The former owners – Angela Hawse, Elaina Arenz, Karen Bockel, and Kitty Calhoun – of Chicks Climbing & Skiing are pleased to announce that we have passed the torch to Dan Zokaites, a longtime friend and IFMGA Guide from Ridgway, CO. He then asked the preeminent guide, Lindsay Fixmer to be Director of Chicks. We couldn’t have dreamed of a better succession team.
Only a week after becoming Director of Chicks and delving into the unseen business side of her role, Angela and Kitty, sat down with Lindsay to have a chat about their vision for the future of Chicks.
Kitty: As you may know, Lindsay is an adventurer at heart who desires to share her love of the unknown with others. I first remember guiding backcountry ice with Lindsay in Cody, WY four years ago. We were discussing the common routes we climb and Lindsay patiently listened to me as she turned through the pages in her well-thumbed guidebook to the area. Then she presented her plan for the next three days – hidden climbs that she and her group would likely have to themselves. Lindsay’s signature trait might be her going above and beyond what is expected of her. As I worked side by side with her, I noticed that she is a meticulous teacher with a genuine desire to impart her knowledge of rope systems and movement skills. Her memory of one-liners in comedies and movies kept us laughing throughout the day. It all appears effortless for Lindsay, but I have seen the way she anticipates, organizes and prepares for what is to come. What an awesome soul to take the lead.
Kitty: What is your vision for Chicks?
Lindsay: Our Chicks resurgence will offer new programs both in style and content in the beautiful outdoor landscapes you love and have desired to visit. We will strive to be a company that is welcoming to people getting into climbing and skiing. Chicks is a community built upon our passion for outdoor pursuits where we see familiar faces and learn and grow together. That same passion, community, and camaraderie that drew you to Chicks will continue to drive our programming.
Kitty: How do you see the past legacy of Chicks continuing into the future?
Lindsay: What I love about history is it informs where we are going. Chicks has always been a leader. Kim Reynolds noticed in 1999 there were not many women climbing ice. We want to open doors for people who haven’t had the opportunity to come into these sports.
Kitty: What is your vision for creating and maintaining community within Chicks?
Lindsay: Chicks will always value the friendships and camaraderie built on courses. It’s exciting to see Chicks alumni return with friends for another step in their learning and progression as climbers and skiers. Continued interactions through newsletters and social media is a way to keep our guests informed and stoked!
Kitty: What attracted you to working for Chicks?
Lindsay: Chicks is uniquely rewarding work; every clinic I build amazing relationships. It’s a testament to the fact that women’s community building is so important: particularly in large landscapes with women pushing themselves. For example, I was guiding Louise and Vivian in Iceland a few winters ago and when Louise topped out on the climb, she said with big eyes, “I can’t believe I climbed that!” I had no doubt Louise could climb the route. Because Louise was so shocked by her abilities, it dawned on me we are giving women opportunities to realize their potential and what that means in a larger realm. Another example of this unique work are the numerous replies from Chicks’ guides when the dissolution of the business was announced (before we found this opportunity to keep Chicks continuing into the future) what Chicks has meant to them – that’s revolutionary.
Kitty: How will Chicks courses look in the future?
Lindsay: We’ve only been thinking about this for a week (laughs). Our first priority is to get the word out that the ice courses are up and running. While managing COVID, we will climb with small group numbers and not include group gatherings. Once spring arrives, camping provides one solution. We are planning to continue rock programs in places like Indian Creek, City of Rocks and Maple. We are also brainstorming new areas.
Angela: We are so stoked for you to take the helm. From our very beginning, Chicks has been a leader in providing safe spaces for women to learn mountain sports together. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge any misunderstanding our gender specific name has caused. And also that we respectfully acknowledge that the lands on which we operate are sacred territories of ancestral Native Americans. I am excited to continue to be involved with the company and am particularly looking forward to helping develop LBGQT and BIPOC courses.
Do you see the opportunity for the company to expand its boundaries to be more inclusive?
Lindsay: Definitely. Moving forward we are committed to diversifying our offerings to create the same opportunities for the LBGQT and BIPOC communities and being a welcoming and respectful community to all.
Kitty: Let’s talk about Covid. How will Chicks cope with the pandemic?
Lindsay: Chicks has up-to-date Covid policies on the website, including refund and cancellation policies. We have adapted our programs and follow CDC guidelines. We encourage people to travel and climb in pods or groups that are familiar to them.
Kitty: What kinds of relationships do you envision with Chicks sponsorship partners?
Lindsay: We value our sponsor relationships. While Covid can put a strain on our industry, maintaining those solid connections is important. Chicks can provide quality feedback on sponsor’s demo gear being the testing ground for participants. Tangible evidence that participants like demo items are when they purchase the gear following a clinic.
Kitty: Can you say a little about what makes Chicks guides unique?
Lindsay: People choose Chicks because we are leaders in the industry with talented, experienced guides. The guides who work with Chick’s are excellent climbers and skiers, and AMGA certified and trained. What really sets us apart is our ability to teach, mentor guests through their climbing and skiing development, and foster life-long friendships.
Kitty: Anything else you want to add?
Lindsay: Check out the website! And stay tuned!
If you are inspired and have ideas, we want to hear from you! What have you loved about Chicks, where are areas for improvement and what you are looking forward to in the future with Chicks?