Canadian ice and drytool climber Gordon McArthur has established the world's first D16 in British Columbia, Canada. Gordon named the line Storm Giant, which climbs 80 metres through a steep roof with over 50 bolts for protection. The route took Gordon three years in total to clean, bolt and eventually climb.
I wouldn't say boring. I'm sure it could be a lot of fun and a real challenge.
It does leave me cold though, and the reason I attribute that to is that it seems very contrived. I put it in a similar bracket to race walking, or synchronised diving. No doubt extremely difficult, but not an obvious direction for most to channel natural ability and years of training.
Not knocking anyone who chooses to do it though - I've certainly done plenty of things in climbing that I wouldn't expect others to enjoy - but that's the way it comes across to me.
In reply to john arran: Having done loads of dry tooling myself I can't help but somewhat agree with you John and other opinions above. It seems silly that drytooling has lost its original sense of purpose, which is training to go and do hard stuff in winter, not in the middle of August... However, knowing Gordon personally, I'm happy for his achievement, whether it's considered training or climbing in its own right.
Yes sure it was I guess, though I think Jon Gill just did bouldering for bouldering sake. But at the end of the day is all rock climbing. Call me traditionalist, but ice axes are for winter climbing in my view. If you use them in summer (which I've done A LOT), it's for training. So Tom Ballard is mega strong tooling, but then takes that skill and does amazing things in the mountains, that's what I'm trying to say I guess
In reply to pasbury:
Each to their own. I find it good fun because you can pull some crazy moves. Plus there's often a good vibe at the crags because it's a small community, so you often know the other people at the crag. However I only do it over the winter season as training for winter climbing and because you can do it whatever the weather as the crags are so overhanging.
Isn't all climbing contrived in some way? I am not sure why tooling is anymore contrived than sport - someone puts the bolts in, many routes created or improved, trad - you cant pull on the gear to help but are allowed sticky rubber boots, has to be onsight to be in the best style, no mats, winter mixed - requires notional conditions, bouldering - allowed a pile of mats, aiding - allowed to pull on anything but not allowed a clip stick. All strands of the sport have their rules, there was a great program on Radio 4 that looked at climbing from the outside and analysed the different factions, their rules and their opinions of others. I don't understand why tooling is anymore contrived.
You're right that all strands of climbing have rules. It's the nature of sport to define and respect limits as to what's permissible in a given discipline. My impression is that even though all of these imposed limits exist for good reasons, some are much more contrived, less intuitive, than others. Just because all sports are contrived to some degree, doesn't mean that all sports are contrived to the same degree.
The most natural and intuitive activities, to my mind, are those that kids will play without even thinking they're doing sport. Running, jumping, throwing, climbing, swimming, etc. Even though these have all developed into sports with strict rules, you don't need to know the rules to enjoy the sport in its most basic form. Any rules are really there just to preserve the fundamental nature of the activity. So, for example, you can't wear skates in a running race, you all need to be throwing the same type of object or jumping from the same line.
Climbing, at its simplest, is one of the most natural and intuitive sporting activities. But as with any sport, there will always be ways to improve performances by sacrificing some of this inherent simplicity. Left unregulated, runners would be using springy shoes, throwers would be using slingshots, and swimmers fins. The equivalent in rock climbing is the use of artificial hooks instead of handholds. Within defined limits runners can still use cushioned or spiked shoes, swimmers can wear shiny suits and climbers can wear rubber-soled shoes, none of which change the sport's fundamental simplicity. In essence, any rules are there just to maintain the nature of the activity, not to define it.
Climbing is in some ways a special case, in that reaching the highest and most inaccessible peaks has simultaneously presented a very different objective, with very different means. In Victorian times up until quite recently, the only way to reach many peaks was to use every technological advantage possible. That includes bottled oxygen and fixed ropes, of course, but also it was the driving force behind aid climbing. As much as reaching the summit of the Matterhorn or of Everest for the first time was a tale of human skill, it also was a triumph of technology. Even though aid techniques weren't a natural or intuitive class of human movement, they were a necessary means to the end of scaling a particular peak or a particular face. Ice climbing too is a technology-driven activity - for very good reason and far better for it.
Climbing therefore has evolved simultaneously both as an expression of natural human movement (like running or swimming) and also as a technology-assisted endeavour (like ballooning, archery or sailing). And this is where the confusion lies.
