“Head Chick” Kim Reynolds is amazed that her business, Chicks with Picks, is in its 15th year. Photo by Rich Durnan.

“Head Chick” Kim Reynolds is amazed that her business, Chicks with Picks, is in its 15th year.
Photo by Rich Durnan.

Special to the Mirror OURAY—(January 15, 2014)  A lifelong outdoorswoman, Kim Reynolds is well aware that men outnumber women at the annual Ouray Ice Climbing Festival. After all, it was Reynolds herself who verified that the popular festival has a standard of 15 men to five women at its events, in response to a 2011 article that questioned the small number of female competitors at the festival and suggested that the ratio did not reflect the growing number of accomplished and recognized female ice climbers in the sport. Reynolds, who is also a certified Life Coach, is not one to sit back and whine about inequality however—she simply steps up and becomes the change she wants to see in the world. For 15 years, Reynolds has been holding her own festival in Ouray, following the annual Ice Climbing Fest. The Chicks with Picks ice climbing clinics were started in 2000  by Reynolds and her friend Kellie Day, an accomplished climber who soon left the business to start her own successful graphic design company. Reynolds, who has continued to host Chicks with Picks each year since, confesses that she is astonished at the success and growth of her business, which also features “Chicks Rock” rock climbing clinics in various locations throughout the year. “I never imagined I would be doing this for so long,” Reynolds said. “But we are a local business, and we bring visitors to town to fill hotels. We support our community, bring money to the Ice Park, and we continue to be the largest donor to the Women’s Resource Center—we have raised more than $175,000 for them so far.” Reynolds hopes that the community will recognize and show up for the 15th Annual Chicks with Picks event, which in addition to a packed month of ice climbing clinics for women of all abilities will include the popular  live gear auction benefit for Tri-County Resources (Wright Opera House, 7 p.m. Jan. 17) followed by a 15-YearAnniversary Celebration featuring music by Smokin’ Joe and the Gypsies at 9 p.m. On Jan. 27, Chicks with Picks will host a Live Gear Auction benefit for the Ouray Ice Park (Ouray Community Center, 7 p.m.), followed by a slide show “Women Who Dare,” with Author Chris Noble. Sponsors for this year’s event include Ouray Brewery, Ouray Mt. Sports, Alpine Band and the Ouray Liquor Store. For Reynolds, a love for the outdoors has so shaped her own life experiences that she wanted to share that love with others. “I started ice climbing in 1982, when I was working for Outward Bound,” she said. “A friend took me, and the aesthetic beauty of the environment captivated me. There was something so beautiful about the ice, so hard and cold, and the deep narrow canyon.” Today, “Chicks with Picks has changed the paradigm of women’s climbing,” Reynolds said. “This is not only about teaching the skills, but about learning important lessons in life. Women can expect to come here and learn from the best guides; to gain the technique they need to become good climbers. They learn that they can dig deeper than they ever imagined.” In a “self-centered” sport dominated by men, Chicks with Picks stands out for generosity as well, she noted. Along with clinics for all skill levels, there exists a very female atmosphere of support, love and friendship. “We give back,” Reynolds said. “And just seeing the evolution is really wonderful. Our alumni come back and climb on their own. I love standing in the park during the Ouray Ice Festival and watching them—they are good climbers! It’s a super fun thing, though truly what you get out of the experience is beyond words. We have our workshops and fundraisers, but it is so much more. This is the chance to hang out with world class climbers and women who work in the industry, a very winning combination that teaches climbing, but also gives our “chicks” a real sense of purpose. “Yes, there are moments of fear.” She acknowledged. “Just push past them, and don’t focus on the fear.” To learn more, contact Reynolds at 970-623-2442.