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This glossary of climbing terms is a list of definitions of terms and jargon related to rock climbing and mountaineering. The specific terms used can vary considerably between different English-speaking countries; many of the phrases described here are particular to the United States and the United Kingdom.
A type of abseiling point used especially in winter and ice climbing.
The process by which a climber descends a fixed rope.
A crevasse that forms on the upper portion of a glacier where the moving section pulls away from the headwall.
A camp, or the act of camping, overnight while still on a climbing route off the ground. May involve nothing more than lying down or sitting on a rock ledge without any sleeping gear. 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.
A totally secure anchor. "Bomber" can also refer to a particularly solid handhold or foothold (e.g. a "bomber jug").
An inside angle in a rock face. See also Dihedral.
A naturally occurring stone wedged in a crack.
A device for removing jammed equipment, especially nuts, from a route.
Hitting the ground at the end of a fall instead of being caught by the rope.
1. A hold which is only just big enough to be grasped with the tips of the fingers.
Where a climber's feet swing away from the rock on overhanging terrain, leaving the climber hanging only by their hands.
A device that enables a controlled descent on a rope. Many belay devices may be used as descenders, including ATCs, figure eights, and carabiners. See rappel.
A pharmaceutical drug used in the treatment of high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE) as well as high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). It is commonly carried on mountaineering expeditions to help climbers deal with altitude sickness.
Any system in which the climber uses two thin ropes instead of one thicker one. Double ropes are often used by trad and alpine climbers. They help manage the rope drag, reduce the chances for accidental cutting of the rope by sharp rock edges, and allow full-pitch rappelling. Unlike twin ropes, double ropes can be clipped separately into different pieces.
Rope drag occurs when the friction generated from the rope running over the rock and through the quickdraws builds up to the point where it is difficult to move or pull up the rope to clip into protection. There are several ways to prevent rope drag: protection placement that minimizes any "zig-zagging" of the rope and potential for rope being pinched or hooked on a rock, the use of long quickdraws like 24-inch alpine draws, and the use of double ropes.
A type of anchor sometimes used in sandstone or other soft rock as an alternative to bolts. The anchor consists of a "baby angle" (piton) hammered into a drilled hole, which some climbers believe is stronger in soft rock than expansion bolts, which can crack the rock. They were especially popular on desert routes in the United States and can be still found on many routes.
A method for reducing muscle strain in arms when holding a side grip. One knee ends up in a lower position with the body twisted towards the other leg. It can give a longer reach as the body and shoulders twist towards a hold.
A route on a mountain where the safety is provided by steel ropes or chains that are permanently fixed to the rock. The progression is often aided by artificial steps or ladders. Typically found in the Alps.
A knot commonly used to secure a climber's harness to the climbing rope.
A type of jam using the finger.
A technique involving jamming the foot into a larger crack by twisting the foot into place, the contact with the crack being on the heel and toes.
aid or protection. This typically means climbing without a rope.
The use of aid climbing techniques to bypass a section due to climbing difficulty, rock conditions, etc.; typically for only a short section of the total climb.
Climbing indoors on artificial climbing walls.
A combination of a toe hook and heel hook. It involves using opposing pressure from the toes and heel between two holds to hold the body on the wall.
A protective device consisting of an eccentric hexagonal nut attached to a wire loop. The nut is inserted into a crack and it holds through counter-pressure.
A large, easily held hold.
Involves camming the lower thigh or knee against a protruding section of rock, usually with the foot pushing against an opposing hold. Knee bars can be very secure and are one of a few ways to get a no-hand rest on overhanging rock. They also can provide additional hold on a climb. A knee pad may be used for this.
An artificial pad that is worn on the lower thigh to protect a climber when performing a knee bar during climbing. The use of kneepads to protect the skin in performing a kneebar has been a source of debate about climbing ethics, and whether they are a form of unfair aid.
Climbing a vertical edge by side-pulling the edge with both hands and relying on friction or very small holds for the feet.
A move used to surmount a ledge or feature in the rock in the absence of any useful holds directly above. It involves pushing down on a ledge or feature instead of pulling oneself up. In ice climbing, manteling is done by moving the hands from the shaft to the top of the ice tool and pushing down on the head of the tool. Abbreviation of mantelshelf.
A simple hitch that is often used for belaying without a mechanical belay device.
See cleaning tool.
A clean ascent made on the first attempt without prior practice or beta. For ascents on the first attempt with beta, see flash.
Forcefully exhaling to facilitate O2/CO2 exchange at altitude.
In bouldering, the path that a climber takes in order to complete a climb; used equivalently to route in roped climbing.
To climb a wall toprope with having another rope connected to the climber, for practice of lead climbing clipping. The other rope is normally not connected to any belayer below and is only there to practice the clipping. Usually practiced while learning how to lead climb.
Used to attach a freely running rope to anchors or chocks.
A screw-type oval-shape stainless steel carabiner which is smaller than a normal oval-shape biner, particularly one used for attaching to the chains of the master anchor.
The process by which a climber descends a fixed rope using a friction device.
A team of mountaineers or climbers joined together by a safety rope..
An extreme cross-through reach in which the crossing arm goes behind the other arm and is so far extended that the body is forced to twist until it ends up facing away from the rock. It was introduced by Antoine Le Menestrel, who used it to climb a route in Buoux, called La rose et le vampire.
Looking at a problem to determine the beta before starting it.
Head Sherpa mountain guide.
A small climbing hold screwed onto the wall in a climbing gym. Can be used for feet in a route regardless of its colour.
The involuntary vibration of one or both legs resulting from fatigue or panic. Can often be remedied by bringing the heel of the offending leg down, changing the muscles used to support the weight of the climber.
A technique in which two climbers move simultaneously upward, with the leader placing protection which the second removes as they advance. A device known as a Tibloc which allows the rope to only move in a single direction is sometimes used to prevent the second climber from accidentally pulling the lead climber off should the second slip.
The leg straps and waist belt of a climbing harness create two loops connecting the belay loop. The points which you tie in at.
A style of climbing that emphasizes the adventure and exploratory nature of climbing. While sport climbing generally makes use of pre-placed protection ("bolts"), traditional (or "trad") climbing involves the placement of one's own protection during the climb, which is generally carried by climbers on a rack.
A technique that is typically used while lowering and cleaning gear from an overhanging and/or traversing route. A quickdraw is clipped between the climber's harness and the rope that is threaded through the gear. As the climber is lowered by the belayer, the quickdraw holds the cleaner close to the wall and following the line of the route. Without the quickdraw, the climber would lower straight down, further and further from the remaining gear to be cleaned.
A hold which is gripped with the palm of the hand facing upwards.
A type of abseiling point used especially in winter and in ice climbing.
To pull on the rope to make upward progress, often with assistance from the belayer. This may be done to bypass a crux or to quickly regain ground lost after a fall without re-climbing the section.
A particular configuration of rope, anchors, and pulleys typically used to extricate a climber after falling into a crevasse.
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use only the natural features in the wall texture ... attempt to substitute naturals on routes where they exist