The Climbing Dictionary
Welcome to The Climbing Dictionary !!!
This dictionary gives definitions of American and English climbing terms and
of those terms in other languages.
If you have anything to contribute to this dictionary
(remarks, comments, new/better definitions, corrections, other language ?),
mail me. Your help is gratefully
!! If you intend to sue me, then read this
The terms in this list are sorted alphabetically in English.
The translations are labeled as follows: (d) German, (f) French, (nl)
Dutch, (i) Italian, (e) Spanish and (s) Swedish.
- Descending by sliding down a rope. Americans usually call this
(d) Abseilen, (f) Descendre en rappel, (nl) Afdalen/abseilen, (i) Calarsi,
- Aid climbing
- Moving up a rock using fixed or placed protecting as a means of progression
(and not just for protection). Also known in the US as sixth class climbing.
(d) Technisch klettern, (f) Escalade artificielle,
(nl) Artificieel klimmen, (i) Arrampicata
(e) Secalada artificial, (s) Teknisk klättring
- Point where the rope is fixed to the rock.
(d) Fixpunkt/Verankerung, (f) Point d'assurage,
(nl) Zekeringspunt, (i) Ancoraggi, (s) Ankare
- A narrow (more or less horizontal) ridge. In the US, the word arete is
also used to indicate an outside corner.
(d) Grat, (f) Arête, (nl) graat, (i) Spigolo, (e) Cuchilla
- Devices (e.g. Jumars) to ascend a rope.
(d) Steigklemmen, (f) Jumards, (nl) Stijgklem, (s) Repklämmor
- Lots of snow or ice sliding down a mountain.
(d) Lawine, (f) Avalanche, (nl) Lawine, (i) Valange, (s) Lavin
- Liquid consumed in large quantities after climbing.
(d) Bier, (f) Bière, (nl) Bier/Pintje, (i) Birra, (e) Cerveza, (s) Öl
- Belay, to
- To secure a climber.
(d) Sichern, (f) Assurer , (nl) Zekeren, (i) Assicurare, (e) Dar sequridad,
- Belay station
- A safe stance consisting of an anchor, a rope, and a belayer (aka
(d) Standplatz, (f) Relais, (nl) Standplaats, (i) Sosta, (e) Encuentro,
Reunion, (s) Standplats
- The person at the belay station securing the climber.
(d) Sicherungsmann/frau, (f) Assureur, (nl) Zekeraar,
(i) Assicuratore/trice, (s) Säkringsman
- "Belay on"
- When the belayer is ready to belay the climber up, he yells "Belay on".
(At least in the US, "belay on" would only confuse the hell out of a
British climber who prefers to hear "Climb when ready").
(d) "Nachkommen", (f) "Quand tu veux", (nl) "Nakomen", (i) "Puoi venire",
(s) "Säkring klar"
- Used in Britain to warn for impending impact with objects coming from
above (e.g. falling rock). "Rock" in the US.
(d) "Stein", (i) "Sasso", (f) "Pierre" (in Switzerland "Caillou")
- (d) "Berg Heil !"
- A German greeting at the summit.
- Insider information about a climb.
(d) Informationen vor dem Start, (i) Informazioni
- (d) Haken, (f) Spit, (i) Spit, (e) Spits
- Bolt, expansion
- (d) Bohrhaken, (f) Cheville à expansion, (nl) Boorhaak,
(i) Caviglie da espansione, (e) Piton de expansion, parabolt, (s) Borrbult
- Used to indicate that something is exceptionally solid, e.g. an anchor,
a hold. See also bombproof.
- The illusion that an anchor is infallible
(d) Bomben sicher, (f) à l'épreuve des bombes,
(i) A prova di bomba, (s) Bombsäker
- (f) "Bonne Grimpe !"
- A greeting to climbers when they start the climb.
- Boulder, to
- Climbing unroped on boulders or at the foot of climbs to a height where it
is still safe to jump off.
