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Ice Climbing Workout – How to Train for Ice Climbing

Ice Climbing Workout

Winter is on its way and so is ice climbing season. So, here is your ice climbing workout!

Maybe you’re new to ice climbing, but you’ve decided to head to Ouray for one of our ice climbing clinics. Or, maybe the backcountry is your calling and you’re off to Cody, Wyoming. No matter your experience or where you’re headed, knowing how to train for ice climbing can make for a vastly better ice climbing experience.

I don’t jump into “specific training” for climbing unless I know that the athlete has a good foundation of fitness. All outcome-based training must be laid upon a solid fitness foundation.

Before Doing a specific Ice Climbing Workout, let’s check in:

  1. Do you have a well-developed cardiovascular system, good resting heart rate, and a rapid heart rate recovery from high output activities? I suggest a regular aerobic fitness program (4-5 days a week 30-90+ minutes).
  2. Do you have postural and mobility issues? Do your joints have a good range of motion? Have you taken steps to correct your posture if necessary, through yoga or other stretching routines?
  3. In order to avoid injury, do you have a well-rounded, balanced strength-base on which to build more difficult training? A fitness base could come from rock climbing, body weight workouts or gym strengthening classes.

If you said yes to all of the above, let’s dive in!

If you said no, you will benefit from managing these pieces first. You will benefit not only in your climbing but in your health, overall life and injury prevention to build a fitness base.

Ice climbing is unique. It requires overhead strength to swing an ice tool as well as core-strength to stabilize while you swing and move upward from single points of contact. Ice climbing also requires good leg strength and endurance, especially in your calves. Hanging out on front points to place gear or find a perfect tool placement can put your calves on fire.

Overhead Strength

Overhead strength requires overhead mobility.

Add some specific overhead mobility work into your routine. Here’s a suggestion: I call it the overhead reach.
Overhead Reach for ice climbing workout
Then Add:

  • Overhead Triceps Extensions
  • Pull Overs
  • Pull-ups (can be assisted) on 1” dowels or your ice tools. (Doing pull-ups on dowels, or your tools, will help orient your hands and forearms into ice climbing position.)

Do five sets of five reps (5 x 5) on all the above movements, making them heavy and hard, after proper warm up.

See videos below:


Core Strength

Core strength for climbers is very important and I’ve included many good exercises in the training tips along the way.

Add In:

  • KTE (knees to elbows)(3-4 x 10)
  • Heavy Strict Press (Although strict press is considered an arm/upper-body strength movement it’s also a good test of your “core.” Presses build your ability to stabilize mass overhead) (5 x 5))
  • GHD Situps or Anchored Leg Lowers if no GHD (3-4 x 10)
    See videos below:




Leg Strength and Calf Endurance

Lastly, a little tune-up for the legs. Effectively using your hips and legs to stand while climbing is affectionately known as “push- the-bush.”

To really work your entire system with “external object control”

Add In:

  • KB Swings
  • Ball Slams

These are both “hip, glute, leg” driven movements but are oh so much more: grip strength, core strength, and so complex that they become a great challenge for the cardiovascular system. (3-5 x 10)

Then those calves, always stretch, daily…if you hike, run, bike, your calves are tight.

Each season the first pitch of difficult ice climbing is always a wake-up call.  Standing on front points is a calf burner. There’s not a lot one can do to prepare other than getting out there, however, a few sets of 4x 30 secs work/30 secs holding of calf raises on a step won’t hurt. You can increase the challenge by doing multiple sets of 4x 30/30. Or increase the workload to 6x 30/30 or 8×30/30 and so on.
See videos below:



Ice Climbing Workout

10:00 warm up row, bike, run
2 × 8 shoulder openers
2 x 5 Cuban press
work on mobility
3 × 5 wall squats
3 x 6 goblet squats
Then:
5x Overhead Triceps Extension
10x KTE
10x Ball Slams
5 rounds – rest as necessary.
Then:
5x Pull Up on dowels
10x KB Swing
5x Strict Press
x 5 rounds
Finish with 4x 30/30 calf raise and hold.
Cool Down

If the volume is too much, this can be broken into two different workouts, .

