Glossary of climbing terms

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Glossary of climbing terms relates to rock climbing (including aid climbing, lead climbing, bouldering, and competition climbing), mountaineering, and to ice climbing. [1] [2] [3]


The terms used can vary between different English-speaking countries; many of the phrases described here are particular to the United States and the United Kingdom.



Also aid climbing grade.

The technical difficulty grading system for aid climbing (both for "original" and an adapted version for "new wave"), which goes: A0, A1, A2, A3, A4, A5 and up to A6 (for "new wave"). See C-grade . [4]
Abalakov thread
Abalakov thread Abalakov thread.jpg
Abalakov thread

Also V-thread.

A type of anchor used in abseiling especially in winter and in ice climbing.

Also assisted braking device.

A term used to describe a progress capture device or a self-locking device such as a Petzl GriGri that immediately locks if the rope travels through it quickly in a specific direction. See auto belay .

Also rappelling.

A technique by which a climber descends via a fixed rope that is firmly attached to a fixed anchor point, which is also known as an "abseil station". See tat and cord .
abseil rack
See rack .
An indoor climbing game where climbers take turns creating a route, adding two moves at a time. [5]
accessory cord
See cord .
active protection

Also active camming device or ACD

Type of protection that dynamically changes to absorb the shape and strength of a fall; active protection is the opposite of passive protection. See cams and friends.
Ice axe with adze Historischer Eispickel mit GFK-Stiel.jpg
Ice axe with adze
A thin blade mounted perpendicular to the handle on an ice axe; is used for chopping footholds.
aid climbing
Type of rock climbing where artificial devices are used to make upward progress (and not just for protection); opposite of free climbing. See clean aid climbing .
See etrier .
alpine climbing
A form of mountaineering that includes ice climbing, dry-tooling and rock climbing.

Also IFAS grade, and UIAA Scale of Difficulty

Part of the alpine climbing system for grading the technical difficulty of alpine climbing routes, which goes: F ("facile/easy"), PD ("peu difficile/little difficult"), AD ("assez difficile/fairly hard"), D ("difficile/difficult"), TD ("très difficile/very hard"), and ED ("extrêmement difficile/extremely difficult"); ED then goes ED1, ED2, ED3, .. etc. [4] [6]
alpine knee
An awkward climbing technique where the knee is placed on the hold rather than the foot. [7]
alpine start
Starting a climb very early in the morning, generally before 5:00 a.m. (and even much earlier); common to alpine climbing to avoid afternoon rockfalls and melting snow on the route, or to get firmer ice on the glacier travel to and from the route. [2]
alpine style
Carrying all your own gear (even for multi-day climbs); also called "light-weight" climbing; opposite of expedition style.
American death triangle
Diagram of American death triangle Death triangle.png
Diagram of American death triangle
A dangerous anchor that is created by connecting a closed loop of webbing between two points of protection.
An arrangement of one or more pieces of fixed protection set up to support the weight of a belay, a top rope, or an abseil. [1] [3] See also deadman anchor .
ape index
A measure of the ratio of a climber's arm span relative to their height.
1.  A small ridge-like feature or a sharp outward-facing corner on a steep rock face.
2.  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 .
arm bar
A climbing technique where the climber jams their arm into a crack and locks it into place, to aid their ascent. [1]
armchair landing
An armchair landing Deep Water Solo Spot, Algarve Portugal .png
An armchair landing
A technique in deep-water soloing for entering shallower water where the climber needs to avoid deeper hazards in the water; executed properly a 30-foot (9.1 m) fall can be absorbed in just 5 feet (1.5 m) of water. [8]
Ascenders Petzl Ascenders (On Rope).jpg
A mechanical device used for ascending a fixed rope, very common in aid climbing and big wall climbing. See jumar .
The geographical direction which a particular slope or rock wall faces, e.g. "north aspect".
A belay device from Black Diamond (the "Air Traffic Controller") that became a generic term for any tuber belay device.
Australian rappel
Australian rappel Australian Rappel.jpg
Australian rappel

Also angel jumping, deepelling and rap jumping.

A type of abseiling technique performed face first; used for military purposes. [9]
auto belay
A mechanical belay device on indoor climbing walls, which hangs from the top of routes that solo climbers clip into.


A grading system for bouldering invented by John Gill, now superseded by the V-grading system.
Bachar ladder
Bachar ladder Bachar ladder.jpg
Bachar ladder
A piece of training equipment used to improve campusing and core body and arm strength; invented by John Bachar.
A hazardous mistake whereby the rope is clipped into a quickdraw such that the leader's end runs underneath the quickdraw as opposed to over the 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. [1] [10]
A back-step Rock Climbing - 25285498093.jpg
A back-step
Stepping on a hold where the outside edge — little toe side — of the shoe touches the rock. [1] [11] [12]
To retreat from a climb.
ball nut
A type of protection device consisting of a nut and a movable ball used for very small thin cracks. [13]
A potential barn door swing to the right Joshua Tree - Illusion Dweller 1.jpg
A potential barn door swing to the right
When all four points of contact are on a straight axis, the body can swing uncontrollably on this axis. See flagging . [2]
See copperhead .
bat hang
Using a bat hang Iker en Margalef.jpg
Using a bat hang
Where a lead climber gains a brief upside-down rest by hanging from their wedged feet. See chest jam and knee bar .
To protect a roped lead climber from falling by controlling the rope; usually involves a belay device. [1] [2]
The person belaying the lead climber, also known as a second.
belay device
A mechanical device used by belayers to increase braking force when belaying; can be passive like a figure eights or tubers, or a more active assisted braking device like the Petzl GriGri. [1] [2]
belay gloves
Belay glove Belayglove.saa.jpeg
Belay glove
Gloves that are worn by the belayer to protect their skin in the event of sudden rope movement and to aid grip.
belay loop
The strongest point on a climbing harness, and the loop to which a belay device is physically attached. [1] [2]
belay off
A climbing command from a belayer to confirm that the friction of belaying has been removed from a climbing rope. It is a standard response to a climber's "off belay" request. [14]
belay on
A climbing command from a belayer to confirm that the friction of belaying has been (re)applied to a climbing rope. It is a standard response to a climber's "on belay" request. [14]
belay station
Bolted belay station Red Rocks - Steve on The Nightcrawler - 1.jpg
Bolted belay station
The place from which a belayer is belaying, sometimes anchored to the ground, or directly to the rock (particularly in a hanging belay on big wall climbing routes), or other objects. [15]
A crevasse that forms on the upper portion of a glacier where the moving section pulls away from the headwall.
Information on how to complete (or protect) a particular climbing route. See on-sight and flash . [1] [2] [3]
beta break
In sport climbing, a move on a climbing route other than the move originally intended by the route setter. In bouldering, a move other than the move usually used on the boulder.
beta flash
See flash .
A rock-climbing technique for overhangs where the feet "pinch-hold" a foothold by one foot pushing down on it while the other foot pulls up on it (i.e. like the pedals on a bicycle). [16]
Big Bro

Also tube chock.

A hollow telescopic tubular device manufactured by Trango for use as protection in off-width crack climbing. [17]
big wall climbing
Big wall climbing Craig DeMartino on Zodiac on El Capitan.jpg
Big wall climbing
A long sustained sheer exposed rock climb with at least 6–10 pitches (over 300–500 metres), that typically takes over a day (if not many days), and requires the hauling of food, water, sleeping bags, and the use of portaledges. [1]

Also bivy or bivvy.

A crude overnight camp or shelter on a climbing route; on a sheer vertical wall, a portaledge can be used.
A lightweight garment or sack offering full-body protection from wind and rain, which is used in a bivouac.
body belay

Also hip belay.

Where the belayer uses their body, and not a mechanical belay device, to increase braking force when belaying; usually involves wrapping the rope around their waist or hip. [18]
A sport climbing technique to get back onto the wall after falling by pulling on the rope to un-weight it, allowing the belayer to take in the slack quickly; avoids the fallen climber having to return to the ground. [19]
Snow bollard A Snow Bollard on Meall Odhar - - 774915.jpg
Snow bollard
A large block of rock or ice that is used as an anchor to construct a belay.
A point of protection permanently installed in a hole drilled into the rock, to which a metal bolt hanger is attached, with a hole to attach a carabiner or a quickdraw; used in sport climbing and in competition climbing. [1] [2]
bolt chopping
The deliberate removal of bolts from a climb; happens on traditional climbing routes (e.g. the Indian Face ); also featured in the "bolt wars" of the 1980s and 1990s in the US. [3]
bolt ladder
Sequence of bolts that are so close together, they can be used by aid climbers as a ladder. [2]
bolt hanger

Also hanger.