(d) Bouldern (f) Faire du bloc, (nl) Boulderen
- Sailing knot (not to be used for climbing, unless backed up with a
(d) Bulinknoten/Palstek, (nl) Paalsteek, (s) Pålstek
- A large hold (Aka "jug", esp. in UK)
(d) Hänkel, (f) Bac/baquet, (nl) bak, (i) Fibbia, (s) Brevlåda
- Butterfly knot
- Interesting but rarely used climbing knot.
- Cat, dead
- Contact Greg Opland for this one...
(d) Tote Katze, (f) Chat mort, (nl) Dode kat, (i) Gatto morte,
(lat) Felis oplandis,
(s) Död katt
- Magic powder that makes the hands stick to even the smoothest rock.
(d) Chalk/Magnesia, (f) Magnésie, (nl) Magnesiumpoeder,
(i) Magnesia, (s) Krita
- Chest harness
- Bra-like looking harness (to be used with waist harness)
(d) Brustklettergurt, (f) Harnais,
(nl) Borstgordel, (i) Cinghia pettorale,
- Sometimes fallic shaped, protruding lumps that make excellent hand or
footholds on granite, etc.
- A wide crack that accomodates (most of) the body of the climber.
(d)Kamin, (f) Cheminée, (nl) Schoorsteen, (i) Camino, (s) Kamin
- Chipped hold
- A hold created with a hamer and chisel by a moron.
(d) Geschlagener Griff
- A vertical piece of rock good for climbing (see also Crag).
(d) Fels, (f) Falaise, (nl) Rots
- Climb, to
- (d) Klettern, (f) Grimper, (nl) Klimmen, (i) Arrampicare/scalare,
(e) Subir, (s) Klättra
- Climb, a
- (d) Kletterei, (f) Escalade, (nl) Klim, (i) Arrampicata , (s) Led/Tur
- What the climber shouts after the belayer screams "Belay on".
(d) "Komme", (f) "Parti", (nl) "Ik kom", (i) "parto"/"vengo",
(s) "Jag klättrar"
- Climbing gym
- The second best thing to real rock (Aka "wall" in the UK).
(d) Kletterhalle, (f) Salle d'escalade, (nl) Klimzaal/Klimhal,
(i) Palestra, (s) Inomhusvägg
- Climbing shoes
- Shoes made of sticky rubber that would have fit you comfortable when
you were ten.
(d) Kletterschuhe, (f) Chaussons d'escalade, (nl) Klimschoenen, (i) Scarpe
di roccia, (e) Bottas de escalar, (s) Klätterskor
- "Climb when ready"
- The British equivalent of "Belay on".
- Thin static rope (5, 5.5 or 6 mm)
(d) Reepschnur, (f) Cordelette, (nl) Prusiktouw, (i) Cordino, (s) Repsnöre
- Inside corner (see dihedral) or outside corner.
- Crack, in rock
- A gap or fissure in the rock varying in width from nail to bodywidth.
(d) Riß, (f) Fissure, (nl) (Rots)-spleet, (i) Fessura,
(e) Grieta, (s) Spricka
- Name for a (small) climbing area.
- Very pointy footware use to walk glaciers or climb ice.
(d) Steigeisen, (f) Crampons, (nl) Stijgijzers, (i) Ramponi, (s) Stegjärn
- A crack in the surface of a glacier.
(d) (Gletscher-)spalte, (f) Crevasse, (nl) (Gletscher-)spleet,
(i) Crepaccio, (s) Glaciärspricka
- A very small hold that accepts only the finger tips.
- The hard bit.
(d) Crux/Schlueßelstelle, (f) Crux,
(nl) Sleutelpassage, (i) Passo chiave,
- Inside corner (Aka "open book").
(d)Verschneidung, (f) Dièdre, (nl) Versnijding/hoek, (i) Diedra,
(e) Diedro, (s) (Inner-) hörn
- Dog (to dog a move)
- Climbing, lowering, climbing again till a certain move is made (the usual
mode of ascent...).
(d) Ausbouldern, (nl) Jo-jo
- Double fisherman's knot
- Solid knot used to tie two ropes or pieces of webbing together
(Aka grapevine knot).
(d) Doppelter Spierenstich, (f) Double noeud de pêcheur,
(nl) Dubbele visserssteek
- Descending the difficult way.
