Big wall – n. A large expanse of steep rock taking a minimum of three days to climb with conventional methods (free and aid climbing, hauling a bag with food water and shelter). El Cap and Half Dome in Yosemite Valley are big walls though both have routes that have been climbed in less than a day.
The majority of routes on both require three to eight days to climb. Washington Column, Sentinel, and Leaning Tower are usually not referred to as a big walls. 2. (adj.) Of or pertaining to a big wall. (e.g., big wall climbing gear).Biner – n. Slang for carabiner, a metal ring with a spring-loaded gate used to attach the rope to protection, and many other things. (See carabiner.)

Bird Beak – n. A thin hook used as protection in small cracks and pockets.

Bivouac – n. a place to spend the night. 2.(vb.) to spend the night, often in an unexpected location. Slang: Bivy

Bivy – n. Slang for Bivouac. A place to spend the night. 2.(vb.) to spend the night, often in an unexpected location.

Bolt – n. A permanent anchor in the rock installed individually as a protection device, or with other bolts or protection devices as an anchor. The bolt is a metal shaft 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch or 5/16 inch in diameter (common sizes), driven into a hole drilled by the climber, and equipped with a hanger to attach a carabiner. Generally, no one installs 1/4 inch bolts anymore, and because most of them are more than 25 years old, they should not be used when found. Occasionally they can be pried out by hand, or break under body weight.

Bomber – adj. a corruption of “bombproof” meaning very secure.

Bombproof – adj. Very secure, unlikely to move even when subjected to great force.

Booty – n. gear left behind for the taking, usually either from a previous party bailing on a route or accidentally fixing gear.

Boulder – n./v. a big rock typically climbed without a rope. May be head high to over 30 feet. Each boulder may have many distinct routes. Boulder problems are often top roped (See top rope), but climbing without a rope is thought to be better style. To boulder or to go bouldering is to climb boulder problems.

Bouldering Pad – n. A mat three to four inches thick, and roughly four feet square placed on the ground under a boulderer to cushion a fall. Usually made of layers of foam of various densities and covered with heavy, durable nylon and equipped with straps so that it can be folded in half and carried from place to place on the climber’s back. Also known as a crash pad.

Bouncing – v. Sport climbing technique used to regain the rock after falling and the climber is hanging free and out of reach of the rock. The climber climbs the rope hand over hand (very strenuous), and then drops. At the instant the climber lets go, the belayer hauls in slack thereby raising the climber. Repeating this process eventually brings the climber back to the rock. Also known as boinking, and to superman (compare with batman).

Brake Hand – n. The hand that holds the rope on the opposite side of the belay device to the climber.

Bridging – v. Climbing manouver involving arching the legs across a gap to put pressure on two opposing holds or walls. See also: Stemming.

Bucket – n. big handhold that is easy to hold onto. Usually a depression, hole or scoop (concave) in the rock. See also jug.

Buildering – n. to climb on buildings or manmade structures. Often done for training for rock climbing.

Buttress – n. A part of the mountain or rock formation that stands out from the main face. May also be used to describe the corner of a rock formation, e.g., the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral.

Cam – n. Short for camming device, removable, portable protection that helps arrest a climbers fall.

Campus – vb to work out on a campus board. 2. (vb.) to rock climbing moves with feet dangling as if using a campus board.

Campus board – n. a wrunged ladderlike training device used to train for climbing. Originated by the Late Wolfgang Guillich, this simple device has been largely responsible for advances in climbing difficulty around the world.

Carabiner – n. A metal ring with a spring-loaded gate used to attach the rope to protection, and many other things.

Cave – n. A roof enclosed on two sides.

Chalk – n. white drying agent used to keep a climbers hands dry. Sometimes called “white courage” 2. (vb.) to apply chalk to hands.

Chalk Bag – n. A small bag with a stiff rim worn clipped to the harness or around the waist on a belt and used to hold chalk. Allows the climber to access chalk while climbing.

Chalk Up – v. Putting chalk on the hands before or while on a climb.

Chicken Wing – n. A type of arm bar useful in off widths and tight chimneys. Bend arm at elbow so that hand touches shoulder. Insert in crack and push against opposite sides. Works especially well vertically in squeeze chimneys, with elbow pointing up and pressing against one side of chimney, and heel of hand against the other side. 2.(v.) To Chicken Wing: bad climbing form on a face climb where the climber’s elbows point out and back at an awkward angle.

Chickenhead – n. A knobby feature (resembling a chicken’s head) found in granite which provides excellent holds for hands or feet.