A piece of metal that is pre-attached to a bolt (i.e. before the bolt is screwed in) into which quickdraws can be clipped.
bolt runner
A term to describe a bolt that has no bolt hanger; will require a rivet hanger to be used by a climber.

Also bomber.

A highly secure anchor, or a particularly solid handhold or foothold. [1] [2] [20]
bosun's chair
A type of larger harness to give a climber relief from bearing a constant load via their climbing harness.
A type of climbing on large boulders less than 20 feet (6.1 m) high with only crash pads and spotting for protection. [1] [2]
bouldering mat
Bouldering mat Crash pad.jpg
Bouldering mat
A thick foam pad used for protection when bouldering; also called a crash pad. [2]
bounce test
A technique in aid climbing where a new placement is tested by using the lead climber's bodyweight. [21]
bowline on a bight
A knot that makes a pair of fixed-size loops in the middle of a rope. [22]
See stemming . [1] [2]
A large handhold that is very easy to use. [2]
The practice of climbing on buildings, which is often illegal.
Large buttresses Big Buttress, East Face, Sarclet - - 911727.jpg
Large buttresses
A prominent rock feature that juts out from the rock face or from the mountain. [2]



Also clean aid climbing grade.

The technical difficulty grading system for aid climbing that is "clean" (i.e. no hammered pitons or bolts), which goes: C0, C1, C2, C3, C4, and C5; also has an A-grade equivalent of the "original" aid grades for "new wave". [4]
A spring-loaded camming device (SLCD), also known as "friends", used as protection in traditional climbing. [1]
A brand of spring-loaded camming device (SLCD), manufactured by Black Diamond Equipment.
Climber campusing Bouldering at Lizard's Mouth in santa barbara, ca.jpg
Climber campusing
Ascending a route without using the feet; is done on overhanging routes or on a campus board. [1] [2] See paddling .
campus board
A piece of training equipment used to build finger strength and strong arm lock-offs. [2]

Also twist-lock carabiner, bent-gate carabiner.

An aluminum loop with a spring-loaded gate used to attach various load-bearing climbing devices together. [1]
carrot bolt
Carrot bolt with nut Climbing carrot bolt.jpg
Carrot bolt with nut

Also bash-in.

An Australian term for a metal hex-headed machine bolt that functions like a bolt but with no fixed bolt hanger; climbers attach to the carrot bolt by using a version of a rivet hanger or by attaching a removable bolt hanger plate. [23]
Gymnastic magnesium carbonate chalk that is used to reduce moisture, improve friction, and mark holds. [1] [2]
chalk bag
Chalk and chalk bag Klimmen pofzak.jpg
Chalk and chalk bag
A hand-sized holder for climbing chalk that is carried on a chalk belt or clipped to a harness.
chest harness
Type of harness that also covers the upper body to help prevent a rotation in any fall; particularly used when the climber is carrying a heavy pack, or is climbing in an area with crevasses.
chest jam
Jamming the torso into a wide crack, especially to allow the climber to rest.
chicken bolt
Term in big wall climbing and aid climbing to refer to a bolt placed to reduce the risk of a difficult section. [24]
chicken head
Tied chicken head Reed's Creek - Tied off Chicken Head.JPG
Tied chicken head
Knob or horn of rock narrowed at the base . [2]
chicken wing
A crack climbing technique where a hand is placed on one side of the crack and the shoulder on the other. [25]
Chimneying Agamemnon (20600608644).jpg
Rock-climbing technique for climbing a rock cleft with mostly parallel vertical sides, large enough to fit the climber's body. See stemming . [1] [2]
Improving a climbing hold by chipping the rock — is considered unethical and poor practice in climbing. [2]

Also chockstone.

A stone wedged in a crack that can be threaded to create a point of protection in traditional climbing. [1] [2]
chop route
British term for a traditional climbing route with very poor protection where any fall could be fatal. See X . [2]
Loose or "rotten" rock that makes for unpleasant, difficult, or dangerous climbing; useful for dry-tooling. [2]
See grade .
1.  To remove (or strip) protection equipment from a climbing route.
2.  A route that is free of loose vegetation and rocks; vigorous cleaning can be chipping [2]
3.  To complete a climb without falling or resting on the rope. See redpoint .
clean aid climbing
A type of aid climbing where only removable traditional climbing protection is allowed, and no hammered-in bolts or pitons. See C-grade .
clean climbing
A broad movement that extended from the earlier free climbing movement, which advocated minimizing any form of climbing that permanently impacted the natural rock surface, such as the use of bolts or pitons in sport climbing.
cleaning tool
Cleaning tool Climbing.nuttool.JPG
Cleaning tool

Also nut key or nut tool.

A device for removing jammed protection equipment, especially nuts, from a route.
climbing area
A region with numerous climbing routes. See crag
climbing command
A short phrase used for communication and instructions between a lead climber and a belayer. See take . [14]
climbing gym
A specialized indoor climbing center; usually just called a "climbing centre" in the UK.
climbing peak
From german (Klettergipfel) a formation that can only be ascended by climbing. [26]
climbing rope

See dynamic rope and static rope

General term for the wide range of specialized ropes that are used in all forms of climbing. [27]
climbing route
A path by which a climber reaches the top of a mountain, a rock face or obstacle, or an ice-covered face or obstacle.
climbing shoe
Climbing shoe Five Ten Anasazi Verde.jpg
Climbing shoe
Footwear designed specifically for rock climbing that fits tightly and with sticky rubber soles for grip.
climbing wall
Artificial rock face that is typically housed indoors; is also used for competition climbing.
clip in

Also clipping in.

The process of attaching the rope to protection (usually via a carabiner), to belay devices, or to other anchors. See tie in.
See stick clip .
competition climbing
A type of climbing held on climbing walls for mostly professional or Olympic climbers, split into the disciplines of lead climbing (on a bolted sport climbing route), bouldering and speed climbing. A fourth discipline of "combined" add the three together. See IFSC . [28]
competition ice climbing
A type of ice climbing held on climbing walls for mostly professional ice climbers, split into the disciplines of ice lead climbing (on a bolted sport climbing dry-wall route), and ice speed climbing on an iced route. See also UIAA .
Copperheads Copperheads.jpg

Also head.

A small nut on a loop of wire with a head made of metal (often copper), soft enough to deform during placement, which is often with a hammer; commonly used in aid climbing as a point of placement, remaining fixed in-situ after placement.

Also cordage, accessory cord

A short piece of thin climbing rope used for various purposes in climbing, including for creating abseil stations. See tat . [27]
cord lock
A lock or toggle used to fasten cords with gloved hands. Used on most mountaineering gear.
Cordelette Cordelette at belay anchor.jpg
A loop of narrow (e.g. 5-7 millimetre) accessory perlon cord that is used to tie into multiple anchor points.
An inside corner of rock, the opposite of an arête (UK). See dihedral . [2]
An overhanging edge of snow on a ridge.
crack climbing
To ascend by wedging body parts into natural cracks in the rock. [1] [2] See jamming , chimney , and off-width .
An expanse of continuous rock that contains a number of rock climbing routes (e.g. Clogwyn Du'r Arddu). [2]
12-point crampons Mointain Boot with Crampons.jpg
12-point crampons
A pair of metal frames with spikes that can be attached to boots to increase grip on snow and ice. See front pointing .
To pull on a climbing hold as hard as possible.
crash pad
See bouldering mat .
See ground fall . [2]
Cranking on crimps BW 2012-08-26 Anna Stoehr AUS 0601.JPG
Cranking on crimps

Also crimper.

A hold which is only just big enough to be grasped with the tips of the fingers. [1] [2] [12]
The most difficult portion of a climb; often the grade is defined by the difficulty of the crux. [1] [2] [29]
When a climber's feet swing away from the rock on overhanging terrain and they hang by their hands.



Also dry-tool climbing grade.

Where mixed climbing routes are completed in fully dry conditions (i.e. no ice or snow), the "M" suffix of the M-grade is swapped for a "D".
A term in bouldering for touching the ground, crash pad, spotter, or hold from other route. [30]
daisy chain
Daisy chain Daisychainclimbing.JPG
Daisy chain
A special-purpose type of sling with multiple sewn or tied loops, used in aid and big wall climbing.
dead hang
Dead hanging Climbing World Championships 2018 Lead Final Garnbret 03.jpg
Dead hanging
When a climber hangs limp, such that their weight is held by arm ligament tension rather than by muscles.
deadman anchor

Also snow anchor.