(d) Abklettern, (f) Désescalader,
(nl) Afklimmen, (i) Arrampicare in discesa, (s) Klättra ned
- Dynamic movement towards a distant hold.
(d) Dynamo, (f) Jeté, (nl) Dynamo
- The first sport climbing shoes
- Elvis, to
- To have a sewing maching leg. Named after "Elvis, the King", who suffered
from this this problem when singing before a crowd of screaming women.
- Face climbing
- Not crack climbing.
(d) Wandklettern, (nl) Wandklimmen, (s) Väggklättring
- Fall, to
- A dynamic retreat from a climb (free-solo rappel). Note that it is
never the fall that kills, it's the landing.
(d) Stuerzen, (f) Voler, (nl) Vallen, (i) Cadere, (s) Ramla, Falla
- Yelled when a climber is (about to) fall.
(f) "Vol" (nl) "Ik val"
- Figure of 8
- Metal rappelling/belaying device shaped like an 8.
(d) Achter/Abseilachter, (f) Huit,
(nl) Acht, (i) L'otto (il descensore), (s) Åtta
- Figure of eight
- Very popular and solid tie-in knot.
(d) Achtknoten, (f) Noeud d'huit, (nl) Acht/achtknoop, (s) Åtta
- Masochistic technique to twist and wedge the fingers into a crack.
(d) Fingerklemmtechnik in Rissen, (f) Verrou (de doigt),
(nl) Vingerverklemming, (i) Incastro di dita
- Simple knot to tie two ropes together. The double fisherman knot, however,
is more popular.
(d) Spierenstich, (f) Noeud de pêcheur, (nl) Visserssteek
- To lead a climb placing your own pro with no falls or dogging and with
no previous attempts on the climb.
- A thin bit of rock that is detached from the main face.
(d) Schuppe, (i) Scaglia, (s) flak
- Not leading a climb.
(d) Nachsteigen, (f) Grimper en second,
(nl) Naklimmen, (i) Seguire (andare da secondo), (s) Följa
- Free climbing
- Moving up a rock using only hands, feet, and natural holds. Ropes
and pro are only used for protection of the climber and not for
(d) Frei klettern, (f) Escalade libre, (nl) Vrijklimmen,
(i) Scalata/arrampicata libera,
- Free solo
- Free climbing while using no ropes for protection. You fall - you die.
(d)Free solo klettern, (f) Solo, (nl) Solo,
(i) Arrampicate/andare solo, (s) Frisolo
- The part of the karibiner that opens.
(d) Schnapper, (f) Doigt, (nl) Snapper, (i) Leva, (s) Grind
- A slowly moving permanent mass of ice.
(d) Gletscher, (f) Glacier, (nl) Gletscher, (i) Ghiacciaio, (s) Glaciär
- Half rope
- A rope of 9 or 8.5 mm that has to be used together with a second rope when
leading a climb.
(d) Halbseil, (f) Corde de rappel, (nl) Half touw, (i) Mezza corda
- Slightly masochistic technique where the hand is wedged into a crack.
(d) Handklemmer, (f) Verrou (de main), (nl) Handklem, (i) Incastro di mani
- Piece of clothing that identifies you as a climber. The
coolness factor can be significantly enhanced by hanging things from
the harness that go cling.
(d) Klettergurt, (f) Baudrier, (nl) Klimgordel, (i) Imbragatura,
- The vocal alternative to 6 signals a minute.
(d) "Hilfe", (f) "Au secours", (nl) "Help", (i) "Aiuto",
(e) socorro/ayuda, (s) "Hjälp"
- Solid plastic device that can sometimes protect the head from falling
stones or impact (Aka a brainbucket).
(d) Helm, (f) Casque, (nl) Helm, (i) Casco, (s) Hjälm
- Karibiner with one wide side used for belaying with a munter hitch
(d) HMS Karabiner, (i) Moschettone a mezz'asta
- Anything that can be held on to.
(d) Griff, (f) Prise, (nl) Greep, (i) Presa, (e) Presa, (s) Grepp
- Ice axe
- Device used for ice climbing, glacier crossing, or scaring away
(d) Eispickel, (f) Piolet, (nl) IJsbijl, (i) Picozza, (e) Piqueta,
- Jam, to
- Wedging body parts in a crack.
