Climbing 101: A Glossary of Ascent

Edging Climbing technique when climber places edge of shoe precisely on top of a hold or unconformity on the rock. The opposite of smearing.


Figure Eight
A device shaped like an 8 used for belaying and rappelling.

Free Climbing Climbing using only hands and feet to move upwards. Unlike Aid Climbing, free climbing uses the rope and gear only as protection against a fall, not as a ladder for upward movement. This method also stresses the use of gear that is temporarily placed in the rock for protection by the leader, and then removed by the second climber.

Gripped Frozen from fear.

Haul Bag Large and robust bag used to haul food, water, climbing gear, sleeping bag, and more up a big wall. Also known as "the Pig" since it is comparable in size and possibly in weight.

Indoor Public climbing gyms and homegrown climbing walls have been around for about a dozen years now. These artifical environments substitute the bumps, cracks and other irregularities found in natural rock with a vast assortment of cast fiberglass holds. The holds, some as small as silver dollars and others as large as a gallon milk jugs, are bolted to plywood walls in random patterns. The walls themselves can be sloped in or out and arranged to form inside and outside corners, overhangs, cracks and other common climbing situations. 

Jumar Jumar is the method of climbing a rope using ascending devices that can be quickly attached and then loosened from the rope. Jumar is the name of the device (sliding a knot of rope or webbing up a rope is called Prusiking, after Dr. Karl Prusik); Jumaring is the act of ascending the rope.

Layback A climbing technique where hands and feet work in opposition as one scales a crack or flake.

Mantel A climbing move which looks like a small child climbing up to the kitchen counter. Hand(s) are on ledge, one foot comes up, as you rock over one hand with your elbow locked.

Mountaineering At one end of the spectrum, mountaineering can include peak bagging, where little or no technical skills or equipment are needed to reach the summit of a mountain. It can also include full-blown expeditions to the highest peaks and the worst weather conditions on Earth. Generally, though, mountaineering adds specialized ice climbing skills and gear to those of rock climbing. Mountaineering also tends to be destination oriented.

On-Sight Similar to flash which means climbing without any falls. The difference being it is the first time the climber has ever seen the route.

Pig Also known as Haul Bag. Large and robust bag used to haul food, water, climbing gear, sleeping bag, and more up a big wall.

Pitch The section of rock between belays. Generally, pitches are no longer than the length of the rope (165 feet). Many sport climbs are set up so that their anchors are only half the length of a standard 165-foot rope from the ground, so that climbers need only a single rope in order to be lowered or to rappel off the climb.

Quickdraw A pair of carabiners connected with a short piece of webbing. A quickdraw is used to quickly connect a climber to a piece of pro or a permanent anchor.

Rack The full set of gear needed to climb a route.

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