Drill it! Ice Climbers Have New Screw Tool

Filed under: Climbing 

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Sport climbers have long used cordless drills to place bolts in rock. Now, ice climbers can harness the same concept with a screw-placing power tool.

Ice climbing drill

Climbers on frozen waterfalls need the skill and stamina to balance, hang, and torque screws into ice one-handed for anchors. While modern ice screws are sharp, light, and effective, a new solution aims to speed the process.

Can it make the sport of ice climbing safer? Al Fiorello, inventor of the Fast Ice tool ($350), believes his product is an upgrade from the manual process of placing a screw.


“Instead of long, scary run-outs on steep sections of ice with few screws, I saw a well-protected steep section to climb” with his concept.

Fast Ice tool in use on vertical ice
Fast Ice tool in use on vertical ice

Based on a Makita 12-volt lithium-ion drill, the Fast Ice tool setup uses a custom chuck and adapters to attach to a climber’s ice screws.

The screws fit into the chuck, and the drill spins to drive the protection quickly into ice while on a climb.

It comes with a chest holster. A climber takes the drill out every few moves on vertical ice to place a screw, then re-holsters the unit and continues upward on the route.

According to the brand, the tool can place between 12 to 25 screws on a single battery charge.

The Makita DT01 drill weighs two pounds. Add the adapter and a few screws to that and it will certainly increase the heft of a rack.

Ice-Screw Drill: Invented By Climbing Veteran

Fiorello has climbed on rock and ice for more than three decades. He developed the Fast Ice concept while in the Ouray Ice Park in Ouray, Colo.

Fiorello has tested Fast Ice with AMGA guides, and this winter he will bring it to a wide market.

Fiorello notes, “I wanted to make ice climbing more about climbing and less about putting in ice screws.”

In addition to the drill and base product kit, climbers must purchase screw adapters ($19.95) for each screw used in the system. The setup is patent-pending and made in the USA, except for the Makita drill.

The concept is unique. Regardless of equipment, climbing safety relies on the skill of the climber, ability to judge ice quality, and many more factors. This drill won’t change that, but it’s a new tool for the rack.

–See the full line and more info at FastIceClimb.com.

tagged: iceclimbing
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