(d) Klemmen, (i) Incastrarsi
- Very large hold (short for jug handle) (Aka "bucket" in the US).
(d) Hänkel, (f) Poignée, (nl) bak, (i) Fibbia, (s) Brevlåda
- A type of rope ascending device.
- Jumar, to
- To ascend a rope using ascenders.
- Metal connecting device (Aka "biner").
(d) Karabiner, (f) Mousqueton, (nl) Karabiner/mousqueton, (i) Moschettone,
(e) Mosquetones, (s) Karbin
- Knotted cord
- Piece of cord with a knot tied into the end that is used for protection
(pretty much like a nut). The traditional method of protecting
climbs, and still used in the Elbsandsteingebirge
in Eastern Germany.
(d) Knotenschlinge, (i) Cordino annodato
- Somewhat clumsy looking climbing technique where hands and feet work
(d) Piazen, (f) Dulfer/opposition, (i) Dulfer (Opposizione)
- Person who leads a climb.
(d) Vorsteiger, (f) Premier (de cordée), (nl) Voorklimmer, (i) Primo, (s) Försteman
- Lead, to
- To ascend a climb from the bottom up, placing protection as you go.
(d) Vorsteigen, (f) Grimper en tête,
(nl) Voorklimmen, (i) Andare da capocardata, andare da
primo, (s) Leda
- Flat bit on a rock (can be miniature or gigantic).
(d) Absatz, (f) Réglette, (nl) Rand(je), (i) Cengia, (s) Hylla
- Type of rock found in abundance in southern France (usually white and
full of pockets and holds).
(d) Kalkstein, (f) Calcaire, (nl) Kalksteen, (i) Calcare, (s) Kalksten
- Locking biner
- Karabiner that can be locked.
(d) Verschlusskarabiner, (f) Mousqueton à vis,
(nl) Schroefkarabiner, (i) Moschettone a ghiera, (s) Låskarbin
- To hold on to the rock with one bent arm while using the other arm
to reach up for the next hold or to place or clip protection. Lockoffs on
small holds will get you pumped in a hurry.
- To descend something or somebody.
(d) Ablassen, (f) Descendre en moullinette, (nl) Zakken/naar beneden laten,
(i) Lasciare giu'
- Difficult balancing move useful to get up on ledges.
- Multi pitch climb
- Climb that consists of more than a single pitch.
(d) Mehrseillaengentour,(f) Voie de plusieurs longeurs,
(nl) Klim van meerdere touwlengtes,
(i) Via da piu' tiri, (e) Via de longas diversas,
(s) Tur med flera replängder(?)
- Munter hitch
- Knot used for belaying (Aka italian hitch or friction hitch). The
Germans love this knot.
(d) Halbmastwurf, (nl) Halve mastworp, (i) mezz'asta
- Metal wedge used for protection in cracks.
(d) Klemmkeil, (f) Coinceur, (nl) Nut , (i) Dado, (s) Kil
- "Off Belay"
- Yelled when the climber no longer requires a belay (e.g. because she/he
has reached a stance). Once the belayer
hears "off belay", he/she removes the rope from the belay device and
yells "belay off". In UK, Australia and New Zealand: "Safe".
(d) "Stand", (f) "Relais" or "Vâche",
(nl) "Stand", (i) "Posto", (s) "Lägg av"
- "On Belay ???"
- Query to verify if the belayer is ready to secure the climber (US only).
(i) "Sei pronto ???"
- Leading a climb with no falls and no dogging and without any prior
attempts or beta.
(f) A vue, (i) A vista
- Outside corner
- Also known as pillar or arete.
(d) Pfeiler, (nl) Pijler, (i) Pilastro
- Overhand knot
- A simple (but solid) knot in a double rope.
- Overhand loop
- The simplest type of knot possible.
- Rock (or ice) that is "more than vertical".