Chimney – n. a parallel sided constriction wider than body width. 2. (vb.) to climb a chimney.

Chipping – n. the act of altering the rock by breaking it. Almost universally shunned by climbers, but still performed by those whose bodies and egos are too weak to meet the challenge of a climb.

Chock – n. A generic term for all passive protection that can be wedged into a crack or slot in the rock, i.e., wired nuts, slung nuts, hexes, stoppers, wedges, etc. . .

Choss – n. loose, bad quality rock.

Chossy – adj. like choss.

Class 1 – n./adj. (Archaic. Almost never used.) AKA First Class. Denotes walking where no special footwear is required. One of six classes describing travel in the mountains.

Class 2 – n./adj. (Archaic. Almost never used.) AKA Second Class. Denotes trail walking where it is advisable to have boots or other sturdy footwear. One of six classes describing travel in the mountains.

Class 3 – n./adj. AKA Third Class. Denotes scrambling involving the use of the hands as well as the feet, but where a rope is not needed. More commonly used to describe climbing without a rope, especially when the climbers have a rope.

Class 4 – n./adj. AKA Fourth Class, like Class 3, requiring use of hands as well as feet, sometimes referred to as scrambling, but where a rope is advisable because a fall would likely result in serious injury or death. Class 4 is a step below technical rock climbing (Class 5), which involves more difficult climbing and requires the use of protection devices. For a rock climber to describe something as fourth class usually means that it is easy.

Class 5 – n./adj. AKA Fifth Class. Technical rock climbing requiring the use of rope and protection, and where only one climber moves at a time while belayed by another climber. This is why the Yosemite Decimal System starts at 5.0.

Class 6 – n./adj. (Archaic. Almost never used.) AKA Sixth Class. Direct aid. When the Yosemite Decimal System was first devised, free climbs were rated from 5.0 to 5.9, and the next rating up was 6.0, the point at which you had to hang on the rope. The decimal system never caught on for aid. (See aid ratings.)

Clean – v. 1. v To remove protection devices (gear). On a multipitch climb, the climber who seconds (follows the leader), takes out all of the removable gear placed by the leader. 2. adj. A clean climb, or a climb that “goes clean” is one that can be done without using a hammer to pound in pitons or mashies. This method is called clean because it does not damage the rock. (See pin scars.)

Cleaning Tool – n. A metal tool used in the extraction of protection that has become stuck in the rock.

Clipping – v. The act of putting a carabiner onto a bold, the rope, or a piece of protection. ‘Clipping!’ is a common call to indicate to the belayer that you are about to pull up rope to make a clip.

Clove Hitch – n. Knot often used to tie a rope to a carabiner.

Copperhead – n. Aid device made of a malleable copper alloy and slung on swaged wire cable, used to hammer into shallow grooves and slots in the rock. When pounded with a hammer and chisel, they deform to fit the shape of the rock. These are typically left fixed because they are difficult to remove without damaging the rock.

Crack – n. An inwards split or break in a rock face.

Crack climbing – n. the act of climbing continuous cracks in the rock often requiring specific techniques and protection methods.

Crampons – n. Meal spikes which attach onto climbing boots to allow a firm grip on snow or ice.

Crank – v. Slang for pulling on a hold at your maximum power.

Crater – vb. to fall off a climb to the ground.

Crimp – vb. to grip in a way such that fingertips contact the hold with knuckles raised slightly.

Crimper – n. a small edged hold which is conducive to crimping.

Cross Threaded – adj. When the thread on a carabiner’s locking mechanism’s is not twisting freely, usually due to it being tightened up whilst loaded. This can be very hard to unscrew.

Cross through – n. a reach with hand or foot that crosses the line of the other appendage.

Crux – n. the most crucial., difficult part of the climb.

Cruxy – v. A climb is said to be cruxy if it has several hard sections interspersed with rather easy sections.

D.W.S. – n. Deep water solo. Free solo climbing on routes above deep water, such that the climber will land in the water if they were to fall.

Daisy Chain – n. A sown webbing sling with multiple loops used in aiding and belay stations.

Dead Hang – adj. Hanging from a hold with the arms straightened allowing body weight to be held by the skeleton rather than arm muscles. – good for relaxing the arm muscles

Deadman – n. A metal plate placed into deep snow for use as an anchor.

Deadpoint – n. to catch a hold at the apex of upward momentum at the point where the climber will experience the least force. (see “dyno”). 2. (vb.) to perform a deadpoint

Deck – v. To “deck” or to “deck out” or “hit the deck” is to take a fall resulting in a impact on the floor, often resulting in serious injury or death.