Make sure this Ice Climbing Workout is in addition to your regular fitness routine and replaces only one or two workouts a week.

Most importantly have fun with this and your ice climbing season!

If you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me via email or 970-773-3317

Carolyn Parker
Founder Ripple Effect Training
Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor
AMGA Certified Rock Guide

Real Life Chick – Louise Kuhn

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 Louise Kuhn who just finished the Iceland Ice Climbing Clinic.
Louise Kuhn Where are you from?
The long or short version? New York City via South Africa.
What programs have you done with Chicks?
Two ice climbing clinics in Ouray and one clinic in the Adirondacks.
Who were your guides?
The first ice clinic was with Dawn Glanc, second with Anna Keeling and the Dacks was with Emilie Drinkwater.
How long have you been climbing?
15 years
What types of climbing has this consisted of?
A varied and diverse mix of climbing.  There is a fair bit of trad, a diverse mix of mountain and alpine, and a good bit of ice.  I resisted the gym until recently because I thought it was boring.   But now New York has some good gyms and I have friends who go, so now I go for the sociability. I know I should try harder while there, but I prefer to go and have fun.
Why Chicks?
I liked the idea of all women’s program – I heard the guides were excellent teachers and I wanted the best instructors.
What do you like about Chicks programs?
I like the full immersive climbing experience. In addition, I also like to hang out and spend time with like-minded folks
Sum up adventure to you.
It’s a “glimmery dream” that moves you towards something exciting. Adventure is the balance between fun and fear, uncertainty and hope. It’s the challenge of the unsure.
What’s important about adventure in your life?
Stepping outside your comfort zone allows for personal growth.  It inspires and motivates to achieve things outside your wildest dreams – further than you thought was possible.
Tell me the story about your first experience with crampons.
(she knowingly laughs with that leading question because it’s such a great story!)
I thought winter was for staying indoors until I discovered crampons. I strapped them on and stepped outside on the ice. And the ice went ‘kjieee kjieee kjieee’.
(I asked for her spelling of that sound: it’s the sound of the ice not the crampons because “ice has different sounds”)
It’s a gutteral sound. I realized I could run across the ice.
What expectations did you have about the Iceland trip?
I was deliberately careful to be open to what was here… to see and discover what was here.
What surprised you?
I’ve been surprised since I stepped off the airplane.  It’s weird, wild and wonderful!
To which we said, “good alliteration” 
So Louise responded:
I expected a wonderful group of women, but I didn’t expect them to be as weird, wild and wonderful as they were.
What’s your next climbing goal?
After a moment, without hesitation or wavering conviction, Louise responds:
I’m going to stop backing off the overhangs at the gym….(Perhaps she was considering our last pitch of steep ice she contemplated not climbing but did)
Where would you like to see climbing take you?
I would like climbing to make me more level-headed, more grounded. But also to feel more fulfilled and happy.
Do you have an expectation of that or is expectation the wrong word?
Wrong word: it’s a positive process: working thru fears, insecurities and self-doubt. Examining thoughts and feelings allows growth  to be on that path is a positive process.
What else would you like to say about this Iceland trip or reflections on Chicks, climbing, etc:
The wonderful things about climbing are … independence and self-reliance, which some times you cannot get with a guided trip. With Chicks, there’s a deep sense of equality within the group.
(Just on a side note, as a guide, her last statement really struck a chord with me. That identified so much in our culture regarding climbing and hiring a guide and the deeper meaning behind personal pursuits, adventure and our seeking more meaning in our lives … the choices we make for personal fulfillment.)

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.

Why Choose Chicks?

On the fence about attending a clinic this winter? We sat down with Chicks Co-Owner and Guide to get her insight on what makes Chicks unique.

The Ouray Ice Park. Photo by: Bill Grasse.

The Ouray Ice Park. Photo by: Bill Grasse.

Chicks started in 1999 with a vision to help women experience ice climbing, and like a fine wine we have aged and matured over time. Our vision is unchanged: We want to empower women through mountain sports. On rock, ice and snow, we are committed to teaching women to take the lead in the outdoors and in life.

