ClassPass Glossary: Rock Climbing from A to Z

Rock climbing can be a bit intimidating, but how you prepare for your first class doesn’t have to be! Half the battle of having a successful climbing session is understanding the lingo and being able to execute movements safely. This glossary of terms covers the basics you’ll hear regularly during class.

A

Accessory Cord: A rope that is not your climbing rope. 

Aid Climbing: This is common in most rock climbing gyms. This refers to any equipment that is used to help in your ascent, like: foot slings, fixed bolts, etc.

Anchor: This refers to the point at which your climbing rope is attached. It’s comprised of slings, runners and the rope itself.

B

Belay: To keep a climber from falling too fast, friction is applied on the rope through an apparatus. This includes the rope itself, anchors and the belay device itself.

Belayer: This refers to the person that will be helping you not to fall while you’re mid-climb.

Bottleneck: A crack with converging sides on the climbing wall.

Bouldering: Climbing with no ropes, very close to the ground. This technique is used to practice traverses, foot and hand placements, and weight transfers. This is a great place to start for newcomers!

C

Carabiner: A metal loop with a spring loaded gate that is used to connect various parts of the climbing system.

Crack: A break in the wall, either very slim or wide.

Crux: The toughest sequence and moves of your climb.

D

Dihedral: Two planes of a rock wall that intersect. It’s an inside corner where you can apply counter pressure to climb.

E

Edging: Standing on small edges or footholds with the edges of your climbing shoes, not the soles.

F

Free Climb: Climbing only with your hands and feet. The rope is only used for safety. This is the opposite of an aid climb.

J

Jam: To wedge a body part in a crack in order to put weight on it and move upward.

Jug: Large, easily gripped hold. It can also mean climbing up a fixed rope using an ascender.

L

Leg Loops: The part of your harness that goes around the upper legs. It’s typically attached to the waist belt.

P

Passive Protection: This refers to any gear that is used that’s not attached to your rope. Think: wedges, hexentrics, etc. Anything that you can wedge into a crack to use as leverage on your climb.

Q

Quickdraw: A runner that is used to attach a rope to a bolted anchor with carabiners.

R

Rack: The selection of gear chosen for your climb.

Rand: The upper rubber strip running around the edge of your climbing shoe.

S

Smear: This refers to a climbing technique in which the sole of the shoe, plus proper weight over the feet, provides traction for moving upward.

Solo: To climb alone without protection.

W

Whipper: A long fall.

Mandy Gragg is a New York City-based certified personal trainer and an active fashion and beauty blogger. She shares her fitness, fashion, and skincare tips on her blog Haute Unofficial. Follow her sporty adventure on Instagram for more fitness, beauty, and active fashion inspo.