An object which lies horizontally, buried in the snow, serving as an anchor for an attached fixed rope. [31]
A controlled dynamic motion in which the hold is grabbed with one hand at the apex of upward motion of the body, while one or both feet and the other hand maintain contact with the rock. [32] See dynos .
The ground below a climbing route (i.e they fell to the ground and "hit the deck"). See ground fall . [2]
deep-water soloing

Also psicobloc.

Deep-water soloing Natalija Gros in Kamenjak, Croatia, 2009 photo Jure Breceljnik.jpg
Deep-water soloing
Free solo climbing on an overhanging route over a body of water to absorb any fall. [2]

Also rappel device.

A mechanical device that enables a controlled descent on a fixed rope; belay devices can be descenders. [2]

Also dex.

A drug to treat high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE) and high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). [33]
To have a complete understanding of a particular climbing move or sequence of moves on a route.
A drug used to inhibit the onset of altitude sickness; otherwise known as acetazolamide. [33]
Dihedral Red Rocks - Climbing the Fox - 1.jpg
An open book-shaped corner formed at the intersection of two flat rock faces; the opposite of an arête . [1] [2]
Italian for "shortest link", is the most direct route to the summit of a mountain up the fall line (e.g. the Brandler-Hasse Direttissima on the Cima Grande, Dolomites); origin of the term is often attributed to Emilio Comici who said: "I wish some day to make a route, and from the summit let fall a drop of water, and this is where my route will have gone". [34]
direct start
A new variation of an existing rock climbing route that avoids detours taken before the main line is reached due to their greater difficulty (e.g. Suprême Jumbo Love as a direct start to Jumbo Love).
A climber who lives modestly and often itinerantly, to maximize the amount of time climbing. Practitioners included Jan and Herb Conn and Fred Beckey (from the film: Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey). [35]
double ropes

Also half ropes.

Using double ropes Hebrides climbing - The Raven.jpg
Using double ropes
In lead climbing where two thinner ropes are used instead of a single rope to manage rope drag. Compare twin ropes . [27]
To descend by climbing downward (rather than by abseiling or lowering off), after completing a climb, or bailing.

Also rope drag.

Friction from the rope running over the rock and through the lower protection. See slack and double ropes . [36] [37] [38]
drilled baby angle
Drilled baby angle Red Rocks - Piton at Great Red Book Rock.jpg
Drilled baby angle

Also drilled pitons.

A type of anchor used in soft rock instead of bolts that uses a "baby angle" (piton) hammered into a drilled hole, which some think is better in soft rock than bolts that can crack the rock. [39] [40]
A deadpoint where one arm crosses over the other to reach a hold that is above and to the side.
drop knee

Also egyptian.

Also knee drop.

Also lolotte.

An advanced rock-climbing technique where the knee is dropped downwards to twist the hips—and the centre of gravity—closer to the rock face, thus increasing the amount of upward reach and torque available to the climber; the unique stresses on the knee can lead to serious injuries. [1] [11]
A climber dry tooling Ice climbing Ecrins 2014 2.jpg
A climber dry tooling
Using ice climbing tools such as crampons and ice axes, on bare rock. See Mixed climbing .
Dry Tooling Style

Also DTS.

Type of dry-tooling with additional restrictions and particularly a prohibition on yaniro moves.
A classical non-mechanical abseiling technique where the fixed rope is wrapped around the body.
dynamic rope
An elastic climbing rope that softens falls to some extent and absorbs the energy of heavy loads. Compare static rope . [27]
In rock climbing, a dynamic jump or leap to grab an out-of-reach hold; failure to grab the hold will usually result in a fall. See also paddling and campusing . [1] [2] [41]


Part of the British adjectival grading system that is used to rank the level of risk (a separate grade is given for technical difficulty) of traditional climbing routes, and which goes E1, E2, E3, ... to E11 (an additional metric is used for technical difficulty). [4]
Using the edge of a climbing shoe on a narrow foothold; in the absence of footholds, smearing is used.
Egyptian Janja Garnbret, World Championships, 17 09 2016 Paris.jpg
See Drop knee . [1] [11]
Egyptian bridging
The same position as bridging or chimneying, but with one leg in front and one behind the body.
A mountain whose elevation exceeds 8,000 meters (26,247 ft) a.s.l, of which there are only 14 in the world.
1.   A bouldering move, or series of moves, where certain holds are placed "off bounds". [2]
2.   A British term for a route that does not take the most obvious or direct line (i.e. it eliminates obstacles). [2]
Elvis legs
See sewing-machine leg . [2]
A mountaineering term to describe linking-up several individual climbs to create a larger undertaking.
energy absorber
Energy absorber PetzlScorpioShockAbsorber.jpg
Energy absorber

Also shock absorber.

A piece of protection equipment used in via ferrata climbing to absorb the energy of the arrest of any fall. See lanyard .
An otherwise ordinary climb that turned into a major struggle.
An acronym for Equalised, Redundant, No Extension, Strong, and Timely, in building anchors. See SERENE .
Using an etrier Tatryhakowka.jpg
Using an etrier
A short ladder made of webbing that is used for aid climbing. [2] [42]
European death knot
A flat overhand used to join a pair of ropes for retrievable abseils; considered dubious in America.
expedition style

Also siege tactics.

Using teams of support people (e.g. support climbers, sherpas, and/or equipment porters, etc.), and equipment (e.g. fixed rope, base camps, etc.) in helping the lead climbers reach the eventual summit; opposite of alpine style.
The level of empty space below or around a climber who is not in a secure position. [2]


face climbing
Any climbing on vertical rock using finger holds, edges, and smears, as opposed to crack climbing. [1]
fall factor
Ratio of the height (h) a climber falls to the rope length (l) available to absorb the energy of a fall. [1] [2]
false peak

Also false summit

A peak that appears to be the pinnacle of the mountain but upon reaching, it turns out the summit is higher (and further ahead).
A figure-four move 2016 UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour Cheongsong - 59.jpg
A figure-four move

Also figure of four and figure-four move and yaniro

An advanced climbing technique in which the climber hooks a leg over the opposite arm (which needs to be in a good handhold), and then pushes down with this leg to achieve a greater vertical reach; more common in mixed climbing. [2]

Also figure of nine and figure-nine move

A variation of the figure-four move where the "same-side" leg is used instead of the "opposite" leg. [2]
figure eight
Figure eight belay Abseilachter mit Seil.JPG
Figure eight belay
A belay device or descender that is shaped like the number eight. [2] [12]
figure-eight knot
Figure-eight knot Achterknoten2.JPG
Figure-eight knot

Also figure-eight loop.

A knot commonly used to tie in a climber's harness to the climbing rope.
finger jam

Also finger lock.

A type of jam using the fingers in a crack. [1]
finger board
Training equipment used to build finger strength. See also hangboard . [2]
first ascent

Also FA.

The first successful ascent of a new route by any means, including aid climbing (i.e. not via free climbing).
first free ascent

Also FFA.

The first ascent of a new route without aid, following the free climbing criteria of a redpoint.
first female free ascent

Also FFFA.

The first female to complete a free ascent of a route that has already had an FFA.
fist jam
A type of jam using the hand.
fixed rope
Jumaring up a fixed rope using an ascender Zumarovani.JPG
Jumaring up a fixed rope using an ascender
A rope that hangs from a fixed attachment point; commonly used for abseiling (going down) or for jumaring (going up).
A rock-climbing technique where a leg is held in a position to maintain balance, rather than to support weight, often to prevent a barn-door. [2] There are three types of flagging: [12] [11]
normal flag
Flagging foot stays on the same side (e.g. flagging right foot to the right side of the body). [12] [11]
reverse inside-flag
Flagging foot is crossed in front of the foot that is on a foothold. [12] [11]
reverse outside-flag
Flagging foot is crossed behind the foot that is on a foothold. [12] [11]
A thin slab of rock detached from the main face offering a hold, although it may become detached. [2]
To ascend a route on the first attempt, but having obtained beta; with no beta, it is an on-sight. [1] [2] [43] [3]

Also Fontainebleau grade.

The French grade system for bouldering, which goes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6A, 6B, 6C, 7A, 7B, 7C, .... , to 9A; with the American V-grade system, is the most common worldwide boulder-grading system. Font grades are often confused with French grades. [6]
foot jam

Also heel-to-toe jam.

