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Climbing Glossary of Terms

Anchor | Arete | Belay | Bolt | Bomber | Carabiner | Chalk bag | Couloir | Crack | Crux | Deadpoint | Exposure | Fingercrack | Fingery | Flake | Flash | Free- climb | Friend | Handjam | Hanging belay | HarnessHeinous | Hex | Natural anchor | Needlepoint | Nuts | Overhang | Pinkpoint | Pitch | Protection (pro) | Rack | Redpoint | Runner | Runout | Spooger | Webbing | Wired nut


A solid, stable point form which a top rope, rappel or belay can be set. The following make good anchors: sturdy trees, large blocks or boulders, and gazebos. None of these will be available when you need to set up an anchor.


An activity of local law enforcement agencies, such as "The police areted us on the spot."


A way for a climber to catch their breath, relax, and catch some rays. Belaying is fun- it means someone else is doing the tough stuff.


To run away in horror at the sight of that bouldering project your buddy's been talking about.


The kid up at the top of the cliff is throwing rocks and beer cans at the climbers below.


A miraculous device (named after your truly) that can be used as an anchor, as a link between the rope and protection, as a rappel brake, or as a clip for carrying various items up a climb. It also makes julienne fries-don't leave home without it.

Chalk bag:

An item of mystical significance, thought to give superhuman strength to the wearer.


Large thermal container, usually filled with beer.


A rock feature that effectively removes all skin from the knuckles and the backs of hands.


That crucial point in the climb when the rubber in your shoes suddenly decides not to stick, your fingers feel like wooden blocks, the strength drains from your upper body like water down a sewer, and you forget even the most basic climbing technique.


The point in the climb, when, if you don't make the next move, you're looking at a closed casket funeral and a ruined weekend for your climbing partners.


See "Flash."


Ouch, ouch, ouch!


The sort of climb that leaves the fingers looking like packages of hamburger in the grocery department. Or maybe not so appealing.


Any person who engages in the sport of climbing...


To expose the private parts, usually when the seat of your tights rips out on that strenuous crux move. See also "Exposure."

Free- climb:

The one route on the cliff that doesn't have anyone on it, usually the on e with the miserable, dirty crack, and the ledge at the top of the pitch with the mean-tempered rattlesnake in residence.


Something that most climbers don't seem to have time for, since they spend all their free time at the crags or in climbing gyms. A fellow climber put it, "I have lots of nuts but no Friends."


The liquid that oozes from the hands after they've been shoved into a crack and used to crank the climber's body up the face.

Hanging belay:

A belay point which you to hang suspended, feet not touching the rock at all. This is usually when your harness starts to bind, you need to go to the bathroom, and you become convinced that your anchors are slowly wiggling their way out of the rock.


A restraint device for torture, thought to have originated during the Spanish Inquisition.


An adjective, which when used, increases the relative difficulty of the climb you are describing by at least two grades.


A spell you cast on the leader as you wrestle with a piece of pro that is stubbornly wedges in a crack.

Natural anchor:

Any piece of anchoring equipment which might be sold in the more politically correct gear stores.


Describes a type of climbing in parts of California.


See "flake."


A position in which the climber is left dangling on the rope, head down. So named because the sensation is somewhat similar to a hangover.


Leaving only a few bits of skin and possibly some fingernail of a climb. Not as prestigious as redpointing.


To throw forcibly from a cliff, as in, "Screaming in anger and frustration, she pitched the guidebook over the edge."

Protection (pro):

A whimsical term, referring to the oddly shaped bits of metal that climbers stuff into cracks to make themselves feel safer. This term has little connection to its English counterpart.


The fastest known way to separate a climber from her hard-earned cash.


Leaving blood and bits of skin on a climb. I can say with pride that I have redpointed nearly every climb I have done.


The climber who wisely splits after seeing the route; an overhanging, flaring crack, the base of which is scattered with the bones of those who have gone before.


To go on an errand, as in "Runout and get some more beer, would you?"


That tiny crystal of rock that hypnotizes a climber into believing that she can place her foot on it and use it to support her full body weight.


Long pieces of tubular nylon, used mainly to tie off to anchors, but which can also be used to restrain the climber who is overly eager to rush into some new folly. (5.10 in the rain, for instance.)

Wired nut:

A climber who has had too much coffee.

--Ms. Carrie Biner, in High Exposure

Women Climbers Northeast newsletter

Glossary of Terms by Lisa Farley

For a Women Climbing Engagement Calendar , a date book with inspirational photos and text, a smattering of historical dates in women's climbing history, celestial dates and events, and other useful reference materials contact WOMEN CLIMBERS NORTHWEST at P.O. Box 31223, Seattle WA, 98103-1223

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