Climbing Jargon Buster / Topics & Articles

Introduction to this page

We have created this page as we know there may be many non-climbers reading our blog, whilst we are away (friends and family), that may not understand the terms or terminology used during the many posts we will be sharing.
This page will try to bridge this gap so you can follow what we are up to. This page will be expanding and will be continuously update.
Thanks to for some of the definitions.

ARÊTE. An outward pointing bit of rock; a ridge or rib.

Beta: Knowledge about a problem, route or sequence or any prior knowledge about the intended climb before doing so.

Bouldering:  If you were to describe bouldering in terms of athletics (running), bouldering would be equivalent to the 100m sprint. Powerful, explosive and over relatively quickly. Sport climbing (climbing with rope and harness) would be equivalent to 10000m. I know it's probably not the best analogy but there we go...
Here is an excellent article created by which explains what bouldering is and is not . This will help you to understand what exactly we are talking about.

Campussing: This is when a climber is on 2 hand holds and does a pull up and catches the next sequence of holds. The feet are not used at all and are usually hanging freely. See Operation Beastmaker trailer in Videos to see Greg campussing or video of Chris campussing on La Barre Fixe or Full Value.

Crimp. A small hold onto which you can just get the ends of your fingers.

Crux: The hardest part or sequence of a problem or route.

Dyno. A dynamic move (jumping) for an out-of-reach hold.

Eliminate. A route that doesn't take the most obvious line.

Exposed. The kind of position where you suddenly realise how far away the ground has become; a route or move that takes you into such a position (not to be confused with flashing ones body).

Grades: In rock climbing, mountaineering and other climbing disciplines, climbers give a climbing grade to a route that concisely describes the difficulty and danger of climbing the route. Different aspects of climbing each have their own grading system, and many different nationalities developed their own, distinctive grading systems...and they are very subjective!

I have recently learned of the Japanese system of grading where they equate the difficulty of a climb, to the colour of the martial arts belt you would wear. For example a black belt in martial arts, compared to a graded boulder problem, would be Font 7A (V6). I think this an easy way to understand the grades we will be talking about as most of them will be Font 7A (black belt) and above.

The table below shows how the difficulty increases from easy (green) to difficult (black).


Heel Hook. The act of bringing one of your feet up to chest height and 'hooking' it onto a hold.

Jug. An excellent handhold (not to be confused with a type of container or sensitive part of the body).

Mantle.  a move in which the climber attempts to stand on the same horizontal surface their hands are holding. Various techniques are possible, most amusing being the bellyflop. Used most often during topping out.

Overhang. An area of the rock face where the top protrudes further than the bottom thus allowing gravity to come into play to an even greater degree than usual.

Pinch: Like a sidepull but with two sides; that is, a hold which can be pinched between thumb and finger.

Pocket: A hole in the rock face which can be used as a hold.

Problem: Natural or artificial (especially at a wall or when bouldering) layout of holds presenting an obstacle between you and the top. Usually requires more than brute force to overcome.

Pump: The extreme forearm fatigue (caused by buildup of lactic acid in the muscles) that is your body's way of telling you go to the pub, or that you've been to the pub too often recently.

Rockover: Complex but enormously satisfying move that requires pushing the bodyweight over one raised knee in order to reach up to a handhold that is otherwise out of reach.

Roof. The steepest kind of overhang. Usually involves horizontal climbing.

Sidepull. A hold that points sideways; usually works best when leaning your weigh away from the hold.

Slab: A generally flat expanse of rock face which is slightly to the relaxed side of vertical; often gives the illusion of being easy to climb.

Slap. Desperate grab for a handhold. Good climbers don't seem to do it when you watch them, but admit to it afterwards.

Spotting: Spotting or to spot someone is when another person or persons position themselves in such a way that if the person climbing, had to suddenly fall, they would be in a position to slow their decent (by "catching them") or guide their decent onto a bouldering pad therefore protecting them from potentially injuring themselves.

Topping Out. Reaching the top of the climb and clambering stylishly onto the top of the crag. Alternatively a desperate and undignified scramble for the top of the climb using arms, legs, belly and anything else which will assist the process.

Traverse: To move across the rock, left, right or possibly diagonally in either direction, rather than directly upwards.

Undercling: A hold which must be grasped from its underside to be used to best effect.