Hi @luv2sharpen (nice handle)
I generally don’t use pinky rests in training. But first, let me address your specific questions:
My conundrum comes from the desire to get more out of the exercise (ie added grip strength stimulus along with the larger pulling muscles) versus training my motor skills to link overgripping with steep terrain/movement patterns.
I personally think that training grip control/overgripping is very important. I will often, especially in early season, but also on hard leads consciously relax my grip to close to the minimum needed. I think this is a great tool. I don’t get pumped on regular ice climbing because, I believe, I create so many mini-rests by all these little relaxation exercises. Watch an experienced ice climber drop their arm and shake out their grip just between swings. Going leashless was a revolution here because we learned to let go of the tools and at the same time relax our grips. I’ll often swing, get the stick, and then swap my other hand to the bump grip and then immediately shake out the hand that just was doing the work of getting the stick. Make sense?
AND wondering whether your thoughts change based on the climber’s background/access to real ice climbing? For example I imagine a newer climber or one who can’t practice technique on routes would need to be more concerned with poor motor programming through training versus a more experienced climber who practices technique on the real deal more often.
Yes. Exactly. For most new climbers we recommend they simply climb and get feedback/instruction on their climbing as often as possible for at least a few seasons and not worry about training until they hit intermediate or inter-adv. levels.
I’ve seen the photos/illustrations of Steve in the book hanging from tools without using the pinkie rest, for strength phases of the program, but doing this during a deadhang seems less “risky” to good climbing technique/motor patterns since we rarely use anything resembling a dead hang in real climbing…right?
I have to admit I’m unclear here as to your question. Let me try to re-state it so my answer might make sense. That training without the pinkie rest in play could be risky to good climbing technique but since we rarely use deadhangs, it’s okay.
Here’s my thought: In real life I grip the tool where I have to grip the tool to make the moves. And that can be all kinds of different places on mixed routes. I never use pinkie rests because I want the specific training of having to grip an ice tool unsupported. I don’t think about it much more than trying to incorporate as much sport-specific (ice-tool holding-on) training as possible.
Hope this helps,