Curious about the leashless ice climbing tools seen in the hands of modern climbers? Their introduction was spurred by the development of steep ice and mixed routes, and the unique moves involved in getting up these lines. Climbers began exploring the benefits of being “unattached” from their tools. Experimentation led to the creation of more ergonomic shafts with pronounced bends and grips that were easier to use in steep and varied conditions. The practice of “going unleashed” was also accelerated when ice climbing competitions began banning leashed tools due to safety concerns – severely pumped-out climbers hanging by their wrist straps were unable to help themselves down, or be lowered from the routes.
Leashless ice climbing tools can increase efficiency, are less awkward to use, and facilitate manoeuvres that are difficult to impossible if you're tied to your tools:
The same differences that distinguish conventional tools apply to leashless versions. Weight, swing, clearance, shaft thickness, grip texture, and type of pick will all influence the way a tool feels. If you're thinking of trying out a pair, remember you will be utterly dependent on upper body strength and grip strength when using them. Even if you're an experienced climber, learn how to swing them on single-pitch routes within your ability. This way, losing a tool, by dropping it or falling from it, is not the serious problem it would be on a longer route. Also, keep in mind that ice climbing tools with leashes remain standard equipment for remote, or long alpine climbs.