(d) Ueberhang, (f) Surplomb(=strong overhang) or dévers (=slight
overhang), (nl) overhang, (i) Strapiombo,
(e) Extraplomo, (s) Överhäng
- Party ledge
- A somewhat larger ledge used to rest (and party !) during a particularly
hard or long climb. Sometimes used to refer to the belay station on a
- Outside corner
(d) Pfeiler, (f) Pilier, (nl) Pijler, (i) Pilastro
- A section of climb between two belays and no longer than the length of
one rope (this used to mean 45m, nowadays pitches can also be 50 or even
60m long -- check your topo).
(d) Seillaenge, (f) Longeur, (nl) Touwlengte,
(i) Tiro, (e) Largo (de cuerda), (s) Replängd
- Metal spike hammered into a crack (has come in disuse for all but some
special applications) (Aka "peg" in the UK).
(d) Haken, (f) Piton/Spit, (nl) (Mep)haak, (i) Chiodo, (e) Pitone
- A hold formed by a (small) depression in the rock.
(d) Loch/Fingerloch, (nl) Gat/vingergat, (i) Buca da dito
- Pro, Protection
- Anchors placed during the climb to protect the leader.
(d) Sicherungsmittel, (f) Protection, (nl) Zekering,
(i) Protezione, (s) Säkring
- The sliding knot or the method to ascend a rope (named after its inventer
Dr. Karl Prusik).
(d) Prusik, (nl) Prusik, (e) Prusik, (s) Prusik
- The feeling of overworked muscles. Most climbers are familiar with the
forearm pump: too much finger work causes the forearms to swell and the
strength to disappear. With a serious forearm pump, even holding a glass of
beer can become a serious challenge.
(d) Dicke arme (or any other body part), (nl) Verzuurd
- Quickdraw, quick
- Short sling with karabiners on either side.
(d) Expreßschlinge, (f) dégaine,
(nl) setje, (e) cintas express, (s) Kortslinga
- The climbing gear carried during an ascent.
(d) Materialsortiment, (f) Matériel / matos,
(i) Equipaggiomento/sortimento di materiale
- Not trad. Slang for sport climbing.
- Rappel, to
- Also: to rap. Descending by sliding down a rope. Known in Britain (and
Germany) as abseiling.
(d) Abseilen, (f) Descendre en rappel, (nl) Afdalen/abseilen
(e) Rappel, (i) Calarsi, (s) Fira
- To lead a known route without falling or dogging.
(d) Rotpunkt, (i) Liberare
- (d) Pof, (f) Pof
- A large (2 inch diameter) ring that is cemented in the rock as a bolt.
Rings are very common in Germany and France and are excellent for rappelling.
(d) Ring, (f) Ring, (nl) Ring
- Scream let out to warn people down below that a piece of rock
has been overcome by gravity.
The loudness, number of repitions, and/or panic in voice with which this
word is uttered is often an indication of the seriousness of the rock.
In the UK, you're more likely to hear
(d) "Stein", (f) "Pierre" (or "Caillou"), (s) "Sten"
- Seriously overhanging part in a climb (more or less horizontal).
(d) Dach, (f) Toit, (nl) Dak, (i) Soffitto, (e) Techo, (s) tak
- Long and round nylon fabrication. Climbing ropes are generally between
10 and 11 mm in diameter (with the exception of "half ropes" which are
between 8.5 and 9mm in diameter).
(d) Seil, (f) Corde, (nl) Touw, (i) Corda, (e) Cuerda, (s) Rep
- Should be yelled when a rope is about to be thrown to the base of the
crag (though most of the time it seems like "rope" is shouted about 1-2
seconds after the rope is thrown). In the UK, shout "Rope below".
(d) "Seil", (f) "Corde", (i) "Corda", (nl) "Touw"
- A certain path up a rock or mountain.
(d) Tour, (f) Voie, (nl) Route, (i) Via, (e) Via, (s) Led
- A loop of tape or webbing either sewn or tied (Aka sling).
(d) Schlinge, (f) Sangle, (i) Anello, (e) Cintero (???), (s) Slinga
- Distance between two elements of pro. A route is "runout" when the
distance between those two elements of pro becomes uncomfortably long.
- The British equivalent of "Off Belay".
