You are hereClimbing Glossary

Climbing Glossary





American death triangle 
A type of climbing anchor known for its weakness due to the physics of its construction.
Abalakov thread 
A type of abseiling point used especially in winter and ice climbing. Also called as V-thread.
Ablation zone 
The area of a glacier where yearly melting meets or exceeds the annual snow fall.
Abseil 
The process by which a climber can descend a fixed rope. Also known as Rappel.
Adze 
A thin blade mounted perpendicular to the handle on an ice axe that can be used for chopping footholds.
Alpine start 
To make an efficient start on a long climb by packing all your gear the previous evening and starting early in the morning, usually well before sunrise.
Altitude sickness 
A medical condition that is often observed at high altitudes. Also known as Acute mountain sickness, or AMS.[1]
Anchor 
An arrangement of one or (usually) more pieces of gear set up to support the weight of a belay or top rope.
Approach 
The path or route to the start of a technical climb. Although this is generally a walk or, at most, a scramble it is occasionally as hazardous as the climb itself.
Arête 
1. A small ridge-like feature on a steep rock face
2. Arête, a narrow ridge of rock formed by glacial erosion
3. A method of indoor climbing, in which one is able to use such a corner as a hold. See also dihedral.
Ascend 
To complete a route or problem.
Ascender 
A device for ascending on a rope.
ATC 
A proprietary belay device manufactured by Black Diamond. ATC stands for air traffic controller.
Atomic belay 
A quick method for setting up a two-point anchor in sport climbing, using the climbing rope to attach to the anchor points.

"B"-grade 
A grading system for bouldering problems, invented by John Gill. Now largely superseded by the "V" grading system.
Bachar ladder 
A piece of training equipment used to improve campusing and core strength.
Back-clipping 
A potentially hazardous mistake that can be made while lead climbing. The rope is clipped into a quickdraw such that the leader's end runs underneath the quickdraw as opposed to over top of it. If the leader falls, the rope may fold directly over the gate causing it to open and release the rope from the carabiner.
Bail 
To retreat from a climb.
Barn-door 
If a climber has only two points of contact using either the right or left side of his body, the other half may swing uncontrollably out from the wall like a door on a hinge.
Bashie 
A copperhead intended for pounding into a crack
Belay 
To protect a roped climber from falling by passing the rope through, or around, any type of friction enhancing belay device. Before belay devices were invented, the rope was simply passed around the belayer's hips to create friction.
Belay device 
A mechanical device used to create friction when belaying by putting bends in the rope. Many types of belay device exist, including ATC, grigri, Reverso, Sticht plate, eight and tuber. Some belay devices may also be used as descenders. A Munter hitch can sometimes be used instead of a belay device.
Belay slave 
Someone that volunteers for, or is tricked into, repeated belaying duties without partaking in any of the actual climbing.
Bergschrund (or schrund)
A crevasse that forms on the upper portion of a glacier where the moving section pulls away from the headwall. Also called a 'shrund.
Beta 
Advice and/or instructions on how to successfully complete a particular climbing route, boulder problem, or crux sequence.
Beta flash 
The clean ascent of a climb on the first attempt, having previously obtained beta or while having beta shouted up from the ground en route. Also see on-sight.
Biner  
See Carabiner.
Bivy (or bivvy)
From the French "bivouac". A camp, or the act of camping, overnight while still on a climbing route off the ground. May involve nothing more than lying down or sitting on a rock ledge without any sleeping gear. When there is no rock ledge available, such as on a sheer vertical wall, a portaledge that hangs from anchors on the wall can be used.
Bivy-bag 
A lightweight garment or sack offering full-body protection from wind and rain.
Bollard 
A large knob of rock or ice used as a belay anchor.
Bolt 
A point of protection permanently installed in a hole drilled into the rock, to which a metal hanger is attached, having a hole for a biner or ring.
Bolt chopping 
The deliberate and destructive removal of one or more bolts.
Bomb-proof anchor 
A totally secure anchor. Also known as bomber.
Bouldering 
The practice of climbing on large boulders. Typically this is close to the ground, so protection takes the form of crash pads and spotting instead of belay ropes.
Bridging 
see Steming
Bucket 
A large handhold.
Bummer 
A slang word, used usually to describe a nasty little hold, in sense of nasty like tearing the finger skin very badly or something like this.
Bump 
To quickly move up a hand or a foot a small distance from one useful hold to another.
Buildering 
The art of climbing on buildings, which is often illegal.
Buttress 
A prominent feature that juts out from a rock or mountain.

