A Guide to Dry Tooling

A Guide to Dry Tooling

Ice axes, picks, and crampons appeared at the same time as mountaineering itself. But so-called “dry climbing” or dry tooling is a more recent sport. It’s jokingly referred to as “the most awkward kind of climbing”. This type of climbing is a good alternative for athletes who are not keen on ice and want to train in a more controlled environment. However, this type of sport belongs to extreme winter sports. Our guide to dry tooling is for active people who are a bit tired of winter holidays, New Year’s Eve, and such activities as gambling in the best online casino ireland , reading books and watching the “Home Alone” with a glass of mulled wine.


It is a type of mountaineering that entails climbing steep slopes with special ice climbing tools – ice axes in the hand and ‘crampon’ boots on the foot. There is a special technique for ice climbing, which differs significantly from any other type of climbing.

Athletes mostly use dry tooling on bare rock in the off-season and increasingly in places affected by global warming. Suitable areas for drifting are caves and cliffs not suitable for climbing. The routes are usually 50/50 natural and drilled holes, kerfs, and ice climbing tool hooks.

It’s a technical and extreme way of climbing, most of the movements are unnatural and clumsy, requiring unconventional solutions and impeccable physical training. Under drifting are equipped with climbing walls, both stone and wooden. By the way, almost all novice climbers spend their first ascents “on plywood”, as they say in their slang.


Dry tooling is an extreme sport for cold weather, and consequently, warm clothing is needed. It must be warm and windproof but also lightweight – ski suits have these characteristics. In the past athletes wore heavy plastic shoes, but today it’s more and more common to wear luggage. In any case, the shoes should provide good support for the foot, but not rub on blisters. You’ll need a helmet (like for climbing) and a harness. At the same time, you must not wear loose-fitting clothes. Freestyle trousers are suitable for ice climbing and the upper part should be protected with thermal underwear and clothes with high thermal insulation.

But the main difference between rock and ice climbing (dry tooling) is that the climbers use feet with their shoes on and bare hands for moving along the terrain. And thus, they cannot get a good grip on ice, dry tooling demands special climbing equipment.

The basic equipment for an ice climber consists of crampons and ice tools (ice axes, or ice hammers). The rest is much the same as for ice climbing.

Crampons (metal devices for treading on ice that is attached to the boots in various ways) are different from rock climbing. Ice climbing crampons are screwed to the boots. This makes them better secured. Ice climbing boots should preferably be lightweight.

Ice axes are the basic pieces of equipment for ice climbers. Externally they differ from mountaineering equipment, although the name is the same: ice climbers need tools with a more aggressive straight beak and a steeper, curved handle. It can be said that these ice axes are similar to boarding hooks. The tools are 50 to 80 centimeters long. They are suitable for removing snow and breaking the ice and are used to hammer in hooks and provide belaying. Notch hooks can vary, depending on the type of surface.

Ice climbers, as compared to rock climbers, are more likely to injure their hands. Sharp pieces of ice can bounce off and injure the skin. However, ice climbing gloves are not suitable for this discipline, so athletes have chosen leather golf or riding gloves to wear. They have a snug fit, don’t slip, and don’t affect hand sensitivity. And of course, you will need a rope.

Ice drills are ice hooks that are screwed into the ice to create anchor points. The purpose of their use is to ensure climbing safety. They can bear between 1.5 and 2 tonnes of weight. There are shortened varieties designed for packed ice and long and strong ones for coarse snow. Thin-walled ice drills are suitable for climbing on hard ice. Ice axes

Hammers are tools with a curved beak and their length does not exceed 30-40 centimeters. If you strike the surface with the hammer, it will dig into the ice and is therefore ideal for driving on steep walls.


In conclusion, dry tooling is not the easiest type of winter extreme sports, it is quite complicated. You will need special equipment to do it. A good physical condition and regular training are also important to start with dry tooling. Anyway, it is a great way to explore something new this winter!

Sarah Del Rosario
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