Chicks With Picks is all about women teaching women, but its foundation is as strong as any male-dominated sport.
Head Chick Kim Reynolds, who founded Chicks with Picks back in 1999, has been an adventurer and outdoor instructor since 1979. She has worked as a course director for Outward Bound, as an ice climbing guide and Antarctic survival instructor, has been a member of the Aspen Ski Patrol, and was a trek leader for a first ascent in the Himalayas.
When Reynolds first began ice climbing in 1982, it was a male-dominated sport, but that’s changing fast, she said.
“It isn’t unusual as it used to be to see women out there ice climbing together,” she said. “I feel like Chicks With Picks has been part of that evolution, of making ice climbing really accessible and fun for women.”
During the Ice Festival, Reynolds will be selling T-shirts at the Chicks With Picks booth when she’s not out conducting clinics, and several of her guides will join the women’s competition.
After the Ouray Ice Festival, Chicks With Picks will hold their own festival, the Betty Ice Ball, the last weekend in January.
“It’s a women’s festival of ice created to gather women to do half-day and more affordable clinics with a 6-to-1 (teacher-to-student) ratio,” she said. “It’s similar to the Ouray Ice Fest, but it gives women more access to the sport.”
To learn more about the Betty Ice Ball, log onto the Chicks With Picks website at www.chickswithpicks.net or call 626-4424.
Reynolds’ company has many different levels of ice climbing clinics, but a first this year will be a new clinic called The Mixer, held Feb. 1-4, which will include men for the first time.
Chicks With Picks also teaches rock climbing and other outdoor adventures that promote self-reliance through learning technical skills and working as a team member.
But Chicks With Picks is more than all that, Reynolds said. It’s about giving back to the community by making contributions to women’s shelter. To date, Chicks With Picks has donated a total of $145,000 to area women’s shelters run by Tri-County Resource Center, which has shelters in Ouray, Montrose and Delta counties.
Chicks With Picks also started the Chicks With Picks Endowment Fund to benefit the Ouray Ice Park and a portion of their public fundraising now goes to benefit the ice park. In 2009, donations to the Ice Park came to $8,700.
Reynolds has been giving back to the community even before Chicks With Picks was founded. In 1998 she was expedition leader on Himalayan first ascent that raised more than $70,000 for the Friendship House, a Nepali safe house for girls at risk. With Jim Nowak, she also co-founded the dZi Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the health, education, culture and welfare of Himalayan mountain communities, according to her website.
Those efforts have not gone unrecognized. In 2003 Chicks With Picks was awarded the Community Partners Award by the state of Colorado and the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and in 2006 was give the Hometown Hero Award from Hilltop Services, parent organization of Tri-County Women’s Resource Center.
Giving back to the community is as important as outdoor adventures to Reynolds, because she knows the women who connect with Chicks With Picks take a lot home with them from the experience.
“When you get into a situation in life that seems difficult, you can say, ‘I pushed through the fear on the mountain. I got to the top and I can hold that with me when I walk into whatever it is in my life.’”