The Climbing Dictionary

Welcome to The Climbing Dictionary !!!

This dictionary gives definitions of American and English climbing terms and translations of those terms in other languages. If you have anything to contribute to this dictionary (remarks, comments, new/better definitions, corrections, other language ?), then mail me. Your help is gratefully acknowledged !! If you intend to sue me, then read this disclaimer first.

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 rappelling.
(d) Abseilen, (f) Descendre en rappel, (nl) Afdalen/abseilen, (i) Calarsi, (s) fira

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 tecnica, (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, (s) Säkra

Belay station
A safe stance consisting of an anchor, a rope, and a belayer (aka "the belay")
(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 second knot)
(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, (s) Bröstsele

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, (s) Crux

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 progression.
(d) Frei klettern, (f) Escalade libre, (nl) Vrijklimmen, (i) Scalata/arrampicata libera, (s) Friklättring

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, (s) Klättersele

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 (aka pearabiner).
(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 burglars.
(d) Eispickel, (f) Piolet, (nl) IJsbijl, (i) Picozza, (e) Piqueta, (s) Isyxa

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 in opposition.
(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.
(nl) Blokkeren

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.
(s) Mantla

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.
(d) Sackstich

Overhand loop
The simplest type of knot possible.
(d) Kreuzschlag

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 multipitch climb.
(nl) Plateau

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 "Below", beware!
(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).
(d) Nähmaschine

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!, (s) Djävlar!

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 below.)
(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 free protection.
(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 pointless.

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, (s) Topprep

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 fall.
(nl) "Let op", (i) "Guardami bena"

Water knot
See tape knot.
(d) Bandschlingenknoten

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.

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Last modified 13 April 95 by Carl Ockier , Carl.Ockier@DLR.DE