Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dry Tooling in the Big Cave

Erik and I headed down to the big cave with Cody Doolan the other day for a session of dry tooling. We had been talking about giving this a try for years, but had never committed to it. Cody has spent a number of winters in New England ice and mixed climbing and was keen to give the Big Cave a try. I know that ethically dry tooling on rock routes is frowned upon, but we figured what better place than the lava choss piles of south central Idaho!

Erik, winning the ro-sham-bo, was first up!

The Big Cave in all it's glory!

Cody pointing out some finer techniques of dry tooling.

Yours truly getting the rope up on "Stoner Boy".


Once the rope was up, we each gave multiple TR burns. It didn't take long before the tanks were out of gas!

Thanks Cody for some great pics and both you guys for a fun day dry tooling! 


  1. Hi Marc,
    looks like fun but... are you breaking off holds?? That would be inconsiderate of the many folks who appreciate climbing at our "lava choss piles". Would you do this on your routes at the Fins?

  2. Hello Anonymous!
    You raise a good point. Ethically, I think it's frowned upon to dry tool rock routes. We chose to try this in the cave for two reasons: 1) they are steep and the thought of swinging into the rock during a lead fall with crampons doesn't sound fun 2) unlike rock at the Fins and City of Rocks, the caves are "lava choss piles" and we figured if there were a crag to try dry tooling on this would be it. We did not break any holds, and in fact, I'm not sure you can even tell they were climbed with ice tools and crampons. Unlike a lot of other types of rock, when climbed with sharp points you see a lot of ugly scratch marks but the caves are unique because the rock is so porous that crampons and ice tools rarely slipped. Is this something I'd try at the Fins? Yes, if they were 20 minutes away... Is this something I'd do at the caves again? Probably not... it was more of an experiment and as fun as it was I'd like to have a little bit of ice to sink my tools into! Plus, it's not my intention to ruffle feathers...