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Submitted by ddt on 2006-11-12 | Last Modified on 2012-04-13

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


A vue - adj. French for "onsight", a clean ascent first try with no prior knowledge of the route (see onsight).

A0 - n. (Pronounced “A-zero”) Rating given to using a bolt for aid. No possibility of falling because weight is supported by something that cannot fail.

Abseil - v. UK English for rappel, from the German origin. See Rappel.

Adventure climbing - see Traditional climbing

Aid Climbing - n Originally called direct aid or artificial climbing, aid climbing is a means of ascent where the climber’s weight is supported primarily, or entirely, by slings attached to a device attached to the rock, rather than by the climber’s own hands, feet and other body parts as in free climbing. Upward progress is not required: weighting the rope, or resting on gear is aid. Difficulty increases as security diminishes.

Aider - n. Ladder made of webbing used for Aid Climbing, or as footholds for the belayer on a multi pitch climb. See also: Etrier

Aiding - see Aid climbing

Aid points - n. Gear attached to the rock from which to hang when aid climbing.

Allez - v. French for "Go!" Used to encourage climbers to push on.

Alpine Start - n. The set off time on an Alpine Route to enable a summit and return journey without the worry of the snow & ice melting in the days heat. Generally very early in the morning, ie 3am.

Alpine Style - adj. Doing a mountain route without pre-placing fixed lines or using pre-supplied camp sites for any stage of the journey. Example: The British group climbed the new route on Changabang in fine alpine style.

AMS - n. Acute Mountain Sickness

Anchor - n. That which attaches the belayer to the rock, or otherwise prevents the belayer from being pulled off the belay stance if the leader falls. In roped technical climbing, one climber moves at a time, while the other belays. The belayer must be securely attached to the the rock by means of protection devices (cams, nuts, bolts, pitons), or tied to an immovable object like a boulder or sturdy tree. The attachments are called collectively the "anchor." An ideal anchor relies on at least three bombproof attachment points. (See also belay.)

Angle - n. A type of piton made of a few inches of chromoly steel with a 90 degree angle down its spine, like a shallow taco. Comes in sizes of less than 1/2 inch (baby angle) to 2 inches wide, 4 to 6 inches long, and with an eye in the end for clipping a carabiner. Rarely used now except on aid climbs, and when left as fixed protection on free climbs.

Approach - v. The journey to the base of a crag or route.

Approach shoes - n. A sort of cross between a trainer and a walking boot used for the approach from the car to the base of the climb.

Approach Time - n. The time taken to reach the base of the route your going to climb.

Arete - n. A narrow ridge, or corner, of rock or snow. Derived from the french word for "stop".

Arm bar - n./v. A forearm jammed across a wide crack using a camming effect in order to make progress.

Artificial climbing - see Aid climbing.

Ascend - v. To go up. Climbers ascend a route to get to the top.

Ascenders - n. Mechanical devices used to ascend a rope, consisting of a camming mechanism which bites into the rope when downward pressure is applied but allows movement when slid up the rope.

Ascent - n. A completed climb. 'Everest was one of my many ascents.' 2. v. The upward [not vertical] movement or progress [not motion] of a climber. Antonym: descent.

Autoblock - n./v. A prusik used as a one-way clutch or pulley. Used as a safety back-up knot on a rappel rope. a.k.a. French prusik or "Machard" prusik.


Back clean - 1. v, back cleaning, back cleaned, When leading, to remove superfluous gear from below for anticipated use higher on the pitch, most often when aid climbing by simply reaching back or below to clean. Mindy decided to back clean the last two TCUs she had placed to save them for the centimeter-wide crack out the big roof.

Back step - 1. n, a foot position relative to its foothold wherein the climber uses the outside edge of the toe box, instead of the big toe, inside edge, heel, instep, etc. 2. v, to use the outside edge of one's foot on a foothold. 3. v, (the rope) to place a foot or leg between the rope and the rock in such a way as to make entanglement and, subsequently, an upside-down fall more likely. Dude! Watch your right foot! Don't back step the rope!

Bail - v. To give up and rappel or otherwise get off the route because of weather, darkness, or difficulties. “We both tried and fell on the crux several times, so we bailed.” “We didn’t want to finish in the dark, so we bailed.”

Bail Biner - n. A carabiner left behind when rappelling or lowering off of a climb, usually left on a single bolt or other protection device mid-pitch.

Bandolier - n. A short sling with a padding worn over the shoulder by the leader to hold a rack that is too big to be accommodated by gear loops.

Barn door - n. When the body swings away from the rock from two or more pivot points (usually one hand and one foot) due to the angle. Can occur on a steep lieback as well. Difficult to recover from and often results in a fall.

Base Camp - n The lowest fixed camp on a long route or other journey.

Belay - vb. the process of paying out the rope to the lead climber, or taking in rope for a follower, while he/she climbs, and of protecting the climber in the event of a fall. Belaying allows a climber to fall and live to try again. (2) n. - the place where a climber belays, and the anchor is set up attaching the climber to the rock, normally at the beginning and end of each pitch. (See belay station.) Also, a session of belaying.

Belay Device - n. A device that attaches to the climber’s harness through which the rope is threaded for belaying. Its primary purpose is to create friction quickly in the event of a fall so the belayer can stop the rope, which stops the leader’s fall, simply by pulling against the device. The device creates a ‘hairpin’ turn in the rope at all times and allows the belayer to pay out or take in slack freely, and to stop or brake the rope in an instant. Common belay devices: ATC, GriGri, Sticht Plate

Belay Monkey - n. Any person recruited for the task of belaying for long periods of time. Similar to Belay Betty; usually a non-climbing female recruited to belay a significant other.