Cairn 
A distinctive pile of stones placed to designate a summit or mark a trail above treeline.
Cams 
A spring-loaded device used as protection.
Campus 
The act of climbing without using any feet.
Campus board 
Training equipment used to build finger strength and strong arm lock-offs.
Carabiner 
Metal rings with spring-loaded gates, used as connectors. Also known as crab or biner (pronounced beaner).
Chalk 
A compound used to improve grip by absorbing sweat. It is actually gymnastics chalk, usually magnesium carbonate. Its use is controversial in some areas.
Chalk bag 
A hand-sized holder for a climber's chalk that is usually carried on a chalkbelt for easy access during a climb.
Chicken Head 
see bollard, horn.
Chimney 
A rock cleft with vertical sides mostly parallel, large enough to fit the climber's body into. To climb such a structure, the climber often uses his head, back and feet to apply opposite pressure on the vertical walls.
The process of using such a technique.
Chipping 
Improving a hold by permanently altering the rock. Widely used in the 80's and early 90's, but now considered unethical and unacceptable.
Chock 
A mechanical device, or a wedge, used as anchors in cracks.
A naturally occurring stone wedged in a crack.
Choss 
Loose or "rotten" rock.
Classification 
See Grade.
Clawing 
Use of front points of crampons, ice axe pick and ice hammer pick to climb a slope.
Clean 
To remove equipment from a route.
A route that is free of loose vegetation and rocks.
To complete a climb without falling or resting on the rope. Also see redpoint.
In aid climbing, abbreviated "C", a route that does not require the use of a hammer or any invasive addition of protection (such as pitons or copperheads) into the rock (see protection).
Cleaning tool 
A device for removing jammed equipment, especially nuts, from a route. Also known as a nut key.
Climbing area 
A region that is plentiful with climbing routes.
Climbing command 
A short phrase used for communication between a climber and a belayer.
Climbing gym 
Specialized indoor climbing centres. See gym climbing. (Usually just called a climbing wall in Britain).
Climbing shoe 
Footwear designed specifically for climbing. Usually well fitting, with a rubber sole.
Climbing technique 
Particular techniques, or moves, commonly applied in climbing.
Climbing wall 
Artificial rock, typically in a climbing gym.
Clipping in 
The process of attaching to belay lines or anchors for protection.
Col 
A small pass or "saddle" between two peaks. Excellent for navigation as when standing on one it's always down in two, opposite, directions and up in the two directions in between those.
Cord lock 
a lock or toggle used to fasten cords with gloved hands. Used on most mountaineering gear.
Cordelette 
A long loop of accessory cord used to tie into multiple anchor points.
Corner 
An inside corner of rock, the opposite to an arête (UK). See Dihedral.
Cornice 
An overhanging edge of snow on a ridge.
Couloir 
A steep gully or gorge frequently filled with snow or ice.
Crack climbing 
To ascend on a rock face by wedging body parts into cracks, i.e. not face climbing. See jamming and chimney.
Crag 
A small area with climbing routes, often just a small cliff face or a few boulders.
Crampons 
Metal framework with spikes attached to boots to increase safety on snow and ice.
Cramponing 
Using crampons to ascend or descend on ice, preferably with maximum number of points of the crampon into the ice for weight distribution.
Accidentally piercing something with a crampon spike.
Crank 
To pull on a hold as hard as possible.
Crash pad 
A thick mat used to soften landings or to cover hazardous objects in the event of a fall. See: Bouldering mat
Crater 
Hitting the ground at the end of a fall instead of being caught by the rope.
Crimp 
A hold which is only just big enough to be grasped with the tips of the fingers.
The process of holding onto a crimp.
Crux 
The most difficult portion of a climb.
Cut-loose 
Where a climber's feet swing away from the rock on overhanging terrain, leaving the climber hanging only by their hands. Also known as "Cutting feet."
Cwm 
(Welsh) Hanging valley, cirque: a steep-walled semicircular basin in a mountain; may contain a lake, Cwm as does a corrie.

