Abalakov Thread

Can be referred to as a V-thread as well. It is a type of abseiling point most used in winter and ice climbing.


Ablation Zone

A section of a glacier where yearly melting meets or exceeds annual snow fall.



A method that enables a climber to descend a fixed rope. Also known as Rappel.



Anchor method comparable to the Cordelette that is equalizing. It employs a cord and a rappel ring.



A thin blade attached parallel to the handle of an ice axe that is utilized for chopping footholds.


Alpine knee

When using one’s knee as a way to gain ground on a climb.


Alpine start

When one begins a long climb efficiently by packing all gear the previous evening and starting early in the morning, usually before sunrise.


Altitude sickness

Also referred to as Acute Mountain Sickness, or AMS. A medical condition that occurs at high altitudes.


American death triangle

An anchor which is made by connecting a closed loop of the cord or webbing between two points of protection, and then suspending the rope from a carabiner clipped to only one strand of the same anchor. A triangular shape is created in the webbing or cord, which places inward forces on the protection, making it a dangerous and ineffective anchor.



The assembly of one or more pieces of gear made to support the weight of a belay or top rope.



A path to the starting point of a technical climb. Even though it is usually a walk or a scramble, it can be as hazardous as the climb itself.



  • A sharp outward facing corner or ridge-like feature on a steep rock
  • A narrow ridge of rock formed by glacial erosion
  • A method used in indoor climbing when one is able to use such a corner as a hold.


Arm bar

Jamming an arm into a crack to lock it into place.



(from the French word meaning arched) Used to describe crimping. A position in which typically the first set of knuckles are hyperextended and the second set have a sharp angle of about 90 degrees. Muscular effort is combined with soft tissue tensions in order to apply the load. When used often, this position can been known to over-stress the tendons in the fingers and lead to injuries.



To climb a rope using an aid device.



A device used for ascending on a rope.



The direction in which a slope faces.



Has become common term for any tubular belay devices even though it is a proprietary belay device manufactured by Black Diamond.


Automatic belay

A fast method for setting up a two-point anchor in sport climbing, using the climbing rope to attach to the anchor points.




B grade

Now largely replaced by the “V’ grading system. It is a grading system for bouldering problems that was invented by John Gill.


Bachar ladder

Training equipment used to improve campusing and core strength.



A potentially hazardous mistake that can be made while lead climbing. The rope is clipped into a quickdraw in a way that the leader’s end runs underneath the quickdraw as opposed to over top of it. If a leader were to fall, the rope may fold directly over the gate causing it to open and release the rope from the carabiner.




Retreating from a climb.



When a climber only has two points of contact using either side of their body, the other half may swing uncontrollably out from the wall like a door on a hinge.



A copperhead made for pounding into a crack.



A climbing technique of protecting a roped climber from falling by passing the rope through, or around, any type of friction enhancing belay device.


Belay device

Mechanical equipment used to create friction when belaying by putting bends in the rope. Many types of belay devices exist, including ATC, grigri, Reverso, Sticht plate, eight and tuber. Some belay devices may also be used in descending.


Belay Loop

A sewn loop connecting waist and leg loops, the strongest point on the harness. This loop is used for belay devices.


Belay Off

Called by belayer to confirm belay has been removed from climbing rope.


Belay On

Called by belayer to confirm belay has been (re)applied to climbing rope.


Belay Slave

Someone that does repeated belaying duties without partaking in any of the actual climbing. They are either ticked into the task or volunteer.



An unscheduled overnight bivouac.


Bergschrund (or Schrund)

Crevasse that forms on the upper portion of a glacier where the moving section pulls away from the headwall.



Guidance on how to successfully complete a particular climbing route, boulder problem, or crux sequence. Some climbers believe that beta ‘taints’ an ascent.



Beta flash

A clean ascent from a climb on the first attempt, having previously obtained beta or while having beta shouted en route.




A technique used to keep the feet on when climbing on overhangs. One foot is placed on a foothold and the other foot is placed behind the foothold in a toe hook position. The climber can now squeeze the hold between the feet.



A climbing hol that has enough room for two fingers.


Big Wall

A climb which one will spend more than one day on.


Bivy (or Bivvy)

An overnight camp while still on a climbing route off the ground. When there is no rock ledge available, such as on a sheer vertical wall, a portaledge that hangs from anchors on the wall can be used.



Lightweight sack offering full-body protection from wind and rain.



A large rock or knob of ice used as a belay anchor.



A permanent point of protection installed in a hole drilled into the rock with a metal hanger attached to be used with a carabiner or ring.


Bolt Chopping

A destructive removal of one or more bolts.


