Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Drytooling/Sportmixed climbing

There has been a solid push and commentary by a few Euros on what I call sport mixed climbing, where you clip bolts and rarely hit any ice, some do venture into the ice zone, like a few in Haffner main area, or the Cineplex, but may others are pure ice tools on rock with light small boots with usually just the front section of bolt on crampons. Jeff Mercier has done a lot of this conversation, they call it Drytooling and Drytooling Style.

Back in 2004 I was part of a crew that ended up building quite a few sport mixed routes. We built a lot of routes in the Thriller cave area of the Stanley Headwall, and most of those had lots of crazy ice and some giant daggers. The Haffner cave known as the Hoar cave with the Sean Isaac Caveman test piece and maybe first M10, saw us add in 4 new routes. They are from M8 to M12, and have now seen many ascents. One of the cool things is all but Piltdown Man have gone in a non Figure four and no heel spur method, as back then it just seemed to be the purest style and like most other genres of climbing, that's what you seek. For Example Neolithic went down with heel spurs in and that particular ascent took about 30 minutes of climbing (kinda crazy how long one could stay on a steep wall with them spurs). Compare that to the no spurs (which of course are now long gone ...) you just could not hang around too long ... just fell off when pumped/out of gas. Take the Figure 4 and 9's out and you had to pull and hang on and use all your power and skill to make the top. Again only Piltdown man has not gone this way and it is M12 vs M11.

This may well be very silly to say that no F's make the ascent better or pure'er, but it sure makes it harder, kind of like doing a rock move vs grabbing the draw to help through the move. If I am unable to do a rock route, maybe it's just too hard so why try to use other methods to bring it down to your level? (if anyone reads this, I may well get some flack for this). F's just make a move easier, to gain height, distance and decrease the pump. Personally I just rather fall off than use one of the f's - yes I have used them but back in 2005/06 I decided to for me go as pure as I can. I even have under heel bolt on section still on my boots, the only help they have is keeping me from teetering over on flat ground. FYI I do not use knee bars unless you can just scum your pants, meaning no cheesy knee pad coated with sticky rubber to me that just seems silly ... took and still take a lot of flak in Rifle for that, but to me just seems the way to climb.If I remeber correctly back in the mid 1990's Alex Huber visited a crag in southern California known for must use knee bars and pads to be able to ascend the routes and Alex Huber did chain all the routes with no knee pad, just brawn skill and endurance. So why would one continue to use knee pads? Why do mountaineers still use oxygen tanks on climbs that have been done without oxygen tanks? It seems that the ascent often overshadows the style. So to quote an older Grivel USA add "... Style Matters" kinda funny that this was based on a very skilled and outspoken Alpinist named Mark Twight. And I a sport climber ... okay just old school climber share the same thought on this.

This genre of climbing to me, is just darn fun and super physical and with our winter in the Calgary area of the Canadian Rockies, it seems like a good way to spend some time.

Way back in 2004 I also built the website this has most of the route info, some broken links, will get to that, but requires my old machine booted up ... However most of the routes are still around, there is a new Drytool crag on Grotto Mountain, Canmore, Alberta, not to be a dick, but my guess is full F method.

Anyways, had a few to put some words down, enjoy the climbing but remember Style does matter!

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