I've been using the Fig Fours again, this time trying to climb the main comp wall at the Foundry. I'm still adjusting to what they can do but I really do think they are a great convenient training aid for winter climbers.It can take a little while to find exactly how slopey a hold you can get away with using, and so particularly when you're onsighting a route it can feel quite realistic to the scatching around you have to do outdoors to fingd the best hook. There's no doubt the pump you get is very different to a traditional summer rock type ache and one much more akin to ice and mixed climbing. Alpkit are bringing out production models within a week or two. More info here http://www.alpkit.com/dryice/
Talking of training I've been down the Foundry for another session on their dry tool routes. This time though I tried the routes with big mountain boots which definitely upped the training effort a fair bit. These dry tool routes have been open for a few days and there has been a fair bit of interest, often from quarters you wouldn't normally associate with winter climbing. I was amused to read Stu Littlefair's self deprecating blog about his session (For those who don't know Stu he's an astro physicist who climbed 8c and pretty much defines the word Beast!) http://thesphericalcow.blogspot.com/2010/01/littlefair-you-tool.html?showComment=1263898544813_AIe9_BFr6tGfqljvYkPcHxzwaXCpEKbgu2EO1T1okdqtvUOz141tqmxbotz7rEockffdhQFWToSCL7C2idwrkLrfu0pyCurmV5fv-5bCf3v1ifCDP5dTZsAFMEaa1Vev48qhv-rYC1g7QqNMsWXDqCMHzzo783xqLJzSKGMySJTYzYbx4gMJH5VjHZz9H5KqLZXgCVPp6zTGvy1fOqdJAWUHv8-pGC2wM2Awy9zVG4BJ0c2eL-Op4gc#c2874574762746045794
Note: you can tell Stu's an astro-physicist by the length of his links!
So why all this fuss about training. Well its mild and thawing and I can't get out. But more importantly I want to do routes like The Crack in Wales, perhaps the most fearsome inspiring single pitch route I've seen. This saw it's second ascent recently from Andy Turner, who is no stranger to the occasional lock off, read his account here http://andyturnerclimbing.blogspot.com/