Belay Station - n. A secure stance consisting of an anchor, a rope, and a belayer with a belay device. The place where a belayer sits, stands or hangs while belaying.

Belayer - n. a person who is belaying a climber.

Beta - n. information about a route.

Betaflash - n. a clean first ascent with no falls after having received beta. (This contrasts an onsightflash, a clean ascent with no prior knowledge of the route. 2. (vb.) to perform a betaflash.

Big wall - n. A large expanse of steep rock taking a minimum of three days to climb with conventional methods (free and aid climbing, hauling a bag with food water and shelter). El Cap and Half Dome in Yosemite Valley are big walls though both have routes that have been climbed in less than a day. The majority of routes on both require three to eight days to climb. Washington Column, Sentinel, and Leaning Tower are usually not referred to as a big walls. 2. (adj.) Of or pertaining to a big wall. (e.g., big wall climbing gear).

Biner - n. Slang for carabiner, a metal ring with a spring-loaded gate used to attach the rope to protection, and many other things. (See carabiner.)

Bird Beak - n. A thin hook used as protection in small cracks and pockets.

Bivouac - n. a place to spend the night. 2.(vb.) to spend the night, often in an unexpected location. Slang: Bivy

Bivy - n. Slang for Bivouac. A place to spend the night. 2.(vb.) to spend the night, often in an unexpected location.

Bolt - n. A permanent anchor in the rock installed individually as a protection device, or with other bolts or protection devices as an anchor. The bolt is a metal shaft 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch or 5/16 inch in diameter (common sizes), driven into a hole drilled by the climber, and equipped with a hanger to attach a carabiner. Generally, no one installs 1/4 inch bolts anymore, and because most of them are more than 25 years old, they should not be used when found. Occasionally they can be pried out by hand, or break under body weight.

Bomb-bay - adj. Describes a chimney (or sometimes lesser crack) that opens at the bottom toward the ground, similar to the bomb-bay doors on a B-52 aircraft.

Bomber - adj. a corruption of "bombproof" meaning very secure.

Bombproof - adj. Very secure, unlikely to move even when subjected to great force.

Booty - n. gear left behind for the taking, usually either from a previous party bailing on a route or accidentally fixing gear.

Boulder - n./v. a big rock typically climbed without a rope. May be head high to over 30 feet. Each boulder may have many distinct routes. Boulder problems are often top roped (See top rope), but climbing without a rope is thought to be better style. To boulder or to go bouldering is to climb boulder problems.

Bouldering Pad - n. A mat three to four inches thick, and roughly four feet square placed on the ground under a boulderer to cushion a fall. Usually made of layers of foam of various densities and covered with heavy, durable nylon and equipped with straps so that it can be folded in half and carried from place to place on the climber’s back. Also known as a crash pad.

Bouncing - v. Sport climbing technique used to regain the rock after falling and the climber is hanging free and out of reach of the rock. The climber climbs the rope hand over hand (very strenuous), and then drops. At the instant the climber lets go, the belayer hauls in slack thereby raising the climber. Repeating this process eventually brings the climber back to the rock. Also known as boinking, and to superman (compare with batman).

Bowline knot - n. One of the two common knots for tying in to the climbing harness (after the Figure 8 knot). Used by some experienced climbers for indoor and sport climbing because it is easier to untie after repeated loadings. Can be tied with one hand. Should be periodically re-tightened and the loose end MUST be secured with a Stopper knot - it may pull through the loop otherwise. "The rabbit goes out of the hole, around the tree, and back down the hole" is a commonly used phrase that provides hints on how to tie the bowline knot.

Brake Hand - n. The hand that holds the rope on the opposite side of the belay device to the climber.

Bridging - v. Climbing manouver involving arching the legs across a gap to put pressure on two opposing holds or walls. See also: Stemming.

Bucket - n. big handhold that is easy to hold onto. Usually a depression, hole or scoop (concave) in the rock. See also jug.

Bump - v. To move from one hand hold to another with the same hand in a sequential move, typically from an intermediate hold in a linear fashion.

Buildering - n. to climb on buildings or manmade structures. Often done for training for rock climbing.

Buttress - n. A part of the mountain or rock formation that stands out from the main face. May also be used to describe the corner of a rock formation, e.g., the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral.


Cam - n. Short for camming device, removable, portable protection that helps arrest a climbers fall.

Campus - (1) vb. to work out on a campus board. (2) vb. to climb with feet dangling as if using a campus board.

Campus board - n. a runged ladderlike training device used to train for climbing. Originated by the Late Wolfgang Guillich, this simple device has been largely responsible for advances in climbing difficulty around the world.

Carabiner - n. A metal ring with a spring-loaded gate used to attach the rope to protection, and many other things.

Cave - n. A roof enclosed on two sides.

Chalk - n. white drying agent used to keep a climbers hands dry. Sometimes called "white courage" 2. (vb.) to apply chalk to hands.

Chalk Bag - n. A small bag with a stiff rim worn clipped to the harness or around the waist on a belt and used to hold chalk. Allows the climber to access chalk while climbing.

Chalk Up - v. Putting chalk on the hands before or while on a climb.

Chicken Wing - n. A type of arm bar useful in off widths and tight chimneys. Bend arm at elbow so that hand touches shoulder. Insert in crack and push against opposite sides. Works especially well vertically in squeeze chimneys, with elbow pointing up and pressing against one side of chimney, and heel of hand against the other side. 2.(v.) To Chicken Wing: bad climbing form on a face climb where the climber's elbows point out and back at an awkward angle.