Daisy chain 
A special purpose type of sling with multiple sewn, or tied, loops. It is significantly weaker than a normal sling.
Dead hang 
To hang limp, such that weight is held by ligament tension rather than muscles.
Deadman anchor 
An object buried into snow to serve as an anchor for an attached rope. One common type of such an anchor is the snow fluke.
Deadpoint 
A dynamic climbing technique in which the hold is grabbed at the apex of upward motion. This technique places minimal strain on both the hold and the arms.
Deck 
The ground.
To hit the ground, usually the outcome of a fall.
Deep Water Soloing
Free climbing an area that overhangs a deep enough body of water to allow for a safe fall.
Descender 
A device for controlled descent on a rope. Many belay devices may be used as descenders, including ATCs, eights, or even carabiners. See rappel.
Dexamethasone  
A pharmaceutical drug used in the treatment of high altitude cerebral edema as well as high altitude pulmonary edema. It is commonly carried on mountain climbing expeditions to help climbers deal with altitude sickness.[1]
Dialled 
To have complete understanding of a particular climbing move or route.
Diamox 
A drug used to inhibit the onset of altitude sickness. Otherwise known as Acetazolamide.[1]
Dièdre 
A dihedral.
Dihedral 
An inside corner of rock, with more than a 90-degree angle between the faces. See also corner and arête.
Direct aid 
A type of tension climbing consisting of using one or more belay ropes to haul the leader up to the next point of protection.
Double Rope Technique (DRT) 
For alpine and rock climbers this term implies the use of two separate ropes. For tree climbers this term is ambiguous but is usually interpreted as a synonym for Doubled Rope Technique.
Doubled Rope Technique (DdRT) 
A method used primarily by tree climbers where the rope passes over a support/limb and continuously slides over the limb as the climber ascends or descends.
Downclimb 
To descend by climbing downward, typically after completing a climb.
Dry tooling 
Using tools for ice climbing like crampons and ice axes on rock.
Dulfersitz 
A method of rappelling, without mechanical tools, where the uphill rope is straddled by the climber then looped around a hip, across the chest, over the opposite (weak) shoulder, and held with the downhill (strong) hand to adjust the shoulder friction and thus the descending speed.
Dynamic belay 
Technique of stopping a long fall using smooth braking to reduce stress on the protection points and avoid unnecessary trauma from an abrupt stop.
Dynamic rope 
A slightly elastic rope that softens falls to some extent. Also tend to be damaged less severely by heavy loads. Compare with static rope.
Dynamic motion 
Any move in which body momentum is used to progress. As opposed to static technique where three-point suspension and slow, controlled movement is the rule.
Dyno 
A dynamic move to grab a hold that would otherwise be out of reach. Generally both feet will leave the rock face and return again once the target hold is caught. Non-climbers would call it a jump or a leap.

Edge 
A thin ledge on the rock.
Edging 
Using the edge of the climbing shoe on a foothold. In the absence of footholds, smearing is used.
Egyptian 
A climbing technique used to reduce tension in arms while holding a side grip.
Eight-thousander 
A mountain whose elevation exceeds 8,000 metres above sea level. There are fourteen such mountains on earth.
Eliminate 
A term from bouldering describing a move or series of moves in which either certain holds are placed 'off bounds' or other artificial restrictions are imposed.
Epic 
An ordinary climb rendered difficult by a dangerous combination of weather, injuries, darkness, or other adverse factors.
Exposure 
Empty space below a climber, usually referring to a great distance above the deck through which the climber could fall.

Face climbing 
To ascend a vertical rock face using finger holds, edges and smears, i.e. not crack climbing.
Fall 
Undesirable downward motion. Hopefully stopped by a rope, otherwise see mountain rescue.
A "free-solo belay", the quickest way to reach the ground.
Figure Four 
Advanced climbing technique where the climber hooks a leg over the opposite arm, and then pushes down with this leg to achieve a greater vertical reach. Requires strength and a solid handhold.
Finger board 
Training equipment used to build finger strength.
First ascent 
The first successful completion of a route.
Fist jam 
A type of jam using the hand. See climbing technique.
Fixed rope 
A rope which has a fixed attachment point. Commonly used for abseiling or aid climbing.
Flagging 
Climbing technique where a leg is held in a position to maintain balance, rather than to support weight. Often useful to prevent barn-dooring.
Flake 
A thin slab of rock detached from the main face.
Flapper 
An injury consisting of a piece of loose (flapping) skin. A climber will usually just repair these with sticky tape or super glue.
Flash 
To successfully and cleanly complete a climbing route on the first attempt after having received beta of some form. Also refers to an ascent of this type. For ascents on the first attempt without receiving beta see on-sight.
Follow 
What the second does.
Font 
The French bouldering grading system.
Fourteener 
Mountain that tops 14,000 feet (4,300 m) in the contiguous United States.
Free climbing 
Climbing without unnatural aids, other than used for protection.
Free Solo 
Climbing without aid or protection. This typically means climbing without a rope.
Frenchies 
An exercise used to develop lock-off strength.
Friction 
Climbing technique relying on the friction between the sloped rock and the sole of the shoe to support the climber's weight, as opposed using holds or edges, cracks, etc.
Friend 
A name brand of a type of spring loaded camming device (SLCD), sometimes used to refer to any type of spring loaded camming device.
Flute
A usually insecure fin or flake of rock or ice.

