Climbers use a lot of words; sometimes we forget not everyone knows what we’re talking about.  Below is a list of commonly-used climbing words and their definitions.  Think we missed something? Let us know in the comments!

Aid climbing: A means of access which requires fixing ropes to the wall and then ascending the ropes.  Aid climbing is often used on terrain that is too challenging to free climb, or to determine whether a route may be free climbed.

ATC/friction plate belay device: a belay device that allows the belayer to use his greater mechanical advantage to keep the climber in the air.  A friction place device has no moving parts and is the simplest type of belay device (other than a munter hitch).

Belay/Belayer: The fellow holding the other end of the climber’s rope.   Belaying is a technical, life-saving skill that is simple to learn but not something you want to mess up.

Beta: Information, or advice, usually about the best way to do a move or sequence.  It’s typically considered rude to give beta unless someone asks for it (that’s called “spraying” and nobody likes Unsolicited Beta Man).  “You want some beta? Try a little harder.”

Carabiner/biner: The metal clip that is used to hold things together.  Carabiners can be made out of steel or aluminum, can be load-bearing or non-load bearing, and locking or non-locking.  If you aren’t sure what type of biner you should be using for a specific task, ask!

Choss: Loose, crumbly rock.  Climbing on choss is scary – you never know when a foothold is going to give away or if you’re going to knock a rock down onto your belayer.

Crux: The hardest part of a climb.  A crux may be different for everyone – I’m an average-sized person so my super tall friend may fly through my crux; the crux for him might be a technical sequence farther along the route.  “I was totally gonna flash but the crux shut me down.”

Flash: To send a climb without working on it at all.  If you walk up to a climb you’ve never seen before and finish it without falling, you just flashed it.  Well done.

Free Climb: To climb a route without aid climbing equipment.  All of the climbing we do at Peak Experience is free climbing.

Free Solo/Freesolo: To climb without using a rope.  This is distinct from bouldering because free soloing usually happens on route that most people use a rope on.  Typically viewed as foolish and unnecessarily dangerous, some people have made a career out of free soloing.

Gri Gri: Petzl’s brake-assist belay device.  A Gri Gri uses moving parts to aid the belayer in holding the rope.  Because misloading or misuse of the Gri Gri can cause it to fail to function properly, a little extra training is a good idea.

Hangdog: To hang on the rope and work a route until your belayer gets bored and makes you come down. “Dude, Steve totally hangdogged that 5.12b for like forty-five minutes today. I think my legs went numb from him sitting on the rope for so long.”

Highball: A boulder problem that’s really tall.  Folks dispute the line between “highball boulder problem” and “freesoloing a route” but conventional wisdom is that it depends entirely on how scared you are.

Lead climbing: A method of climbing where the leader takes the rope up with him or her and clips it into quickdraws on the way up the route.  Lead climbing requires a little more experience and training and can be a little bit scarier, since you fall double the distance to the last quickdraw you clipped.

Project: A climb you really, really, really want to send.  (Or, used as a verb, the act of working on that climb.)  A project is your white whale…until you send it.  Then it’s an item on your tick-list to be proud of.

Quickdraw: a piece of equipment used in lead climbing.  A quickdraw is typically two carabiners connected by a piece of bar-tacked nylon.  They’re called “quickdraws” because you pull them off of your harness to clip them onto the route, with a motion not unlike a cowboy pulling a gun from his holster.  I am not making that up.

Redpoint: To work a route until you can send it.  Redpointing usually is done on routes at your project level, where you’ll spend a lot of time – sometimes months – trying to figure out how to pull through the crux. “I finally got the redpoint on that 5.12 I’ve been working. Only took six months of my life.”

Send: To climb to the top of a problem or route without falling or resting on the rope.  “I totally sent that V7 yesterday but nobody was around to see it!”

Sport climbing: Roped climbing using ropes and quickdraws.  Unlike trad climbing, sport climbing clips quickdraws to previously placed bolts, and does not rely on the climber to put his own protection into the wall as he climbs.

Top rope climbing: Ropes don’t grow on mountains, but if they did, we’d probably do more top rope climbing.  A rope that is looped through an anchor at the top of a climb is a top rope – the belayer stands on one end at the climber ties into the other and away you go.  Top roping is typically the first type of climbing people learn.

Trad climbing: Trad, or “traditional” climbing involves placing your own protection in the rock before clipping your rope to a carabiner.  Cams, hexes, nuts, and slings are the gear of trad climbers’ dreams; the process of climbing trad requires great focus and understanding of both the rock and physics.

This list is always growing.  Shoot us an email if you think we missed a word!


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