Climbing 101: A Glossary of Ascent

Rappel Using a rope to descend from a climb. Modern rappels are generally done with a rappel device, which creates friction on the rope to help control the descent. Also called abseiling.

When a climber has led a climb from top to bottom with out weighting the rope or gear. Also called a clean ascent. In the 1980s, German climber Kurt Albert marked climbs which he had done with no falls with a redpoint at their base.

Sidepull Vertical slot hand hold which is pulled on from the side instead of downwards like most holds.

Simul-climb When both the leader and partner are both climbing at the same time, connected by a rope. This is done on easy terrain, or if the rope is too short to reach a belay. Many times simul-climbing is done using a running belay (the leader places protection, which is removed by the second) rather than fixed anchors at the end of each pitch or rope length.

Smearing Climbing technique in which the climber attempts to stand on the rock by getting as much friction as possible between his shoe and the rock. Generally this involves placing the sole or toe of the shoe directly on top of the hold or rock surface, then pushing and twisting the foot. The opposite of edging.

Soloing When a climber ascends without a partner, rope, or equipment to protect him from a fall. A "rope solo" is when a solo climber uses a rope to self-belay. Simul-soloing is when two climbers solo together without the benefit of a rope.

Sport Sport climbing is different from traditional in that the climber depends on fixed bolts rather than removable protection. Sport climbing routes often follow seemingly impossible paths, sometimes straight up huge, smooth rock walls, sometimes far out on horizontal overhangs. The emphasis in sport climbing is usually more on technique than topping out. Falls are frequent, though seldom serious, as climbers constantly push the limits of gravity and ability.

Top Roping Pre-protecting a climb from above. The belay for a top roped climb can either be from the top of the pitch or the bottom. Climbs can be led, then top roped or protected by hiking to the top and fixing the anchor.

Trad Trad or traditional climbing requires a leader to place his own protection, rather than merely clipping into bolts. The term gained popularity in the late 1980s with the development of sport climbing routes (climbs that were pre-protected with bolts).

Traditional Traditional rock climbing involves the use of ropes and temporary anchors to add a degree of safety to the sport. As the lead climber ascends the rock, he or she inserts an assortment of metal anchoring devices, known collectively as protection, into the cracks and crevasses at points that may be anywhere from a few feet to several yards apart depending on the difficulty of the route. With the protection securely in place, the climber then uses a carabiner to attach the rope. Once the rope is clipped to a piece of "pro," the belayer below is responsible for tending the rope and stopping the climber in the event of a fall.

Undercling A hand hold which is upside down and is used by pulling up against it instead of pulling down.

Whipper A fall, usually a very long one.

  • 3
  • of
  • 3

Discuss This Article