Gaston 
A climbing grip using one hand with the thumb down and elbow out. The grip maintains friction against a hold by pressing outward toward the elbow.
Gendarme 
A pinnacle or isolated rock tower frequently encountered along a ridge.
Geneva rappel 
A modified dulfersitz rappel using the hip and downhill arm for friction, rather than the chest and shoulder, offering less complexity, but less friction and less control.
Glacier travel 
walking or climbing on a glacier; a rope is usually used to arrest falls into crevasses, but protection is not used.
Glissade 
A usually voluntary act of sliding down a steep slope of snow.
Gorp 
Trail mix for periodic nibbling to keep high energy level between meals on long climbs or hikes. An backronym for 'Good Ol' Raisins & Peanuts'
Grade 
Intended as an objective measure of the technical difficulty of a particular climb or bouldering problem. More often is highly subjective, however.
A surveying term for referring to the slope of an incline. (Grade (geography))
Grigri 
A belay device designed to be easy to use and safer for beginners because it is self-locking under load. Invented and manufactured by Petzl. Many experienced climbers advocate the use of an atc type device for beginners
Gripped 
Scared. Also over gripping the rock.
Grovel 
To climb with obviously poor style or technique.
A climbing route judged to be without redeeming virtue.
Gumby 
An inexperienced (or unsafe) climber.
Gym climbing 
Climbing indoors, on artificial climbing walls. This is typically for training but many people consider this a worthwhile activity in its own right.

HACE 
High Altitude Cerebral Edema - a severe, and often fatal, form of altitude sickness.[1]
Hand traverse 
Traversing without any definitive footholds, i.e. smearing or heelhooking.
Hangdog 
While lead climbing or on top rope, to hang on the rope or a piece of protection for a rest.
Hanging belay 
Belaying at a point such that the belayer is suspended.
HAPE 
High Altitude Pulmonary Edema - a serious form of altitude sickness.[1]
Harness 
See climbing harness. A sewn nylon webbing device worn around the waist and thighs that is designed to allow a person to safely hang suspended in the air.
Haul bag 
A large and often unwieldy bag into which supplies and climbing equipment may be thrown.
Head point 
See top rope. The practice of top-roping a hard trad route before leading it cleanly.
Headwall 
The region of a cliff or rock face that steepens dramatically.
Helmet 
Also known as a brain bucket or skid lid. It can save your life, but only while worn.
Hexcentric 
A protective device. It is an eccentric hexagonal nut attached to a wire loop. The nut is inserted into a crack and it holds through counter-pressure. Often just termed Hex.
High Ball 
A boulder, which is usually more than 3-4m high and falling from top can lead to different injuries.
Hold 
A place to temporarily cling, grip, jam, press, or stand in the process of climbing.
Honed 
To be in peak mental and physical fitness for climbing.
Hook 
Equipment used in aid climbing.
A climbing technique involving hooking a heel or toe against a hold in order to balance or to provide additional support.
Horn 
Large, pointed protrusion of rock that can be slung. Typically also makes a good hand hold. See bollard, chicken head.

Ice axe 
A handy tool for safety and balance, having a pick/adze head and a spike at the opposite end of a shaft.
Ice hammer 
A lightweight ice axe with a hammer/pick head on a short handle and no spike.
Ice screw 
A screw used to protect a climb over steep ice or for setting up a crevasse rescue system. The strongest and most reliable is the modern tubular ice screw which ranges in length from 18 to 23 cm.
Ice piton 
Long, wide, serrated piton once used for weak protection on ice.
Indoor climbing 
See gym climbing.