Bomb-Proof Anchor

A completely secure anchor. Can be referred to as bomber as well.



Gear left behind from a climb.


Bosun’s Chair

To reduce the strain from long-time belaying or bolting a new routes, climbers attach their harness with a special type of chair with high endurance, multiple straps and buckles. Also used in industrial climbing.



Climbing large boulders. Typically this is close to the ground, so protection is by crash pads and spotting instead of belay ropes.



Same as Steming



A large handhold.



A difficult or uncomfortable hold, tends to be one that tears the skin on the hand.



To quickly move up a hand or a foot a small distance from hold to hold.



A source of support jutting out from a rock or mountain.





Strategically piled stones placed to designate a summit or to mark a trail. Usually done above the tree line.



A spring-loaded device.



Climbing without using one’s feet.


Campus board

Training equipment used to build finger strength and strong arm lock-offs.



Metal rings with spring-loaded gates, used as connectors. Usually oval or roughly D

shaped. Designed to fasten the rope to an anchor or connect two ropes or gear together.



The compound is used to improve grip by absorbing sweat.


Chest jam

Jamming the torso into a wide crack.


Chicken Wing

A crack climbing technique. One’s hand is placed on one side of the crack and the shoulder on the other.



A rock cleft with vertical, large enough to fit the climber’s body into. One uses his head, back and feet to apply opposite pressure on the vertical walls.



A mechanical device, or a wedge, used as an anchor in cracks. Can also be referenced to a naturally occurring stone wedged in a crack.



Bad quality rock



The use of equipment to pick to climb a slope.


Cleaning Tool

Can be referred to as a nut key. A device used to removing jammed equipment from a route.


Climbing Gym

Specialized indoor climbing spaces.


Climbing Wall

An artificial rock wall found in climbing gyms.


Clipping In

The act of attaching to belay lines or anchorA.



Piece of equipment used in bolted climbing, an extendable pole which allows the climber to reach the first bolt from the ground. Allowing for a safer route. Ethically controversial.



A small nut with a head made of soft metal on a loop of wire.



A long loop of an accessory cord used to tie into multiple anchor points.



The opposite to an Arête, the inside nook of an rock.


Crack climbing

To ascend on a rock face by wedging body parts into cracks



A small area with a few climbing routes



Metal framework with spikes attached to boots.



Using crampons to ascend or descend on ice or accidentally piercing something with a crampon spike.



To pull on a hold as hard as possible.


Crash Pad

A thick mat used to soften landings



Hitting the ground at the end of a fall rather than using the rope to catch the fall.



A holding technique that is only grasped with the tips of the fingers.



The most difficult part of a climb.



Where a climber’s feet swing away and one is hanging only by their hands.


Daisy Chain

A type of sling with multiple sewn, or tied, loops.


Dead Ball

Type of High Ball boulder, where one can possibly die when falling from above.


Dead Hang

To hang limp so that weight is held without the use of muscles.



A climbing technique where the hold is grabbed at the apex of upward motion. This technique places little strain on both the hold and the arms.



Referred to the ground or hitting the ground.

Deep Water Soloing

Free climbing an area that overhangs a deep enough body of water.



A device to control a descent on a rope. Also can be referred to as a rappel device. Many belay devices may be used as descenders, including ATCs, figure eights, or even carabiners.



To be fully knowledgeable of a particular climbing move or route.



An inside corner of rock, with more than a 90-degree angle between the faces.


Direct Aid

A type of tension climbing when using one or more belay ropes to haul the leader up to the next point of protection.



To descend by climbing downward when completing a climb.



Using equipment for ice climbing like crampons and ice axes on rock.



A method of rappelling, without mechanical tools.


Dynamic Belay

Technique of stopping a long fall using smooth to avoid an abrupt stop.


Dynamic Rope

A slightly elastic rope made to slightly soften falls. Also tends to be damaged less severely by heavy loads.


Dynamic Motion

Moves that allow a body’s momentum to make progress.



A dynamic move (that looks like a jump or leap) to grab a hold that would otherwise be out of reach.





A thin ledge on rock.



A technique that uses the edge of the climbing shoe on a foothold.



Method for reducing muscle strain in arms when holding a side grip.


Egyptian Bridging

A similar position to bridging or chimneying, but with one leg in front and one behind the body.



A mountain whose elevation exceeds 8,000 metres above sea level.



A bouldering move or series of moves in which either certain holds are placed ‘off bounds’ or other artificial restrictions are imposed.


Elvis Legs

Also called sewing machine leg, this it the uncontrollable shake of a leg during a climb. Often due to a combination of nerves and over contraction of muscles.


