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Elaina floating through the air.  ©Louis Arevalo


A couple of weeks ago, I arrived at the International Climbers Fest in Lander, Wyoming, and was warmly greeted by a Chicks alumna, Amy Skinner.  She informed me that they were doing a podcast called the Hooligan Narratives (,  and wanted me to tell a story with the theme of Float.  I would have eight minutes to tell the story and there would be three other storytellers.
I decided to relate an incident from our 1987 Dhaulagiri East Face Expedition.  We were a team of four – Colin Grissom, Matt and John Culberson, and myself.   None of us had ever tried to climb an 8000m peak and I was the only one who had even seen one.  We were on a tight budget - $3000/person including airfare – and planned to climb alpine style with minimal gear and no fixed ropes.
Our intention was to do the second ascent of the Kurtyka-McIntyre route on the east face, but the ice ribbon was not frozen when we arrived.  In fact, it has never come in again and was an early victim of climate change, as I described in my Ted talk, Last Ascents.  Upon seeing water dripping over the rock, we decided to climb the Northeast Ridge in order to acclimatize. Hopefully the East Face would freeze in the meanwhile.
A Japanese team had fixed lines to a high point of 22,000’ on the Northeast Ridge and we agreed to break trail above for them. We were near the end of their ropes when the wind slab we were on avalanched.  It pulled us down the steep north face.  I made a couple of efforts to go into self-arrest, but each time the rope came tight and pulled me off my feet.  I curled into a ball and put my arms over my head to protect it as I tumbled down the slope.  After falling four hundred feet, we came to a stop.  The Japanese fixed line was anchored with eight pickets and they had zippered out one by one and the last one held.
In dire situations such as this, my senses are finely tuned and time seems to slow down. I do what I can to survive, but I feel a sense of acceptance of what may happen.  It is as if I am an outside observer to the action, a sensation expressed by an old family friend by the statement, “I am flotsam floating on the ocean of life.”
Though we were shaken by the fall, we decided to try to summit by the Northeast Ridge as fast and light as possible.  After a short recovery in base camp, we summited in five days, and hastily retreated back to base camp just before a monster storm enveloped the entire country of Nepal.
Other storytellers spoke of floating in terms of the release that climbing gives them, above the fray of life.  Another spoke of floating on the support of parents during turbulent times.  I recently thought of floating as I practiced falling at a sport crag.
What does Float means to you?

Kitty Calhoun
Co-Owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing

Thanks to this little guy, I learned about the new Black Diamond Pilot, which is brake-assisted, with the bonus of having no moving parts. To belay a leader, the hand motion is easy and intuitive, effortless to give slack to the leader, and easy to catch a fall. It's also lightweight so I can justify bringing it along on longer multi-pitch climbs. ©Dawn Glanc.

Smarter not Harder

by Dawn Glanc
Dawn Glanc, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing,
AMGA Rock and Alpine Guide, Mixtress

I am a cragger at heart. Yes, it is true. I truly enjoy single-pitch climbing. I love to push myself on trad gear in places like Indian Creek. If I am clipping bolts, I take on the mantra, "if I'm not flying, I'm not trying." This attitude of trying hard and pushing myself is why I like staying close to the ground.

Click Here for How to Climb Smarter not Harder

Zim's Crack Creme

by Elaina Arentz
Co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, AMGA Rock Guide, Apprentice Alpine Guide
Zim’s Crack Creme is just what the doctor ordered. 

Rock climbing takes its toll on your skin, especially your hands and feet. It’s a constant battle between keeping them dry when climbing and hydrated when not. It’s a fine line that is made more complicated by living in the desert. I basically can’t hydrate my skin enough and I’m prone to cracked heels and sensitive cuticles as it is.

Enter Zim’s Crack Creme.

More About Zim's Crack Creme Here
2018 Chicks Choice Awards
New this year, Chicks Owners voted on our #1 women’s product choices
from our Title and Gold Level Sponsor’s gear.  Lisa Issenberg, local metal artist of Kiitella out of Ridgway, Colorado, designed these one-of-a-kind, custom, and endearing awards.
Angela and Kitty presented these in person with humility and gratitude to our beloved sponsors at the Summer 2018 Outdoor Retailer Trade Show in Denver.  And the winners are....
Patagonia – Women’s Micro Puff Hoody

Sterling Rope – 9.5mm Evolution Helix Dry XP

Osprey Packs – Women’s Tempest 40

Grabber – Toe Warmers
Black Diamond Equipment – Women’s Solution Harness

Custom Awards by Kiitella

Heroine Shot

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