After Outdoor Retailer, I drove straight to Ouray, Colorado for a week of ice climbing with the infamous Chicks With Picks. This was my third year in a row of climbing with Chicks and I now consider it a given that I will attend every year.
I was placed into a group of 4 intermediate climbers with Dawn Glanc as our "girly guide". For those of you who may not know Dawn, she took first place at the 2009 Ouray Ice Fest and was on the cover of Alpinist 27. In other words, she is badass. She is also extremely fashionable- all of her Mountain Hardwear climbing outfits match perfectly!
We started the week in the South Park section of the Ouray Ice Park. With plenty of calm WI3 and WI4 routes, South Park makes for a great re-entry into the vertical world. Not to mention the great route names such as Kenny Dies and Cartmanland.
Day 2 we spent in the School Room climbing routes such as Dunce, Dean's List Ice, Riting and Rithmatic. Unfortunately Conrad Anker had knocked down the Schoolroom Pillar during the Ouray Ice Fest to make way for better mixed climbing- that is usually one of my favorites to try!
On the third day I took the rescue skills clinic given by guides Angela Hawse and Caroline George (two other amazing women climbers!). During the first part of the day, we covered everything from basic knots needed in climbing to setting up anchors, all while sipping lattes in the back room of the Artisan Bakery! For the second half of the day we headed outside in order to practice our newly acquired skills and also learn further how to "escape the system".
The final day we headed over to the Scottish Gullies, a gorgeous and sometimes sunny (yay!) section of the Ice Park. We warmed up on Popstar, Sunscreen and Fudgesicle and finished the day on Popsicle- the WI5 twin ice pillars that Dawn was working us towards the entire week. Popsicle was such a fun climb and everyone in our group sent it.
Dawn pushed us from day one to try things we never thought we could do and I am so thankful for that. I came away from the week challenged, motivated, exhausted, elated and much more confident in my own ice climbing abilities. And I met some great new friends and hopefully climbing partners along the way!
Below is a video of me not so gracefully climbing the boulder mixed start of Dave's Cave of Doom in the Scottish Gullies close to Tic Tac.