The season for dry tooling is almost upon us and climbers are sharpening their axes in preparation for pre-season competition
Photograph: Scottish Tooling series 2012 – Andy Rutherford
As the long days of summer shorten and the temperatures begin to drop, many climbers look forward to winter rock climbing. Yet in the colder season, the rock faces and walls in Scotland will all too often be covered in ice. In places they will be rock and ice â€“ and it is in these situations that climbers must be adept at using their ice axes and crampons to climb on both rock and ice.
In what is more accurately called dry tooling, climbers use their winter ice climbing tools to find the right nooks, crannies and holds to make secure moves on rock â€“ and then on ice, too.
And as in so many winter sports, the discipline has been turned into a competition. In Scotland, a Scottish Tooling Series annually attracts many climbers to compete indoors on dry tooling routes.
In 2013, a new contest, The Festival of Ice Climbing, has also been added to the dry tooling calendar.
What is a dry tooling competition?
Photograph: Scottish Tooling Series 2012 – Brianna Zoll
Participants must climb routes on indoor climbing and ice walls scoring points for the highest point reached. The aim is to beat fellow climbers in a number of categories, including junior, male/female senior and veterans classes
While the STS dates are yet to be announced, The Festival of Ice Climbing is already attracting Scottish climbers who are keen to wield their ice axes yet are still waiting for the right outdoor conditions to take shape.
Gordon Lacey, who was second veteran in the STS last year, says: â€œIt was my first time competing in a dry tooling competition and I really enjoyed the experience.
â€œThe indoor routes were challenging and you have to hold your nerve, as well as display skill.
â€œThis is a great introduction to outdoors winter rock and ice climbing and I went on to have a great climbing season in Scotland.â€
The Festival of Ice Climbing
The festival takes place at The Ice Factor on Saturday 2Â November to Sunday 3Â November, 2013
There will be a dry tooling competition on the Saturday, lectures both days and a number of masterclasses on the Sunday. Saturday night will also be party time.
The whole event will be in aid of Climbers Against Cancer. Further information on 01855 831100 or see Ice Factor