Chickenhead - n. A knobby feature (resembling a chicken's head) which provides excellent holds for hands or feet.

Chimney - n. a parallel sided constriction wider than body width. 2. (vb.) to climb a chimney.

Chipping - n. the act of altering the rock by breaking it. Almost universally shunned by climbers, but still performed by those whose bodies and egos are too weak to meet the challenge of a climb.

Chock - n. A generic term for all passive protection that can be wedged into a crack or slot in the rock, i.e., wired nuts, slung nuts, hexes, stoppers, wedges, etc. . .

Choss - n. loose, bad quality rock.

Chossy - adj. like choss.

Class 1 - n./adj. (Archaic. Almost never used.) AKA First Class. Denotes walking where no special footwear is required. One of six classes describing travel in the mountains.

Class 2 - n./adj. (Archaic. Almost never used.) AKA Second Class. Denotes trail walking where it is advisable to have boots or other sturdy footwear. One of six classes describing travel in the mountains.

Class 3 - n./adj. AKA Third Class. Denotes scrambling involving the use of the hands as well as the feet, but where a rope is not needed. More commonly used to describe climbing without a rope, especially when the climbers have a rope.

Class 4 - n./adj. AKA Fourth Class, like Class 3, requiring use of hands as well as feet, sometimes referred to as scrambling, but where a rope is advisable because a fall would likely result in serious injury or death. Class 4 is a step below technical rock climbing (Class 5), which involves more difficult climbing and requires the use of protection devices. For a rock climber to describe something as fourth class usually means that it is easy.

Class 5 - n./adj. AKA Fifth Class. Technical rock climbing requiring the use of rope and protection, and where only one climber moves at a time while belayed by another climber. This is why the Yosemite Decimal System starts at 5.0.

Class 6 - n./adj. (Archaic. Almost never used.) AKA Sixth Class. Direct aid. When the Yosemite Decimal System was first devised, free climbs were rated from 5.0 to 5.9, and the next rating up was 6.0, the point at which you had to hang on the rope. The decimal system never caught on for aid. (See aid ratings.)

Clean - (1) v. To remove protection devices (gear). On a multipitch climb, the climber who seconds (follows the leader), takes out all of the removable gear placed by the leader. (2) adj. A clean climb, or a climb that “goes clean” is one that can be done without using a hammer to pound in pitons or mashies. This method is called clean because it does not damage the rock. (See pin scars.) (3) adj. To complete a climb or project without hang-dogging or falling, especially on top-rope.

Cleaning Tool - n. A metal tool used in the extraction of protection that has become stuck in the rock.

Clipping - v. The act of putting a carabiner onto a bold, the rope, or a piece of protection. 'Clipping!' is a common call to indicate to the belayer that you are about to pull up rope to make a clip.

Clipstick - see Stick Clip

Clove Hitch - n. Knot often used to tie a rope to a carabiner.

Cold shut - n. A type of fixed anchor composed of bent bar stock. Cold shuts, or "shuts," may be open (simply a bent hook that cradles the rope) or closed (welded into a complete loop of metal). Open shuts may be gated to keep the rope from popping out or not. While some types of shuts are still often installed atop (mostly) single-pitch climbs, they have fallen somewhat out favor. Reasons for this include a perceived strength weakness and their short lifespan relative to other types of anchors.

Commitment, level of - n. A term used to define how hard a climb is.

Copperhead - n. Aid device made of a malleable copper alloy and slung on swaged wire cable, used to hammer into shallow grooves and slots in the rock. When pounded with a hammer and chisel, they deform to fit the shape of the rock. These are typically left fixed because they are difficult to remove without damaging the rock.

Cow's Tail - n. A sling girth-hitched onto the harness attachment point.

Crack - n. An inwards split or break in a rock face.

Crack climbing - n. the act of climbing continuous cracks in the rock often requiring specific techniques and protection methods.

Crampons - n. Meal spikes which attach onto climbing boots to allow a firm grip on snow or ice.

Crank - v. Slang for pulling on a hold at your maximum power.

Crash pad - n. See bouldering pad.

Crater - vb. to fall off a climb to the ground.

Crimp - vb. to grip in a way such that fingertips contact the hold with knuckles raised slightly.

Crimper - n. a small edged hold which is conducive to crimping.

Cross Threaded - adj. When the thread on a carabiner's locking mechanism's is not twisting freely, usually due to it being tightened up whilst loaded. This can be very hard to unscrew.

Cross through - n. a reach with hand or foot that crosses the line of the other appendage.

Crucifix move - n. A strenuous stemming move using the arms instead of the legs; the upper body is locked by applying outward pressure on the hands at anything up to shoulder level, allowing the feet to be brought over a bulge or blank section. Often used in conjunction with standard stemming to tackle wide chimneys.

Crux - n. the most crucial, difficult part of the climb.

Cruxy - v. A climb is said to be cruxy if it has several hard sections interspersed with rather easy sections.


D.W.S. - n. Deep water solo. Free solo climbing on routes above deep water, such that the climber will land in the water if they were to fall.

Daisy Chain - n. A sown webbing sling with multiple loops used in aiding and belay stations.

Dead Hang - adj. Hanging from a hold with the arms straightened allowing body weight to be held by the skeleton rather than arm muscles. - good for relaxing the arm muscles

Deadman - n. A metal plate placed into deep snow for use as an anchor.

