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Rich Purnell mixed-climbing a route rated M9.
Mixed climbing is a combination of ice climbing and rock climbing generally using ice climbing equipment such as crampons and ice tools. Mixed climbing has inspired its own specialized gear such as boots which are similar to climbing shoes but feature built in crampons. Dry-tooling is mixed climbing's most specialized skill and has since evolved into a "sport" unto itself.
The terrain that is climbed on is diverse and consists of rock, turf, snow, and ice in varying amounts. Such terrain is typically encountered in the winter season or on high icy mountains.
Grading of mixed terrain climbs roughly follows the WI rating system with respect to its physical and technical demands. The scale typically starts at M4 and subgrades of "-" and "+" are commonly used, although the distinctions are often subjective. The following table makes a comparison with the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS) and the WI system. Comparing these is rough and only gives an idea of the relative difficulty; the reason different systems exist in the first place is because it's difficult to compare grades between climbing media.
|M4||5.8||WI4||slabby to vertical, some technical drytooling|
|M5||5.9||WI5||some sections of sustained drytooling|
|M6||5.10||WI6||vertical to overhanging with some difficult drytooling|
|M7||5.11||WI7||overhanging, powerful and technical drytooling, less than 10 metres (33 ft) of "hard" climbing|
|M8||5.11+||bouldery or longer cruxes than M7, some horizontal overhangs|
|M9||5.12-||vertical or steeper with sustained marginal or highly technical drytooling; or horizontal and juggy for up to a few body lengths.|
Climbers participating in mixed climbing use techniques from ice climbing and rock climbing. The nature of the mixed terrain and the demands that it places on climbers however have also led to the development of specialist skills, most notably dry tooling.
A climber chooses their equipment based on the exact conditions and terrain that will be encountered as well as their climbing style and personal preferences. Mixed terrain climbing equipment typically includes both rock and ice climbing equipment. Specialist equipment has also been developed.
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