At Alta, we believe that understanding the language of climbing is crucial to your success and enjoyment on the wall. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced climber, knowing the essential terms can enhance your communication, improve your skills, and deepen your connection to the climbing community. Here’s 50 climbing terms you need to know before you start on your next adventure.

 

 

1. Belay:

The act of managing the rope for a climber to ensure their safety. The belayer controls the rope to catch a climber if they fall and to lower them back down when they finish climbing.

2. Anchor:

A secure point of attachment for the climbing rope at the top of a route. Anchors can be fixed (bolts) or temporary (cams, nuts) and are crucial for safety.

3. Crux:

The most challenging part of a climb. This is often the section that requires the most technical skill, strength, and focus to complete.

4. Beta:

Information or advice about a specific climb or route, including tips on holds, moves, and techniques. Getting beta can help you plan your climb more effectively.

5. Dyno:

A dynamic move where the climber leaps to reach the next hold, often requiring a burst of strength and precision. Dynos are typically used when static moves are not possible.

6. Flash:

Completing a climb on the first attempt with prior knowledge or beta, without any falls or rests. A flash indicates both skill and good use of information.

7. Redpoint:

Successfully climbing a route after having practiced it, typically involving multiple attempts to refine technique and strategy. Redpointing shows persistence and improvement.

8. On-Sight:

Climbing a route on the first attempt without any prior knowledge or beta, and without falls or rests. On-sighting demonstrates exceptional skill and problem-solving ability.

9. Crimp:

A small edge or hold that is gripped with the fingertips, often requiring a lot of finger strength. Crimps are common on challenging routes and can be tough to hold.

10. Jug:

A large, easy-to-grip hold that feels secure and comfortable in the hand. Jugs are often found on easier routes or used as resting points on harder climbs.

11. Sloper:

A hold with a smooth, rounded surface that is difficult to grip. Climbing on slopers requires good friction and body positioning to maintain balance and control.

12. Heel Hook:

A technique where the heel is placed on a hold to help pull the body upward. Heel hooks can provide additional leverage and stability on certain routes.

13. Mantle:

A move where the climber presses down with their hands and shifts their body weight over a ledge or lip, similar to getting out of a swimming pool. Mantling requires upper body strength and balance.

14. Top-Rope:

A style of climbing where the rope is anchored at the top of the route, and the climber is belayed from below. Top-roping is often used for beginner climbers and for practicing difficult moves.

15. Lead Climbing:

Climbing where the climber ascends while clipping the rope into protection points along the route. This style requires more skill and confidence, as the climber is not always secured from above.

16. Bouldering:

Climbing short, challenging routes without a rope, typically on walls or boulders up to 15-20 feet high. Crash pads and spotters are used for safety. Bouldering emphasizes strength, power, and technique.

17. Pumped:

A term used to describe the feeling of muscle fatigue, particularly in the forearms, that climbers experience during and after a climb. Being pumped can make it difficult to grip holds and continue climbing.

18. Send:

Successfully completing a route or problem. “Sending” a route means overcoming all challenges and reaching the top without falling or resting.

19. Spotter:

A person who assists a boulderer by guiding their fall and protecting their head and back as they descend. Spotting is crucial for safety in bouldering.

20. Route:

A specific path or sequence of holds that a climber follows to reach the top of a climb. Routes are often graded by difficulty and can vary widely in style and challenge.

21. Crag:

A climbing area that is usually outdoors. It can refer to a single rock face or an entire climbing destination with multiple routes and boulders.

22. Slab:

A type of climb that is less than vertical, requiring balance and technique rather than brute strength. Slab climbing often involves delicate footwork and body positioning.

23. Overhang:

A section of a climb where the rock face juts out, creating a ceiling-like feature. Overhangs are physically demanding and require strong upper body and core muscles.

24. Lockoff:

A technique where a climber holds a position with one arm bent, keeping the body close to the wall, allowing them to reach with the other hand.

25. Barn Door:

When a climber’s body swings out from the wall like a door on hinges, usually due to poor balance or misplacement of feet and hands.

26. Carabiner:

A metal loop with a spring-loaded gate used to connect components in climbing systems, such as attaching the rope to protection or the belayer’s harness.

27. Camming Device (Cam):

A mechanical piece of climbing protection that expands within a crack in the rock to secure the climber. Cams are crucial for trad climbing.

28. Trad Climbing:

Short for traditional climbing, this style involves placing and removing protection (like cams and nuts) as you climb, rather than relying on fixed anchors.

29. Sport Climbing:

A style of climbing where the route is pre-bolted with fixed anchors. Climbers clip quickdraws into these bolts for protection as they ascend.

30. Quickdraw:

A piece of equipment used in sport climbing to connect the climbing rope to bolts on the wall. It consists of two carabiners connected by a sewn sling.

31. Topo:

A detailed diagram or map of a climbing area or route, showing the locations of routes, anchors, and other features. Topos help climbers plan their ascents.

32. Traverse:

Moving horizontally across a climbing wall or rock face. Traverses can be used to reach different sections of a climb or to train specific skills.

33. Beta Spray:

Unsolicited or excessive advice about a climb, often given without being asked. While sometimes helpful, it can also be overwhelming or distracting.

34. Pitch:

A section of a climb between two belay stations. Multi-pitch climbs have multiple sections, each requiring separate belaying.

35. Runout:

A stretch of climbing with few or no protection points. Runouts can be mentally challenging due to the increased risk of a longer fall.

36. Chimney:

A wide crack or vertical space between two rock faces that a climber can ascend by pressing against both sides with their body.

37. Stem:

A technique where the climber uses opposing pressure by pushing with hands and feet on either side of a corner or wide crack.

38. Slab:

A type of climb that is less than vertical, requiring balance and technique rather than brute strength. Slab climbing often involves delicate footwork and body positioning.

39. Crack Climbing:

Climbing that involves ascending cracks in the rock using various techniques like jamming hands, fingers, and feet into the cracks for support.

40. Crux:

The most challenging part of a climb. This is often the section that requires the most technical skill, strength, and focus to complete.

41. Deadpoint:

A climbing move where the climber reaches for a hold at the peak of their upward motion, often involving a brief moment of being airborne.

42. Edging:

Using the edge of the climbing shoe on small footholds. Edging requires precise foot placement and is a common technique in face climbing.

43. Flagging:

Extending one leg away from the wall to counterbalance and stabilize the body, often used to maintain balance on delicate moves.

44. Highball:

A tall bouldering problem that presents a significant fall risk due to its height. Highballs require careful spotting and multiple crash pads.

45. Smearing:

Using the friction of the climbing shoe’s sole against the rock to gain traction on smooth or featureless surfaces.

46. Jugging:

Using mechanical ascenders (jumars) to climb a fixed rope. Jugging is often used in aid climbing and for rope access work.

47. Layback:

A technique where the climber pulls on an edge or crack with their hands while pushing against the rock with their feet, creating opposing forces.

48. Pinch:

Gripping a hold between the thumb and fingers, often requiring significant finger strength. Pinches can be challenging but provide secure holds.

49. Project:

A climb that a climber is working on but has not yet completed. Projecting involves multiple attempts and refining techniques to achieve success.

50. Sandbag:

A route that is more difficult than its grade suggests. Climbers often find sandbagged routes surprisingly challenging for their rating.

 

Conclusion:

These 50 climbing terms that you need to know are essential to climbing and can greatly enhance your climbing experience and help you communicate effectively with other climbers. At Alta, we’re here to support your journey from learning the basics to mastering advanced techniques. So, gear up with this new vocabulary, hit the wall, and start sending those routes with confidence.