More Chicks, A Weekend at the Betty Ice Ball

by Tom Markiewicz on February 12, 2009

Today’s guest post is from Jenn Fields, who writes at

Chicks with PicksI wasn??t sure what I??d get out of a weekend of ice climbing just with girls, because I??ve always climbed with boys. Of course I??d come away with sore shoulders, bigger calves and more mad girl-climbing skills, but what else would be on the table at a women??s weekend? After an insanely fun weekend in Ouray at the Chicks With Picks Betty Ice Ball, I compiled a list of five things you??ll get more of when you climb with Chicks:

More Potty Talk: A lot can go wrong when you have to pee with a funnel. (I won??t go into it here, but trust me — things can go really wrong.) Consequently, stories about pee funnels abound when you climb with women. After one of the dinners at the Ice Ball, a veteran Chick recounted a pee funnel story from her climb of Denali: The tube of her beloved Freshette landed in the ??toilet? at a high camp, sending her into total panic. How would she do the deed in a rope team with men now? A friend sent her to see the only other woman on the mountain, who, though she boasted about only using a hardware-store funnel herself rather than those fancy pee funnels, had a spare Freshette. The woman turned out to be Dawn Glanc, who served as a guide for this year??s Betty Ball (and won the Ouray Ice Fest comp in Januray).

More Nudity: If you??re not afraid to bare your ass to the wind and other climbers in the Ice Park (assuming you??re not using the aforementioned Freshette), you??re probably not afraid to do it back at the Vic in the relative privacy of your room. Maybe my roommate and I were just exhibitionists, but when you??re queuing to get in the shower next so you don??t stink at dinner, you start peeling off baselayers. If other women came in the room to download the day of climbing while you??re toweling off, well, no time for modesty when you??re hungry enough to gnaw on your backpack. There??s nothing titillating about this, no grab-fanny going on here. That happens while we??re out climbing, fully dressed.

More Love: When you totally rock some climb, dude — and you will at Chicks, because you??ll have some of the best guides around, regardless of gender — expect high fives, fist bumps, puffy belay-jacket hugs and cheers. When a guide throws a contest into the clinic, like making it up in the fewest swings, expect stiff competition from your pals…and those puffy hugs in the end, because your competitors have grace. The love-fest won??t go unnoticed. Nearby climbers seem a little jealous (could just be that you??re climbing with Kitty Calhoun), and one commented with a smile that we were having way too much fun.

More Mascara: I??ve never climbed in makeup. Probably because I almost never wear makeup. But for some reason, I spotted a lot of Chicks wearing mascara while ice climbing. I didn??t look further into this trend, but I??m assuming it??s waterproof. How could it not be waterproof, right? Ice melts after it nicks your face. A few Chicks wore lip gloss, too, and I had to wonder how that doesn??t end up on your glove when you wipe your nose with the back of your hand. I don??t really get it, but it does look nice — much nicer than the layers of snot accumulating on my gloves. Perhaps I could learn something from the glam climbers.

More Climbing: The Chicks guides keep you moving. You start at 7:45 and climb until 4 p.m. You have 30 minutes to scarf lunch and move to your next clinic. When you get there, be prepared to work. Even when the guides don??t seem to be pushing you, they are. Sarah Hueniken, the guide for my mixed clinic, kept sending us further and further up routes by simply saying, ??Do one more move.? This was the last clinic of the weekend, and I was wasted, but as soon as someone untied, she??d get me to keep going with a mere, ??You??re up, Jenn,? and a smile. On the last climb, a tall M7, she summoned me to the rope and said, ??Well someone needs to go get the quickdraws.? Indeed.

Jenn Fields is a writer and editor from Longmont, Colorado. She has written for Bicycling, Mountain Bike, Backpacker, Climbing and the Boulder Daily Camera. Her personal web site is You can also follow her on Twitter.

Chicks with Picks just celebrated its tenth anniversary of teaching women of all abilities how to ice climb and improve current skills. More info can be found at

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