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May 22, 2014

Chicks With Picks: Climbers Find Power & Peace On The Ice

Ouray, CO (AP) The timpani beat of cramponed boots thudding into ice. The treble tick-tock of scythe-like picks digging the next foothold. A sudden chord of shattering ice. This woman-and-nature duet worthy of Steve Reich is the soundtrack to a Chicks with Picks morning in the San Juan Mountains. Chicks with Picks, founded to give women ice climbers a chance to learn from other women, has grown over the past 15 years. In addition to signature clinics in the Ouray Ice Park, a city-owned facility with artificial ice in a natural gorge, the umbrella company Chicks Climbing now offers rock climbing tutorials around the country and even treks in Nepal.

``I call myself the accidental entrepreneur,’’ said Chicks founder Kim Reynolds. ``I’m just creative. I take on more, I have more ideas. And I’m having fun.’’

Reynolds’ (second from right in photo) philosophy that women thrive when they support one another informs her social responsibility agenda. Chicks with Picks sponsors auctions that have over the years raised tens of thousands of dollars for women’s shelters.

Ice climbing is ``a very empowering experience for the women that do it,’’ said Aimee Quadri-Chavez, whose Tri Country Resources project for victims of domestic violence has received Chicks with Picks auction funds. ``Our mission is to empower women. It fits really well.’’

Reynolds’ guides are world-renowned. Kitty Calhoun, who has been with Chicks with Picks since its beginnings, was the first woman to climb Makalu, the Himalayan peak that is the fifth highest in the world, at 27,825 feet. Reynolds herself has been an Outward Bound instructor and Himalayan trek leader.

Calhoun said her other guiding often involves working with clients for just a day, an experience she compares to being an emergency room doctor: ``There’s no continuity of patient care.’’

A typical Chicks clinic is a long weekend or more, and the same students return year after year.Reynolds, who also is a life coach, opens each clinic with a slideshow extolling the exploits of guides like Calhoun, and then asks her clients to introduce themselves and talk about what they want to take home from Ouray.

``It creates an atmosphere where women can be themselves, they can speak their hearts, and they can see that they’re not alone,’’ Reynolds said.

Kari Berg, a psychologist from Burlington, Vermont, took part in her first Chicks with Picks clinic a decade ago, and has done four since. She also hikes and climbs with other groups, and often finds herself the only woman on the trip. The men will forget she’s there, she said, and start gossiping about their girlfriends or what they find attractive in a woman.

On a Chicks clinic, Berg said, ``I feel comfortable with my body. You can feel gratitude that you can do something with it, instead of criticizing how you look.’’

A recent class drew students from across the country and from varying walks of life. The oldest was 61; the youngest too young to rent a car. Ice climbing is for neither the faint of heart nor the faint of wallet—a good rope can cost a few hundred dollars. A three-day Chicks weekend starts at $800. Reynolds has persuaded Eddie Bauer to sponsor scholarships for climbers.

On this particular day in Ouray, the chicks have now laid down their picks. Over soft tacos and champagne poured to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Chicks with Picks, dinner conversation is peppered with climber jargon: mushrooms, the outcroppings of rock or ice that climbers find so handy; the intriguing but treacherous ice formations known as chandeliers; barfies, that feeling when your hands are so cold, you’re nauseous.

While they don’t play down the physical challenge, the climbers focus on the mental rewards. Reynolds’ first ice climb was in 1982, with a fellow Outward Bound instructor as a guide. Back before the Ouray Ice Park opened in the 1990s, ice climbing in the area entailed seeking out hidden ravines. Reynolds, already a rock climber and mountaineer, was intrigued by the beauty of the places the ice formed, and of the ice itself.

Her chicks speak of the meditative moments they experience on the rock face, a focus reinforced by the monochromatic wonders of the scenery and the minimalist music of the climb.``It’s just you and the ice,’’ said Dawn Rathburn, a medical device trainer who started climbing with Chicks four years ago. ``Everything else in your mind kind of settles.’’

Robert E. Lee’s Former Land Is Now Arlington Nat’l Cemetery

By MATTHEW BARAKAT

Associated Press

Arlington, Va. (AP) Arlington National Cemetery’s hallowed ground honors American soldiers from many different wars. But as Arlington marks its 150th anniversary this year with tours and events, historians note that its roots are firmly planted in the Civil War.

It was June 15, 1864, as the war dragged into its fourth year, when War Secretary Edwin Stanton ordered the land turned into a military cemetery for the increasing numbers of dead soldiers.

The location for the cemetery just happened to be the former estate of Robert E. Lee, who took command of the Confederate Army when Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861. The Union Army immediately seized and fortified the estate, then known as Arlington Heights.

But Stephen Carney, the cemetery’s command historian, said it’s misleading to suggest that the cemetery was established merely as a way to spite Lee.

The seizure of the estate was a military necessity, no matter who owned the property, Carney said. From the highest points of Arlington National Cemetery, it’s easy to see why the Union Army wanted it: To this day it offers a nearly unrivaled view of the capital in Washington, D.C., just a few miles away.

And in 1864, the need for a burial ground was pressing. Wounded soldiers sent back to Washington were dying in unsanitary hospitals at an increasing rate. The high casualties were partly due to a change in strategy: Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had assumed control of the Union Army, and was more willing than his predecessors to fight in Confederate territory. That said, animosity toward Lee played a role in the cemetery’s location, said Matt Penrod, park ranger at Arlington House, a National Park Service site within the cemetery that includes the Lee family mansion.

Initially gravediggers buried the dead on the estate’s fringes. But Union quartermaster Gen. Montgomery Meigs, a native Georgian, did not respect Lee’s decision to lead the Confederate troops. Meigs ordered that graves surround the mansion, ensuring that the Lees would never want to return.

``It’s the dead themselves that get the ultimate revenge against Lee,’’ Penrod said, adding that the loss of the home ``definitely bothered the Lee family a great deal.’’

Today the cemetery draws nearly 4 million visitors a year. Most are tourists visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Eternal Flame at President John F. Kennedy’s tomb. But Arlington is also a working and busy cemetery, hosting roughly 30 burials a day.Tourists and mourners share the cemetery in a unique way. School children who are talking and laughing as they tour the cemetery typically go quiet and maintain a respectful distance when they encounter a funeral procession. The military funerals can be emotionally overwhelming to behold. While some are for older veterans, they also include young service members recently killed in action.

The cemetery serves a resting place for service members from every conflict in U.S. history, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers from the American Revolution were reinterred at Arlington after their gravesites were displaced by a development project in Georgetown. In addition to U.S. presidents, others buried here include Supreme Court justices, astronauts, war heroes, sports figures and celebrities, including baseball inventor Abner Doubleday, boxer Joe Louis and actor Lee Marvin. All three were veterans.

``There are 400,000 individuals with all these incredible stories,’’ Carney said. ``If you want to play historical sleuth, you can just pick a name on a headstone, and everyone has an incredible story.’’

A variety of events are planned to mark the 150th anniversary, including tours on topics such as World War I. Events culminate with a first-of-its-kind, free nighttime concert in the cemetery’s amphitheater on June 13, and a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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