5 dry tooling techniques for advanced users

In the article This is how you get started with dry tooling The basics of dry tooling were presented. This article now deals with the advanced dry tooling techniques. Using them makes it possible to climb more difficult routes and get even more out of this fascinating type of climbing.

A contribution by Peter von Känel

You will learn that in this article

A well-founded repertoire of dry tooling techniques can also be very helpful in mixed climbing. Image: Peter von Känel
A well-founded repertoire of dry tooling techniques can also be very helpful in mixed climbing. Image: Peter von Känel

Figure of Four

In overhanging terrain, the Figure of Four offers two decisive advantages: You don't load the hook outwards away from the rock, but downwards in the fall line. This results in a more reliable adhesion between the heel and the rock.

Furthermore, the Figure of Four gives you a huge amount of range with comparatively moderate effort, especially if you execute it technically cleanly. The reach is maximum if you place the Figure of Four not in the crook of your arm, but on the base of your thumb and push yourself up with your lower leg.

The Figure of Four is well suited for overcoming steep, stepless passages such as roofs and roof edges.

  • Fig4 with short range
  • Fig4 with a long range

Figure of Nine

In the Figure of Nine, you cross your leg over the arm on the same side of your body, i.e. right leg - right arm, or left leg - left arm. If you grab the ice tool and cross your leg over the opposite arm, you are back in the Figure of Four. This movement sequence can be repeated, for example to climb a roof passage without stepping.

  • Starting position, in this example from Figure 4.
  • Right leg over the right hand in Fig9.
  • Wide press from Figure 9.

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underhands

It is sometimes a bit tiring and awkward to turn the ice tool in your hand and place it in an underhand grip, but once in place, underhand grips allow for elegant and wide strokes. As long as the hook holds, they offer a high level of reliability once they are fully loaded.

Hold the ice tools loosely

Especially with unsafe hooks, it is a natural and counterproductive reflex to grip the handles of the ice tools with a lot of force. However, you can climb much more effortlessly and with more control if you hold the ice tools loosely and position your fingers correctly: place your little finger on the horizontal support. Let the remaining fingers slide down to the little finger by loosely gripping them. The friction created in this way allows you to hang on the handle to save energy.

  • Tense
  • Locker

When you're climbing at your limit, holding your ice tools loosely is the difference between success and failure. You can only use soft gripping under stress if you have automated it through frequent practice.

Reach from long to short with the same hand

Most of the time the gripping is accompanied by a change of hands. However, it happens from time to time that you want to move from long to short on an ice tool with the same hand. The following figure shows how this can be done.

With your other hand, grab the upper handle as low as possible by placing only your middle and index fingers. Now you have enough space to switch from the lower to the upper grip while releasing your other hand.

To the author

Peter von Känel, born in 1973, is a mountain guide, aviation engineer and passionate climber. For many years, Peter has been intensively involved not only with ice and mixed climbing, but also with the human factor.

In addition to some sensational ice and mixed first ascents such as the BASE route in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, Peter has repeated many extremely demanding routes, sometimes as a mountain guide.

With these tours, as well as in many discussions with experienced climbing colleagues, Peter has acquired a wealth of knowledge about ice and mixed climbing over the years. He passes on this knowledge in courses, coaching and with his new textbook.

Peter von Känel: mountain guide, aviation engineer and passionate climber.
Peter von Känel: mountain guide, aviation engineer and passionate climber.

Steep Frozen: A Practical Textbook

This ice cream series only scratches the surface of this fascinating topic. For all those who want to know more about it, the beginning of November 2022 is the book Steep Frozen appeared.

This practical textbook by Peter von Känel summarizes a wealth of useful knowledge about ice climbing, mixed climbing and dry tooling in a compact form.

Sections on mental aspects and equipment complete this clearly structured work. Thanks to its compact format, the book can also be used as a useful reference book for on the go.

The book is in Filidor publishing house published and costs CHF 32.00. You can find more information, including extracts and reader feedback, at Peter von Känel's Website URL.

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Credits: Cover picture Peter von Kaenel

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