Ice Climbing Skills: The Stein Pull

Leverage your position! Stein pulling utilizes opposing forces for ultra-solid placements.
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Leverage your position! Stein pulling utilizes opposing forces for ultra-solid placements.
Tech Tip - Ice - Stein Pulling

Stein pulls—tool placements where the pick and the head of your axe are set in opposition—are the coolest holds you’ll encounter when dry tooling. By applying the physics of levers to ice tools, you can find stein pulls on almost any mixed climb. They are located under overlaps or roofs at the convergence of the vertical and horizontal surfaces, but any three-dimensional feature in the rock can work as long as there is something for the top of the tool to brace against. In the case of an overlap, place the pick on a hold a few inches below the roof, then pull back on the grip so the head cams against the roof, wedging the axe in place. Stein pulls are more stable than conventional placements because the tool is firmly wedged; this allows you to reach farther because you can pull out as well as down. Just be sure that the hold is solid enough to withstand the prying forces involved the mechanics are similar to that of a crowbar! Inverted Stein Pulls are achieved by re-grabbing the grip of the tool upside-down, thumb towards the pommel, and inserting the pick up into a hold, be it a crack or overlap. Pulling down on the grip cams the head firmly against the wall, creating a stable bar to match and monkey around on.

Stein pulls in action and at rest

Tech Tip - Ice - Stein Pulling

If you’re climbing leashless, stein pulls can create a variety of no hands rests. The most basic stein pull rest is the arm hook. Place your bent elbow around the grip, let go and shout, “Look Ma, no hands!” Hook your arm near the grip, not the middle, to maintain the levering force.

Tech Tip - Ice - Stein Pulling

Equally effective is the leg hook. Get a solid sideways stein pull on vertical or slightly overhanging terrain. Lock the tool off low, then hook your thigh, knee, or calf behind the lodged tool. With your other leg placed directly below the tool, taking most of the weight, your hooked leg will maintain your upright position, keeping you from tipping backwards. Drop both hands and shake out. Stein pulls are abundant on roofs because the pick often slots into cracks or holes, orienting the shaft parallel to the ground like a chin-up bar. In this case, you can hook your leg over the shaft, taking the weight off your gripping hand. This acrobatic maneuver can be taken one step further; hook both legs over the shaft to hang up side down like a trapeze artist with arms dangling in the air.

Tech Tip - Ice - Stein Pulling

Another creative position is the sitting rest. Find a solid inverted stein pull on a vertical to 45-degree-overhanging wall. Throw a leg over the shaft and squirm your way around so you are sitting on the shaft facing out with one leg on either side. I leave it up to your own imagination on how to exit this “restful” position.