Deadpoint - n. to catch a hold at the apex of upward momentum at the point where the climber will experience the least force. (see "dyno"). 2. (vb.) to perform a deadpoint

Deck - v. To "deck" or to "deck out" or "hit the deck" is to take a fall resulting in a impact on the floor, often resulting in serious injury or death.

Descender - n. Any device used to rappel or abseil. ie: figure 8, rappel rack, stitch plate

Dihedral - n. A corner. Literally, the word means two planes coming together. It may be a 90 degree corner, and it may be more or less than 90 degrees. (Right, obtuse, acute angles.) Look at a picture of the Nose of El Cap. See that big corner that forms the upper third of the route? Now that’s a dihedral. Also see open book.

Disco Leg - adj. Also known as 'sewing maching leg' or 'doing the wild elvis'. Referres the the uncontrollable shaking of the leg(s) while climbing. Result of tired leg muscles.

Dogging - v. short for 'hang-dogging'. Refers to spending large amounts of time hanging in the harness while working a climb.

Doubled Back - adj. Bringing your harness webbing loop back through the buckle when putting it on. This is an important part of ensuring that your harness is done up correctly.

Double Dyno - n. A dyno where both hands launch out simultaneously for a high break.

Double Overhand knot - see Double Stopper knot

Double Ropes - n. A pair of ropes intended to be used such that only one rope will be clipped into any particular piece of protection. Generally used to reduce rope drag issues on (trad) routes that wander, or where the gear is often well off the main climbing line. A rope intended for this usege will generally be marked with a 1/2 symbol on it, though any rope intended as a single rope can, also, be used as one of a double-ropes pair.

Double Overhand knot - see Double Stopper knot

Double Stopper knot - n. A stopper knot with an extra turn around the parallel strand of rope. More secure than the simple version. a.k.a. Double Overhand knot.

Downclimb - vb. to climb downward rather than upward on a climb.

Draw - n. short for "quickdraw", a useful link consisting of two caribiners connected by a length of rope or webbing. Often used to attach the rope to points of protection.

Drop knee - n. technique requiring twisting your body and a downward turning of the inside knee to increase reach efficiency.

Dynamic rope - n. A rope that stretches to absorb impact, vital for lead climbing.

Dyneema - n. A very strong material used to make slings. Thinner and lighter than typical nylon webbing. Called 'spectra' in the US.

Dyno - n. abbreviation for "dynamic movement", a move that requires some use of momentum. (antonym: static movement) 2. (vb.) to perform a dyno.


Edge - n. a small, horizontal hold. 2. (vb.) to stand on an edge with the corner of a shoe maximizing the pressure applied to a small area of rubber.

Egyptian move - n. The dropped knee technique but without twisting the body, allowing the feet to push in opposition even if using vertical holds. Is sometimes the only way that either hand can be freed up.

Elevator Door - n. Hand technique that is essentially a double Gaston, i.e. both hands are pulling on either side of a narrow crack, like trying to pull elevator doors open.

Elvis leg - n. the uncontrollable shake of a leg uncontrollably during a climb. Often due to a combination of nerves and overcontraction of muscles. Also called sewing machine leg.

Engram - n. psychology An encoding in neural tissue that provides a physical basis for the persistence of memory; a memory trace. e.g. After practicing overhangs, the message from the brain will work on the opposing muscle groups much more effectively when following recently used pathways.

Epic - adj. Surpassing the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size. An adventure where everything seems to go wrong and the adventurers are constatnly put at risk.

Escaping the system - v. Transferring the weight of a hanging climber directly to the anchor, so that the belayer can move away to solve a problem.

Etriers - n. The original French term for Aiders. Nylon webbing steps for use when aid climbing.

Exposure - Being very far above your last piece of protection or being in a situation in which you are very aware that you are high off the ground or in a remote location.

Express - n. A quickdraw. Two carabiners connected by webbing or rope. Usually used to link the rope to an element of protection. (European).

Extender - see Quickdraw


F.A. - n. abbreviation for "first ascent". Often seen in guidebooks to list the people responsible for the route.

F.F.A. - n. abbreviation for "first free ascent", first ascent that did not use aid gear.

Face Climbing - v. Climbing on the flat part of a rock face, considered the be the opposite of crack climbing.

Fall Factor - n. The length of the fall divided by the amount of rope paid out. Used when deciding how much strain has been placed on a rope or piece of gear after it has been fallen on.

Fall Line - n. The path of a climber if he were to fall off a climb.

Featherbag - n. The opposite of sandbag.

Fifi Hook - n. A small hook, primarily used when aiding, to clip into a daisy chain or piece of gear.

Figure 4 - n. An uncommon technique to make long reaches that requires lifting a leg over the opposite arm, putting the body in a position that resembles a "4". Mostly used in ice and mixed climbing.

Figure 8 - n. a common rappel / belay device shaped like the number "8".

Figure 8 knot - n. Also known as the "double figure 8" or "figure 8 follow through". The most common knot used to attach the climber's harness to the rope.

Figure 9 - n. An uncommon technique to make long reaches that requires lifting a leg over the arm on the same side of the climbers body, putting the body in a position that resembles a "9". Mostly used in ice and mixed climbing.

Finger jam - n. Obtaining purchase in a crack wide enough for a finger but too narrow for a hand; can be achieved with one or more fingers. An advanced technique. Cracks that are too small for hands and wider than finger width (off-finger size) are especially difficult to master.

Finger lock - n. see "finger jam"

Fist Jam - n. A technique involving a fist being wedged into a crack in order to hold on.

