Drytooling is one of the more unique climbing disciplines where you use ice tools with sharp picks to hook on the rock instead of using your hands. You can also use crampons with sharp front points or rock shoes. Drytooling is an incredibly fun sport that has been growing in popularity all over the world. Drytooling has evolved out of mixed and alpine climbing where climbers would have to climb sections of rock in between ice and snow in order to get to the top of a peak, or where you climb rock to get to a section of hanging ice above the rock face.
The competition sport of ice climbing is actually what we would consider drytooling. Because ice can change so much from competitor to competitor during a competition it requires the consistency of dry tooling holds that stay the same with each climber. The sport of competition drytooling has taken off at an international level with 8 events like the Ice World Cup being held this year in 7 different countries.
Dry Tooling requires mental focus, a great strength to weight ratio and lots of body tension, which means that it definitely helps to live an active healthy lifestyle. Using ice tools on bare rock or even some of the indoor dry tooling holds requires precision and delicacy. You may find yourself hanging on the side of a cliff with just a few millimeters of steel barely stuck on a dime edge of rock, where any outward pull or wiggling of the tool can cause it to pop off. This requires mental focus, boldness, and keeping your body balanced and tensioned just right. Eating a healthy diet and staying fit is one of the best ways to prepare for and continue to enjoy this style of climbing.
Not only do you need good mental focus to control the tools on the rock and or climbing holds, but you also need good control over your body and things like balance and tension. Drytooling can be a way to work your entire body. Having good core strength, and a good kinetic chain, meaning everything from your fingers, through your arms and shoulders, through your core, legs and feet is key to excelling at this sport. There are many great training methods for this sport which will help you have a consistently strong body and good general fitness. Building bulk is not necessary but lighter weights at higher reps will get your body toned for the demands of the sport.
One of the best things about drytooling is that it can be done year round at dry tool specific climbing areas being developed across the country including The Scratch Pad in Orem. Most people who try drytooling in a gym love it and find that it can be even more fun than regular rock climbing.