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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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Opening Up

Funny how the Thanksgiving season is followed by Christmas. During Thanksgiving we are to take notice of all that we are to be thankful for and one of the greatest gifts we have is each other.  So on Christmas, we demonstrate that appreciation and love with gifts.  This is a reaffirming occasion since much of the time we can become focused on protecting ourselves.  In our busy lives we tend to concentrate on what we need to do to make sure we get done what we need to do by a certain time.  Others either help us or they hinder us. The ego gets fed and the journey is forgotten.  At least that’s what happens to me, as I wrote in my blog for Subaru, “Dropping the Ego

Arno Ilgner, in his book, The Warriors Way, discusses how ego gets in the way of the climbing experience.  “For most of us, when it comes to meeting challenges, our own worst enemy is ourselves.  Our self-image and our self-worth are far too wrapped up in achievements.  Ego controls much of our behavior.  We constantly act out of fear and avoidance, rather than out of the love of challenge or of climbing itself.  Our mental habits raise unnecessary barriers and often, unconsciously, drain the vitality from our performances.”

At Chicks, we recognize the importance of awareness in climbing and skiing and believe that our women’s environment is a place that is supportive, yet asks each participant to push their comfort zones rather than protect the ego.  I think one of the greatest gifts that climbing continuously gives me is the humbling experience that it often is – and at the same time I gain confidence.  Sharing this with my belayer or teammate, where I have to open up and let down my guard, or ego, is an experience that I rarely get in my every day life.

Choosing The Perfect Climbing Shoe

choosing climbing shoeFirst, let’s talk features because that affects the fit of the shoe so much.  Shoes can be divided up into three categories:

Specialized Performance Shoes: These shoes tend to be more for extreme sport climbing.

Performance Shoes: These tend to be for sport climbing as well as technical face climbing.
All-Day Performance Shoes: These are for multi-pitch climbs as well as for crack climbing.

The major features you need to think about are:

  • Rand
  • Stiffness
  • Symmetry
  • Heel-to-toe Profile
The rand is the tensioning system in a shoe, so in a high-performing shoe, like an extreme sport shoe, the rand is going to pull from the forefoot to the heel in such a way that it distributes the power throughout the entire foot.  In a performance shoe, its going to tend to focus the power over the big toe. In the all-day performance shoe, there is little active randing.The stiffness  varies according to personal preference, though you tend to choose a stiffer shoe for technical face climbing.Symmetry has to do with how curved the shoe is.  It is either asymmetrical, symmetric or somewhere in between. So the more asymmetrical it is, the more that shoe is an extreme sport climbing shoe verses the symmetrical shoe, which is the all-day performance shoe and crack climbing shoe.Heel-to-toe profile generally comes in hooked, curved, or flat.  So again the hooked shoe is the most aggressive sport climbing shoe; the flat is the all day performance and crack climbing shoe.

Now let’s talk fit.  A lot of these shoes have a toe box and that is so you can fit the shoe really tight and your toes are crammed up in there.  For crack climbing, you want a thin toe profile so that your toes aren’t jammed up in there.  You can’t always just look at a shoe and tell if it has a thin toe profile or not.  A lot of times you have to try it on ad see if there is a toe box with extra material up there where your toes would be bunched up.The thinner the toe profile the thinner the crack you can jam your foot in to.  This allows you to climb a wider variety of cracks – what you would do is turn your pinky toe down, dig your foot at deep in the crack as you can, and bring your knee up over the toe so that it cams your foot in the crack.
Happy shoe hunting!

Chicks Gear Review: Sterling Evolution Velocity

 

Karen Bockel lovin' the juggin' on Tangerine Trip, El Cap.

Karen Bockel lovin’ the juggin’ on Tangerine Trip, El Cap.

In the fall of 2014, when Kitty Calhoun and I made our gear list for climbing Tangerine Trip, a big-wall aid route on El Cap in Yosemite, it was I who said “I got the lead rope”.  I had been climbing with my 9.8mm Evolution Velocity for a summer and it had proven itself with strength, durability, and handling.  Just what you need when you’re about to head up the biggest piece of rock there is in the lower 48!

The exposure and commitment on Tangerine Trip are mind blowing as the route overhangs more than 100’ over its length.  A solid rope is what connects you to the rock, and the Evolution delivered.  The strength of a rope should be unquestionable, and with Sterling’s track record of having manufactured and tested their ropes in the US for decades, the Evolution series is a top of the line choice.

For long routes, a somewhat thick diameter is desirable for durability, and the size of the Evolution Velocity at 9.8 mm fit the bill.  Anything smaller than that, and jugging the line after the leader fixed it becomes nerve racking.  Peace of mind is priceless when you’re dangling in free space a couple thousand feet off the deck.

Also of great importance is the handling of a rope.  People often refer the stiffness of a rope as a benefit for critical clips, but it also plays into how your lifeline runs through a long aid pitch of tensioned gear placements.  On our wall climb, the Evolution Velocity excelled.  The slippery flat sheath ran smoothly through the gear and the stiffness was perfect for stacking and re-stacking the rope at every of the 18 belay stations.

Climbing a big-wall is a tremendous amount of work and effort.  Having good gear, especially a solid rope, makes all the difference.  Thanks to the Evolution Velocity, rope management was not a problem for us on the Trip.  Oh, and if you’re not convinced yet, take it from Chris Sharma.  I hear this is the rope he sends his projects on…

 

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.