Jamming 
Wedging a body part into a crack.
Jib 
A particularly small foot hold, usually only large enough for the big toe, sometimes relying heavily on friction to support weight.
Jug 
A shortened term for Jumar, both noun and verb.
Jug hold 
A large, easily held hold. Also known simply as a jug.
Jumar 
  1. A type of mechanical ascender.
  2. To ascend a rope using a mechanical ascender.

Karen
See Cairn.
Klemheist knot 
An alternative to the Prusik knot, useful when the climber is short of cord but has plenty of webbing.
Knots 
Climbers rely on many different knots for anchoring oneself to a mountain, joining two ropes together, slings for climbing up the rope, etc.

Lead climbing 
A form of climbing in which the climber places anchors and attaches the belay rope as they climb (traditional) or clips the belay rope into preplaced equipment attached to bolts (sport).
Leader Fall 
A fall while Lead climbing. A fall from above the climbers last piece of protection. The falling leader will fall at least twice the distance back to his or her last piece, plus slack and rope stretch.
Lieback 
Or layback. A climbing move that involves pulling on the hands while pushing on the feet.
Liquid Chalk 
A liquid form of chalk, which holds longer time than normal chalk and is being used on very hard routes and competitions, where every chalking costs too much power.
Locking carabiner 
A carabiner with a locking gate, to prevent accidental release of the rope.
Lock-off 
Using tendon strength to support weight on a hand hold without tiring muscles too much.
Low-Angle 
A face climb that is less than vertical; the opposite of an overhang or roof. The same as "slab".

Mantle 
A move used to surmount a ledge or feature in the rock in the absence of any useful holds directly above. It involves pushing down on a ledge or feature instead of pulling down. In ice climbing, a mantle is done by moving the hands from the shaft to the top of the ice tool and pushing down on the head of the tool.
The external covering of a climbing rope. Climbing ropes use kernmantle construction consisting of a kern (or core) for strength and an external sheath called the mantle.
Match 
To use one hold for two limbs, or to swap limbs on a particular hold.
Moat 
A crevasse that forms where the glacier pulls away from a rock formation.
Mountain rescue 
A friendly team of people that may come and rescue you after an injury or accident. May also search for overdue climbers, at no small peril and expense. Also see coroner and rescue doctrine of negligence law.
Move 
Application of a specific climbing technique to progress on a climb.
Moving together 
Method of climbing – used on easy Alpine ground – in which two or more climbers climb at the same time with running belays between them and fixed belays not being used.
Multi-pitch climbing 
Climbing on routes that are too long for a single belay rope.
Munter hitch 
A simple hitch that is often used for belaying without a mechanical belay device. Otherwise known as an Italian hitch or a Friction hitch.

Névê 
Permanent granular ice formed by repeated freeze-thaw cycles.
No-hand rest 
An entirely leg-supported resting position during climbing that does not require hands on the rock.
Nub 
A little hold that only a few fingers can grip, or the tips of the toes.
Nunatak 
A mountain or rock that protrudes through an ice field.
Nut 
A metal wedge attached to a wire loop that is inserted into cracks for protection. See hexcentric.
Nut Key 
See Cleaning Tool

Objective danger 
Danger in a climbing situation which comes from hazards inherent in the location of the climb, not depending on the climber's skill level. Most often these involve falling rock or ice, or avalanches.
Off-width 
A crack that is too wide for effective hand or foot jams, but is not as large as a chimney.
On-sight 
A clean ascent, with no prior practice or beta.
Open book 
An inside angle in the rock. See also dihedral.
Overhang 
A section of rock or ice that is angled beyond vertical. See roof.

