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Real Life Chick – Rhonda McGovern

We get to meet the amazing women we call Chicks every day and would be remiss if we didn’t get to share some of their stories with you.  Real life Chicks are CEO’s, dirtbags, moms, grandma’s, sisters, friends, athletes, and partners – just like you.  This week, meet Rhonda McGovern who just completed Chicks with Picks – The Graduate in Cody, Wyoming.

RhondaIn one sentence, tell me about yourself.

I am from Ireland, live with my partner in New Palz, am a banker in New York City, and love the outdoors in all its forms ( climbing, hiking , biking, paddleboarding).

How long have you been climbing and what do you like most about it? 

I have been climbing rock and ice for four years and I like ice climbing more.  I like the extreme elements of winter.  I like being out when everyone else is watching TV.

What are your goals in climbing?

To become a more competent partner, lead more, become more confident in the backcountry, to set more adventurous goals for ourselves.

What are your dream trips? 

I would like to go to Chamonix to go rock and ice and alpine climbing.  We are going to start focusing on skiing more too.  I would like to go to the Bugaboos and the Cascades as well.

What obstacles do you face in meeting these goals?

Time. I don’t have the time I would like to get good at things, to climb harder.

Why did you choose Chicks? 

I wanted the confidence to go in the backcountry in the Adirondacks.  I wanted the skillset, and I wanted to focus for three days on climbing with no thoughts of work, dogs, etc.  In Cody, I was with like-minded women.  I am not intimidated by men, but it is important to see other women in the backcountry too.

What were your take-aways from the clinic? 

To get out there and go for it.  I had most of the skills, but I was able to put it all together.  I just need to get out more.  This was a reaffirming experience.  My partner, who is more experienced, will be happy to hear me say that we have this (the skills).  I also learned where my weaknesses are.  I can go to other areas that are new and discover and explore.  Sometimes I get stuck in my little world.  Also, I made connections.  That was a big part of it too.  It is inspiring to be around strong, confident women.  I definitely feel inspired after this trip.

Chicks Alumna Interview: Piper Musmanno

We recently had the chance to catch up with an Alumna who many of you have met over the many years she has been involved with Chicks, Piper Musmanno.
PiperWhat was your first clinic with Chicks?
My first year with Chicks was the 2008/2009 ice season in Ouray. First event was the Inaugural (I believe) “Betty Ice Ball”. My first clinic was with guide, Sarah Hueniken, it was a footwork clinic. The remaining clinics I attended that weekend were with Dawn Glanc – it was her first season as a Chicks instructor.
Why Chicks?
I had ice climbed once the winter before and was instantly hooked.  I bought tools before the next winter, so when winter did come around the following year, I was ready and excited to go.  I don’t actually remember how I found out about Chicks, but I do remember being interested in it and mentioning it to some girl friends at the Boulder Rock Club.  At which point, one of them said, “I have another friend who is going for her first time. I will introduce you.”  And this is how I met Jenn Fields who became my roomie for the trip and would become my partner in crime and climbing while I chased bolts up walls for the next few summers to come.  I was also introduced to Erika Napoletano to carpool down and she became a good friend as well.
How many clinics have you attended?
I attended Chicks clinics for my first two years of ice climbing and have been volunteering ever since.
Not sure how many actual clinics I took within those events, but know they ranged from “Footwork” (my first), to “Speed and Efficiency” to “Mixed Climbing” (any chance that there was a mixed clinic, I took it.  Thanks Dawn for the introduction!!!) , “Anchors” (Angela Hawse) and more  I’m forgetting.
And then ever since I have tried to volunteer to help with clinics whenever I have been in town at the same time.
What kept you coming back?
The Chicks. 🙂  Both the participants and the instructors. The opportunity to learn from some of the best female climbers in the world is not to be passed up, but also, they were always a lot of fun.  That the Chicks’ instructors and amazingly talented, is a given, but they are also incredibly relatable and are great at understanding how to communicate their knowledge so the ladies in their clinic come away feeling empowered and inspired.  They take time to understand the ladies’ fears or limitations, and look for attainable goals so everyone feels like they progressed during the course.
And the chicks in the clinics are a blast.  No matter what their level.  Their excitement is contagious and rekindles my own excitement for my sport.
What have you been doing since last Chicks clinic?
Hiking, climbing rock and ice and unfortunately recovering from a few surgeries.  My last surgery to finally fix my hip with a total replacement was in spring of 2014 and I’ve been enjoying my sports fairly pain free since then.  Also, I’ve been spending time fixing my new old house in Ouray and hope to be able to spend more time there all year around each year.
What was your most memorable moment at Chicks?
Does it have to be climbing?  Because I think it was probably the dance party at the first Betty Ball, where I met a lot of the ladies who have since been my climbing partners and friends in the years since.  I believe there is still a video out there of some of us dancing on tables…that night was so much fun and sparked some great friendships. Some of us have gone different directions in the years following, some are still very close friends, but they were there at the beginning of my love of the sport and were a part of the memories that keep me coming back.