matter the diameter, but performs especially well on 7mm and bigger. A recent test by the ACMG (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides) showed that the Hollowblock used in a 3 wrap prussic held up to 4.3kn. When it did finally fail (slipped on the rope) the only damage observed was glazing on the rope it was attached to.

-The Hollowblock is available in two lengths, 13.5 and 19 inches, the width is 6.8mm and the retail price starts at around $12.00. So it costs a little bit more than cordage you can purchase by the foot, but the benefits far exceed the cost. I prefer the shorter of the two, because it’s long enough to get 3-4 wraps out of it, but short enough that it won’t creep up too close to my rappel device.

The bottom line is that this baby is burly, durable and has no “break-in time” like cordage. It’s soft and supple enough to do the job from day 1 to 100. I simply don’t leave the ground without this piece of equipment on my harness, and many guides I work with feel the same way.

Is a Wet Rope Dangerous?

The simple answer is yes, a wet rope should cause you more concern than a dry rope. There are a couple of reasons why you want to keep your rope as dry as possible while climbing. The performance of some materials (like the nylon that ropes are made from) change when they become wet. Read on…

Sterling RopeReason 1:

Some wet ropes can see a loss of 10-20% of their strength. Fortunately, the loss is temporary and the strength is recovered when the material dries.

Reason 2:

In drop tests on dynamic rope that had been soaked in water for different periods of time, the impact loads increased by up to 22% above those for dry ropes (typically by between 8 % and 12 %).  An example of an event that can cause this to happen is a lead fall. Remember ropes are designed to elongate in order to absorb and dissipate an impact l0ad. Since a wet rope can actually shrink a rope by 10%, that means there is less rope in the system to absorb the impact, thus creating a higher impact load.

Reason 3:

Your belay device doesn’t function as well. Wet and icy ropes makes them more slippery, or even worse, they ropes get frozen stiff and will no longer pass through your belay device. All belay devices create friction to help brake and arrest a fall. As you’re wrestling to pull the rope through your device on a frozen section, unwanted slack could build up in system. If all of the sudden the climber falls with that extra slack out, it’s equivalent to taking a fall on a static rope…can you say ouch?!

So what can you do to keep your wet rope dry?

1. Use a rope bag or tarp. This will help keep the rope clean from snow, dirt, debris and in a quick rainstorm. Fold it up like a burrito and keep it covered as much as possible, stuff it in your pack, cover it with your jacket…whatever you need to do.
2. Buy a dry treated rope.
If you plan on ice or alpine climbing or live in a chronically wet environment (ahem…as all of you East Coasters know all too well), buy a rope with a dry treatment. What is this technology I speak of? Well, a dry treated rope has a coating applied to it that helps it repel water from it’s surface, but won’t prevent it from absorbing water all together.
Sterling Rope has has several dry treatments which include: DryCore, DeltaDry and DryXP. All of these waterproof treatments are applied to not just the core fibers but also to the exterior sheath fibers. This makes for an uber water resistant rope which keeps water absorption to a minimum.

What’s the best way to dry a wet rope?

1. Choose a place that is: cool, airy and shady
The ideal place is indoors, out of direct sunlight and away from any heat source. Why? The sun’s UV rays cause damage to the fibers of the rope, as does any type of heat source.
2. Expose the rope surface
Uncoil your rope and lay it out so you expose as much of the surface area of the sheath as possible.
3. Create airflow
Turn on a fan, open a window, create airflow to help speed the drying time.

Want to learn more about climbing equipment testing and standards?

Rest and climb assured that when all is said and done, your rope recovers almost completely when dried under normal conditions. If your inner engineer wants to geek out on a bunch of numbers here are a couple of resources:
  • The UIAA sets the worldwide standard by which all things climbing are tested to uphold. If you want to learn more about how the UIAA determines how waterproof your rope is, the process by which it is tested and lots of other fun facts to know and tell, check out the UIAA’s awesome website. They recently announced a new testing standard, methods and procedures for dry treated ropes.

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!