Panic Bear 
A panicking novice climber clinging to hand holds while searching desperately for a foot hold.
Peak-bagging 
To systematically attain designated summits under prescribed conditions.
Peel 
To fall.
Pendulum 
Swinging on taut rope either to reach the next hold in a pendulum traverse or after a fall when the last piece of protection is far to either side.
Pickets 
Long, tubular rods driven into snow to provide a quick anchor.
Pied à plat 
A crampon technique in the French style: to climb on high-angle ice with feet flat on the ice (as opposed to front-pointing).
Pied assis 
A crampon technique in the French style: to rest on high-angle ice with one foot tucked under the buttocks, toes pointed straight down-slope.
Pied en canard 
A crampon technique in the French style: to walk on moderate-angle ice with toes pointed outward; literally, "duck footed".
Pied marche 
A crampon technique in the French style: to walk on low-angle ice with toes pointed straight ahead.
Picknick stop 
A No-hand rest.
Pinkpoint 
To complete a lead climb without falling or resting on the rope (hangdogging), but with pre-placed protection and carabiners. Also see clean and redpoint.
Pinch Hold 
This is a hold where you must pinch it to hold on. They come in various sizes.
Pitch 
In the strictest climbing definition, a pitch is considered one rope length (50-60 meters). However, in guide books and route descriptions, a pitch is the portion of a climb between two belay points.
Piton 
A flat or angled metal blade of steel which incorporates a clipping hole for a carabiner or a ring in its body. A piton is typically used in "aid-climbing" and an appropriate size and shape is hammered into a thin crack in the rock and preferably removed by the last team member.
Piton catcher 
Clip-on string fastened to piton when inserting or removing, so as to avoid loss.
Plunge step 
An aggressive step pattern for descending on hard or steep angle snow.
Pof 
An alternative to chalk made from pine resin. Popular in Fontainebleau but discouraged (or actively forbidden) everywhere else since it deposits a thick, shiny resin layer on the rock and friction can only be achieved by using more pof.
Positive 
Of a hold or part of a hold, having a surface facing upwards, or away from the direction it is pulled, facilitating use.
Pressure Breathing 
Forcefully exhaling to facilitate O2/CO2 exchange at altitude. Also called the "Whittaker wheeze".
Problem 
Used in bouldering, the path that a climber takes in order to complete the climb. Same as route in roped climbing.
Protection 
Process of setting equipment or anchors for safety.
Equipment or anchors used for arresting falls. Commonly known as Pro.
Prusik 
A knot used for ascending a rope. It is named after Dr Karl Prusik, the Austrian mountaineer who developed this knot in 1931.
To use a Prusik knot for ascending a rope.
Pseudo Leading 
To climb a wall Toprope with having another rope connected to the climber, for practice of Lead climbing clipping. The other rope is normally not connected to any belayer below and is only there to practice the clipping. Usually practiced while learning how to Lead Climb.
Psychological protection 
A peice of protection that everyone knows will not hold a fall, but makes the climber feel better about having gear beneath them anyhow.
Pumped 
To have such an accumulation of lactic acid in the flexor digitalis (forearm), that forming even a basic grip becomes impossible. Often easy activities such as holding a camera become difficult or impossible.
Sometimes also used to refer to a feeling of excitement and energy before a climb. The double meaning is often a source of great frustration if without context.

Quickdraw 
Used to attach a freely running rope to anchors or chocks. Sometimes called "quickies" or just "draws."

Rack 
The set of equipment carried up a climb; also, the part of a harness (consisting of several plastic loops) where equipment is hung, ready to be used.
Rappel 
The process by which a climber may descend on a fixed rope using a friction device. Also known as Abseil or roping down..
Rebolting 
The replacement of bolts on an existing climb.
Red point 
To complete a lead climb without falling or resting on the rope (hangdogging). Also see clean and pinkpoint.
Rest step 
Energy-saving technique where unweighted (uphill) leg is rested between each forward step, sometimes by "locking" knee of rear leg.
Retro-bolting 
The addition of bolts to an existing climb.
Roof 
Horizontal overhang.
Rope 
A basic item of climbing equipment that physically connects the climber to the belayer.
Rope jumping 
Jumping from objects using rock climbing equipment.
Route 
The path of a particular climb, or a predefined set of moves.
Runner 
Another term for sling.
Runout 
A lengthy distance between two points of protection which in some, but not all, cases might be perceived as frightening or dangerous. May also be used as an adjective to describe a route, or a section of a route.
A long portion of a route with minimal protection.
Rugosity 
Hold sized area of rock that has rougher texture than its surroundings.
RURP 
Acronym, stands for Realized Ultimate Reality Piton. Miniature, postage-stamp sized piton originally designed by Yvon Chouinard

