Rock Climbing Terms – All Climbers Need to Know

Last Updated on August 18, 2020

Either you are a regular climber or ever once went for climbing with your friends and buddies, then you must be noticed that climbers use a lot of jargon as a way to describe their conditions while climbing.

These terms often look so much confusing to the newbies as they can’t really understand what they mean. And so, without understanding these terms one may face a little bit difficult to keep up with the climbing partners during climbing.

Rock Climbing Terms

If you are worried about understanding all these climbing terms, then, fortunately, you are lucky enough that you are in the right place. In this article, we are going to define as well asclarify some weird and complicated climbing terms which may find really confusing to you.

Rock Climbing Terms for Beginners

Like every subculture or social group, rock climbers also have some own climbing terminology which they used to talk with their partners while climbing. These mountain terms form their own rock climbing language which is used more or less by more than 9 million climbing enthusiastic people in the USA. [ source: ScienceDaily]

So, if you are a newcomer to the sport of rock climbing, then you need to be familiar with all the mountain climbing terms and practicing them a lot while spending time with other veteran climbers. To talk like a rock climber and get connected with the partners, you need to know a large number of climbing vocabulary as well.

Rock Climbing Terminology

To glean the local dialect of climbers here are few jargons or climbing words which are must to know before getting involved with climbing or get your climb on.

Abseil: Abseil is known as Rappel. It refers to the process of making controlled descent on a fixed rope. This term commonly used in Australia and Europe.

Aid Climbing: A climbing in which ascending a wall for standing on or pulling up via fixed devices or temporary pieces of gear to make upward progress under your own weight. This climbing makes the use of fixed bolts, foot slings and rope is totally opposite of free climbing.

Anchor: An arrangement of one or more gears for a climbing rope. This point attachment usually made with runners, slings, or the rope itself. It is used to support the weight of a belay and top rope.

Approach: The route or path to start of a climb. This walk to the base of a climb is occasionally as risky as the climb itself. In short, approach refers to the hike which is required to reach the climbing destination.

Arete: An acute edge formed by two planes of a rock that intersect to make an outside corner. A sharp outward facing corner which can be used as a hold is a good example of an arete.

Backclip: An incorrect method of clipping that increases the chance of the quickdraw unclipping. It is a dangerous error where the rope runs from the outsides of the draw inward. It is a backward rope thread through a quickdraw that can unclip itself in the event of a fall.

Backup: An additional system of protection which has a back-up in place to provide redundancy to an anchor.  Two anchor points at the route top is an obvious example of back-up.

Belay: The technique to protect a roped climber from falling by using friction on the rope. The system takes up or feeds the slack through a belay device for a climber.

Beta: Instruction or advice on how to successfully complete a climb. It is a very specific detail which is described by someone who has done the route or problem.

Big Wall: Extended, multi-pitch rock climbing that usually takes multiple days to complete.

Bouldering: Climbing on large boulders, typically close to the ground without the use of a rope.  Protection appears through crash pads and spotters.

Camming: The act of rotating a piece of equipment into a place until tight or wedged.

Chimney: A crack which is wide enough for a climber to fit inside and to move through. The climber uses opposing force between feet and body to climb such a structure.

Chipping: Creating or enhancing a hold by permanently altering the rock. Chipping is considered a bad form or unethical, so it should always be avoided.

Crank: To pull really hard on hold as possible.

Clean: To complete a climb from bottom to top without falling or resting on the rope. Also refers to a route which is free from vegetation and loose rock.

Directional: Protection on a route which is placed to prevent a following or toproping climber from taking a huge swing that involves a traverse or overhang.

Dyno: A dynamic move that allows a climber to gain a distant hold. Non-climber would call it a jump or a leap.

Eliminate: A bouldering move that restricts the use of certain holds on the wall.

Flash: Climbing a route successfully on the first attempt after receiving a beta of other climbs.

Gumby: An inexperienced newbie climber who doesn’t know what they are doing.

High Ball: A dangerous bouldering problem due to the height that often involves a no fall zone.

Jug: A large and very positive hold which can be grabbed with the entire hand.

Layback: A technique of climbing a vertical edge by using counter pressure of hands pulling and feet pushing on an opposing edge.

Off-width: A crack that is wider than a hand or foot for fists but narrow to chimney.

Pitch: A single rope length which is considered as a portion of a climb between two belay points.

Red-point: Climbing a route without falling after having tried at least once before.

Run-out: Long distance between two points of protection.

Screamer: A long and loud fall on the rope. Also the brand name of Yates Mountaineering.

Technical: A term refers to climbing routes that demand technical sequences of moves to complete.

Undercling: A climbing hold gripped with the palm which is needed to force the climber to pull upwards to get purchase.

V-scale: A grading system invented by John Sherman for bouldering problems. It is also known as the hueco scale.

Wired:  Very well practiced or/ and memorized beta and moves.

Zipper: A series of protection sequentially pop out of the rock when a lead climber falls.

Final Words

Here are all the mountain climbing words which are mostly used by the mountaineers from the climbing dictionary. Especially, to talk like a veteran climber these terms will help you to communicate with your fellow climbers.

Adding these rock climbing term to your vocabulary, you will be able to communicate with a climber in a better way indeed.  So, like a prospective climber you should go through these terms to step towards climbing and bring yourself one step ahead for the real challenge.


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