(d) "Stand", (f) "Relais" or "Vâche", (nl) "Stand",
(i) "Posto", (s) "Lägg av"
- The climber who follows the leader. See also following.
- Sewing-machine leg or arm
- A leg (or arm) under tension that suddenly starts jerking up and down like
a sewing machine. Stretch the muscle, take a deep breath, and don't think of
falling... (see also: to Elvis).
- SH** !
- Often heard during a fall... (Well educated climbers in the UK
sometimes say "sugar" -- but only if they're not in too much trouble).
(d) Scheisse !, (f) Merde!, (nl) Shit!, (i) "Merda!", (e) Mierda!,
- A hand hold that needs to be held with a horizontal (sideways) pull.
- Flat and seemingly featureless, not quite vertical piece of rock.
(d) Platte, (f) Dalle, (nl) Plaat, (i) Lastre, (s) Sva
- Yelled when the climber needs more rope (e.g. to clip into protection).
(d) "Seil", (f) "Mou", (nl) "Touw", (i) "Lasco", (s) "Rep"
- Pathetic downward slanting hold. (Usually look like buckets from
(d) Aufleger, (i) Pendio
- Climbing alone, though not necessarily without the protection of
a rope (see also free solo).
- Sport climbing
- Climbing routes of (extreme ?) gymnastic difficulty while protection
oneself by clipping copiously numbered and generously spaced preplaced
(d)Sportklettern, (nl) Sportklimmen, (s) Sportklättring
- Stem, to
- Bridging with the feet between two holds.
(d) Stemmen, (i) Opposizione, (s) Stämma
- "Stick it"
- American slang meaning "hold on" or "go for it".
- The top of a mountain or rock.
(d) Gipfel, (f) Sommet, (nl) Top, (i) Cima, (s) Topp
- "Take in"
- The British equivalent of "Up Rope" ???
- "Taking in"
- Heard often in British crags, meaning the climber is "off belay" and
about to pull up the slack between him and the belayer.
- "That's me"
- Part of the climbing dialogue. Courtousy call to the belayer to indicate
that the slack in the rope is all taken up and that further pulling is
- The British equivalent of "Up rope" ???
- Free climbing a route that has the safety rope attached to the top
of the climb (usually one walks to the top to set up the top-rope belay).
(d) Toprope, (f) Moulinette, (nl) Toprope, (i) Corda dall'alto,
- Threaded overhand
- Solid but not failproof knot also known as water knot (or ring bend
when used on webbing).
(d) Sackstich in Ringform
- Traditional climbing, characterized by the placing of protection
(cams, nuts, etc.) in cracks and pockets. Trad also includes multi-pitch
routes often with long runouts..
(d) Traditionelles, Alpines Klettern, (nl) Alpijns klimmen, (i) Tradizionale
- Horizontal climb.
(d) Quergang, (f) Traversée, (nl) Traverse,
(i) Traverso, (s) Travers
- A tunnel through or hourglass shape in the rock that allows a runner or
cord to be fed through for protection.
(d) Sanduhr, (nl) Zandloper, (f) Lunule
- A hold that would be a perfect bucket if gravity were upside down. As it
is, underclings are usually awkward holds that require lieback type moves.
(d) Untergriff, (f) Inversée, (nl) Ondergreep, (i) Presa rovescia
- "Up Rope"
- Yelled by the leader or the follower when she/he wants a tighter belay.
(In UK: "Take in" or "Tight" or even "Watch me").
(d) "Seil ein", (f) "Sec", (nl) "Blok", (i) "Tira", (s) "Tag hem"
- "Watch me"
- Call to indicate the climber is about to do something stupid -- like
(nl) "Let op", (i) "Guardami bena"
- Water knot
- See tape knot.
- Webbing (tubular)
- Flat and strong strip of nylon, that is hollow in the inside.
(d) Schlauchband , (nl) Schlinges, (i) Fetuccia tubolare
- Webbing (loop of)
- A runner made of webbing.
(d) Bandschlinge, (i) Cordino, fettucia, (s) Slinga
- Yosemite Decimal System. The North-American grading system.
Rock Climbing in
Last modified 13 April 95 by