Saddle 
A high pass between two peaks, larger than a col.
Sandbag 
A climb which receives a much lower grade than deserved. Also used as a verb when referring to the act of describing a climbing route as easier than it actually is.
'scend
(contraction of the word ascend, past tense: 'scended.) To cleanly complete a route. ie on-sight, flash, redpoint. Sometimes even on tr.
Scrambling 
A type of climbing somewhere between hiking and graded rock climbing.
Screamer 
  1. A long and loud fall.
  2. A nylon webbing structure consisting of one large loop sewn up in multiple places to make a shorter length. In the event of a fall the stitching of the sewn sections purposefully rip apart, absorbing some of the fall energy and decelerating the climber.
Scree 
Small, loose, broken rocks, often at the base of a cliff.
Screw on 
A small climbing hold, screwed onto the wall in climbing gyms. Can be used for feet in a route regardless of its colour. Also referred to as a foot chip, chip or micro.
Second 
A climber who follows the lead, or first, climber.
Self-Arrest 
The act of planting the pick of your ice axe into the snow to arrest a fall in the event of a slip. Also a method of stopping in a controlled glissade.
Send 
See 'scend
Serac 
A large ice tower.
Sewing machine leg 
The involuntary vibration of one or both legs resulting from fatigue or panic. Also known as "Scissor leg", "Elvis Presley Syndrome", or "Disco knee". Can often be remedied by bringing the heel of the offending leg down, changing the muscles used to support the weight of the climber
Sharp end 
The end of the belay rope that is attached to the lead climber.
Short fixing
The lead climber switches over to self belaying and continues to climb after reaching a belay and fixing the rope. Meanwhile the second climber jugs the fixed rope and cleans the pitch. When he reaches the belay, he ties in and starts to belay the leader in the traditional way again. When the leader reaches the next belay the process is repeated.
Side pull 
A hold that needs to be gripped with a sideways pull towards the body.
Simulclimbing 
A technique where both climbers move simultaneously upward with the leader placing protection which the second removes as they advance. A device known as a Tibloc which allows the rope to only move in a single direction is sometimes used to prevent the second climber from accidentally pulling the lead climber off should the second slip.
Single Rope Technique (SRT) 
The use of a single rope where one or both ends of the rope are attached to fixed anchor points.
Sirdar 
Head Sherpa mountain guide.
Sit start 
Starting a climb from a position in which the climber is sitting on the floor. This is common in climbing gyms in order to fit an extra move into the climb. Noted as SDS in some topo guides.
Slab 
A relatively low-angle (significantly less than vertical) section of rock, usually with few large features. Requires slab climbing techniques.
Slab climbing 
A particular type of rock climbing, and its associated techniques, involved in climbing rock that is less than vertical. The emphasis is on balance, footwork, and making use of very small features or rough spots on the rock for friction.
Slack 
Portion of rope that is not taut, preferably minimized during belay.
SLCD 
Abbreviation for spring-loaded camming device, a type of protection device. These are better known by the term cam.
Sling 
Webbing sewn, or tied, into a loop.
Sloper 
A sloping hold with very little positive surface. A sloper is comparable to palming a basketball.
Smearing 
To use friction on the sole of the climbing shoe, in the absence of any useful footholds.
Snarg 
A type of tubular ice screw that is inserted by hammering.
Snow fluke 
An angled aluminium plate attached to a metal cable. The fluke is buried into snow, typically used as a deadman anchor.
Solo climbing 
Setting and cleaning ones own protection on an ascent; climbing by oneself.
Sport climbing 
A style of climbing where form, technical (or gymnastic) ability and strength are more emphasized over exploration, self-reliance and the exhilaration of the inherent dangers involved in the sport. Sport climbing routes tend to be well protected with pre-placed bolt-anchors and lends itself well to competitive climbing.
Spotting 
An alternative to belaying commonly used during bouldering. A friend of the climber stands beneath them and prevents awkward falls or falls onto hazards.
Sprag 
A type of hand position where the fingers and thumb are opposed.
Static 
Of a style of climbing or specific move, not dynamic.
Static rope 
A non-elastic rope. Compare with dynamic rope.
Stem 
  1. The simultaneous use of two widely spaced footholds.
  2. Climbing using two faces that are at an angle less than 180° to each other.
Sticht plate 
A belay device consisting of a flat plate with a pair of slots. Named after the inventor Franz Sticht.
Stick clip 
A long stick on the end of which a climber can affix a quickdraw. It allows the climber to clip a quickdraw to the first bolt on a sport climb while still standing on the ground. This is especially useful if the first bolt is high up, and out of the comfort zone of the climber. A stick clip can be bought or easily made by attaching a quickdraw to a stick with a rubber band.
Stopper 
  1. A wedge-shaped nut.
  2. A knot used to prevent the rope running through a piece of equipment.
Summit 
  1. The high point of a mountain or peak.
  2. To reach such a high point.
Swami Belt 
A kind of proto- climbing harness consisting of a long length of tubular webbing wrapped several times around the climbers body and secured with a water knot. Largely eschewed today in favor of commercial harnesses.
Swinging-lieback 
A dynamic form of the lieback described above, rotating off one foot while maintaining a grip with that hand, then grabbing a high handhold at the deadpoint of the swing. This move is frequently reversible, unlike more aerial dynos.
Sherpa
A Sherpa is a world renowed climbing guide on Himalayan mountains