Face Climbing

To ascend a vertical rock face using finger holds, edges and smears.


Feet Follow

A strategy for indoor bouldering routes requiring foot movements match preceding hand movements, with no intermediate moves.



A protrusion or indentation on an indoor climbing wall that is permanently moulded into the wall.


Figure-Eight Knot

A knot used to secure the climber’s harness to the climbing rope.


Finger Board

A piece of training equipment used for building finger strength.


First Ascent (FA)

The first successful completion of a route.


First Free Ascent (FFA)

First ascent without assistance.


Fixed Rope

A rope that has a fixed attachment point.



Climbing technique where a leg is held in a position to maintain balance.


There are three types of flagging:


Normal flag: The flagging foot stays on the same side

Reverse inside flag: The flagging foot is crossed in front of the foot that is on a foot hold

Reverse outside flag: The flagging foot is crossed behind the foot that is on a foot hold



A method of untangling a rope when the rope is run through the climber’s hands and allowed to fall into a pile on the ground.



When successfully completing a climbing route on the first attempt after having received beta of some form.


Foot Jam

A technique that jams the foot into a larger crack by twisting the foot into place.



Mountain that tops 14,000 feet (4,300 m).


Free Base

Climbing with your only protection being a parachute that is deployed in the event of a fall.


Free Climbing

Climbing without unnatural aids, other than used for protection. Often incorrectly used by non-climbers as a synonym for soloing.


Free Solo

Climbing without aid or protection. This typically means climbing without a rope.



A technique that relies on the friction between the sloped rock and the sole of the shoe to support the climber’s weight.





A climbing grip using one hand with the thumb down and elbow out.



When a climber slides down a steep slope of snow.


Intended as an objective measure of the technical difficulty of a particular climb or bouldering problem.



A route requiring the use of unconventional techniques.



To make a clean (no falls or resting on the rope) ascent of a route on toprope. The term greenpoint is analogous to redpoint, in that there may have been a previous attempt, and/or beta received.



A proprietary (Petzl) self-braking (auto-locking) belay device for use with a single rope, in which camming units on the interior of the device lock the rope when sudden acceleration or tension (a fall) is applied. Grigris are frequently used in sport climbing and toproping.



To climb using poor technique.


Gym Climbing

Climbing indoors, on artificial climbing walls.



The act of pulling oneself up with both arms parallel in front of your chest. Resembles a Hamster during feeding.


Hand Traverse

Traversing without any definitive footholds



Refers to frequent hanging or resting on the rope during a climb. A climber may “hangdog”/”be hangdogging”


Hanging Belay

Belaying at a point when a belayer is hanging.



A nylon device worn around the waist and thighs that allows a climber to safely hang suspended in the air.


Haul Bag

A bag into which supplies and climbing equipment is used for transporting.



A region at the top of a cliff or rock face that dramatically steep.


Heel Hook

A technique applying the back of the heel to apply pressure to a hold, for balance or leverage.



Used for protection in the event of a fall.


Hexcentric (or Hex)

This is a hexagonally shaped nut attached to a flexible looped wire which is inserted into a rock crack as a protective climbing device



A place to temporarily cling, grip, jam, press, or stand in the process of climbing.



A piece of equipment used in aid climbing or may to refer to a technique involving hooking a heel or toe against a hold for additional support.





To turn upside down or inside out.


Ice Hammer

A lightweight ice axe with a hammer/pick head on a short handle and no spike.


Indoor climbing

Climbing indoors, on artificial climbing walls in specialized spaces.





Wedging a body part into a crack. A technique where the fingers, hands, or feet are wedged inside a rock crack to gain traction and facilitate upward progress.



A particularly small foot hold.


Jug Hold (or Jug)

A large, easily held hold. Also known simply as a jug.



A mechanical ascender used to ascend a rope.




Klemheist Knot

Useful when a climber is short of cord but has plenty of webbing.



A variety of knots are relied on in climbing for anchoring oneself to a mountain, joining two ropes together, slings for climbing up the rope, etc.





Technique used in on a vertical edge by side-pulling the edge with both hands.


Lead Climbing

When the climber places anchors and attaches the belay rope as they climb (traditional) or clips the belay rope into preplaced equipment attached to bolts (sport).


Leader Fall

A fall that occurs when lead climbing. The falling leader will fall at least twice the distance back to his or her last piece, plus slack and rope stretch.


Locking Carabiner

A carabiner featuring a locking gate, to avert accidental release of the rope.





This is a technique in which a climber grasps a hold waist-level and powers the body upward with minimal assistance from the feet.



To use one hold for two limbs, or to swap limbs on a particular hold.



