Climbing 101: A Glossary of Ascent

Aid Climbing Climbing by pulling or resting on gear that is either placed or fixed into the rock. This is in contrast to free climbing. Aid routes are also called "nail ups." A route which requires aid climbing is rated grade 6 (free climbing is rated grade 5, as in 5.10).

Anchor The point where a climber's rope is securely attached to the rock.

Backstep This foot technique uses the outside of the shoe on an edge.

Barndoor A poor example of balance. When the climber loses grip with the hand and foot on one side and they fall sideways as if on a hinge of the opposite hand and foot.

Belay Use of a rope to protect a climber against a fall. A climber can be belayed by another person, or be climbing alone, using an advanced technique called a self-belay.

Belay Device A device used by the belayer which acts as the brake on the rope. Some examples are figure 8's, ATC's and GriGri's.

Bivouac A camp, or the act of camping. On a big wall, camp can be made on a natural ledge or an artificial one, generally an aluminum and nylon cotlike device called a portaledge that hangs from one or more anchors on the wall. Also called "bivy".

Bolt Literally a bolt drilled into the rock face.

Boulder A style of climbing which involves climbing only at a height the climber feels comfortable jumping to the ground.

Bucket A large hand hold. Feels as secure as a rung on a ladder.

Carabiner An oval or D-shaped link of lightweight aluminum or alloy that serves as the climber's all-purpose connector.

Chimney A wide crack that accommodates (most of) the body of the climber.

Clean The act of removing any non-fixed protection from the rock.

Crag A climbing area, usually a cliff.

Crank To pull on a hold as hard as you possibly can.

Crater To fall and hit the ground pretty hard.

Crimper A very small hold which allows only finger tips, if that.

Crux The hardest move, or series of moves, on a climb. The rating of a climb is generally that of the most difficult move.

Deadpoint A dynamic move which involves precision movement in order to catch the hold at the peak of the move before momentum waivers and gravity starts taking over.

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