Will Gadd recently published a timely commentary on his blog that is worth a read.
Here is a similar comment from two years ago trying to "drive home" the same point. :)
I added this to Will's web site to give credit where it is really do.
"Good stuff as always Will. Just one clarification I think might be due.. Your countrymen, John Lauchlan and crew at Yamnuska Mtn school were teaching the “A” technique back in the fall/winter of 1980 when I showed up there. “A” likely a better description than a “T” for body position. John’s term BTW not mine and how he taught it indoors on a chalk board and outdoors on the ice. My take at the time was John and Dwayne adopted the same technique early and just furthered the idea in their season in the alps. That crew, Albi Sole, Dwayne Congdon, James Blench, Gregg Cronn among others at least tried to climb with and teach the "A" technique. It was an obvious improvement over the "X". Much easier to do now, as you know, using leashless tools."
“In the summer of 1980, with Dwayne Congdon, he represented Canada at the Rassemblement International, a bi-annual event held in Chamonix, France, that attracts two of the best climbers from each country. John and Dwayne succeeded in making the third ascent of the MacIntyre/Coulton Route on the Grande Jorasses, a route that had defeated many of Europe’s top alpinists. John went on to climb the North Face of Les Droites and to solo the Gabbaroux Couloir on Mt Blanc. (among others) In Canada, ice climbing was one of John’s main interests, and he led the movement towards new routes and bolder styles. His list of first ascents includes Takakkaw Falls, Pilsner Pillar, Slipsteam and Nemesis (the first free ascent).”
"Weeping Pillar and Nemesis were done prior to ’80 and done free so I suspect they didn’t adopt much. But the “A” on perfect alpine Neve makes the technique a lot easier to adopt and then transfer that skill to steep water ice."
What follows is a sequence of photos on Grade 3 to 3+ water ice. Small bulges of almost vertical but the majority of the ice is between 65 and 75 degrees. Steep enough but also a great situation to really push your skill level in the A position and the most efficient use of a modern tool that offers two distinct grip positions. In this case, the tool used is a current model of BD Cobra but any of them (the newest 2 grip tools) will work. Big thanks to Craig Pope here for making this blog post possible.
I have nothing to gain from this, so take it for what it is worth... If you are not climbing leashless on a modern tool designed to be leashless you are wasting energy.
I have done all this on a straight shafted bamboo axe as well. And while possible to use these skills and the technique on any tool it is not nearly as efficient, safe or as fun with out the current leashless gear.
Classic example of using the second grip on the right tool and getting full extention off both tools.
Which in turns means fewer placements and less engery wasted.
Changing grip position on the shaft after shaking out.
Note he has gone to the upper grip on the right hand to eliminate a placement.
To pull over a small bulge his tools are closer than he would generally like. Classic way to pull over a bulge. Craig is using both tool grip positions to good effect.
Easier ice and a BIG extension
Always take advantage of any rest, drop your arms and shake. It will keep you warmer and stronger.
Easy "holster" of a tool (thumb hook) and again, avoids a unneeded placement of your tool
Using the 2nd grip to good effect
Bottom line? The fewer times you swing on any given piece of ice the stronger you will be climbing.
Think, efficent use of the tool first, rest by getting off your arms when possible second.
Perfect place for a screw and good leverage to get it started just below chest height
Lane at the belay below, from mid pitch, 100+ feet out.
Two videos linked below that hopefully will help. One of Will on picked out, cold, hard (in texture), vertical ice. More hooking than swing there to good effect. And the other from Peak Mtn Guides.
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<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/X1AJS-hccXE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
In the second video from Peak Mtn Guides, my critic would be that a lot of effort is wasted by not driving the tool straight above the climber but instead is shown being driven off to the side and with straight hip angles. It is more efficient to drive the tool at the apex of the triangle or top of the A, and allow your hips to follow.