Chicks offers a very unique experience that is often imitated but never duplicated. We provide a supportive atmosphere which creates a positive learning environment. We feel strongly that through education and skill development, we can create a community of confident women who are independent leaders in climbing and skiing.

Why choose Chicks?

  1. All Levels are welcome. We operate in the Ouray Ice Park, home to 200 ice climbing routes of varying grades. It’s the perfect venue to learn how to ice climb for the first time or advance your skills. We offer 4 levels of instruction offer a progression of skills, so you will be paired up with others of your same experience and goals. Choose from The Jiffy (2 day), The Sampler (3 day) or The Complete (4 day) day programs.
  2. We will dress you warmly from head to toe. Patagonia and Outdoor Research provide clothing for you to demo at no extra cost. You can show up in your street clothes, and we can outfit you for climbing.
  3. We provide all of the technical ice gear. Petzl, Black Diamond and Camp all supply tools, crampons, helmets and harnesses for you to use at no extra cost. La Sportiva, Asolo and Scarpa provide boots for you to demo too. This is your opportunity to try the sport and all the newest gear on the market and you don’t have to buy a ton of new gear to sign up.
  4. Ouray, Colorado is a picture perfect town located in the heart of the San Juan Mountains.

    Ouray, Colorado is a picture perfect town located in the heart of the San Juan Mountains.

    Delicious meals and cozy lodging. Our evening meals are catered at the Secret Garden B&B. You will be taken on a world culinary tour each evening, starting out with soup to warm your bones, a main course and dessert. At night, you’ll rest your head at the Victorian Inn, located walking distance to the Ouray Ice Park.

  5. Experienced Guides. The Chicks guides are the best women ice climbing guides in the field. Each guide is educated, experienced and reputable. You’ll enjoy getting to know each of them and they are sure to inspire you.
  6. Community of women. The all female environment is supportive and encouraging. Allowing each woman to excel and break through barriers. You’ll be sure to make new friends and connect with other Chicks Alumni. Many women walk away with new climbing partners for future adventures.


Our Goal at Chicks Climbing and Skiing is to help you become confident, competent and independent on the ice (rock and snow). So what are you waiting for? No more excuses. Sign up for a Chicks program today and join us in Ouray.

Build Lock-Off Strength

Weather is changing and it’s time to start thinking about training for two of our favorite winter sports, mixed and ice climbing!  One key strength area to focus on is our arms and shoulders specifically for locking off.  This gives you the power and ability to pull yourself in and reach for the next hold.  Chicks guide and owner, Dawn Glanc, shows us two simple moves getting started building your lock-off strength!

lockoff-training-video

 

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.

Asolo Scholarship Sets Stage for Strong Female Climbers

Written by: Kristen Kelliher

Thanks to Asolo’s generous support, two weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a Chicks With Picks 3-day ice climbing clinic in Ouray, Colorado. Going into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had just been given the all clear by my orthopedist after having knee surgery in August and it was the first time on ice this season so I was a bit nervous. But, despite my reservations, I was stoked to get after it! On the first morning the psyche was high as we ate breakfast, distributed the ropes, and organized into teams. Giddy chatter easily carried us the twenty minutes to the park, before we split into groups based on skill level.

Kristen-@-Schoolroom-1I was fortunate to have a small group of three plus our guide, Kitty. This guide-to-client ratio is almost unprecedented in guided clinics, which allowed us to maximize our time on the ice and get specific, helpful feedback. Not only did she provide individual pointers, but also we got to see her in action! As a visual learner, it was extremely beneficial for me to watch how she would fluidly move up the ice so that I could attempt to emulate her body positioning or footwork. Not only did I experience this inspiring mentorship from someone as accomplished as Kitty, but because of the size and baseline knowledge of our group, the next two days we were tasked with helping set up the top ropes. This transition from mentorship to partnership was extremely gratifying and humbling at the same time.