A technique of jamming the foot into a large crack by twisting so that the heel and toes touch the sides.
The tearing of skin and flesh due to friction with sharp or rough surfaces.
A mountain summit that exceeds 14,000 feet (4,300 m), particularly one in the contiguous United States.
Free solo climbing but with a BASE jumping parachute as a backup in the event of a fall.
free climbing
Climbing without artificial aids other than for protection; can be done as sport climbing or traditional climbing. [2]
free solo climbing

Also free soloing.

Free soloing Michael Reardon - free soloing in Joshua Tree.jpg
Free soloing
Climbing without any type of aid or any form of climbing protection.
French free climbing
The use of very basic aid climbing techniques (i.e. A0-graded aid techniques such as pulling on climbing protection) to bypass a short section that is not easily climbable, particularly used in big wall climbing. [44]
French grade

Also Sport climbing grade, and Plaisir grade

The French grade system for sport climbing, which goes: 5a, 5b, 5c, 6a, 6b, 6c, 7a, 7b, 7c, .... , to 9c; with the American YDS system, is the most common sport climbing grading system. French grades are often confused with font grades. [6]
French start
Moving off for the second hold without being established on the start holds, thus using the floor as a foothold. In most competition climbing, including IFSC events, starting a climb in this manner invalidates the attempt. [45]
An exercise used to develop lock-off strength consisting of pull-ups that stop with the elbows locked at angles between 20 and 160 degrees.
Delicate and easily broken rock, or ice, often dangerously so.
friction climbing
A rock-climbing technique relying solely on the friction between the sloped rock and the sole of the shoe.
Friends Climbing gear - Wild Country Friends - 06.jpg
The name of Wild Country's spring-loaded camming device (SLCD) protection, and a generic name for SLCDs. [2]
front pointing
An ice climbing technique that uses the frontmost-spikes of the crampons to ascend iced routes.
fruit boot
Type of lightweight shoe used in mixed climbing and ice climbing that have in-built crampons.


Mountaineering clothing equipment that is worn over the boots and lower leg to give added protection and waterproofing.
A climbing grip using one hand with the thumb down and elbow out, like a reverse side pull. The grip maintains friction against a hold by pressing outward toward the elbow. Named for Gaston Rébuffat. [1] [2] [11]
gate flutter
The unwelcome action of the gate on a carabiner opening during a fall.
A rock-pinnacle or isolated rock-tower encountered along a ridge; often at the intersection of ridges.
Geneva rappel
A modified Dulfersitz rappel using the hip and downhill arm for friction — less complex, but less friction and control.
A belay plate device for belaying a second from above that has auto-blocking; made by Kong. See also Sticht plate .
Sitting glissade Glissading 0125 (3938801127).jpg
Sitting glissade
A voluntary act of sliding down a steep slope of snow using an ice axe for control.
Classifications intended as an objective measure of the technical difficulty of a climbing route (including rock, ice, bouldering, mixed, and aid). The most widely used lead climbing} grading systems are the French sport climbing grades, and the American Yosemite Decimal System; for bouldering, it is the font grade and the V-grade systems. [2] [6]
grade milestone
The first free ascent (FFA) by a lead climber of a new climbing route that sets a new grade level (e.g. the first-ever 9b  (5.15b) grade milestone was Chris Sharma's FFA of Jumbo Love in 2008).

Also greenpointing.

Ascending a sport climbing route but only using traditional climbing protection (e.g. Principle Hope ). See redpoint . [46]
Belaying with a grigri Belaying grigri.jpg
Belaying with a grigri
A belay device invented and manufactured by Petzl; also used in rope solo climbing. [2]
Accidentally going off-route leading into a harder route; from the notorious climb Gronk in Avon Gorge.
ground fall

Also decking.

Where a lead climber falls and hits the ground, either because their protection failed (e.g. zipper fall), the runout was too great, or the belayer failed to arrest or hold the rope. [2]


half ropes
See double ropes . [27]
hand jam
A type of jam using the hand in a crack. [1]
hand traverse
Traversing without any definitive footholds, i.e. no edging, smearing or heelhooking.
Hangboard Concet Climbing Solution Hangboard .jpg

Also finger board.

A training device to increase the climber's arm and finger strength. See campus board . [47]

Also hangdogging.

To hang on the rope, or a piece of protection, after falling, and then start reclimbing without returning to the ground. [48]
hanging belay
Using a hanging belay (bottom climber) Pou Anaiak el nino 8b - panoramio.jpg
Using a hanging belay (bottom climber)
Where the belay station of the belayer is suspended from the ground and tied to the wall via a fixed anchor point; used in big wall climbing and multi-pitch climbing.
heel spurs
Type of crampon attachment to the back of the heel used in mixed climbing to perform a heel hook. [49]
high-altitude cerebral edema

Also HACE.

A severe and often fatal form of altitude sickness caused by physical exertion without sufficient oxygen. [33]
high-altitude pulmonary edema

Also HAPE.

A severe form of altitude sickness caused by physical exertion without sufficient oxygen. [33]

Also climbing harness.

A sewn nylon webbing load-bearing device that is worn around the climber's waist and thighs, and to which the climbing rope, and other load-bearing climbing devices, can be attached. [2]
haul bag
Haul bag Haul bag.jpg
Haul bag
A large hard-wearing bag for supplies and equipment that can be dragged up multi-pitch or big wall routes.

Also headpointing.

Top-roping a traditional climbing route before lead climbing it to practise the moves. See redpoint . [46]
A region at the top of a cliff or rock face that steepens dramatically.
heel hook
Heel hook Emily Harrington sends Golden Gate (5.13 VI) in El Capitan - 04.jpg
Heel hook
Using the back of the heel to apply pressure on a hold for balance or for leverage. [1] [2] [12]

Also heel-toe cam.

A combination of a toe hook and heel hook to hold the body onto the climbing route.
Hexes Climbing gear - Black Diamond Hexes - 08.jpg

Also a hex.

A protective device consisting of an eccentric hexagonal nut attached to a wire loop.

Also high ball.

A high ball Hampi bouldering - 08.jpg
A high ball
A boulder problem over circa 5–10-metre (16–33 ft) high, where falling is dangerous. [1] [2]
hip belay
A method of belaying, whereby the rope friction is increased by passing the rope around the hip of the belayer.
A place to temporarily cling, grip, jam, press, or stand in the process of climbing a route. [2] See volume hold .
HMS carabiner
A round-ended carabiner for use with a Munter hitch (from German for the hitch; Halbmastwurfsicherung).

Also fifi hook and cam hook.

A mechanical piece of climbing equipment used in aid climbing. See also skyhook .
A round hold consisting of a pocket in the rock with a positive lip, varying in size from a single finger (a "mono") to body-sized. The term comes from Hueco Tanks that is notable for huecos, the Spanish term for a "hole".
hueco scale
See V-grade . [1]


ice axe
Modern ice axe Materiel d'escalade - studio WMCH - pioche Petzel.jpg
Modern ice axe
A multi-purpose tool used in alpine climbing that is a combination of an ice pick, adze, and pointed stick.
ice climbing
Ascending iced routes (e.g. waterfalls, and couloirs), with specialized equipment. See mixed climbing . [1]
ice hammer
Ice hammer Ice Hammer K7NS1013.jpg
Ice hammer
A lightweight ice axe with a hammer and pick head on a short handle, and no spike. See also rock hammer .
ice piton
Ice pitons (left), and ice screw (right) EishakenSchrauben.JPG
Ice pitons (left), and ice screw (right)
A long, wide, serrated piton that can be used for weak protection on ice.
ice screw
Modern protection device in ice climbing, with the tubular ice screw as the strongest. [50]
ice tool

Also technical axe.

A specialized elaboration of the modern ice axe that is used in modern advanced ice climbing.
Acronym for the international body that organises and regulates competition climbing. See UIAA .
indoor climbing
Rock climbing that takes place on artificial climbing walls that are set up inside buildings.
Denotes protection that is installed on the route (e.g. "there is a piton and sling "in-situ" at the crux"). [2]
isolation zone
In competition climbing, an area where competitiors are kept to prevent them getting beta on the upcoming routes. [51]


Hand jamming Coyne Crack 5.11+ - Supercrack Buttress - Indian Creek.jpg
Hand jamming
Wedging a body part into a crack, including finger jam, foot jam, hand jam, and chest jam. [2]
A very small foothold, large enough for the big toe, relying heavily on friction to support the weight.
See bucket . [1] [2]

Also jumaring.

A type of mechanical ascender, and the generic term for ascending a fixed rope using a mechanical ascender.


