Exposure (heights)

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Climber on Ancient Art in Fisher Towers, Moab, Utah, USA. Famous high-exposure route. Fisher towers - Ancient Art - 06.jpg
Climber on Ancient Art in Fisher Towers, Moab, Utah, USA. Famous high-exposure route.
A technically simple, but exposed arete on the Hofats in Bavaria, Germany Hoefats Mittelgipfel.jpg
A technically simple, but exposed arete on the Höfats in Bavaria, Germany

Exposure is a climbing and hiking term. Sections of a hiking path or climbing route are described as "exposed" if there is a high risk of injury in the event of a fall because of the steepness of the terrain. If such routes are negotiated without any protection, a false step can result in a serious fall. [1] The negotiation of such routes can cause fear of falling because of the potential danger.



What constitutes exposure on a path is fairly obvious, however, an "exposed" location or section of a climbing route is not uniformly or clearly defined in the literature. There are no threshold values, for example, based on the gradient of the terrain, the height of rock faces or the character of a ridge or arête. Authors tend to use their own definition of the terms "exposure" or "exposed" when describing routes, for example:



Medical and psychological aspects

"Exposed" sections of a path or a route can cause fear as well as serious problems for climbers and walkers in mountainous terrain if they lack a head for heights. However, what may feel exposed to some people, may hardly affect others at all. In critical situations it is therefore necessary, either to turn back or to use a protective measure such as a rope; some paths have fixed ropes, chains, ladders, etc. The anxiety caused by the exposure reduces with habituation, but even experienced climbers often have to get used to heights again at the start of the climbing season. [7]

See also

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Mountaineering Sport of mountain climbing

Mountaineering, or alpinism, is the set of outdoor activities that involves ascending tall mountains. Mountaineering-related activities include traditional outdoor climbing, skiing and traversing via ferratas. Indoor climbing, sport climbing and bouldering are also considered variants of mountaineering by some.

Grade (climbing) 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.

Scrambling Walk up steep terrain involving the use of ones hands

Scrambling is "a walk up steep terrain involving the use of one's hands". It is an ambiguous term that lies somewhere between hiking, hillwalking, and easy mountaineering and rock climbing. Sure-footedness and a head for heights are essential. Canyoning, Gill and stream scrambling are other types of scrambling. Gill scrambling in the UK is a type of scrambling where the base rule "is to take the hardest route and the one closest to the water, straying from the streambed only when the direct way is impassable".

Traditional climbing Style of rock climbing

Traditional climbing, is a style of rock climbing in which the climber places all the necessary protection gear required to arrest any falls as they are climbing, and then removes it when the pitch is complete. Traditional bolted aid climbing means the bolts were placed while on lead and/or with hand drills. Traditional climbing carries a higher level of risk than bolted sport climbing, as the climber may not have placed the safety equipment correctly while trying to ascend the route; for some of the world's hardest climbs, there may not be sufficient cracks or features in the rock that can accept protection gear, and the climb can only be safely attempted by bolting as a sport climb.

The Yosemite Decimal System (YDS) is a three-part system used for rating the difficulty of walks, hikes, and climbs, primarily used by mountaineers in the United States and Canada. It was first devised by members of the Sierra Club in Southern California in the 1950s as a refinement of earlier systems, particularly those developed in Yosemite Valley, and quickly spread throughout North America.

Glossary of climbing terms List of definitions of terms and concepts related to rock climbing and mountaineering

This glossary of climbing terms is a list of definitions of terms and jargon related to rock climbing and mountaineering. The specific terms used can vary considerably between different English-speaking countries; many of the phrases described here are particular to the United States and the United Kingdom.

Free climbing Form of climbing not using aid climbing

Free climbing is a form of rock climbing in which the climber may use climbing equipment such as ropes and other means of climbing protection, but only to protect against injury during falls and not to assist progress. The climber makes progress by using physical ability to move over the rock via handholds and footholds. Free climbing more specifically may include traditional climbing, sport climbing, bouldering and most forms of solo climbing. Free climbing a multi-pitch route means free-climbing each of its pitches in a single session. At the end of each pitch, climbers anchor themselves to belay stations where they can rest.

