Author Archives: Caro

Not Your Average (Chalk) Balls

How do you keep your hands chalked? Photo by

With so many chalk balls, how do you choose? Photo by @jiinetiics

For girls who care about which balls they squeeze, we tested a bunch of chalk dispensers that are slightly cooler than average. Does size matter to you? Care for a little friend in your chalk bag? Are the ethics of leave-no-trace high on your priority list? Scented chalk, anyone? There is something for everyone out there, so get comfortable while we give you the run down.

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Women on Lead: Katie Ives, Editor-In-Chief of Alpinist Magazine

Katie Ives leading the way outside and in adventure media. Photo by Dylan Taylor.

Katie Ives leads the way in the Tetons and in outdoor media. Photo by Dylan Taylor.

This is the first in a series entitled “Women on Lead,” which highlights women who are shaping the climbing industry and climbing community as writers, thinkers, artists, and entrepreneurs.

Mountaineering has often been hailed as the most ‘literary of all sports.’ While nowadays everyone is busy tweeting about their first ascents, we owe it to people like Katie Ives, Editor-in-Chief of the Alpinist, that there are still beautiful outlets for the thoughtfully printed word.

CXC: Katie, in college you already had a passion for literature and climbing. You chose a career that combines both. Tells us a bit about the milestones of your career. What was its most exhilarating move, the most challenging pitch?

KI: I’ve often thought that climbing teaches me how to write. When I was a graduate student in Iowa, my experiences on limestone cliffs helped me become more attuned to details: the light of the sky through a leafless November forest; the glint of crystals on the edge of an embedded fossil; the polished curve of a well-worn hold. Leading and soloing, I felt as though I could access parts of my unconscious mind and find new forms of creativity.

From my first day at Alpinist, I knew I was fortunate to be in a place that seemed like my literary home. I’ve learned from every writer whose work I’ve edited, gaining a sense of vast possibilities of ideas and styles. The span of time between the magazine’s bankruptcy in October 2008 and its relaunch in January 2009 was the most stressful in my career. I’m more grateful than ever, now, for the opportunities that I have.

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Girl Crush of the Month: Zohreh Abdollahkhani

Our girl crush of the month, Zohreh, crushing on ice. (Photo credit: Zohreh's instagram).

Our girl crush of the month, Zohreh, crushing on ice.

This month’s girl crush was submitted by friend of Crux Crush, Carolin.

Born in Karaj at the foothills of the Alborz mountain range, Zohreh Abdollahkhani thought as a child that climbing would let her touch the sky. Indeed, there is something celestial about the 31 year old woman from Iran. I spotted her the first time following the Sochi Winter Olympics and had an instant crush on her. A female athlete of a niche sport who represented a country that is not necessarily known for empowering women—that alone I found rad enough, but oh yes, she is also beautiful. Some stalking followed and I began following her on Facebook, wishing I had learned more than three words in the beginner Farsi course I took a year ago. But then again, isn’t the language of climbing universal?

Zohreh demonstrating an elegant calm while competing. (Photo credit: Zohreh's facebook).

Zohreh demonstrating an elegant calm while competing.

The first Iranian woman to win an international medal in ice climbing, Zohreh placed third in the Asian Ice Climbing Championship in 2014 and competed in the UIAA World Cup in Korea this year. Zohreh hopes that the Olympic Committee will put ice climbing on the list of official disciplines. In a one minute message, she tells us about her passion and why she needs the support of the five rings. In the meantime, if you happen make it to the Alborz mountains, check out the “Sang-e-Sar Sol,” a huge limestone wall in the province of Semnan on which French and Iranian climbers put up first ascents back in 2009. Zohreh was among them and yes, her route is called “Zohreh.” I can only surmise that it must be a beautiful climb.

Zohreh is currently recovering from a wrist injury; we wish her a quick recovery and thanks for being crushable!

Climb on! ~Caro

Photo credits: Zohreh’s Instagram and Facebook.

#JeSuisDawnWall? The Hashtag Activist


Over the last two weeks, via social media, the world experienced gut-wrenching moments, ending in extreme sorrow in Paris and extreme joy in Yosemite. Today climber and mountaineering historian, Carolin Roeder, explores what she calls “the hashtag activist.”

Last week, my Facebook feed could not decide whether Paris was the place to be or Yosemite Valley. In some magical way, we were simultaneously Charlie and Ahmed and Tommy and Kevin, inching up El Capitan’s Dawn Wall using only our pencils to defend the freedom of speech.

As a European, a climber and a history PhD student who works on the history of mountaineering, it made sense, perhaps, to be Charlie-Ahmed and Tommy-Kevin at the same time. And yet, I felt much unease about how #dawnwall and #jesuischarlie competed in a very similar way for my identity.

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