See carabiner . [2]
Klemheist knot
An alternative to the Prusik knot, useful when the climber is short of cord but has plenty of webbing.
knee bar
Using a knee bar
Wedging a knee against a hold in such a way as to allow the other limbs to be released and rested. [1] [52]
knee drop
See Egyptian .
knee pad
An artificial pad that is worn on the lower thigh to protect a climber when performing a knee bar. [53]


A Petzl lanyard and energy absorber ViaFerrataLanyardPetzlScorpio.jpg
A Petzl lanyard and energy absorber
A Y-shaped piece of protection equipment used in via ferrata climbing that attaches the harness to the fixed steel cables. Lanyards often attach to energy absorbers given the higher fall factor of via ferrata climbing.
Laybacking Clifton, Tasmania - Matchless - 1.jpg

Also liebacking.

Climbing an edge by side-pulling with both hands and using opposing friction for the feet. [1] [2] [11]
lead climbing

Also leading.

A form of climbing in which a lead climber clips their belay rope into protection equipment as they ascend. [1] [2]
lead climber

Also leader.

The individual ascending the route in lead climbing; the other person is the belayer. [1] [2]
leader fall
A lead climber fall while lead climbing; will be at least twice the distance to the last piece of protection.
A technique used to climb off-width cracks pioneered in the late 1970's by Randy Leavitt and Tony Yaniro  [ fr ] that uses alternating hand-fist stacks and leg-calf locks; helpful for resting, and when placing protection. [54]
liquid chalk
A liquid form of climbing chalk but with a longer hold time.
live rope
In lead climbing, the segment of the rope between the lead climber and the belayer. [2]
Resting lock off Climbing World Championships 2018 Lead Semi Klingler (BT0A1022).jpg
Resting lock off
A climber holding a fixed position with one bent arm, usually while clipping or reaching for another hold with their other arm, or resting. Contrast with dead hang. [1]
See Egyptian .
When a lead climber is lowered down the route by the belayer holding their weight on the belay device.
low zone
In competition bouldering, a marked hold somewhere between the start and zone. It is either worth some number of points (less than the zone) or used as a tiebreaker.



Also mixed climbing grades.

Part of the mixed climbing system for grading the technical difficulty of mixed climbing routes, which goes: M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M6, and up to M14. [4] See also D-grade .
mantel move
Mantel move Rat rock 2 020.jpg
Mantel move
Moving onto a shelf of rock by pressing down on it with the palms until the climber can stand on the "mantel" (i.e. the same action as leaving from the side of a pool). [1] [2] [12] [11]
mixed climbing
A type of climbing that involves using ice climbing tools on iced-up or snow-covered rock surfaces; mixed climbing techniques are used in dry-tooling and in alpine climbing . [49]
Mono hold Mono hold.jpeg
Mono hold
A climbing hold, typically a pocket or a hueco, which only has enough room for one finger. [1] [2]
moving together
See simul climbing .
multi-pitch climbing
A climb that has more than one pitch; a big wall route involves so many pitches, it takes over a day.
Munter hitch

Also Italian hitch or friction hitch.

A simple hitch used for belaying without a mechanical belay device.


National Climbing Classification System


Also commitment grade

A North American grading system used mainly in big wall climbing and alpine climbing; goes from I, II, III ... to VII.
Permanent granular ice formed by repeated freeze-thaw cycles.
new wave
See A-grade .
no-hand rest
No-hand rest No hands rest.jpg
No-hand rest
An entirely leg-supported resting position during climbing that does not require hands on the rock.
normal route

Also voie normale

Also Normalweg

The easiest and most frequently used route for ascending and descending a climb. [55]
A mountain or rock formation that protrudes through an ice field.
Nuts Climbing gear - Assorted nuts - 10.jpg
A metal wedge attached to a wire loop that is inserted into cracks for protection. See hexcentric . [2]
nut key

Also nut tool. [2]

See cleaning tool .


off belay
American climbing command when requesting that the belayer remove belay equipment from the climbing rope (e.g. when cleaning top protection from a lead route). Replied to with "belay off". [14]
Off-width climb Creeks Giving - Climbing in Indian Creek, Utah - 23.jpg
Off-width climb
A crack that is too wide for effective hand or foot jams but is not as large as a chimney. [1] [2] See big bro.
on belay
American climbing command when they are ready to be belayed. Replied to with "belay on". [14]
To ascend a route on the first attempt, with no prior beta; with beta, it is a flash. [1] [2] [43]
open book
An inside angle in the rock. See also dihedral .
open project
A route that was bolted by someone (e.g. they bought and installed the bolts) but who was unsuccessful in redpointing it, and it is now considered to be "open" to any climber to try; sometimes the original bolter will leave colored tape on the first bolt(s) to note the route is "not open". [56]
A section of rock or ice that is angled beyond the vertical. See roof . [2]


A multi-move dyno where the climber must move quickly through a sequence of intermediate hand holds (neither of which can hold the climber for any period), with their arms mimicking a paddling action and their feet usually in mid-air, before getting to a secure position. See also campusing . [41]
passive protection
Type of protection that remains static during a fall; opposite of active protection. See nuts and hexcentrics.
To systematically attain every peak of a designated class of summits (e.g. eight-thousanders), sometimes under prescribed conditions (e.g. in winter), and/or in a prescribed climbing style (e.g. no supplementary oxygen.)
A piton.
1.  Swinging on a taut anchored rope to reach the next hold in a pendulum traverse.
2.  A swing experienced during a fall caused by the last piece of protection being far to one side.
A quickdraw but made from a steel cable with steel carabiners that is permanently fixed to the bolt; longer wearing than aluminum quickdraws, and climbers do not need to retrieve them after a climb. [1]
personal anchor system

Also PAS.

An adjustable attachment point from a climber to a fixed anchor, give them flexibility to perform other tasks.

Also snow picket.

Picket Firnanker.JPG
A long, tubular rod driven into the snow to provide a makeshift anchor.
pinch hold

Also pinch.

A hold, which must be "pinched" between the fingers to use it. [2] [12]
Lead climbing where the protection (e.g. quickdraws) are pre-installed. See also greenpoint and redpoint . [2] [46]
The climbing route between two belay points with a "full pitch" being the length of the rope, circa 50 metres (160 ft). [1] [2]
Piton Profilhaken.jpg

Also angle, beak, bong, knifeblade, lost arrow.

A flat or angled metal blade of steel for protection that incorporates a clipping hole for a carabiner or a ring in its body that is hammered into cracks; comes in a wide range of designs and types for different crack types and widths; common in aid climbing, big wall climbing, and alpine climbing. [1] [2] See also RURP .
piton catcher
A clip-on string fastened to a piton when inserting or removing, so as to avoid loss.
plunge step
An aggressive step pattern for descending on hard or steep-angle snow.
poop tube
Poop tube Poop Tube Waste System.webp
Poop tube
A PVC tube-shaped container for carrying out human feces during multi-day or big wall climbs. [57]
Portaledge Lying on the portaledge.jpg
A lightweight foldaway tent platform used in big wall climbing to create a rest point on a sheer rock face.
A hold or part of a hold with a surface facing upwards, or away from the direction it is pulled, facilitating use. A positive hold is the opposite of a sloper.
pressure breathing

Also Whittaker wheeze.

Forcefully exhaling to facilitate O2/CO2 exchange at altitude.

Also bouldering problem or boulder problem.

Used in bouldering to describe the sequence of moves to be overcome. [2]
progress capture device

Also PCD.

A mechanical climbing device that allows the rope to move through it in only one direction, examples being the Petzl Micro Traxion or the Camp Lift; PCDs are used in pulley hauling and in top rope solo climbing. [58] [59] See also Self-locking device .

Also projecting.

An attempt over time to climb a new (worldwide or personal) route or boulder problem as a "project".

Also pro.

Also gear.

Carrying protection Climber with equipment.jpg
Carrying protection
Equipment for arresting lead climber falls, or to create anchors for abseils or belays. Examples are passive (bolts, copperheads, hexcentrics, ice screws, nuts, quickdraws, and skyhooks), and active (cams, friends, tricams). [1] [2]
A knot used for ascending a fixed rope, named after Austrian Karl Prusik, who developed this knot in 1931. [2]

Also pumped.

The accumulation of metabolic waste products in the forearm(s) so that holding a basic grip becomes impossible. [2]



Also quickie, draw, and extender.

A piece of climbing protection that is used to attach a running rope to an anchor or a bolt. See permadraw . [1] [2]

Also maillon and maillon rapide.