Sport climbing Form of rock climbing

Sport climbing, is a form of rock climbing that relies on permanent anchors, permanently fixed into the rock for climber protection, in which a rope that is attached to the climber is clipped into the anchors to arrest a fall; it can also involve climbing short distances with a crash pad underneath as protection. This is in contrast to traditional climbing where climbers must place removable protection as they climb. Sport climbing usually involves lead climbing and toproping techniques, but free solo and deep-water solo climbing on sport routes is also sometimes possible.

Belaying Rock climbing safety technique using ropes

Belaying is a variety of techniques climbers use to create friction within a climbing system, particularly on a climbing rope, so that a falling climber does not fall very far. A climbing partner typically applies tension at the other end of the rope whenever the climber is not moving, and removes the tension from the rope whenever the climber needs more rope to continue climbing.

Lead climbing Competitive discipline of sport climbing

Lead climbing is a climbing style, predominantly used in rock climbing. In a roped party one climber has to take the lead while the other climbers follow. The lead climber wears a harness attached to a climbing rope, which in turn is connected to the other climbers below the lead climber. While ascending the route, the lead climber periodically connects the rope to protection equipment for safety in the event of a fall. This protection can consist of permanent bolts, to which the climber clips quickdraws, or removable protection such as nuts and cams. One of the climbers below the lead climber acts as a belayer. The belayer gives out rope while the lead climber ascends and also stops the rope when the lead climber falls or wants to rest.

Rock climbing Sport in which participants climb natural rock formations

Rock climbing is a sport in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock formations or artificial rock walls. 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.

Dynamic rope Rope designed to stretch under load

A dynamic rope is a specially constructed, somewhat elastic rope used primarily in rock climbing, ice climbing, and mountaineering. This elasticity, or stretch, is the property that makes the rope dynamic—in contrast to a static rope that has only slight elongation under load. Greater elasticity allows a dynamic rope to more slowly absorb the energy of a sudden load, such from arresting a climber's fall, by reducing the peak force on the rope and thus the probability of the rope's catastrophic failure. A kernmantle rope is the most common type of dynamic rope now used. Since 1945, nylon has, because of its superior durability and strength, replaced all natural materials in climbing rope.

Slab climbing

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.

Head for heights

To have a head for heights means that one has no acrophobia, an irrational fear of heights, and is not particularly prone to fear of falling or suffering from vertigo, the spinning sensation that can be triggered, for example, by looking down from a high place.

Alpine route

An alpine route is a trail or climbing route through difficult terrain in high mountains such as the Alps, sometimes with no obvious path. In the Alps, the Alpine clubs define and mark an alpine route, also called alpinweg or alpinwanderweg.


Sure-footedness refers to the ability, especially when hiking or mountain climbing, to negotiate difficult or rough terrain safely. Such situations place demands on a person's coordination and reserves of strength as well as requiring sufficient appreciation of the terrain. A person who is sure-footed is thus unlikely to slip or stumble.

The term rope team, roped team or roped party, originally came from mountain sports, especially climbing, where it describes a group of people joined by a mountain or climbing rope and thus secured against falling.

Alpine climbing

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.


  1. Olaf Perwitzschky, Dieter Seibert: Bergwandern, Bergsteigen. Alpine Lehrschrift. page 71, Bergverlag Rother, Munich, 2008, ISBN   978-3-7633-6032-1(online)
  2. Glossary of rock, ice and mountain climbing terms by the Santiam Alpine Club. Retrieved 2 Jun 2014.
  3. Climbing Dictionary at rockclimbing.com. Retrieved 2 Jun 2014.
  4. Jan and Herb Conn (16 May 1945). "Definitions" (PDF). Up Rope!. 1 (14): 5. Retrieved 4 May 2021.
  5. Rock Climbing Glossary, Climbing Dictionary Archived 2014-10-31 at the Wayback Machine at climbfind.com. Retrieved 2 Jun 2014.
  6. A Glossary of Climbing terms: from Abseil to Zawn, entry by Tony Buckley at UK Climbing. Retrieved 2 Jun 2014.
  7. Pepi Stückl, Georg Sojer: Bergsteigen: Lehrbuch für alle Spielarten des Bergsteigens. page 26, Bruckmann, Munich, 1996, ISBN   3-7654-2859-0