A climbing hold that only has enough room for one finger.


Moving Together

Method of where two or more climbers climb at the same time with running belays between them.


Multi-Pitch Climbing

Climbing on routes that are too long for a single belay rope.




No-Hand Rest

An entirely leg-supported resting position during climbing that does not require hands on the rock.



A little hold only a few fingers can grip, or the tips of the toes.




Objective Danger

Rock falls, snowstorms, avalanches, lightning, wind, rain, and extreme temperatures are examples of Objective Dangers.



This refers to a climb with no falls and without previous knowledge of the route.



A crack that is too wide for effective hand or foot jams.



A section of rock or ice that is angled beyond vertical.




Panic Bear

A panicking novice climber clinging to hand holds while searching desperately for a foot hold.



Swinging on taut rope to reach the next hold in a pendulum traverse.


Personal Anchor System (PAS)

Adjustable attachment point from climber to anchor. Allows for building anchors, cleaning routes and rappeling to be done efficiently and faster.


Pinch Hold

This is a hold where you must pinch it to hold on. They come in various sizes.



A term referring to a clean (no falls or resting on the rope) ascent of a route with previously placed protection (bolts), such that the climber only needs to clip the rope into the protection. The term “pinkpoint” has been all but completely replaced by “redpoint,” which is now used for both sport and trad climbing. A pinkpoint/redpoint may be achieved with prior failed attempts or beta for the particular climb.



The portion of a climb between two belay points.



This is a metal spike, often with a hole on one end to connect a carabiner and to allow rope to pass through. A piton can be driven into ice or rock as a support, as in mountain climbing.



This is a sliding friction knot used to ascend a rope; to ascend a rope by means of such a knot.



A condition of severely depleted strength and lactic acid burn caused by over working the forearm muscles while climbing.





This climbing equipment consists of a short Sling with a Carabiner on each end.



A screw-type oval-shape stainless steel carabiner which is smaller than normal oval-shape biner.





The collection of protective devices that a climber carries on a route. This is attached to harness loops or on a sling slung across the shoulders.



The process by which a climber may descend on a fixed rope using a friction device.



A complete ascent of a climb without falling (or resting on the rope), with some prior knowledge of the climb. A redpoint can be achieved if the climber has previously failed at the climb and has come back to complete a clean climb. “Redpointing” a climb implies placing gear (clipping into bolts or placing pro) along the way, and is generally reserved for lead climbing (as with “flash” and “onsight”).


Rest Step

A technique to save energy. The uphill leg is rested between each forward step, sometimes by “locking” knee of rear leg.



Horizontal overhang.



A basic item of climbing equipment that physically connects the climber to the belayer.



The path of a particular climb, or a predefined set of moves.



A closed (bar-tacked) loop of webbing. Length and width of runners offered in retail vary depending on intended use and material of construction (nylon generally being wider than spectra or dyneema).



This refers to an uncomfortably long and often dangerous distance between two points of protection.





This is a call from the leader to indicate that he/she has safely attached the rope to the top and there is no possibility of him/her coming to harm (fall).



A climb that has received a much lower grade than deserved. Sometimes used as a verb when describing a climbing route as easier than it actually is.



contraction of the word ascend, past tense:



A webbing technique consisting of one large loop sewn in multiple places to make a shorter length. The stitch-points are sown somewhat loosely. The screamer is attached with carabineers between an anchor point and a climber. It is designed for that in the event of a fall the stitching of the sewn sections is designed to rip apart absorbing some of the fall energy and decelerating the climber.


Screw On

A type of climbing hold, screwed onto the wall in indoor climbing gyms. Can be used for feet in a route regardless of its color. Can sometimes be called a foot chip, chip or micro.



The climber who follows a lead climber.



When using the pick of your ice axe to stab snow to arrest a fall in the event of a slip. Also can be known as a method of stopping in a controlled glissade.



When performing a belay for oneself.



To cleanly complete a route


Sewing Machine Leg

When the leg of a fatigued climber spasms uncontrollably in an up and down motion, usually while in a stressed position. Also referred to as ”Elvis Leg”.


Sharp End

The end of the belay rope that is attached to the lead climber.  The saying “Being on the sharp end” refers to the lead climber. Lead climbing is considered more demanding than top-roping or following.


Short Fixing

A traditionally-belayed lead climber reaches a new belay station, creates an anchor, tying the lead rope off to the anchor. A climber then switches over to self-belaying to continue the climb. The second climber then ascends the fixed rope using ascenders and cleans the pitch. When the second climber reaches the belay, they anchor in and starts to belay the leader in the traditional way again.