Fixed protection - n. gear that is left on the rock for future use.

Fixed Rope - n. A rope fixed to a route by the lead climber and left in place for all who follow. Also refers to ropes left on sections of alpine climbs in order to aid the next party to attempt the route.

Flag - vb. To dangle a leg in a way that improves balance. Also refers to using feet without holds to improve balance and create sideways momentum.

Flake - n. A rock formation where a 'flake' of rock sticks out from the rest of the wall.

Flapper - n. a superficial injury resulting in a loose flap of skin.

Flared Crack - n. A crack with sides that are not parallel, but instead form two converging planes of rock.

Flash - n. completion of a climb first try with no falls. 2. (vb.) to perform a flash.

Follow - v. Synonym: second. After the first climber leads the pitch, the second (the one who belayed the leader) follows, that is, he/she climbs up to the leader, cleaning (removing protection placed by the leader) the pitch on the way up. Because the leader is belaying the second from above, the second has a top rope and will not fall far if he falls at all. When the follower reaches the leader’s belay, he secures himself, takes the rack, and leads the next pitch. (See swinging leads.)

Fourth Class - n./adj./v. Refers to the Class 1 to 6 system (See Class 1 through 6); movement requiring the use of the hands as well as the feet and requiring specialized foot wear, and requiring a rope for safety, unlike Class 3. Experienced rock climbers tend to think of fourth class as easy and often do not rope up until they are on Class 5 terrain.

Free Climb - v. The act of making upward progress using only your hands, feet, and other body parts for purchase on the rock, as opposed to direct aid where the climber’s weight is supported by a sling attached to a device attached to the rock. When free climbing with a rope, the game is to never rely on the rope for assistance: it is there to catch you only if you fall. Contrast this with aid climbing in which your feet are in slings or stirrups and your hands are free (generally) to place the next piece of gear that will support your weight. While free climbing, you are using only your hands, feet, legs, hips, butt, back, chest, and shoulders to keep yourself from falling, and none of your weight is supported by slings or the rope.

Free Solo - v. To free climb without a rope and without protection. A fall is likely to result in serious injury or death. Usually distinguished from climbing high boulders in that free soloing implies a climb of a pitch or more. Contrast with the term highball.

Front Pointing - v. Technique for ascending steep or overhanging ice. The front teeth of the crampons are used to dig into the ice.


Gaston - n. a climbing technique that involves sidepulling with an elbow pointed outward.

Gate - n. The hinged part of a carabiner which opens to allow the clipping of a rope or piece of gear. etc.

Gear Loops - n. The loops attached to the waist belt on a harness that are used to hold gear.

Girth hitch - n. A very simple hitch for attaching a sling to a harness or a tree. The sling is threaded back through a loop in itself. When attached to a tree or large branch, it should be used carefully as it can be very weak in the wrong configuration.

Glissade - vb. a controled slide down a slope.

Gouttes d'eau - n. pl. fr. Pockets in the rock caused by water erosion.

Grade - n. An approximate measure of the technical difficulty of a climb.

Greasy - adj. slippery

Greenpoint - n. To flash a route on toprope.

Grigri - n. An auto-locking belay device working on a similar principle to car seatbelts, where a shock loading will tighten a sprung camming system and hold the rope. Does not allow dynamic belaying, so a large impact force results.

Gripped - adj. tired and/or scared. Often a synergy between the two.

G-Tox - n./v. A method of shaking out the arms which utilizes gravity to shorten muscle recovery time.

Guide Book - n. A book which shows where climbing routes are located and gives brief descriptions of the route and its difficulty.

Gumby - adj. A (often derogatory) name for a novice climber.

Gym - n. A ussually indoor climbing facility consisting of manmade walls.


Half Rope - n. Same as double ropes.

Hand jam - n./v. Using your hand to gain purchase in a crack by twisting the hand, squeezing or spreading the palm, pulling the thumb down, making a fist, stacking both hands, etc. . .

Hand Traverse - n. Climbing horizontally using hands only. Also: Campus Traverse

Hang - v. Common usage: 'Bill ran up to hang draws on that 5.12". A more experienced climber may climb a route to place quickdraws for other climbers of lesser abilities. Or simply to hang from a handhold.

Hang Dog - vb./n. to repeatedly rest on the rope while climbing.

Hanging Belay - n. A belay stance where the climbers must hang from the anchor rather than sit or stand on a ledge. These tend to be uncomfortable and more time consuming because the climber must hang in the harness, and it is harder to keep gear organized when freedom of movement is restricted. If a ledge is available, climbers will try to end a pitch there to avoid a hanging belay.

Harness - n. Device the climber wears that attaches the climber to the rope so that in the event of a fall, the climber is held by the rope. (See belay.) Modern harnesses include leg loops and a waist band secured by a buckle system. They are designed to withstand far more impact force than they should ever be subjected to in use.

Haul Bag - n. Large and sturdy bag used to carry gear up a big wall climb. Generally cylindrical in shape with a minimal number of straps to avoid snagging on the rock face as it is hauled up at each pitch.

Heel hook - n./vb. a climbing technique involving the use of a heel to pull down like a third arm.

Heel toe lock - n/vb. a climbing technique involving the wedging of a foot lengthwise in a constriction

Helmet - n. Protection for the head from falling gear or rocks.

Hexcentric - n. Commonly referred to as a Hex; a hexagonal shaped metal piece of protection. Allows for passive protection when placed one way and camming action when placed another.