Working as a team with the set up and climbing fostered a supportive and encouraging environment that enabled me to climb harder and with more confidence. Normally my climbing partners at home are almost exclusively male, which isn’t a bad thing; it’s just different. But climbing with these women over the three-day course was refreshing. Our camaraderie was based on support, not competition or trying to “out-do” each other. Regardless of how quickly we reached the top, or struggled through a crux, there was nothing but words of encouragement, compelling me to climb smarter and stronger. I firmly believe that this supportive network of women that Chicks fosters allowed me to tackle harder terrain and challenge myself mentally and physically.

The next two days allowed me to climb ice that’s much harder than I’ve done before – from pillars to rock to vertical faces that made my calves and forearms burn and shake. Belaying, spectating, and climbing with these women and Kitty was absolutely inspiring. It was an incredible whirlwind of a weekend that ended much too soon. I’m so thankful to Asolo for getting me out there and providing equipment and to Chicks for setting an example of what strong female climbers can accomplish.

Chicks Gear Review: Grabber Handwarmers

Written by: Kitty Calhoun

Chick’s participant Olga Dobranowski on La Ventana, WI5

Chick’s participant Olga Dobranowski on La Ventana, WI5

I have used Grabber hand warmers ever since I can remember for winter ice climbing, skiing, and alpine climbing. I have become so dependent on them, that they have become as much a part of my kit as drinks and snacks.

I generally use the hand warmers in the palms of my hands while belaying and moving them to the tops of my hands while climbing. Sometimes I will move the hand warmers to inside my sport top, right over my heart.  They just seem to add to my sense of well-being on a long, cold day.  I often find that when I set my gloves out to dry at the end of the day, the hand warmers are still warm and have helped dry out my gloves from the inside out.

The Grabber Warmer’s line includes not only hand warmers, (which last 7+ hours), but also toe warmers (6+ hours), foot warmers (5+ hours), body warmers and mega warmers (12+ hours), and ultra warmers (24+ hours).

The Warmers work when air comes into contact with the warmer and activates the natural ingredients. They are a light, economical way to add warmth to your feet, hands, and body.  Warmers and chocolate are two things I never leave home without in the mountains.

 

Chicks Gear Review: Petzl Nomic

Petzl NomicRock climbing is my first love, but now that I’m a Chicks owner, I’m doing my damnedest to transform myself into a bad ass ice climber. What I’ve learned is that gear really matters. It’s an investment in my personal security and I want the best gear I can get my hands on. After doing a quick poll of my peers, male and female alike, what tool came out on top? The Petzl Nomic was the hands down winner.

Why is this the first tool of choice of so many ice climbers? It’s the one tool that can climb ice, rock and hard packed snow, so no matter what your  medium of choice is, this tool will be able to handle the job. If you’re new to the whole ice climbing thing like me and you’re not sure, then you can’t go wrong with the Nomic.

The Nomics are thoughtfully designed and it’s the details that set it apart from other ice tools on the market. First you’ll notice the aggressively curved shaft. This allows the tool to clear bulges in vertical ice/rock easily and puts your body into a restful stance so you can conserve energy and hold on all the way to the top.

Speaking of holding on, this tool rests in the palm of your hand with the ergonomically molded handles. This allows you to grab the handle in a variety of positions, so you can match hands, swap tools from one hand to the other, and never worry about dropping the tool. You’ll look like a pro when you shoulder it, match hands on the second position and reach again for your next placement.

The picks are tapered down to perfection, so they penetrate the ice easier and hook on the smallest dime edges with security. The weight of the Nomic is light enough for dry tooling and mixed climbing, but if you need to add a little heft to your swing, you can add weights to the heads to take your dainty swing into burl-mode without expending any extra energy.

There are so many ice climbing tools on the market and deciding on which one to buy is about as tough as choosing what dress to wear on Saturday night. The Nomic is the equivalent of that little black dress that is perfect for every occasion. Do yourself a favor and choose the one tool that does it all. I have a personal philosophy that if you’re going to buy something, buy the top of line and you won’t regret it. One swing of the Nomic and I promise you will have no regrets and that’s what life is all about.

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.