A screw-type oval-shaped stainless steel carabiner which is smaller than the normal carabiner.


A traditional climbing rack on a harness Trad rack.jpg
A traditional climbing rack on a harness
A rack Braking bar.jpg
A rack
1.  The set of protection equipment carried by a lead climber up a climb. [1] [2]
2.  Type of heavy-duty "all-weather" descender, which is also called an "abseil rack" or a "rappel rack", consisting of metal bars on a U-shaped chassis; frequently used in caving.
See abseil .
See grade .
The replacement of older bolts on an existing bolted sport climbing route.

Also redpointing.

Free climbing a route by leading it after having failed it or practiced it beforehand (e.g. by hangdogging, headpointing, or top roping). A route climbed on the first-ever attempt (and no practice), it is an onsight or a flash. See first free ascent . [1] [2]
removable bolt

Also RB.

A removable protection bolt, similar in concept to a sliding nut, but shaped to fit into a drilled hole; popular in aid climbing.
rest step
An energy-saving mountaineering technique where the unweighted (uphill) leg is rested between each forward step, by "locking" the knee of the rear leg.
The addition of bolts to a route that has already been ascended using traditional climbing protection. The technique is controversial, with ethical debate on the issues of improving climber safety versus protecting the integrity of the original traditional climbing challenge. [60] [61]
rigging plate
Blue rigging plate Mountain climbing equipment in Mirabad - Nishapur 01.JPG
Blue rigging plate

Also rigging board and bat plate.

A light metal plate with several holes that can be used as a multi-anchor device that several items can be attached to at a belay station, notable versions include the Petzl PAW.
Term to denote when a piece of protection failed and "ripped-out" of the rock. See zipper fall . [2]
rivet hanger
Rivet hanger Aid Climbing Rivet Hanger.jpg
Rivet hanger

Also plate hanger, wire hanger, or cinch hanger.

A piece of aid climbing equipment used by the lead climber to attach to bolt runner rivets in the rock. See also carrot bolt .
rock hammer

Also wall hammer.

A lightweight hammer with a short handle used for inserting pitons, bolts, and copperheads in aid climbing and big wall climbing. See also ice hammer .
rockover move
A rock-climbing technique where the body weight is transferred (or "rocked-over") to the raised up-hill leg to reach a higher hold. [2]
rodeo clipping
To clip into the first piece of protection from the ground by swinging a loop of rope so that it is caught by a pre-placed carabiner. [62]
Climbing a roof Elizabeth Furnace - Furnass 12a - 8.jpg
Climbing a roof
An overhang that is so steep, it becomes horizontal. [2]
rope bag
Specialist lightweight but hardwearing bag for carrying a climbing rope. [1]
rope drag
See drag . [1]
rope jumping
Jumping a full rope-length from the top of a rock face with the rope attached to a fixed anchor like a bungee cord.
rope team
See simul climbing .
rose move
A move in which the crossing arm goes behind the other arm and is so far extended that the body is forced to twist until it ends up facing away from the rock. It was introduced by Antoine Le Menestrel  [ fr ] to climb a route in Buoux called La rose et le vampire 8b  (5.13d) in 1985. [63]
See climbing route .
A small protection nut on a wire for tiny cracks with marginal holding power; named after Roland Pauligk. [2]
1.  In the US, a sling is made from nylon-blend materials, used by climbers for a multitude of purposes. [1]
2.  In the UK, any item of protection placed by the lead climber to reduce the length of a fall. [2]
A long runout Fotothek df ps 0002300 Sport ^ Klettersport.jpg
A long runout
In a term in lead climbing for the distance between points of good protection; in the grading of climbs, routes with long runouts have higher adjectival "E" grade (British system), or an R/Xor even X suffix (American system). See ground fall . [1] [2]
RURP RURP by Tom Frost.jpg
A miniature, postage stamp-sized chrome-moly square piton, tied to a wire or rope and hammered into cracks; created by Yvon Chouinard in 1960 for extreme aid climbing routes in Yosemite; acronym for realized ultimate reality piton. [64]
A suffix used in the yosemite decimal system for traditional climbing routes that have poor possibilities for protection where any fall could be serious (e.g. Master's Edge ). See X .



Also deep-water soloing grades.

Part of the deep-water soloing system for grading the objective danger difficulty of DWS climbing routes, which goes: S0, S1, S2, and S3. See also X .
A high pass between two peaks, larger than a col.
A rock climb with a much lower official climbing grade than probably deserved; sometimes due to a "trick-move" at the crux that once learned, does make the route easier; or due to overly conservative grading. [2]
A type of climbing somewhere between hiking and graded rock climbing; involves climbing the easiest grades.
1.  A nylon webbing structure consisting of one large loop sewn in multiple places to make a shorter length.
2.  A British term for a large whipper fall. [2]
Small, loose rocks, at the base of a cliff or slope; distinguished from talus.
screw on

Also foot chip, chip, or micro.

A small climbing hold screwed onto the wall on a climbing wall.
Lead climber (right) and second (left) Creeks Giving - Climbing in Indian Creek, Utah - 3.jpg
Lead climber (right) and second (left)
A climber who follows the lead climber; often acts as the belayer.
Using the pick of an ice axe to arrest a fall, or to control a glissade.

Also self-belaying.

The act of using a mechanical device for belaying in solo climbing. See self-locking device .
self-locking device

Also SLD.

Self-locking device Wren Industries Silent Partner.jpg
Self-locking device
A device used in solo climbing, and particularly rope solo climbing, to automatically arrest falls. Examples include Wren's Silent Partner. See also progress capture device . Compare automatic belay .
self rescue
Actions taken by a climber(s) to execute their own rescue or recovery from a difficult or dangerous situation.
To free climb a route, via an on-sight, flash, or redpoint. [2] [1]
A large tower of ice on the surface of a glacier; falling seracs are a serious hazard to mountaineers.
Acronym for building anchors; stands for Strong, Equalised, Redundant, Efficient, No Extension. See also ERNEST .
sewing-machine leg

Also scissor leg, Elvis legs, or disco knee.

The involuntary vibration of the leg due to fatigue and/or panic and stress. [2]
shadow match
A rock climbing move to quickly switch hands on a hold that can only fit one hand at a time.
sharp end
The end of the rope that is attached to the lead climber, to denote the more serious activity they are undertaking compared to the belayer. [2]
short fixing
An advanced big wall climbing technique where the lead climber fixes the rope at an anchor to allow the second to ascend using jumars, while the leader climber then continues to ascend in a rope solo climbing fashion; unlike simul climbing, neither is belaying the other. [65] [66]
side pull
A side pull Bouldering in Coopers Rock - 02.jpg
A side pull
A vertical hold that needs to be gripped with a sideways pull towards the body. [1] [2] [11]
simul climbing

Also running belay.

An advanced technique in which two climbers move simultaneously upward, with the leader placing protection that the second removes as they advance. A protection capture device (PCD) may also be used. [66]
single-rope technique
The use of a single rope where one or both ends of the rope are attached to fixed anchor points. See fixed rope.
sit start

Also sit down start or SDS

A sit start Bouldering at Tom Riach - 06.jpg
A sit start
Bouldering term for a route that must be started from a seated position on the ground with hands and feet on prescribed holds; acronyms are SS (sit-start), SDS (sit-down-start), or assis (french); concept invented by John Yablonski. [67]
Skyhook Skyhook.jpg
A metal hook inserted on a horizontal hold for protection in traditional climbing, or in aid climbing.
A low-angle — significantly less than vertical — rock face that requires slab climbing techniques. [2]
slab climbing
A type of climbing on slabs that usually emphasizes balance, footwork, and smearing.
In lead climbing and in top rope climbing, it is the amount of additional rope that the belayer has allowed; slack increases the distance of any fall before the protection begins to hold the rope, but is needed to reduce rope drag or aid. [68]
A closed loop of webbing. [2]
Sloper hold BW 2012-08-26 Rustam Gelmanov RUS 0749.JPG
Sloper hold
A hold where the surface slopes down toward the ground, with very little positive surface or lip. [1] [2] [12]
To make use of friction on the sole of the climbing shoe in the absence of good footholds. [1] [2] [12]
A type of tubular ice screw that is inserted by hammering with an ice hammer.
snow cave
A temporary shelter constructed by digging out snow to form a cave.
snow fluke
Snow fluke SnowFlukeA.JPG
Snow fluke
An angled aluminum plate attached to a cable or rope that is buried into the snow to create a deadman anchor.
solo climbing
When the climber is alone (with no second); if also without protection is free solo climbing. See rope solo climbing.
speed climbing
A competition climbing discipline where competitors race in pairs up a standardized climbing wall. [1]
In indoor climbing, a hold that is not secure and spins in place when weight is applied.
A splitter crack Crack climbing in Indian Creek, Utah.jpg
A splitter crack
A crack with perfectly parallel sides, often in an otherwise blank face.
sport climbing
A style of lead climbing where the protection is via pre-placed fixed bolts; opposite of traditional climbing. [3] Confusingly, competition climbing (which includes bolted lead climbing, but also free solo bouldering and top-roped speed climbing) is sometimes called "sport climbing". [2] [3]
People standing beneath a lead climber or bouldering climber ready to absorb the energy of a ground fall. [2]
A type of hand position where the fingers and thumb are opposed in a tiny crack. [2]
spring-loaded camming device