Hidden Hold - n. A hold that is out of sight until a climber is very near it. Hidden holds are often hard to see even at close range and many climbers will climb past one without seeing it.

Highball - n. A very high boulder problem, often with a hard landing. A high boulder problem with a sandy or otherwise soft landing may not be considered a highball. Of Planet X in Joshua Tree John Bachar said: “That’s not a f@#%in’ highball.”

Hike - v. To send a climb in excellent style. Usage: "I was falling all over that climb then I took a rest and hiked it."

Hold - n. Any feature of the rock wich affords the climber a place to grip with hands or feet. Also, for indoor use; small plastic molded climbing grips.

Hook - n. Small 'r' shaped piece of metal used as protection on ledges and small holes when aid climbing. Requires a fair amount of skill to place and weight efficiently.

Hooking - n./v. Foot technique involving the use of the heel as a prehensile limb, pulling the body toward a hold. Requires well-fitting heels - slippers are not suitable for this movement style as the heel tends to pop out of the shoe. Best used to cross large overhangs. Camming the heel against a flake and the toe against the wall is often a very effective variation.

Hueco - n. a large indented pocket in the rock. From Hueco Tanks, a popular climbing area with many such features.


Ice Screw - n. A piece of protection for ice climbing that is literaly screwed into the ice. Has a metal hanger on the end for clipping a carabiner.

Impact force - n. The maximum force affecting the climber and anchors as a falling climber is brought to a halt. The faster the deceleration, the greater the impact force.

Incut - adj. An indent An indent in a rockface or climbing wall big enough to be used as a hand or foot hold. Also refers to a hand/foot hold which slants downwards into the wall affording a better grip. ie: an incut crimper, rather than a flat or sloping crimper.

Indoor Climbing - n. Climbing on an articificial wall generally found indoors and utilizing plastic holds.

Instructor - n. A person with the qualifications to teach others about climbing and climbing safety. (not climbing specific)

Inverting - v. Flipping upside down when falling off the wall.

Italian Hitch - see Münter hitch


Jamming - v. Placing and wedging a body part into a crack in order to hold yourself on the wall.

Jug - n. A big hand hold, usually a great relief to find. (See also, bucket.) Also a verb meaning “to jumar” or the act of ascending a fixed rope with jumars.

Jughaul - n. A route that has nothing but big, easy holds on it.

Jugging - v. See jumaring...

Jumar - n. A device with a handle and a toothed cam that bites the rope when weighted used to ascend a fixed rope. Replaced prussik knots in the 60's, and was one of only two mechanical ascenders on the market for years. Useless on iced ropes. Also a verb meaning “to jumar.” “I was jumaring when it started to rain.”

Jumaring - v. Ascending a rope using jumars.


Karabiner - n. Alternate spelling of carabiner.

Kleimheist hitch - n. A versatile prusik hitch that can be tied using cord or webbing. Allows a climber to ascend or descend a fixed climbing rope, particularly in an emergency situation. Easier to slide on a fixed rope than a normal prusik.

Knee bar - n. Using the thigh and knee to hold oneself onto the rock, often to get a "no-hands rest." See Scum.

Knee lock - see Knee bar

Krab - n. Slang for a carabiner.


Lay back - n/vb. a move requiring pulling with arms to the side and pushing with the feet in the opposite direction. (syn. lieback)

Lead - vb/n. to climb starting with the rope on the ground clipping into protection points on the way up.

Leader - n. The climber who ascends a route first putting up the rope and protection.

Left-right diagonal - n. Combination of, for example, right hand and left foot on holds to give a strong braced through body tension. Particularly effective on steep rock.

Lever - n. A hangboard exercise involving a person hanging by both arms and 'levering' their body into a completely horizontal position. This requires very strong abdominal muscles.

Leverage - n. The action of the climbing rope on protection placed in the rock, this action can cause the protection to work loose.

Locking Carabiner - n. A carabiner with either a screw gate, or twist lock, locking mechanism.

Locking off/Lock-off - v./n. A powerful holding position in which one elbow is fully contracted, allowing the other arm to reach out for a hold. Limits the amount of reach available.

Lower Off - v. To come down from a route after reaching the top or not being able to climb anymore.

Lower Off Point - n. Fixed or placed protection placed on some point of a climb for use when lowering off.


Mallion Rapides - n. A type of carabiner that is screwed shut with a wrench. Also refered to as a Quick-Link.

Manky - adj. The opposite of Bombproof. A piece of gear is said to be manky if it is not placed well and could fall out at any moment.

Mantel - n./vb. a climbing technique involving the transfer of upward force from a pulling action to a pushing action much like a child would climb the kitchen counter to reach the cabinets above.

Match - v. To place both hands or feet on the same hold.

Mixed Climbing - adj. Refers to a route with both rock and ice sections. May also refer to a route with both sport and trad sections.

Mono / Monodoigt - n. French for "one finger" pocket, a pocket in which only one finger can fit.

Move - n. Refers to the motion between holds. ie; "That's a tough move from the gaston to that sloper."

Multi Pitch Climb - n. A climb with more than one pitch, or ropelength.

Münter Hitch - n. A non-locking hitch that allows enough friction to provide an excellent belay method when used in conjunction with a locking carabiner, preferably a wide-mouthed (HMS) carabiner. Named after Swiss mountain guide Werner Münter. a.k.a. Italian hitch


Natural Protection - n. One definition suggests that it refers to "traditional" protection, i.e. gear that is placed in cracks or pockets which can be removed with no harm to the rock. ie: cams, nuts, hexes. Another definition suggests that it refers to non-man-made features, e.g. trees, roots, etc., around which a sling kan be placed for protection.