Side Pull

A hold that needs to be gripped with a sideways pull towards one’s body.



A technique where both climbers move simultaneously upward. A device known as a Tibloc is sometimes used to prevent the second climber from accidentally pulling the lead climber off in the case of a slip.


Single Rope Technique (SRT)

The use of a single rope where one or both ends of the rope are attached to fixed anchor points.


Sit and Spin

A method of starting a rappel from a cliff edge.


Sit Start

The start of a climb from a position in which the climber is sitting on the floor.



When climbing without following a specific color in a gym with color-designated routes.



A low-angle section of rock, most often with only a few large features.


Slab Climbing

A particular type of rock climbing that is less than vertical. One must focus on balance, footwork, and making use of very small features or rough spots on the rock for friction.



Portion of rope that is not taut, preferably minimized during belay.



A Spring-Loaded Camming Device. Better known by the term cam.



Webbing sewn, or tied, into a loop.



This refers to a technique of applying to a rock slab as much of the sticky sole of the climbing shoe as possible to achieve maximum friction.


Solo Climbing

Climbing by oneself.


Sport Climbing

A style of climbing where ability and strength are more emphasized over exploration. Sport climbing routes tend to be well protected with pre-placed bolt-anchors.



Done in indoor climbing, a hold that is not secure and spins in place when weight is applied.



A method of protection. The spotter stands beneath the climber, ready to catch a fall.



A hand position when the fingers and thumb are opposed.


Static Rope

A non-elastic rope.



Descriptive of any climbing face that is angled beyond vertical.



The synchronized use of two widely spaced footholds.


Stitch Plate

Named after the inventor Fritz Sticht. A device used in belay consisting of a flat plate with a pair of slots.


Stick Clip

A long stick on the end of which a climber can affix a quickdraw. It allows the climber to clip a quickdraw to the first bolt on a sport climb while still standing on the ground. This is especially useful if the first bolt is high up, and out of the comfort zone of the climber. A stick clip can be bought or easily made by attaching a quickdraw to a stick with a rubber band.



Can be used for a wedge-shaped nut made by Black Diamond. Or referencing a knot used to prevent the rope running through a piece of equipment.



Used to describe a mountain peak, the highest point of a mountain.


Swami Belt

A kind of proto- climbing harness consisting of a long length of tubular webbing wrapped several times around the climbers body and secured with a water knot. Largely eschewed today in favor of commercial harnesses.



The last climber in a climbing group. They are responsible for spotting and retrieving things that may fall from the climbers ahead, make sure that no mess or gear is left behind, and to make sure that the rear is keeping up with the whole team.





A call made by a climber asking the belayer to remove all slack.


Technical Climbing

Climbing that involves a rope and some means of protection. This is the opposite of scrambling or glacier travel.



A technique for maintaining balance using a taut rope through a point of protection.


Tie-In Points

The leg straps and waist belt create two loops connecting the belay loop. These are the points which you tie into.


Top Rope

When belaying from a fixed anchor point above the climb.



To complete a route by ascending over the top of the structure.



To use holds specified out for a climber in a route.


Traditional Climbing

A style of climbing that is exploratory and emphasizes the adventurous nature of climbing. Sport climbers generally will use pre-placed protection (“bolts”), traditional (or “trad”) climbers will place their own protection as they climb.



Preparing to climb on difficult mountains.



To climb in a horizontal direction.



A camming protection device with no moving parts. Example of passive protection.



A belay device.





A hold that is gripped with the palm of the hand and faces upwards.





A type of abseiling point used mostly in winter and ice climbing.



This refers to a sensation of dizziness or loss of direction.





A graceful female climber who looks as though they are dancing up a climbing wall.



Hollow and flat nylon strip used most often to make slings.



Any time the rope holds the weight of the climber. Occurs during any type of fall.



A route that a climber has done many times and can ascend with ease.




X (Protection Rating)

A rating from the Yosemite Decimal System given to climbs that have very poor or no protection. These climbs tend to be very dangerous ad have high risks of injury.




Yard Up

To pull on a rope to make upward progress, at times using the help of a belayer.


Yosemite Decimal System

A system of rating the difficulty of walks, hikes, and climbs in the United States. It is the most common climb grading system utilized in the United States.





It occurs when you pull the rope from below your last clipped Quickdraw (instead of pulling the rope from the top end of the last Quickdraw) and bring it up and clip it to the new Quickdraw.


Zipper Fall

This refers to a fall of such length and velocity that the climber’s protective devices are ripped from the rock in rapid succession.


Z- Pulley

A configuration of rope, anchors, and pulleys used to pull a climber out after falling into a crevasse.