Using sticky rubber or chalk is the equivalent of using running spikes - they might help a little but they don't change the activity at its most basic level. Using hardware to physically assist climbing progress would be more like pole vaulting is to high jump - not necessarily less enjoyable but definitely very different and less fundamentally child-like in nature.
Dry tooling I see as an awkward hybrid between the two competing influences of the unassisted human performance of free climbing and the technologically assisted progress of pure aid climbing, and that is why I think I find it less compelling personally. Others may really like that combination.
Using technology to make an activity safe (or safer) is a further complication and one that also detracts in many ways from the simplicity and naturalness of climbing. But of course it does so for good reasons. Both sport and trad climbing have evolved to maintain a strict rejection of any technological assistance in actually making upward progress, and in doing so they've managed to retain what I see as the purity of physical climbing, even if they are far less 'natural' or more contrived in the way they're protected.
Well I started out trying to explain why I think dry tooling is more contrived than sport, and I ended up thinking and writing more than I expected. Few things in life are simple, eh?
I guess that's one way of looking at it. Mine would be that it's winter climbing without the winter (cue lots of responses about the nature of Scottish snowed-up-rock routes, but at least these are required to be frozen).
I think dry tooling is much more appealing when considered as part of continental-style mixed, when the dry tooling is required to access some fantastic lines of ice. In the UK it's generally more a case of either 'proper' mixed conditions in the mountains, or dry tooling in crappy quarries.
I agree on many points, well laid out argument. But a point of contingency is that the same technological advances that help upward progress in DT are the same that help upward progress in winter and alpine climbing, and we don't seem to have a problem with that as seen with Ueli (using cutting edge technology to help his ascents). I think DT has a valid time and a place, which to train skills and do good things in the mountains in winter.
In reply to Ramon Marin:
Exactly. It's also a perfectly valid form of climbing for its own sake, although not many people do that.
All climbing is contrived in one way or another, not least because it's a bit pointless really (why climb at all when a lot of the time you can just walk round the top, admittedly that argument doesn't work with the Old Man or the Grand Cap!). May be tooling is more contrived than some other forms of climbing but what does it matter? As long as people are having fun and not getting in the way of other people having a good time (so for example tooling on established rock routes is not acceptable).
I suppose soloing would be the least contrived, preferably barefoot or better still in your approach shoes since taking them off would also be contrived? oh and no chalk or indoor training of course!
> May be tooling is more contrived than some other forms of climbing but what does it matter?
I don't think it matters at all, I love drytooling both for training for winter and as an activity in its own right and get as much pleasure and sense of achievement from it as I do from all aspects of climbing. It's just another aspect of the sport, and like all other aspects of climbing wether it be on rock, ice, boulders, big walls, mountains or grotty quarry's it all has it's place and people can choose to participate or not. I think that's one of the great attractions of climbing that it can be enjoyed in many ways, it's personal preference at the end of the day. Tooling is just a bit niche. I think Gordon should be congratulated for completing his route, having the continued motivation and focus for 3 years is proper commitment .
On a lighter note:
So for a less contrived approach perhaps we should try barefoot drytooling? Or stripping to it's most basic level I think there was a film of someone climbing naked on here a while ago so maybe naked tooling (so to speak ) is the future!! The white goods meet would look very different !!
Would it just be 'The Goods' meet? I think it was a silly video with people tooling in beach wear somewhere warm.
The other good thing about tooling is you can do it in any weather under those big roofs. I'm actually considering opening the season this weekend as it's looking pretty showery all over and Kilnsey is wet...
I think it may have been a promotional type video for e-climb , almost a drytool deep water solo combo!! Legitimate ticks as long as you have axes, friut boots and water wings. Your right about this weekend, looks dodgy to say the least so defo time for the tools ( although I've been at it since April, ) ps any useful beta for marginal gains????
In reply to climber34neil:
Some hard moves with dynamic long reaches, plus lots of power endurance though there are a couple of rests. See my logbook, took loads of goes... Recommedn doing the routes through the big roof to build up to it.
In reply to climber34neil:
Yes that and the one going the other way along the lip. I found MG was a big step up from SR. Which it is I suppose as it's two grades harder. Of course you might find it ok!
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