Nubbin - n. A very tiny protrusion that may be used as a sketchy foot or hand hold.

Nuts - n. a flared piece of metal placed into a bottle neck constriction as a means of protection.

Nylon - n. Material used to make slings, aiders and daisychains. Many climbers are shifting over to Dyneema or Spectra however.


Off Belay - n. Common climbing call from a climber to a belayer letting them know they are safe and no longer require belaying.

Offwidth - n/vb a crack that is neither wide enough to fit the whole body (chimney size) nor narrow enough to hand jam. Notorious for the necessity of awkward technique to climb.

Onsight - n/vb. a clean ascent with no falls, first try, with no prior knowledge of the route.

Open Book - n. An inside corner on a right angle. The rock flares out from a central corner looking like an open book. Also see dihedral.

Open hand - n.vb. a technique that requires a maximum amount of skin contact from the hand. Often used on slopers. (antonym: crimper)

Outdoor Climbing - n. Climbing on real rock, ice or snow. Often a foreign concept to gym rats.


Pacing - n./v. A fundamental way of conserving energy by varying the speed of movement according to the angle of the rock.

Palming - n./v. Hand technique where the palm of the hand pushes downward on a slab or bulge, allowing the extension muscles to be used if the angle is low enough to allow good friction.

Passive - adj. Passive protection has no special action like a cam, it is merely wedged into a crack and functions only one way.

Pendulum - v. To swing in an arc on the end of a rope to gain access to an anchor or rock feature to one side of your current position. Also a dangerous situation that may occur during a fall, if the top piece of protections is off to one side.

Peg - n. See piton.

Pin - n. See piton.

Pin scar - n. The remaining damage to a crack after a piton (or pin) has been removed. I don't like that climb; all its holds are pin scars.

Pinch - n. Any hold that must be pinched.

Pinkpoint - n.vb. A clean (no-falls) ascent of a route on lead with gear pre-placed. The climber need only clip the rope into the preplaced protection while climbing. Note: This term has disappeared from sport climbing terminology with all clean leads called redpoints.

Pitch - n. Generally a ropelength between belay stations on a multi-pitch climb.

Piton - n. a long-nosed, spike shaped, piece of metal driven into cracks for protection or aid.

Plastic - n. common name for the material of which artificial holds are made.

Pocket - n. an indented climbing feature that requires insertion of appendages to use.

Pop - adj. What happens to protection when it comes out of its placement. 2.(v.) to make a small throw to the next hold. ie: Pop for the jug.

Portaledge - n. A portable and colapsable ledge used for sleeping on a big wall or multi-pitch climb requiring more than one day to complete.

Pro - n. short for protection.

Problem - n. A bouldering route.

Protection - n. Gear placed on a climb to protect the climber in the event of a fall. ie: nuts, pitons, cams, bolts, quickdraws.

Protection Point - n. The last place on a climb where the leader placed and clipped their rope into a piece of protection.

Prusik Knot - n. A friction knot that when loaded, will lock on a rope. It is used when climbing a rope, backing up a rappel or locking off the belay system.

Psychological protection - n. A very poorly placed peice of protection that will never hold a fall but makes the climber feel better about having gear beneath them.

Pulley System - n. Where the rope runs through a series of pulley's and carabiners to gain a mechanical advantage when pulling the rope.

Pumped - adj. tired. referring to the state of forearms in a desperate state, swollen and unresponsive.


Quick Link - n. An oval shaped, metal ring with a screw gate requiring a wrench to fasten. These are often used to secure quickdraws to bolt hangers on indoor walls or as bail biners when a climber needs to decend from a route which is too difficult.

Quickdraw - n. two caribiners connected by a webbing (usually) or rope. Used to link elements of protection, or more commonly, to link the rope to a piece of protection.


Rack - n. The set of protection equipment used for a climb.

Rappel - n/vb the act of self belaying down the length of a rope to descend.

Redpoint - n/vb. a clean ascent with no falls, placing protection while climbing.

Ring bend - see Water knot

Ring lock - n/vb. a Jam for a crack that is wider than fingers and narrower than hands. Involves bridging the crack with the thumb, and stacking the fingers on top of the thumb.

Ripples - n. pl. Undulations in a slab surface that may allow the feet to gain a hold through friction.

Rock-on - n. Technique where a toe or heel on a hold at about waist height is used to pull the body weight up and over. Can be very strenuous if attempted statically so it is generally best treated as a dynamic move, launching from a foothold and "throwing" the hips by using side pulls or pushing down on a hold behind the hips. Is often the key to difficult slab moves.

Roof - n. a 180 degree overhang.

RP - n. A Specialized brass micro-nut manufactured in Australia.

Runner - n. a sewn or tied loop of webbing or rope used to connect protection elements.

Runout - n/vb/adj. without adequate protection.

RURPs - n. pl. Tiny postage-stamp-sized blades used as fixed equipment - Realized Ultimate Reality Pitons.


Safety rating - Rockclimbing.com uses the following "safety ratings" for routes: G - Well-protected route with low risk as long as climbers follow proper safety precautions; PG13 - Small potential for non-lethal injury; R - Run-out between protection and/or potential injury from falls; X - Little or no protection, dangerous run-outs and potential for serious injury or death from a fall.

Sandbag - n/adj/vb. A climb that receives an inappropriately low rating for the difficulty.

Screamer - n a very long fall. Also a common name for a device which reduces peak force by controlled tearing of stitching, more specifically the brand name for one of these products by Yates.

