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Climbing Terminology

Here we will list losts of words/systems and their meaning within climbing so that you can stay confusion-free! If you still feel like you need help understanding something please contact the exec!

Climbing Grades


Here is the most important bit of information, what the grades that routes you climb mean. The most important grading schemes to pay attention to are the French (both route and boulder), the V-Scale and the British scale (used for trad). 

Essentially, the higher the number the harder the route. In the French system there are sub-grades: "a", "b" and "c" of which "c" is the hardest and a is the easiest, there is also a "+" sub-grade which can be given to any of the other sub-grades and means that it is harder than other climbs of that sub-grade (letter) but easier than the next sub-grade up e.g. a 7a+ is harder than a 7a but easier than a 7b. A c+ is the highest sub-grade a route can be given.


This grading system applies to both the French bouldering (Font) and route climbing scheme and are some of the most common grading systems used!

The easiest to understand is the V-scale which has no sub-grades so the higher the number the harder the climb, although sometimes a V-scale probelm can be given a + sub-grade which means it is harder than the normal probelm of that grade but easier than the next grade!

The most complicated grading system is the British system which is exclusively used for Trad problems. It has two parts: the technical grade and the adjectival grade. The technical grade, is very similar to the french grading system (although there is no + sub-grade), and is based on the single hardest move on the route note 7a British technical grade is ≠ 7a Font (British tech is graded a lot harder than Font see the chart for more details).


The other grade given in the British system is called the adjectival grade which is based on: seriousness (the danger/risk to climb the route), sustaindness, technical difficulty, exposure, how sustained the route is, rock quality etc. and gives more of a description of the severity and quality of the climb. The route often descibed as a combination of the two grades e.g. E4 6b

for more information on the British grading systemclick here.

Ways of Climbing

Lead Climbing (free climbing): The climber clips the rope into quickdraws or similar equipment attached to the wall.  In trad, the climber needs to place the anchors and quickdraws; in sport climbing, the anchors are typically already in place, and the quickdraws may either be pre-placed or placed by the climber. When indoors the quickdraws will always be pre-placed.

Top-Roping: To belay from a fixed anchor point above the climb.

Aid Climbing: Climbing where you pull yourself up the route by standing/pulling on gear that you place into the wall.

Free Soloing: Climbing without any protection or aid.

Deep Water Soloing: Free soloing but above a large and deep body of water (usually the sea) to act as a bouldering pad.

Flash: Do the climb first time.

Onsight: A flash but you have no imformation about the route e.g. you have not seen someone climb it for the beta.

Redpoint: Lead climbing a route cleanly having practiced it

Clean: To do a climb without falling or resting on the rope.

Hold types/moves

Crimp: A hold type where you can only use your finger tips.

Pinch: A hold type where you squeeze your fingers and thumb towards each other.

Sloper: A hold that slopes down towards the ground with very little positive surface.

Jug: A large easily holdable hold.

Volume (block)A large, hollow, bolted on hold often made from plywood.

Arête: A ridge on a wall.

Undercling: A hold which is grabbed with your palm facing upwards.

Side pullGrabbing a hold with a sidewards pull towards your body.

Handjam: Squeezing your hand into a crack and pushing your thumb and back of the hand against the crack.

Guppy: Squeezing your hand over the top or around a hold forming a cup shape with the hand.

Gaston: A side pull but the thumb is down and the elbow is out.

Heel hookUsing your heel to apply pressure on a hold for balance or leverage.

Toe hookSqueezing the top of your toes against a hold for balance or leverage.

Mono: Using one finger on a hold.

Barndoor: When your body swings like a door on a hinge.

Dyno: A jump or leap to another hold where both your feet leave the wall.

Edging: Using the edge of your climbing shoe on a foothold.

Layback: Climbing a vertical edge by sidepulling.

Smear: Using the shoes friction when there is not any holds.

Flag: Moving a leg into a position that is held to maintain balance.

Campus: Doing the move/route without using your feet.

Deadpoint: A dyno but one or more feet remain on the wall.

Cut loose: When your feet swing out from the wall leaving only your hands on the route.

Drop knee (Egyptian): Twisting one knee down so that our body faces the other leg to gain more reach/reduce strain.

Flake: A thin detatched bit of rock from the wall or a method of un-tangling a rope by running it through your hands.

Heel-toe (cam): Having a heel hook and toe hook at the same time on one foot.

Knee-bar: Jamming your lower thigh or knee against the wall for balance or leverage.

Lock-off: Using tendon strength to support weight on a handhold without overly tiring muscles.

Mantle: Pushing down on a ledge or hold to get on top of it, without the use of holds above.

Rose: A cross-though where one arm goes behind the other and your body is forced to face outwards away from the wall.

Slab: A low angle wall that faces away from the climber slightly.

Smedging: Smearing on an edge.

Misc climbing terms

Chossy: Loose/rotten rock which makes for unpleasant, difficult, or dangerous climbing.

Crossle: Sharp spikey holds that dig into your fingers.

Beta: The way of completing the climb.

Crux: The hardest part of the route

Spot: When people stand underneeth the climber to absorb a fall and direct them to a safe place.

Runout: A long distance between protective gear.

Crux: The hardest part of a route.

Dab: Touching a hold/object that is not part of the route, invalidating the climb e.g. touching the pad or spotter.

Punter: A climber who doesn't know what they're doing.

Scrittle: Loose grit on the rock that makes it less grippy.

Take: A request to the belayer from the climber to remove any slack in the rope.

Wad: A strong climber.

Whipper: A big lead fall.

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