Climbing Glossary
Climbing Dictionary

Letter A to C

Abseiling
Descending by sliding down a rope. Americans usually call this rappelling.
Adze
The flat cutting end of the ice axe head.
Aid climbing
Moving up a rock using fixed or placed protecting as a means of progression (and not just for protection). Also known in the US as sixth class climbing.
Aider
Webbing ladder used for aid climbing. The word was probably coined by someone who couldn't spell the french word étrier.
Aid route
Route that can only be ascended using aid climbing techniques
Alcove
A belay ledge that is surrounded by vertical rock on all sides.
AMS
Acute mountain sickness. (Ask your medical doctor.)
Anchor
Point where the rope is fixed to the rock.
Arete
A narrow (more or less - but often more less than more - horizontal) ridge. In the US, the word arete is also used to indicate an outside corner.
Ascenders
Devices (e.g. Jumars) to ascend a rope.
ATC
'Air Trafic Controller', belaying device made by Black Diamond.
Avalanche
Lots of snow or ice sliding down a mountain.
Bail, to
To give up on a rock climb or a summit attempt because of bad weather coming in.
Base camp
The lowest and largest fixed camp on a major ascent (or multiple ascents in the same area).
Beer
Liquid consumed in large quantities after climbing.
Belay, to
To secure a climber.
Belay station
A safe stance consisting of an anchor, a rope, and a belayer (aka "the belay")
Belayer
The person at the belay station securing the climber.
Belay on
When the belayer is ready to belay the climber up, he yells "Belay on". (At least in the US, "belay on" would only confuse the hell out of a British climber who prefers to hear "Climb when ready").
Below
Used in Britain to warn for impending impact with objects coming from above (e.g. falling rock). "Rock" in the US.
Bent gate karibiner
Karibiner with the gate bent to accept the rope more easily. Not uncontroversial.
Bergschrund
Or just 'schrund'. The top crevasse in a glacier or snowfield that is formed when the glacier/snowfield tears away from the remaining patch of snow that is stable on the mountainside.
Beta
Insider information about a climb. Running or auto beta is someone telling you how to do the moves as you go (as in "can you please shut up with that running beta, I want to find out myself").
Beta flash
Leading a climb with no falling or dogging, but with a piece of previous knowledge hints on how to do those crux moves. Even seeing someone do the climb already classifies as 'previous knowledge'.
Big wall
Rock climb that is so long and sustained that a normal ascent lasts several days.
Biner
Short for Karabiner
Birdbeak
A tiny hooked piton manufactured by A5. It is similar to the old Chouinard "Crack'n up", except that it only has a single side and that it is intended to be hammered in if necessary.
Bivouac
Or short, bivi. An uncomfortable sleeping place in the middle of a route.
Black ice
Old ice that was exposed to extremely cold temperatures, scree, and snowfall. Usually found deep in shady couloirs, or on steep north faces. Very hard and dense ice that is difficult to climb.
Blast, to
To begin a big wall, after the line fixing is done. "We're gonna blast on Tuesday morning after we get the first three pitches fixed".
Bleauser
French term. Going to boulder at 'Bleau (short for Fontainebleau, the site of some excellent bouldering near Paris)
Blue ice
Very dense ice with a watery hue and few air bubbles.
Bomber
Used to indicate that something is exceptionally solid, e.g. an anchor, a hold. See also bombproof.
Bombproof
The illusion that an anchor is infallible
Bong
An almost extinct species of extra wide pitons. Now, large chocks are usually used instead.
Boulder, to
Climbing unroped on boulders or at the foot of climbs to a height where it is still safe to jump off.
Bounce
To crater from an extreme height. Usually lethal.
Bowline
Sailing knot (not to be used for climbing, unless backed up with a second knot)
Brain bucket
Aka helmet. That all important hard shelled thing that covers our most valuable asset.
Bucket
A large hold
Buildering
To climb buildings
Butterfly knot
Interesting but rarely used climbing knot.
Buttress
The part of the mountain or rock that stands in front of the main mountainface.
Cam
Generic reference to the family of spring loaded camming devices (SLCD) such as friends, camalots, aliens, TCUs, etc. Also refered to as springs
Campus
A dyno executed using the arms only. Comes from the campus board where the people who do this move get the muscle to do it.
Campus board
A wooden training board with finger ledges that is used for training dynos and finger power.
Chalk
Magic powder that makes the hands stick to even the smoothest rock.
Cheese grater, to
To slide down a slab while scraping the knees, hands, and face.
Chest harness
Bra-like looking harness (to be used with waist harness)
Chickenhead
Sometimes phallic shaped, protruding lumps that make excellent hand or footholds on granite, etc.
Chimney
A wide crack that accomodates (most of) the body of the climber.
Chimney, to
A climbing technique used to conquer chimneys. Usually requires the use of the back and feet, arms, head and other body parts.
Chipped hold
A hold created with a hamer and chisel by a moron uncapable of doing the climb as it is.
Chock
Generic reference to the family of passive wired protection devices, also called nuts, stoppers, wires, and rocks.
Chockstone
A stone wedged between a crack, a chimney, etc.
Chute
A very steep gully. The word chute is french for fall and refers to the rockfall that is very common in a chute.
Class
A number designating the overal technical level of a route. The first number in the YDS designates the class of the climb. Here's the different classes...
Clean
Climbing without falling or dogging.
Clean
Aid climbing without hammering.
Clean, to
To remove the pro from a route. Usually done by the follower.
Cliff
A vertical piece of rock good for climbing.
Cliffhanger
Not just a silly film with Wolfgang Güllich and Ron Kauk, but also the name for a small hooking device used to aid climb up small ledges and pockets.
Climbing"
What the climber shouts after the belayer screams "Belay on".
Climbing gym
The second best thing to real rock (Aka "wall" in the UK).
Climbing shoes
Shoes made of sticky rubber that would have fit you comfortable when you were ten.
Climb when ready
The British equivalent of "Belay on".
Clip, to
The reassuring action of putting the rope through a karabiner (that is attached to a piece of pro).
Clove hitch
A useful, easily adjustable climbing knot usually used to tie the rope into a karibiner.
Col
A steep, high mountain pass.
Cord
Thin static rope (5, 5.5 or 6 mm)
Corner
Inside corner (see dihedral) or outside corner.
Corn snow
Unconsolidated granular snow that has gone through a short freeze-and-thaw process. This type of snow is prevalent throughout the High Sierra in April and May.
Couloir
A steep gully which may have snow or ice.
Crack, in rock
A gap or fissure in the rock varying in width from nail to bodywidth.
Crag
Name for a (small) climbing area.
Crampons
Very pointy footware use to walk glaciers or climb ice.
Crank, to
To pull on a hold as hard as you can, and then some.
Crater, to
To fall and hit the ground, as in "I almost cratered".
Crest
The very top of a ridge or arete.
Crevasse
A crack in the surface of a glacier.
Crimper
A very small hold that accepts only the finger tips.
Crux
The hard bit.



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