Scum - vb. To use a body part besides the hands or the feet to ascend or stay on the rock. Sometimes thought of as bad form, but can be used to negotiate a key rest on a long route. Ex. I would've fallen if I hadn't been able to scum with the top of my head on that roof and shake my arms out.

Second - vb following the leader on a multi-pitch route, and typically cleaning any protection that was placed on the pitch. 2. (n) a person (one or more) who is seconding a climb.

Send - vb to complete a route successfully.

Self Arrest - vb. the act of stopping oneself with the axe in the case of a fall while on a snow slope.

Sharp end - n. slang The lead (top) end of a rope when lead climbing.

Sidecling - n. Any hold that requires the climber to pull on it in a sideways manner.

Slab - n any climb that is less than vertical, especially those devoid of features requiring smearing of the feet.

Slap - n./v. A type of dynamic move involving the fast movement of a hand from one hold to another while the rest of the body remains fairly still.

SLCD - Abbreviation for Spring-Loaded Camming Device - a mechanical protection device that is often simply called a cam.

Sling - n/vb a loop of webbing or rope (see runner)

Sloper - n. a downward sloping hold.

Smear - n/vb the act of placing a large surface area of shoe rubber on a hold to create maximum friction.

Solo - n/vb Climbing alone, without a partner. Often used as abbreviation for free solo, which refers to climbing without a partner or protection.

Sport Climbing - n a school of climbing that generally emphasizes shorter routes, physically difficult movement, and bolted protection. This includes gym climbing and competition.

Spotting - v./n. A way of reducing the hazard for unroped climbers. One or more people shield a climber from a bad landing with their hands.

Stack(ing) – n/vb. Placing fingers above each other in a crack to lock while crack climbing. In addition to a finger stack, you can stack hand and fist jams together with two hands for offwidth cracks. It's even possible (although probably not very often used) to stack a knee and a fist/hand together in off-width cracks.

START - n. acronym A simple way to create a safe belay - Simple, Tested, Angle, Reliance, Tensioned.

Static move - n. A slow reach for a hold, the opposite of a dynamic move which involves "slapping" or even jumping for a hold.

Static rope - n. A nonelastic rope, useful for situations other than lead climbing.

Stem - n/vb movement requiring opposing outward pressure much like a child climbing a door jam.

Stick Clip - n. A device attached to a pole of some sort, usually a painters pole, that will hold the carabiner on a quickdraw with rope attached. Used to clip the first and sometimes second bolt of a climb to prevent decking if you fall on the climb before you are able to clip the first bolt.

Stitch plate - n. A belay device consisting of a flat plate with a single or, more commonly, a pair of slots, often used generically.

Stopper knot - n. An overhand knot usually tied around a parallel strand of rope to secure the loose end of a main knot. The more secure double version is commonly used (see Double Stopper Knot). a.k.a. thumb knot.


Tape - n. Zinc oxide tape.

Tape knot - see Water knot

Taping up - v. The action of applying tape around the knuckles or used to improvise gloves with bare palms in order to protect from rock crystals digging into the flesh. Especially useful in crack climbing.

Thumb knot - see Stopper knot

Top rope - n/vb. A climb that has the rope anchors preset at the top of the climb. In general this results in shorter falls than a "lead".

Topo - n a map of routes and their names.

Traditional/ trad / trad climbing - n/adj Climbing that emphasizes longer routes and removable protection.

Tuffa - n. Generally rounded hanging features formed by calcium leaching out of limestone. Basically the climber's version of Stalactites.

Twin-ropes - n. A pair of ropes intended to be clipped together as a single rope while lead climbing. A rope intended for such usage will generally be marked with an infinity (sideways 8) symbol.

Twist-lock - n./v. A lock-off in which the body is turned to face the hold. Often combined with turning the hips at right angles to the rock by using the outside edge of the opposite foot. Allows a considerably greater reach.


Udge - n./v. A type of dynamic move that starts as a static reach for a hold, but the last few inches are just beyond the comfortable point of balance and require a sudden committing acceleration to reach the hold. Sometimes an intermediate sloping hold can be used mometarily to gather resources for the final surge.

Undercling - n/vb a hold that requires fingers to face upward rather than downward.

Undercut - see Undercling


V ratings - n. an open ended scale used to rate the difficulty of boulder problems. See "ratings" in the beginner section for a conversion chart.

Verglas - n. a thin layer of ice covering rock.


Weighting (the rope) - v./n. Resting by hanging on the belay rope. Not allowed in a a clean ascent.

Whipper - n A fall from above protection while lead or trad climbing.

Wire - n. Slang for Nut. See Nuts.

Wired - adj. describing a well rehearsed climbing sequence.

Water knot - n. Used to connect the ends of a sling into a loop or to link two slings together. It is basically an overhand knot in one end, with the other end fed back through in the reverse direction. Can also be used for ropes, but the ropes can easily become undone. Should be pulled very tight, with long tail ends (at least five times the sling's width). a.k.a. ring bend or tape knot.

Worm grinding - Slab climbing technique where a toe is placed onto a change in angle, with the other toes lower. The toe is ground into the rock as the other toes are pivoted upward; once the rubber has bitten it will stay put and absorb all the climber's weight.


X - No entries.


Yosemite Decimal System (YDS) - n. the most common system used to rate difficulty in the U.S. Most technical rock climbing is rated on a scale of 5.0 to 5.14c/d with higher numbers representing harder climbs.


Zipper - vb. to pull out protection sequentially while falling.


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