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Climbing Glossary Climbing Glossary

Climbing Glossary

Climbing Glossary

by RJ Fleming and Pat Mclaughlin

  • aid, aid climbing – using gear to support your weight and/or make upward progress
  • anchors, belay anchors – system used to secure you to the rock at the beginning/end of a pitch; may be composed of bolts or traditional protection such as SLCDs, nuts, etc.
  • ascenders – mechanical devices used to ascend ropes
  • ATC® – belay and rappelling device made by Black Diamond®
  • back clean – process of reaching back to remove gear as you progress to the next placement
  • back-clip – to thread/clip a climbing rope incorrectly through a carabiner connected to protection when leading, increasing the chance the rope could unclip from the carabiner if pulled obliquely during a fall
  • bail – to get off of a route as fast as possible due to an inability to continue
  • bashies – small copper or steel headed nuts usually hammered into cracks or pin scars
  • belay – (verb) the act holding the rope while your partner climbs to protect them in case they fall; (noun) the belay anchor (see anchors)
  • beta – information about a route or move sequence
  • Big Bro® – a spring-loaded tube which is used to protect wide cracks made by Lowe Alpine®
  • big wall – a climb so long it is generally climbed in more than one day
  • bivy – bivouac; to sleep outdoors (no tent)
  • bounce test – to use your weight to test the strength/integrity of a piece of protection before committing to it
  • Camalot® – a specific brand model of SLCD camming device
  • camming device – a spring-loaded camming device (SLCD) placed in varying sized cracks to protect a climber in case of a fall
  • carabiners – aluminum alloy D or oval shaped units with a spring-loaded gate used for connecting gear/ropes/climber, offered in simple or locking versions
  • cheating – using gear to rest or make progress but claiming to have free climbed a route (see French free)
  • chicken head – knob-like natural rock formation
  • chimney – (noun) a space between two walls big enough to fit your body and touch both sides. (verb) a climbing technique utilizing opposing force to ascend a chimney
  • chock – any wedge-shaped device placed in the constrictions of a crack to use as protection
  • cleaning – removing gear on a route, usually done by the climber seconding
  • copperheads – various shaped small copper nuts on wires used to hold body weight after being hammered into small cracks or pin scars when aid climbing
  • daisy, daisy chain – cord or sling used to attach a harness to an anchor; a pre-sewn sling with bar tacked loops for use in aid climbing
  • dihedral – open book formation where two perpendicular walls meet
  • etriers (aiders) – nylon step ladders used for moving higher on an aid placement
  • exposure – a state of being where, due to the sheerness of the rock and the situation, a real or imagined lack of security is felt
  • Fifi hook – open hook used to connect gear
  • figure 8 – a cast metal belay and rappelling device
  • fix a pitch – to climb a section, secure the rope in place, and descend with the intention of returning to the high point by means of later ascending the rope
  • fixed gear, fixed pin, fixed rope – gear left in place (either temporarily or permanently)
  • free climbing – climbing using only hands and feet (and other body parts) against the rock (ropes and other gear used only to protect in case of a fall)
  • French free – the practice of pulling on gear (without using aiders) to advance progress; not considered valid free climbing, but acceptable as aid technique
  • Friend® – the original SLCD protection device invented by Ray Jardin
  • haul bag, ‘pig’ – bag for carrying gear, portaledge, food and supplies up a long route
  • hauling – hoisting a climber or load, usually using mechanical advantage
  • jam, jamming – placing fingers, hands or toes into narrow rock formations
  • jug – (verb) to climb a rope using ascenders; (noun) a large handhold
  • Jumar – (noun) a brand of ascenders, but commonly used as a generic term for ascenders; (verb) to jug – mechanically ascend a rope
  • lead – to climb a section first, placing gear for protection while moving upward
  • Logan® skyhook – steel hook for hanging from thin flakes of rock
  • mashies – see ‘bashies’
  • micro-wires – small passive nuts used for aid climbing progress or marginal protection
  • nut – a tapered metal wedge with an attached wire which is placed in the constriction of a crack for protection
  • “off belay” – the command used to tell your partner that you are safely anchored at the end of the pitch, and no longer need to be protected by them holding the rope; also, the state of not being protected by a partner with the rope
  • offsets – a nut with an uneven taper which allows them to fit nicely into many pin scars
  • off-width – a crack either too narrow or too wide to be used easily for progress or protection
  • “on belay” – the command used to tell your partner that you are securely holding the rope to protect them as they climb; also, state of being protected by your partner with the rope
  • onsight – to climb a route previously unattempted
  • pendulum – a running swing taken by a climber suspended by the rope to gain another part of a wall
  • pig – nickname for the haulbag
  • pin – piton
  • pinkpoint – to redpoint a rock route equipped with pre-placed quickdraws
  • pin scars – damage to the cracks caused by the placement and removal of pitons
  • pitch – the distance covered by the leader before stopping and bringing up the follower; usually around 100-165 feet (35 – 55m)
  • piton – a variety of metal spike shapes hammered into cracks in the rock for protection
  • portaledge – suspendable single or double sleeping platform
  • protection, pro – the generic term for any active or passive gear (i.e. piton, nut, camming device, etc.) placed in the rock to stop a climber’s fall
  • quickdraws, draws – short sewn slings with a carabiner attached to each end for clipping bolts or trad gear for protection
  • rappel, rap – to descend a single or double rope using a friction device or by wrapping the rope around the body (Dulfersitz)
  • redpoint – to lead climb a route previously practiced while protected
  • redirect – improvised method of directing the load on an anchor or belay
  • rivets – a small metal screw hammered into a shallow hole drilled into the rock
  • roof – an overhang or horizontal ceiling
  • rope drag – resistance or pull caused by the rope going through protection or around natural rock features in a circuitous fashion
  • R.U.R.P.® – ‘realised ultimate reality piton’; a small piton used in aid climbing
  • screamer, extender – pre-sewn sling designed to rip out and extend a fall, minimizing the impact load upon an anchor or piece of protection (originally designed by Yates®); a long or frightening fall
  • seconding – climbing second and cleaning a route; following a leader up a route
  • send – to climb a route
  • sharp end – the leader is said to be on the sharp end, because they are at a greater risk of injury in a fall than the follower
  • shortrope – belay a partner while simul-climbing, using a shortened section of rope
  • simul-climb – both partners climb simultaneously once the leader reaches the end of the rope
  • stem – to push against opposing or adjacent walls with your feet
  • TCU® – A model of camming device utilizing three cams instead of the traditional four
  • tie in short – to tie a knot in the trailing end of the rope you are jugging and attach it to your harness to limit a potential fall should your ascenders slip or detach from the rope
  • topo – topographic map of the route
  • top roping – being belayed from above with a rope while climbing
  • top-stepping – in aid climbing, getting your feet into the highest (top) steps of your etriers to maximize reach for the next placement (the optimal situation).
  • trad gear – hand placed active and passive  protection gear (not insitu bolts or other gear)
  • trad route – rock route climbed only using traditional gear for protection
  • Tricams® – a traditional single passive, slung camming unit with a point that is placed in cracks for protection, invented by Lowe Alpine®
  • whipper – a long fall
  • zipper – a fall that pulls out protection gear

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