Talus 
Large rock fragments forming an often unstable slope below scree.
Teabagging 
When, after a whipper, or long fall, a climber falls past their belayer, who is generally lifted up off the ground.
Technical climbing 
Climbing involving a rope and some means of protection, as opposed to scrambling or glacier travel.
Tension 
A technique for maintaining balance using a taut rope through a point of protection.
Thrutching 
Bad technique or 'body climbing' specifically at Mount Arapiles
Top rope 
To belay from a fixed anchor point above the climb.
Top-out
To complete a route by ascending over the top of the structure being climbed.
Traditional climbing 
A style of climbing that emphasizes the adventure and exploratory nature of climbing. While sport climbers generally will use pre-placed protection, many traditional (or "trad") climbers will place their own protection as they climb, generally with a rack.
Mountain Tramming 
A technique that is typically used while cleaning gear from a steep route. A quickdraw is clipped between the climber's harness and the rope that is threaded through the gear. As the climber is lowered by the belayer, they will descend along the line of the gear.
Training 
Getting prepared to climb on difficult mountains
Traverse 
To climb in a horizontal direction.
A section of a route that requires progress in a horizontal direction.
A Tyrolean traverse is crossing a chasm using a rope anchored at both ends.
A pendulum traverse involves swinging across a wall or chasm while suspended from a rope affixed above the climber.
Tricam 
A piece of rock climbing protection.
Tuber 
A belay device.
Tufa 
A limestone rib formation that protrudes from the wall which can sometimes fit within the pinching grasp of a climber's hand.

Undercling 
A hold which is gripped with the palm of the hand facing upwards.

"V"-grade 
A technical grading system for bouldering problems, invented by John Sherman.
V-thread 
A type of abseiling point used especially in winter and ice climbing. Also called abalakov thread.
Verglas 
A thin coating of ice that forms over rocks when rainfall or melting snow freezes on rock. Hard to climb on as crampons have insufficient depth for reliable penetration.

Wand 
A bamboo stick with a small flag on top used to mark paths over glaciers and snow fields.
Webbing 
Hollow and flat nylon strip, mainly used to make runners and slings.
Webelette 
A piece of webbing with eyes sewn into the ends which can be used in place of a cordelette.
Weighting 
As in, "weighting the rope." Any time the rope takes the weight of the climber. This can happen during a minor fall, a whipper (long fall), or simply by resting while hanging on the belay rope (see also hangdogging.)
Whipper 
A lead fall from above and to the side of the last clip, whipping oneself downwards and in an arc. Has come to be the term for any fall beyond the last placed or clipped piece of protection.
Wired 
Describes a route or sequence which a climber has rehearsed extensively and thus ascends with ease. See dialled.
Wires 
A slang term for nuts.
Woodie 
A home made climbing wall. Often specifically a hybrid between a climbing wall and a fingerboard. Specifically called such because of the wooden panels (usually left unpainted) used to attach the climbing holds to.

Yosemite Decimal System 
A numerical system for rating the difficulty of walks, hikes, and climbs in the United States. The rock climbing (5.x) portion of the scale is the most common climb grading system used in the US. The scale runs from 5.0 to 5.15b (as of 2008)
Yabo 
Another name for a Sit start, a 'Yabo start' was named after John 'Yabo' Yablonski[2].

Z-clipping 
Clipping into an anchor with the segment of rope from beneath the previous piece of protection, resulting in a tangled configuration of the belay rope.
Zipper fall 
A fall in which each piece of protection fails in turn. In some cases when the rope comes taut during a fall, the protection can fail from the bottom up, especially if the first piece was not placed to account for outward and/or upward force.
Z-pulley 
Also Z-system. A particular configuration of rope, anchors, and pulleys typically used to extricate a climber after falling into a crevasse.


This glossary is shared under the Creative Commons License

The Climber's Bible