A type of active protection device used in crack climbing. See cam . [2]
static rope
A non-elastic climbing rope used for abseiling or jumaring (as a fixed rope), but not lead climbing. Compare dynamic rope . [2] [27]
stein pull
A technique in mixed climbing and dry-tooling where the ice axe is inverted and the blade wedged into a crack above the climber's head, who then pulls down on the handle of the axe to gain upward momentum. See also undercling pull . [69]
Stemming Red River Gorge - Long Wall - Rock Wars 1a.jpg
Technique for climbing opposing corners by pushing in opposite directions with the feet and hands. See chimneying. [1] [2] [12] [11]
step cutting
Scooping steps out of snow or ice with the adze of an ice axe.
step kicking
Scooping and stamping steps out of soft snow with the feet.
Sticht plate
A belay device consisting of a flat plate with a pair of slots, named after the inventor Fritz Sticht. [2] See also GiGi .
stick clip
Using a stick clip Use of stick clip.jpg
Using a stick clip
A long pole with a quickdraw that can be clipped into the first bolt of a route from the ground. [1]
1.  A wedge-shaped nut made by Black Diamond.
2.  A knot used to prevent the end of a rope from running through — and detaching from — a piece of gear. [1] [2]
Sure-footedness is the ability when hiking or mountain climbing, to negotiate difficult or rough terrain safely. [70]


Term to describe pieces of webbing or cord left on a climb (e.g. "I found some old tat") often as part of an irretrievable anchor point that was part of an abseil station. [71]

Also take-in.

The act of taking the slack out of a rope; also a climbing command by a lead climber to the belayer. [1]
Talus rocks Brenay.jpg
Talus rocks
An area of large rock fragments on a mountainside where the rocks are stable and not loose like scree.
talon hook
A type of three-pronged climbing hook used for securing the climber to a horizontal edge in the rock face. Each prong contains a curved hook of differing widths for securing onto respective edge sizes when aid climbing.
Applying tape USMC-110201-M-4150N-256.jpg
Applying tape

Also climbing tape and second skin

Adhesive tape that is wrapped around the fingers and hands to protect the skin; particularly useful in crack climbing.
technical grade
See grade .
A route that is representative of the hardest climbs in an area at a particular grade (e.g. Action Directe for grade 9a).
tie in

Also tying in.

To physically attach the harness to the climbing rope, usually via a figure-eight knot. See clip in .
A runner created by "threading" a sling around a jammed block or through a hole in the rock. [2]
toe hook
A toe hook 015 zehnte stadtmeisterschaft im Klettern in Munich.JPG
A toe hook
Act of pressing the upper side of the toes under a hold to pull the climber inwards; used on overhangs. [1] [12]
The graphical representation – drawing or photograph – of a climbing route, with the main obstacles marked.
top rope climbing
Top roping Starr 071222-0266 Salsola tragus.jpg
Top roping

Also top roping

To belay from a fixed anchor point above the climb; if the climber falls, they just hang. See hangdogging. [2] [1] [3]
To complete a route by ascending over the top of the climb to safety. [2]
torque pull
A technique in mixed climbing and dry-tooling where the ice axe is wedged into a crack and twisted to generate torque to aid upward momentum. See also undercling pull and stein pull . [69]
See feet follow .
traditional climbing
Traditional climbing Climbing in Yosemite Valley - 01.jpg
Traditional climbing

Also trad climbing or simply trad.

A style of lead climbing where protection is placed as the lead climber ascends; opposite of sport climbing. [2] [3]
trail rope

Also haul line.

A big wall climbing technique where the lead climber carries an additional static rope (in addition to their dynamic climbing rope) that hangs (or "trails") behind them as they ascend; the trail rope enables the belayer to pass equipment to the leader during the ascent, and for the leader to haul up equipment as the belayer ascends. [21] [57]
Traversing Peter Stocker in Yosemite.jpg
1.  A section of a route that requires progress in a horizontal direction. [1] [2]
2.  A Tyrolean traverse is crossing a chasm using a fixed rope anchored at both ends.
3.  A pendulum traverse is swinging across a wall suspended from a rope anchored above the climber. [21]
4.  A tension traverse is a static version of a pendulum traverse where rope tension is used to control movement. [21]
Tricam Tricam 7 placed.jpg
A simple camming protection device that has no moving parts (e.g. it is passive protection).

Also tubular

Tubers Tuber mix.jpg
A type of belay device.
Climbing on tufas Climbing at Kalymnos Island - 23.jpg
Climbing on tufas
1.  A limestone rib formation that protrudes from the wall which climbers can pinch-grip.
2.  A plastic bolted-on bouldering hold to replicate such a formation on an climbing wall.
twin ropes
In lead climbing, using two ropes that are even thinner than double ropes, both of which need to be clipped in at each point of protection; sometimes used in long alpine climbing routes with major abseiling descents. [27]
twist lock
A climbing move where the hips "twist" perpendicular to the wall, the inside arm is "locked" on an upper hold, the outside arm holds the body against the wall, and the feet press down to propel the body higher.


Acronym for the international governance body for mountaineering and other types of climbing; UIAA also regulates competition ice climbing. [1] See also IFSC .
UIAA grade

Also UIAA scale.

The UIAA grade system for rock climbing, which goes: ... VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, .... , to XII; is less common than the French grade system or the American YDS grade system, but still used in Germany and parts of Eastern Europe. [6]
UIAA Scale of Overall Difficulty
See Alpine-grade . [6]

Also undercut.

A downward hold which is gripped with the palm of the hand facing upwards. [1] [2] [11]
undercling pull
After a stein pull is completed, the undercling pull is a mixed climbing technique for continuing to use the hold to gain upward momentum by using the hold to pull into the rock; requires a lot more energy than a stein pull. [69]
See undercling .



Also Hueco scale.

A grading system for bouldering problems invented by John Sherman, which goes: V0, V1, V2, V3, V4, V5, V6, V7, ... , to V17. The V-scale and the French font scale are the most common boulder grading systems in use worldwide. [1] [6]

Also Abalakov thread.

A type of abseiling point used especially in winter and in ice climbing.
A thin coating of ice that forms over rocks when rainfall or melting snow freezes, which is hard to climb on as there is insufficient depth for crampons to have penetration. See also clear ice and glaze ice .
via ferrata

Also Klettersteig.

Climbing a via ferrata Climber on fixed rope route Piz Mitgel 2.jpg
Climbing a via ferrata
An alpine route where protection is from permanent steel fixed ropes or chains, with progression aided by artificial steel steps or ladders; commonly found in the Dolomites. See also lanyard and energy absorber .
volume hold
Volume holds Mascarenas megan 1854.JPG
Volume holds
A large, hollow, bolted-on hold, for indoor climbing walls; it may itself contain individual holds



Also ice climbing grades.

Part of the ice climbing system for grading the technical difficulty of ice climbing routes, which goes: WI1, WI2, WI3, WI4, WI5, WI6, and up to WI13. [4] See also M-grade .
Round webbing Schlauchband.JPG
Round webbing
A hollow and flat nylon strip mainly used to make slings.
A piece of webbing with eyes sewn into the ends which can be used in place of a cordelette.
Any time a rope sustains the weight of the climber, e.g. "weighting the rope". This can happen during a minor fall, a whipper (long fall), or simply by resting while hanging on the belay rope. See also hangdogging .
Climber on a whipper Rock Climbing in Iran.jpg
Climber on a whipper
A large fall by a lead climber as they were well beyond the last piece of protection. See screamer . [72]
wire brushing
Cleaning a rock climbing route with a wire brush before an attempt; has ethical issues due to rock damage and possible chipping. [2]
See dialled . [2]
See nuts . [2]


A suffix used in the yosemite decimal system for highlighting traditional climbing routes that have poor or even no possibilities for protection, where any fall could be fatal (e.g. Indian Face and Gaia ). See R/X and chop route .