Descender – n. Any device used to rappel or abseil. ie: figure 8, rappel rack, stitch plate

Dihedral – n. A corner. Literally, the word means two planes coming together. It may be a 90 degree corner, and it may be more or less than 90 degrees. (Right, obtuse, acute angles.) Look at a picture of the Nose of El Cap. See that big corner that forms the upper third of the route? Now that’s a dihedral.

Disco Leg – adj. Also known as ‘sewing maching leg’ or ‘doing the wild elvis’. Referres the the uncontrollable shaking of the leg(s) while climbing. Result of tired leg muscles.

Dogging – v. short for ‘hang-dogging’. Refers to spending large amounts of time hanging in the harness while working a climb.

Doubled Back – adj. Bringing your harness webbing loop back through the buckle when putting it on. This is an important part of ensuring that your harness is done up correctly.

Downclimb – vb. to climb downward rather than upward on a climb.

Draw – n. short for “quickdraw”, a useful link consisting of two caribiners connected by a length of rope or webbing. Often used to attach the rope to points of protection.

Drop knee – n. technique requiring twisting your body and a downward turning of the inside knee to increase reach efficiency.

Dyneema – n. A very strong material used to make slings. Thinner and lighter than typical nylon webbing. Called ‘spectra’ in the US.

Dyno – n. abbreviation for “dynamic movement”, a move that requires some use of momentum. (antonym: static movement) 2. (vb.) to perform a dyno.

Edge – n. a small, horizontal hold. 2. (vb.) to stand on an edge with the corner of a shoe maximizing the pressure applied to a small area of rubber.

Elvis leg – n. the uncontrollable shake of a leg uncontrollably during a climb. Often due to a combination of nerves and overcontraction of muscles. Also called sewing machine leg.

Epic – adj. Surpassing the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size. An adventure where everything seems to go wrong and the adventurers are constatnly put at risk.

Etriers – n. The original French term for Aiders. Nylon webbing steps for use when aid climbing.

Exposure – Being very far above your last piece of protection or being in a situation in which you are very aware that you are high off the ground or in a remote location.

F.A. – n. abbreviation for “first ascent”. Often seen in guidebooks to list the people responsible for the route.

F.F.A. – n. abbreviation for “first free ascent”, first ascent that did not use aid gear.

Face Climbing – v. Climbing on the flat part of a rock face, considered the be the opposite of crack climbing.

Fall Factor – n. The length of the fall divided by the amount of rope paid out. Used when deciding how much strain has been placed on a rope or piece of gear after it has been fallen on.

Fall Line – n. The path of a climber if he were to fall off a climb.

Fifi Hook – n. A small hook, primarily used when aiding, to clip into a daisy chain or piece of gear.

Figure 4 – n. An uncommon technique to make long reaches that requires lifting a leg over the opposite arm, putting the body in a position that resembles a “4”. Mostly used in ice and mixed climbing.

Figure 8 – n. a common rappel / belay device shaped like the number “8”.

Figure 8 knot – n. Also known as the “double figure 8” or “figure 8 follow through”. The most common knot used to attach the climber’s harness to the rope.

Figure 9 – n. An uncommon technique to make long reaches that requires lifting a leg over the arm on the same side of the climbers body, putting the body in a position that resembles a “9”. Mostly used in ice and mixed climbing.

Finger jam – n. Obtaining purchase in a crack wide enough for a finger but too narrow for a hand; can be achieved with one or more fingers. An advanced technique. Cracks that are too small for hands and wider than finger width (off-finger size) are especially difficult to master.

Finger lock – n. see “finger jam”

Fist Jam – n. A technique involving a fist being wedged into a crack in order to hold on.

Fixed protection – n. gear that is left on the rock for future use.

Fixed Rope – n. A rope fixed to a route by the lead climber and left in place for all who follow. Also refers to ropes left on sections of alpine climbs in order to aid the next party to attempt the route.

Flag – vb. to dangle a leg in a way that improves balance. Also refered to as using feet without holds to improve balance and create sideways momentum.

Flake – n. A rock formation where a ‘flake’ of rock sticks out from the rest of the wall.

Flapper – n. a superficial injury resulting in a loose flap of skin.

Flared Crack – n. A crack with sides that are not parallel, but instead form two converging planes of rock.

Flash – n. completion of a climb first try with no falls. 2. (vb.) to perform a flash.