If you've found yourself confused by any of the climbing jargon in our articles you will hopefully find definitions for most of the climbing terminology that you may come across in our Climber glossary - if you need something that's not here let us know and we'll add it. Equally if you feel we've got anything wrong or unclear get in touch!
Knots and hitches
, as well as prusiks
can be found on a separate page with diagrams.
A method of descent where the climber uses a friction device (a belay device or figure 8) to attach themselves to a rope to control their descent.
Traditional climbing, but usually in more remote/exotic location, and climbed ground up. E.g. The sea cliffs of the Outer Hebrides.
Using your gear to aid your ascent, as opposed to free climbing where you would use it only to protect a fall. Can be anything from tugging on a nut or bolt to whole pitches of marginal small wire and skyhook placements.
Getting up early, how early will depend on your location. For example, in the Alps it might be 4am, in Bosherston more like 10am.
Supposedly common on abseil anchors in America, but also present elsewhere. Two fixed anchors (bolts/pegs) are joined by threading cord or tape through them and tying it into a loop. The resulting triangle alters the angles that the forces act on the anchors, resulting in a severely weakened anchor.
A solid piece of protection to which the rope can be attached to secure the climber. Usually refers to equipment used for abseils or belays rather than protection on a pitch.
The sensation of swinging the wrong way when the only holds you have can only be used from one side.
Any anchor used on a route is a belay. ‘The’ belay will refer to the end of a pitch, and a group of anchors. ‘To’ belay is the skill of holding the rope for a fellow climber.
A device which enables you to hold the rope effectively for another climber.
Useful information about the moves and/or gear on a route.
Sleeping rough, usually without a tent, but with a sleeping bag and a waterproof bag over the top.
Generally means unprotected, but can sometimes just mean runout.
An extremely good piece of protection. 'Bombproof'.
Belaying a climber from the base of the route, with the rope running from the belayer, through an anchor at the top and then to the climber. What you commonly see indoors.
Climbing short problems, generally less than 6m. Will not require a rope.
A horizontal crack. What you take when the ice cream van comes.
A hold that is even bigger than a jug!
A route where a fall on lead would have serious consequences. I.e. a route which has poor or nonexistent protection and difficult climbing.
A positive fingertips-only hold.
The hardest move/sequence on a route.
Ropes which must be used in pairs, but are clipped separately, used to minimise rope drag. The most common ropes you will see on British traditional crags. Usually 8 – 9mm in diameter. AKA Half Ropes. See also: Twin Ropes
When the belayer allows the rope to slide a little and themselves be shifted when holding a fall from a leader. Lessens the force on the anchors which sustain the fall.
A dynamic movement, usually a leap, used to gain a hold.
Climbing a route cleanly on the first attempt, but with some knowledge of the moves and/or gear. AKA Beta Flash
Usually refers to an ascent of a traditional route which may have involved falls before a clean ascent, but did not involve toproping or abseil inspection.
Toproping a traditional route to gain knowledge of the moves and/or gear before attempting a lead.
Equipment which should be found already in place, left by previous parties to protect a route. Can refer to single pieces of protection, or to abseil stations.
Climbing on artificial walls.
A large incut handhold. Also the process of climbing a rope using ascenders.
Someone who will put the quickdraws into your sport project for you.
A one finger pocket/hold.
A crack which is too narrow to climb inside, yet too wide for a fist to jam comfortably.
Climbing a route cleanly on lead at the first attempt, with no prior knowledge of the moves or gear. AKA Onsight Flash.
Slack given to a climber to penalise them for such things as: Use of the knees, farting, making girly noises, belly flopping, refusing to buy a round or dropping gear into the sea. All penalties are given at the discretion of the belayer.
Used to denote climbing a sport route with the quickdraws already in place. Most climbers would now simply refer to this as a redpoint.
A recessed, generally positive hold.
The point on a climb where the veins in your arm may explode. Avoid at all costs lest ye drop thy beer.
The clean ascent of a sport route after practise and/or falls. Can also refer to the process of practising a sport route prior to the ascent.
Rather than securing the abseil rope with a knot it is threaded through the anchor to the halfway point (or in the case of using two ropes one is threaded through and tied to the other). When the climbers reach the base of the abseil they can then pull the rope down behind them.
See Running Belay
An anchor point through which the leader’s rope runs.
The distance between two consecutive pieces of gear on a lead. ‘A’ runout usually refers to when the pieces are far enough apart to cause ‘Clenching’.
A climb which has spaced protection for the leader.
A route which is probably harder than either the guidebook or your ‘friend’ suggests.
The art of tricking your climbing partners into attempting a route which is much harder than it appears.
AKA Semi Static Rope. These ropes are used for abseiling and big-wall hauling and are usually 10-11mm in diameter. They have far less stretch than a lead rope, making it far easier to ascend them using jumars and more wear resistant for repeated abseils where the stretch in an ordinary rope causes is to rub repeatedly on the rock. Usually black or white.
A rope which is suitable for use on it’s own. Usually 9 -11mm diameter. Most popular for sport, indoor climbing and top roping, but often used on low grade traditional routes as well.
A steel talon used primarily in aid climbing to hook over small flakes.
A sloping hold.
A sloping foothold, or the art of using one.
Surprisingly, a spike or tooth of rock, usually large enough to drape a sling over for protection, but occasionally not.
Climbs protected solely by fixed protection, usually steel bolts, but occasionally pegs or thread runners.
Odd bits of sling or cord carried by a climber to be used as part of an anchor in case of a retreat, or pieces of the same left by precious climbers. As the name suggests, those of uncertain origin are to be used with caution.
Team Shade and Paddling
An exclusive club, open to climbers who appreciate the finer aspects of cream teas, and those of a fair complexion who may need to retreat from the midday sun.
A hole through which a sling can be threaded for protection. Also refers to the practice of threading a rope through the lower off on a sport route.
Belaying a climber from a position at the top of the route. See also Bottom Rope
Climbing using natural features of the rock to provide protection in the form of nut, cam or sling placements.
Ropes which must be used in pairs, but both are clipped into each protection point. Has none of the drag reducing benefits of a double rope system, but allows longer abseils than a single rope, and is lighter than using doubles. Not often seen in Britain. Usually <8mm diameter.
Climbing routes which can involve sections of snow and ice, snowed up rock, iced up snow, iced up rock.