Here in the UK the opportunity for true dry tooling is limited. Even indoors there are only a few walls which will allow you to use ice axes.. the Ice Factor is one. There is a dry tooling competition series in Scotland, however most walls don't really like mixing expensive fragile holds and paying customers with sharp metal objects flying through the air. Figfour was the first product to address these issues and we have had a welcome level of interest from both walls and outdoor centres interested in bringing dry tooling to their facility and allowing climbers to train for dry tooling at their local wall
What is Figfour?
Figfour is a specialized training aid for mixed climbing and dry tooling. It is designed to allow climbers to accurately replicate the actions of mixed climbing indoors, without damaging the resin holds or base panels of existing climbing surfaces with the sharp picks found on traditional ice axes. Figfour is designed for training.. it is not the soft option, the idea is that you get pumped using them, the make you stronger for when you can get back out on the real stuff. See Pete's design notes for more details.
Who uses Figfour?
Our premium dry tool training aid is being used around the world by individuals, instructors, guides, outdoor centres and climbing walls.
Figfour and training
Keen eyed dry tooling devotees may have already come across the Figfour tools featured in Winter Climbing +, an instructional book by Neil Gresham and Ian Parnell and published by Rockfax in January 2009. Ian has recently started using a pair of Figfour tools to aid his winter training..
"Whilst summer rock climbers have campus rungs, finger boards, rock rings and an endless array of climbing holds and surfaces winter climbers have very few bespoke training aids. Perhaps that is until now. I think that Alpkit’s new Figfours could bring huge fitness gains for those like me in love with the winter game. Like many great ideas the Figfours success lies in its simplicity. Light, robust and with no sharp spiky bits they’re easily portable. Crucially they don’t damage the climbing surfaces and so can be taken to any wall without causing problems, or posing any threat to other users. I’ve used mine mainly on roped climbs, the longer and steeper the better, although they will be equally adept on bouldering walls. The pump you get is very different to traditional rock climbing and much more akin to that hand uncurling ache you get ice and mixed climbing. I’ve already made strength gains using the Figfours and would hope by the end of this season with their help to be climbing a good notch harder than I have before". Ian Parnell, 20th January 2010.
Getting into dry tooling
Dry tooling is one aspect of our sport that most of us will have had little experience of. It involves climbing steep rock, usually bolt protected with ice axes and crampons. Originally these routes were created by climbers who simply could not resist the draw of the long ice climbs suspended in the void, just out of reach, but now a lot of dry tooling climbs exist in their own right, in summer and without any ice in sight.
Andy Turner has been using his Figfours to train at the Plas y Brenin wall and last December he took them up to the final round of the Scottish Dry Tooling series at the Ice Factor..
"This was the final event and was well turned out with 61 competitors. I set a bouldering route using the Figfour tools so they got well used (all 61 competitors had to do the problem) and I struggled getting them back at the end of the day. (The finalists were using them for warming up for the super final)." Andy Turner, 10th December 2009.
The experience and feedback we have gained through running our DryIce sessions has been reinforced by British Climbing Team member and coach Gaz Parry. Gaz is no stranger to the wall scene and got hold of a set of Figfours while route setting at Alter Rock in Derby..
"As well as being an effective training aid for dry tooling, I can see Figfour being used by outdoor centres and climbing walls as an ideal and safe way to introduce beginners to basic ice climbing techniques."
How can you get hold of a set of Figfour?
Figfour is only available online