Beta (climbing)

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Climbers at the World Cup 2017 inspecting a boulder problem in order to figure out the beta. Boulder Worldcup 2017 Munich Finals 9529.jpg
Climbers at the World Cup 2017 inspecting a boulder problem in order to figure out the beta.

Beta is climbing term that designates information about how to ascend a climb (such as, "grab flake on left while moving right foot to edge on right"). [1] [2]



The complexity of beta can range from a small hint about a difficult section (referred to as "some" beta), to a step-by-step instruction of the entire climb (referred to as "the" beta). [1] [3] In rock climbing this may include information about a climb's difficulty, crux, style, length, quality of rock, ease to protect, required equipment, and specific information about hand or foot holds. For mountaineering, beta may include information about the length and difficulty of the approach, availability of water on the climb and the approach, ease of exiting the route before completing it, descent information, perhaps even useful logistic information for climbs in foreign countries.[ citation needed ] Sometimes beta is also drawn in the form of a beta-map. [4] [5] It is not uncommon for climbers to have different betas for the same climb. In other words, more than one possible solution that can get the climber to the top. These can vary in terms of difficulty. It is not uncommon for climbs to get downgraded in their difficulty rating once easier beta is discovered. [6]


The original use of the term beta in climbing is generally attributed to the late climber Jack Mileski. "Beta" was short for Betamax, a reference to an old videotape format largely replaced by the VHS format. [3] According to some sources Mileski would record himself on tape while completing routes and then share these tapes with friends. According to other sources, it was actually a play on words, as Mileski would often ask, "you want the beta, Max?". [7]

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Bouldering is a form of free climbing that is performed on small rock formations or artificial rock walls without the use of ropes or harnesses. While bouldering can be done without any equipment, most climbers use climbing shoes to help secure footholds, chalk to keep their hands dry and to provide a firmer grip, and bouldering mats to prevent injuries from falls. Unlike free solo climbing, which is also performed without ropes, bouldering problems are usually less than six metres (20 ft) tall. Traverses, which are a form of boulder problem, require the climber to climb horizontally from one end to another. Artificial climbing walls allow boulderers to climb indoors in areas without natural boulders. In addition, bouldering competitions take place in both indoor and outdoor settings.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Climbing</span> Activity to ascend a steep object

Climbing is the activity of using one's hands, feet, or other parts of the body to ascend a steep topographical object that can range from the world's tallest mountains to small boulders. Climbing is done for locomotion, for sporting recreation, for competition, and is also done in trades that rely on ascension; such as rescue and military operations. Climbing is done indoors and outdoors, on natural surfaces, and on artificial surfaces.

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A climbing wall is an artificially constructed wall with grips for hands and feet, usually used for indoor climbing, but sometimes located outdoors. Some are brick or wooden constructions, but on most modern walls, the material most often used is a thick multiplex board with holes drilled into it. Recently, manufactured steel and aluminum have also been used. The wall may have places to attach belay ropes, but may also be used to practice lead climbing or bouldering.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grade (climbing)</span> Degree of difficulty of a climbing route

In rock climbing, mountaineering, and other climbing disciplines, climbers give a grade to a climbing route or boulder problem, intended to describe concisely the difficulty and danger of climbing it. Different types of climbing each have their own grading systems, and many nationalities developed their own, distinctive grading systems.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Scrambling</span> Walk up steep terrain involving the use of ones hands

Scrambling is a mountaineering term for ascending steep terrain using one's hands to assist in holds and balance. It is also used to describe terrain that falls between hiking and rock climbing.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lead climbing</span> Technique of rock climbing

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Climbing guidebook</span>

Climbing guidebooks are used by rock climbers to find the location of climbing routes at crags or on mountains. Many guidebooks also offer condensed information about local restaurants, bars and camping areas; often include sections on geology and local climbing history; and may contain many pictures to inspire climbers. Guidebooks may range in size from pamphlets detailing dozens of routes up to tomes that document thousands of routes. The library of the American Alpine Club contains over 20,000 books and videos, a majority of which are such guidebooks. In the Alps the Alpine Club Guide series is very comprehensive.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Clean climbing</span> Rock climbing techniques which avoid damage to the rock

Clean climbing is rock climbing techniques and equipment which climbers use in order to avoid damage to the rock. These techniques date at least in part from the 1920s and earlier in England, but the term itself may have emerged in about 1970 during the widespread and rapid adoption in the United States and Canada of nuts, and the very similar but often larger hexes, in preference to pitons, which damage rock and are more difficult and time-consuming to install. Pitons were thus eliminated in North America as a primary means of climbing protection in a period of less than three years.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pitch (climbing)</span> Steep section of a climbing route requiring a rope

In rock climbing and ice climbing, a pitch is a steep section of a route that requires a rope between two belays, as part of a climbing system. Standard climbing ropes are between 50 and 80 metres long, so a pitch is always shorter, between two convenient ledges if possible; longer routes are multi-pitch, requiring the re-use of the rope each time. In free climbing, pitch refers to classification by climbers of the difficulty of ascent on certain climbing routes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rock climbing</span> Sport in which participants climb natural rock formations

Rock climbing is a sport in which participants climb up, across, or down natural rock formations. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a usually pre-defined route without falling. Rock climbing is a physically and mentally demanding sport, one that often tests a climber's strength, endurance, agility and balance along with mental control. Knowledge of proper climbing techniques and the use of specialized climbing equipment is crucial for the safe completion of routes.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Slab climbing</span>

Slab climbing is a type of rock climbing where the rock face is at an angle less steep than vertical. It is characterized by balance- and friction-dependent moves on very small holds. It is often not leadable, or climbable from the ground up, unless it has pre-drilled bolts to protect the climb, making most slab climbs either top rope climbing or sport climbing. Special techniques such as smearing are necessary to climb slab. It is a type of face climbing and is distinctly different from crack climbing. Slab climbing is a relatively new area of climbing, having become more popular in the last 30 years, and some of the highest graded routes are currently being realized.

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Chipping is a rock climbing technique that uses a hammer and chisel to create artificial hand-holds on natural rock. The hammer and chisel may be substituted for any other tool that can take off layers of a rock to create a different feature on the rock. Within the climbing community this is an extremely controversial topic because it permanently modifies the natural features of a rock face. While in the past the practice was accepted or ignored, as more people have become climbers and environmental concerns have grown, there has been a trend against chipping. This process can also be referred to as "manufacturing" holds.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alpine climbing</span> Type of mountaineering

Alpine climbing is a branch of climbing in which the primary aim is very often to reach the summit of a mountain. In order to do this high rock faces or pinnacles requiring several lengths of climbing rope must be ascended. Often mobile, intermediate climbing protection has to be used in addition to the pitons usually in place on the climbing routes.


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  7. "Tradgirl Climbing FAQ". Archived from the original on Apr 22, 2009.