Dry Tooling - An Introduction

Author: M Wilkinson and Gaminmontaz

Ice Climbing Dry Tooling PictureWhere to start with dry tooling, well I suppose this specialization of ice climbing began when equipment became advanced enough to allow climbers to attempt ice routes, that under normal circumstances would have been untouchable. Modern gear has revolutionised the sport and dry tooling is the ultimate mix of both ice climbing and trad, or sport rock climbing.

On a basic level you are technically dry tooling if, on and ice route, you encounter a pitch of bare rock, or rock that has so little ice it would be described as verglass. Using leashless tools and carrying trad gear, or runners only if on a bolted route, climbers can now ascend a face that is only partially covered in ice or , with no ice at all.

Dry tooling is simply a great way of extending the winter season and for practicing your ice technique during the summer months, as featured in the great video below.

Dry tooling techniques are a mixture of trad and ice climbing, so its great training for both. It is recommended that leashless tools are used and that a higher grade of ice tool is used, with a recurve pick to get maximum purchase on smaller holds, so leave your walking axe at home! Other equipment used really depends on the conditions of the route, for example if no ice is present then no crampons are needed and you can climb in boots or even rock shoes.

A word of caution however, before you grab your axes and big boots and head for your local, single pitch trad route; you have to check that the crag is suitable for drytooling, and unfortunately, not many are. Only practice this technique in areas designated for dry tooling and on crags that are not used for trad routes, if in doubt, contact your local climbing authority (e.g. the BMC for the UK)

Have fun with this technique, but remember to be safe and respect other climbers. check out the video below for some cool dry tooling shots.

 

 


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