Posts

Real Life Chick: Kristi Curry #ClimbingMom

Kristi Curry Red RocksSunshine, dogs, heavy packs clanging with gear, dirty hands, sand…

All these things remind me of climbing. I started climbing on a Colorado Outward bound trip in 1992.  I dappled with climbing through college, then really hit the ground running when I met my future climbing partner at a Starbucks where we both worked in Colorado Springs.  From 1997 to 2004 I was climbing every weekend and vacation.  Our little clan camped and played, climbed and ate.  We got stuck in lightening storms 5 pitches off the deck and had to actively ward off heat stroke at Indian Creek in Utah.  These experiences were intense and fully satiated my scorpio/tiger firyintense personality.  We felt like badasses and it felt good.  We were trad climbers who loved moderate routes.  I loved the meditation aspect climbing provided.  As soon as I would ask the question ‘Belay on?’, all the other noise in my head would quiet and I just focused on each move upward.  I had never been so happy…

Then life shifted…

I was about to journey down some very dark alleyways far far away from climbing crags.  My Mom died in 2006 and it was devastating.  Her belief that I if I could dream it, I could achieve it, protected me from the skepticism and loneliness in the world.  Her death left a deep empty hole in my soul, that to this day, hasn’t fully healed.  Soon after, my new husband and I moved to Seattle for work.  This was a new place where we had no connections, it rained and rained (and rained), and they have these things called glaciers which intimidated the hell out of me.The recession hit and I had to sell my climbing rack, all my crampons, and ice axes so that we had money to pay the rent.  I was selling off a part of me, my history, and I was devastated.

Then, I got pregnant and that didn’t go as planned.  I envisioned pregnancy yoga classes and a midwife home birth.  Instead I experienced the opposite.  In this new dark city with no friends to visit, I was put on bed rest for five months.  My days were filled with doctors appointments and no exercise. I hate doctor offices because they make you feel like you are sick, and feeling sick makes you feel depressed.  The lack of exercise reduced my strong body to an empty shell.  I was so weak.  My daughter was born a month early.  While she was in the NICU, I was in the ICU being treated for post pardom preeclampsia (which is extremely high blood pressure) and then a pulmonary embolism.  Everyone around me was afraid I was going to die, but I was more afraid that my soul was going to permanently disappear if I didn’t find a way out of this hospital to have an adventure out in nature.I was so sick of being stuck with needles.

But the darkness continued.

My body was so weak and I was so tired and we had no one around, no community, to help us take care of our daughter so I could get a rest.  I finally went crazy… no I really went crazy.  I was suicidally depressed.  I remember getting into my truck one night and headed to lake Washington so I could drive right off the 520 bridge and plunge into the cold dark lake.  No one was understanding.  No one around me had ever climbed.  They didn’t understand why my soul had died and they didn’t know how to help.  My light was finally extinguished and I was cold and dark inside, but had to suffer through my daily mundane human life.

Then I was finally rescued.  8 years later we pointed our UHaul east to Colorado and didn’t shed a tear as we drove away.  As soon as we landed on Colorado soil, I took off my Washington license plates and drop kicked them into the garbage can.  I was back… to sun, friends, family, and most importantly to my favorite climbing stomping grounds like Eldorado Canyon and the Ouray Ice Park.  And then I met the Chicks…

The Chicks brought me back to life…

they re-ignited my inner fire.  My husband gave me the Jiffy Ice clinic as a Christmas present but that present was so much more.  To meet these women I had read about in books, admired… I felt so lucky to be in there space (and the space of the other participants), climbing, having dinner, sharing stories not just about climbing but about our lives.  I had finally found a group who understood what my inner soul was screaming for back in Seattle.

That ice climbing trip brought me to Chris Noble.  The Chicks wanted to get some new photos and video so they could update their website and our course was the group who got to be ‘the models’.  I didn’t even know who Chris was at the time… just the nicest, calmest, zen like person I had met in a long time.  Then I heard about his book “Women Who Dare”, who brought me back to Elaina and Dawn, which brought me to the Red Rocks climbing clinic, which gave me the sun, sand, dirty hands and rock I had craved for so many years.

kristicurry2Reading his book made my heart explode.  He talks about climbers being a tribe… how we all look the same and seem to look at life the same, noticing stars in the sky and birds singing in the upper parts of cliff walls.  He talked about the personal tight bonds climbers build when we experience, together, all our emotions: fear, exhaustion, happiness, success. Like Dawn said, everyone is always on their cell phone, participating in Facebook relationships (I added that part), but when we go climbing, we shut off our phones and have 100% real human intimate experiences with our climbing partners.  I wanted to SCREAM to everyone in Seattle who just couldn’t understand, “See! I’m not crazy!  I was in mourning because I lost my people, my tribe.”

I was free.

So I want to say to all the climbing women who are part of this amazing Chicks tribe… continue to kick ass!  You are awesome and strong!  Live your life to the fullest.  I loved climbing with my guy friends, but my heart craves the intimacy and honesty you get when you climb and open your heart to other women.  Like Chris said “I believe there are things in this life that are intrinsically beautiful… like the remarkable grace of women who dare.”  I love you all.  Climb On!

Written by: Kristi Curry
#climbingmom

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.

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.

Chicks Alumna Interview: Amy Jurries

We love catching up with Chicks Alumna and getting inspired by their adventures – we hope you do too.  Recently we caught up with Amy Jurries.

AmyJFaceShotWhen was your first Chicks clinic?

My first Chicks was January 2008. I came to the Complete as a total beginner.

Why Chicks?

I wanted to learn how to climb vertical ice in order to tackle harder alpine climbs. I liked the idea of learning how to ice climb from women, with women as I learn better and push myself more in a supportive rather than competitive environment. Ouray is a great place to learn how to ice climb as you have the ice park a short walk from town and can run laps all day.

How many clinics do you have under your belt?

I returned to Chicks every year for the next 4-5 years, taking the Complete and eventually the Graduate program.

Why do you keep coming back?

The world class guides, the other women in the program, and the opportunity to keep progressing my skills year after year.

AmyJClimbingWhat have you been doing since your last Chicks clinic?

By my last Chicks clinic, I acquired enough skills to start heading out on my own (with a climbing partner of course). I continue to climb every year, traveling to places like Canada, Colorado, Montana, and even France in search of ice! We don’t get much ice here in San Francisco…. I still climb with many of the women I met at Chicks and consider them among my dearest friends.

Now you are thinking of attending another Chicks event.  What is the draw?

I am heading to Iceland with Chicks this February–can’t wait! The chance to discover and climb in parts of the country or even the world where I might not go on my own was one reason to come back for more Chicks. Plus the opportunity to learn even more from the great guides in a “wild ice” environment. There is always more to learn.