Silverton Avalanche School

Earning backcountry turns at the Red Mountain Pass area of the San Juan Mountains, Colorado. Photo Credit: Louis Arevalo

New Partnership with the Silverton Avalanche Schoolchicks with stix logo

Chicks is delighted to announce our new Partnership with the Silverton Avalanche School. Working with SAS allows us to expand our ski and splitboard offerings closer to home and add avalanche education with certification to our all-women’s backcountry courses.  Since we launched into backcountry ski offerings two years ago we’ve shared turns with many of you on Red Mountain Pass and the Opus Hut area, we’ve heli-skied with Telluride Helitrax and ran our first avalanche course with AAI in Jackson. We’ve gone international to Japan and La Grave, France and now we’re really going to get this party started with the Silverton Avalanche School.  We hope you’ll join us for our first season together. 

The Silverton Avalanche School is a non-profit organization that has been in operation since 1962 and educated over 4000 students from beginners to top-level professionals.  They’ve been industry leaders in avalanche education, teaching folks how to recognize avalanche hazards, determine snow stability, organize and carry out rescue operations and become competent backcountry travelers for 55 years. 

Located in the heart of the San Juan Mountains at 9,318 feet in Silverton, Colorado there is no better classroom to learn about avalanches.  The San Juan Mountains have some of the most accessible, active and well-known avalanche paths anywhere with a snowpack world-famous for it’s dynamic qualities.  SAS courses are taught by nationally recognized members of the American Avalanche Association, AIARE and the Canadian Avalanche Association with instructors widely known for their expertise and passion for snow safety and backcountry fun. 

“We are excited to partner up with Chicks Climbing and Skiing to offer women’s specific avalanche and backcountry ski training. This partnership fills a gap that we have seen in avalanche education.  Chicks Climbing and Skiing brings a wealth of guiding and training experience that goes unmatched.  Empowering women to go into the backcountry and avalanche terrain is close to our heart and we are honored to work with Chicks to make this happen.”
Jim Donovan, Director Silverton Avalanche School

It’s a match made on a mountaintop and we can’t wait to take your backcountry skills to the next level with our new partnership. SAS’s female instructors are some of the most experienced, passionate avalanche educators in the country. Combined with our certified IFMGA / AMGA Ski Guides we have the most qualified women in the industry to make your backcountry experience unique, world-class and unforgettable.  As the first and most successful all-women’s climbing program in the country with an 18-year track record, it’s only natural that we expand our mountain sport offerings to include backcountry skiing with a focus on safety and avalanche education. 

Why choose Chicks and the Silverton Avalanche School?

Because we do women’s programs better than anyone else and partnering with the Silverton Avalanche School and their 55-year track record gives you the confidence to know you’re in the best hands, you’ll get top shelf world-class instruction and it’s definitely going to be fun.

Dates for our winter line up of ski, splitboard and avalanche education events will be announced in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned for more details including dates, course descriptions, pricing, and registration.  Visit to check out the Silverton Avalanche School.

Betty Ice Ball – Schedule of events


THE BETTY ICE BALL – a woman’s festival of ice

The public is welcome!

Friday January 29, 7:00 PM

Live Auction & Slide show

Ouray Community Center $5

New Belgium will be there pouring beer. Bring your ID!

Presenter: Zoe Hart

Experience the stories of an Alpine Princess through the eyes of professional climber and Patagonia ambassador, Zoe Hart. She will take us on a photographic odyssey across the globe going from one storied alpine climb to another, often in the harshest of conditions, through the most colorful of cultures and landscapes.

Based in Chamonix, France, Zoe Hart takes advantage of conditions as they present themselves – ski mountaineering, alpine climbing, or rock climbing – when she’s not working as a mountain guide. Zoe is labeled as a perpetual transient – she hasn’t lived in the same place for more than three months over the past eight years – finding the call to travel and explore the mountains of the world too alluring to stand still. Hart is also the fourth American woman to earn her IFMGA, or International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations, status. This is the highest level of credential available to a professional mountain guide anywhere in the world and is recognized in over 20 IFMGA member countries.

Saturday, January 30, 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Love Your Chicks Garage Sale
Ouray Community Center

Bring your used outdoor gear to sell and donate (at least) 50% of your profits to Chicks with Picks. Make a little money and support the Chicks. Open to the public and everyone who wants to empty their closets and support a local organization.  If you need more details call 626-4424.

Saturday, January 30, 8:00 PM
Ouray Community Center $10

Dance to live music…To Be  Announced in next weeks paper. Stay tuned.
New Belgium will be there pouring beer. Bring your ID!

N. Face Mt Sneffels, Ridgway CO

Mt Sneffels

Mt Sneffels

The jewel of the San Juan Mountains is Mt Sneffels, a fourteener that splits the long ridge running above the skyline of Ridgway CO. It is simply breathtaking and rivals the beauty of the Tetons…at least us locals think so. I stare at this peak from the picture window of my house and have always drooled over the Snake Couloir slicing the north face in half.

Traversing into the Snake

Traversing into the Snake

On May day, they finished plowing the road to Yankee Boy basin making the peak much more accessible by four wheel drive. Sara, Megan & I headed up with the gear to climb Sneffels and ski the Snake which means you come out on the other side of the range near the Blue Lake’s trailhead. There was only one catch, we didn’t set up a shuttle or have a ride out…..yet.  On the drive in, we started to make calls to see if anyone was free to rescue three cute girls after the descent and with no luck, we started skinning up anyway with the option to ski back to the car.

We cramponed up one of the south couloirs and when we reached the summit it was a windless and beautiful – I whipped out my cell phone and to my surprise, I had coverage. I began making calls for a pick up which sounded something like this “Hi Chris, it’s Kim. I’m standing on the summit of Mt Sneffels with two other girls and we were wondering what you are doing in a couple of hours? Would you be willing to pick us up at Blue Lakes after we ski the Snake? Oh look up, you might be able to see us waiving to you.”  Sure enough, he said yes which was perfect.

Skiing near the top

Skiing near the top

To get into the couloir we used ropes to traverse a steep chute to the start of the descent since there was definite consequences below.  Once in the Snake, it is one of the most impressive big mountain, classic, kick ass lines I’ve skied. Not hard or even that steep (but steep enough to keep you on your toes)  just an awe inspiring place to be!  We skied one at a time and made the sharp curve into steeper terrain that gives this classic it’s name – also known to some as the “S” Couloir.

Chris & the Girls

Chris & the Girls

It took about three hours to ski the line and find our way out through the thick woods. We hit the road and my trusty friend Chris Whaling was waiting patiently, throwing snowballs for his dog with a six pack of beer. Big points for this dude!  Once in a while you just get lucky.