I fairly often look at my Hummingbird and think I should start carrying a third tool again, but I really only used it BITD for placing gear on steep ice, back when we were using Snargs and those old Chouinard screws and had to use a tool to get gear, so there's no real driver now. Though I did snap a pick near the top of P1 of Who's Who a few years ago when it might have been nice to have, but I was past the ludicrously thin baked stuff at that point. The only time I've ever dropped a tool was way back, on Franky Lee at Rumney in '85. It was early March, so the ice was crap and doing its best snow cone thing. Put one of those real stubby old Chouinards in about 20' up, said to myself 'that f#$ker won't hold sh!t', figured I'd stop at a little break about 15' higher to get a real screw in, was just about there and dropped my axe (an actual ice axe: Simond Cechinnel, straight shaft, classic curve integral pick, real adze. Forget it, none of you will know what I'm talking about). Obviously, it was hanging on a leash, and when I squatted down to pop it up and grab it the hammer ripped and I went over backwards. And the screw held. I wound up hanging upside down with my head about 3' off the ground, and since Wes was belaying up on the side of the gully I was actually looking up at him. He looked a little fried. I said 'Conditions suck, let's go home'. Still my 'best' fall on ice ever. But a perverse thought...if I had been leashless, and had a third tool (I was in grad school and too poor to afford three such extravagances then), would the fall have happened?
But as for dropping leashless tools, I was belaying my second up the direct pillar on Ragnarock a few weeks ago when the rope went tight and stayed tight. Of course it's the Notch, it's cold as hell and the wind is howling and it's impossible to hear shit, and no rope signals on a taut rope. After about five minutes I began to have visions of Simon Yates, but finally worked out that he must have dropped one of his tools, which, since they will pry my leashes from my cold dead wrists, is not the first thing that occurs to me. Even then, there is a natural resistance (or probably should be) to the idea of just letting rope out when you're belaying someone and the only information you have is deduction. We all would have been much happier if he had had a third tool. Afterwards he allowed as how he was going to wear leashes now when doing a climb like that. BTW, we did the tether thing 30 years ago. It sucked then, too.