By AMY JURRIES
Dry tooling is a style of climbing where participants use ice-climbing axes and crampons on bare rock. You reach to hook your ax pick on small holds and gingerly set crampon front points on rock edges. A UK outdoor company, Alpkit, has a product pitched as a training aid to the dry-tooling market.
The company’s Figfour Dry Tool “axes” allow you to practice dry-tooling techniques and develop the strength required for ice climbing on a normal indoor rock-climbing wall.
Made of layered birch plywood, the wooden shafts have hand grips and stiffened rubber loops to hook climbing holds. You ascend a wall by reaching and hooking the loop from hold to hold. The rubber loops mold to holds as you hang on the axe shafts and climb.
Climbing with the Figfours may be as close as you can get to mixed climbing or dry tooling without actually having picks. Being creative with your choice of routes on an indoor wall, you can train for a variety of terrain. Short steep boulder problems can help build power, while long, juggy routes will help endurance.
When using sloping holds, you can emulate the delicate hooking excitement of mixed climbing. The Figfours also allow you to practice moves particular to ice and mixed climbing such as figure fours, figure nines, and swapping hands on your tools.
The Figfour training aid is available now from Alpkit for £65. http://www.alpkit.com
—Amy Jurries is founder and editor of TheGearCaster.com, a blog dedicated to profiling emerging companies and technologies in the outdoor sports industry.