French term for a figure-four move which came from American climber Tony Yaniro  [ fr ]'s use of it on Chouca 8a+  (5.13c). [73]
A free climbing term pre-redpointing, where a falling lead climber returns to the ground to restart, but leaves their rope clipped into the protection — in redpointing, the rope is pulled free from all protection before re-starting the climb. [2]
Yosemite Decimal System
American system for grading walks, hikes, and climbs; the rock climbing (5.x) goes: 5.7, 5.8, 5.9, 5.10a, 5.10b, 5.10c, 5.10d, 5.11a, .... , 5.14a, 5.14b, 5.14c, 5.14d, 5.15a, etc., and with the French grade system, is the most widely used grading system worldwide for sport climbing. [6]


While lead climbing, clipping into protection with a segment of rope from beneath the previous piece of protection, resulting in rope drag. [1] [10]
Z-pulley system Z-pulley.jpg
Z-pulley system
A system of rope, anchors, and pulleys; is typically used to extricate a climber after falling into a crevasse.
A zawn in Wales Zawn at Trwynbychan - - 4181311.jpg
A zawn in Wales
In Britain, a deep, narrow inlet in a sea cliff that is filled by the sea at high tide. [2]
zipper fall

Also gear rip-out.

A traditional climbing ground fall where all the protection gear fails in sequence (i.e. opens like a "zip"). [2] [74]
zone hold
Zone hold 2022-08-12 European Championships 2022 - Sport Climbing Women's Boulder by Sandro Halank-075.jpg
Zone hold
In competition bouldering, a hold roughly halfway up that counts towards scoring; formerly (up to 2017) "bonus hold".

See also

Related Research Articles

<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, 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

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Traditional climbing</span> Type of rock climbing

Traditional climbing is a type of free climbing in rock climbing where the lead climber places the protection equipment while ascending the route; when the lead climber has completed the route, the second climber then removes the protection equipment as they climb the route. Traditional climbing differs from sport climbing where the protection equipment is pre-drilled into the rock in the form of bolts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Climbing route</span> Path to scale a mountain, rock, or ice wall

A climbing route is a path by which a climber reaches the top of a mountain, or rock/ice-covered obstacle. The details of a climbing route are recorded in a climbing guidebook and/or in an online climbing route database, and will include elements such as the type of climbing route, the difficulty grade of the route–and beta on its crux(es)–and any risk or commitment grade, the length and number of pitches of the route, and the climbing equipment needed to complete the route.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rock-climbing equipment</span> List of manmade gear

Rock-climbing equipment varies with the type of climbing undertaken. Bouldering needs the least equipment outside of shoes and chalk and optional crash pads. Sport climbing adds ropes, harnesses, belay devices, and quickdraws to clip into pre-drilled bolts. Traditional climbing adds the need for carrying a "rack" of temporary passive and active protection devices. Multi-pitch climbing adds devices to assist in ascending and descending fixed ropes. And finally aid climbing uses unique equipment.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Free climbing</span> Climbing without using aid climbing

Free climbing is a form of rock climbing in which the climber can only use climbing equipment for climbing protection, but not as an aid to help in their progression in ascending the route. Free climbing, therefore, cannot use any of the tools that are used in aid climbing to help overcome the obstacles encountered while ascending a route. The development of free climbing was an important moment in the history of rock climbing, including the concept and definition of what determined a first free ascent of a route by a climber.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Solo climbing</span> Style of climbing performed alone

Solo climbing, or soloing, is a style of climbing in which the climber climbs a route alone, without the assistance of a belayer. By its very nature, it presents a higher degree of risk to the climber, and in some cases, is considered extremely high risk. Note that the use of the term "solo climbing" is generally separate from the action of bouldering, which is itself a form of solo climbing, but with less serious consequences in the case of a fall. The most dangerous form of solo climbing is free solo climbing, which means both climbing alone and without any form of climbing protection.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aid climbing</span> Type of rock climbing

Aid climbing is a form of rock climbing that uses mechanical devices and equipment, such as aiders, for upward momentum. Aid climbing is the opposite of free climbing, which only uses mechanical equipment for protection, but not to assist in upward momentum. "Traditional aid climbing" involves hammering in permanently fixed pitons and bolts, into which aiders are clipped, whereas "clean aid climbing" avoids hammering, using only removable placements.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sport climbing</span> Type of rock climbing

Sport climbing is a type of free climbing in rock climbing where the lead climber clips into pre-drilled permanent bolts for their protection while ascending a route. Sport climbing differs from the riskier traditional climbing where the lead climber has to insert temporary protection equipment while ascending.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Belaying</span> 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.

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

Lead climbing is a technique in rock climbing where the lead climber clips their rope to the climbing protection as they ascend a pitch of the climbing route, while their second remains at the base of the route belaying the rope to protect the lead climber in the event that they fall. The term is used to distinguish between the two roles, and the greater effort and increased risk, of the role of the lead climber.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Top rope climbing</span> Type of rock climbing

Top rope climbing is a form of rock climbing where the climber is securely attached to a climbing rope that runs through a fixed anchor at the top of the climbing route, and back down to the belayer at the base of the climb. A climber who falls will just hang from the rope at the point of the fall, and can then either resume their climb or have the belayer lower them down in a controlled manner to the base of the climb. Climbers on indoor climbing walls can use mechanical auto belay devices to top rope alone.

<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 climbing, a pitch is a section of a climbing route between two belay points, and is most commonly related to the task of lead climbing, but is also related to abseiling. Climbing on routes that require only one pitch is known as single-pitch climbing, and climbing on routes with more than one pitch is known as multi-pitch climbing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rock climbing</span> Type of sport

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

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Multi-pitch climbing</span> Type of climbing

Multi-pitch climbing is a type of climbing that typically takes place on routes that are more than a single rope length in height, and thus where the lead climber cannot complete the climb as a single pitch. Where the number of pitches exceeds 6–10, it can become big wall climbing, or where the pitches are in a mixed rock and ice mountain environment, it can become alpine climbing. Multi-pitch rock climbs can come in traditional, sport, and aid formats. Some have free soloed multi-pitch routes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Redpoint (climbing)</span> Type of free climbing

In rock climbing, redpointing means to free-climb a route from the ground to the top while lead climbing, after having practiced the route or after having failed first attempt. Climbers will try to redpoint a route after having failed to onsight it, or flash it. The first successful redpoint of a route, in the absence of any prior onsight or flash, is recorded as the first free ascent (FFA) of that route.

In rock climbing, an anchor can be any device or method for attaching a climber, rope, or load to a climbing surface—typically rock, ice, steep dirt, or a building—either permanently or temporarily. The intention of an anchor is case-specific but is usually for fall protection, primarily fall arrest and fall restraint. Climbing anchors are also used for hoisting, holding static loads, or redirecting a rope.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rope solo climbing</span> Type of solo climbing with protection

Rope-solo climbing or rope-soloing is a form of solo climbing, but unlike with free solo climbing, which is also performed alone and with no climbing protection whatsoever, the rope-solo climber uses a mechanical self-belay device and rope system, which enables them to use the standard climbing protection to protect themselves in the event of a fall.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of rock climbing</span> Key chronological milestones

In the history of rock climbing, the three main sub-disciplines—bouldering, single-pitch climbing, and big wall climbing—can trace their origins to late 19th-century Europe. Bouldering started in Fontainebleau, and was advanced by Pierre Allain in the 1930s, and John Gill in the 1950s. Big wall climbing started in the Dolomites, and was spread across the Alps in the 1930s by climbers such as Emilio Comici and Riccardo Cassin, and in the 1950s by Walter Bonatti, before reaching Yosemite where it was led in the 1950s to 1970s by climbers such as Royal Robbins. Single-pitch climbing started pre-1900 in both the Lake District and in Saxony, and by the late-1970s had spread widely with climbers such as Ron Fawcett (Britain), Bernd Arnold (Germany), Patrick Berhault (France), Ron Kauk and John Bachar (USA).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Big wall climbing</span> Type of rock climbing

Big wall climbing is a form of rock climbing that takes place on long multi-pitch routes that normally require a full day, if not several days, to ascend. In addition, big wall routes are typically sustained and exposed, where the climbers remain suspended from the rock face, even sleeping hanging from the face, with limited options to sit down or escape unless they abseil back down the whole route. It is therefore a physically and mentally demanding form of climbing.


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