How to Hand Drill

My wife and I are presently living in Tibet but we are getting ready to move to Mongolia. We would like to take a hand drill so we can establish routes. Any suggestions?

Anonymous, via


Make your wife do the drilling, for starters. Hand drilling requires patience, the capacity to endure excruciating pain, and brute yet gentle force. The most prolific bolters are also driven by an inexplicable, inextricable need to create, yet can tolerate criticism and slander. And all this with nary a kind word or thanks from those who profit from the endeavors. Only humans who can bear children have the requisite traits.  So, you are correct to search for the very best hand drill. Get one and not only will you soon have Mongolia brimming with more tackle than a hippie chick’s belly button, but your marriage will absolutely flourish. I know my fourth wife couldn’t be happier.

The best drill is the Petzl Rocpec ($75). This crafty tool has a short handle for less wobble, a rubber grip, hand guard, swiveling wrist loop that doesn’t tangle when you twist the drill, and an SDS bit mount that bits snap into without additional tools. You can find the Rockpec worldwide, although scoring one on Mongolia’s frozen steppes won’t be as easy as finding yak butter.

Bear in mind that the drill is simply a holder for the bit, which is the real business end. SDS (Steck, Dreh, Sitz; German for Insert, Twist, Stay) bits are manufactured under many brands, and range from $5 to $20. The cheaper, generic bits dull quickly, but are serviceable enough for a few holes. The more expensive bits by brands such as Hilti and Bosch are sharper and have tougher carbide tips. These are well worth the money if you plan on having your wife make a significant contribution to Mongolian sport climbing. To round out your kit, get three feet of flexible aquarium tubing for a blowtube (also use as a depth gauge), a hickory-handled Yosemite hammer (Black Diamond, $100) and a sturdy nylon bag to hold your drilling kit. Wrap it all up in some of that paper with hearts all over it, give it to Sweetie for Valentines, and marital bliss will be just a few hammer blows away.


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