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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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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.)

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: Rebecca Samet

We recently caught up with Rebecca Samet, an MD and mother of three.  She lives in Pismo Beach, CA and works in the Fresno Hospital ER.  She didn’t just get hooked on climbing, but got her kids into as well.  Her daughter Sarah has been to a number of Chicks clinics, and we are always so impressed with this mother/daughter team and their thirst for adventure.

Rebecca1Rebecca, tell us about you!

I live in Pismo Beach, CA, and my favorite fun activity is trail running, especially as a way to discover new places. Some of my favorites trails include the Ray Miller Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking the ocean and a new discovery; the Twain Hart Ditch Trail in California’s Gold Country. Before I started ice climbing I spent as much time snow boarding as I could. Now I love ice climbing but don’t get to do it enough. This winter I’m hoping to check out the Michigan Ice Festival and climb over a frozen Lake Superior.

What was your first clinic with Chicks?

My first Chicks Clinic was the Complete in 2013. I had never climbed at all before and it was amazing! It opened up a new world for me.

Why Chicks?

I tried Chicks because I wanted to ice climb; but I can’t explain why because I had never known anyone who did. Chicks seemed like a great way to learn and it was! It was an excellent immersion course for me.

Rebecca3How many clinics have you attended?

I’ve lost count of how many Chicks courses I’ve done; the Complete x 3, Red Rocks x 2, Devils Lake, Cody and most recently the Tetons. Wow – 8 courses!

How did you get your daughter into climbing?

I climb with my daughter because I had so much fun at my first Chicks courses that I hoped she would enjoy them too. (I think she has). We’ve had some truly unique experiences with excellent people. They would not have been possible without Chicks.

What’s next?

I’m always looking forward to the next trip. I’d like to try back country skiing or snowboarding, hopefully this year.