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.
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.
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!
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.
Dihedral: Two planes of a rock wall that intersect. It’s an inside corner where you can apply counter pressure to climb.
Edging: Standing on small edges or footholds with the edges of your climbing shoes, not the soles.
Free Climb: Climbing only with your hands and feet. The rope is only used for safety. This is the opposite of an aid climb.
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.
Leg Loops: The part of your harness that goes around the upper legs. It’s typically attached to the waist belt.
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.
Quickdraw: A runner that is used to attach a rope to a bolted anchor with carabiners.
Rack: The selection of gear chosen for your climb.
Rand: The upper rubber strip running around the edge of your climbing shoe.
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.
Whipper: A long fall.