Like a parent snooping on her teenager’s text messages, climbing slang sounds like utter nonsense to outsiders. It’s not unique to our sport. Surfers, skateboarders, and (probably) standup paddleboard yogis all have their jargon. But does rock climbing have slang? Until “climber speak” is so dense that it’s listed as its own language, we say, “No.” Add the following new terms to your vocabulary to better communicate with your fellow climbers—and to communicate way worse with everyone else.
(n.) The latest time at which you can bail on climbing plans without pissing off your partners. For days with an early start, this should be before anyone goes to sleep the night before, so they don’t wake up at 5 a.m. for nothing.
(n.) When a crag looks more like a party zone than a climbing area, packed with hammocks, bluetooth speakers, and more people hanging out tanning, snacking, and gabbing than climbing.
(v.) A technique in which you are taller than 6 feet and skip a crux by reaching really, really far.
(adj.) When you are fit compared to the general population, but feel like a blimp compared to the climbing community, with their rippling abs and striated back muscles.
(v.) To toprope, especially on steep terrain with no directional, where a fall would result in a wild swing.
(v.) A parkour-like move in which you must run across a series of footholds with no handholds in the gym. The appearance of grinds typically coincides with a new season of American Ninja Warrior.
(n.) Much as through-hikers have trail names, the climbers you see frequently at your local rock gym also have gym names—only in this case, it’s you giving them their names ... in secret, in your head.
(n.) To redpoint a route while “belayed” by a super-chill brau or brauette lying in a hammock listening to crunchy grooves. Best done on a route two to three number grades below your limit that’s short and has a good “landing.”
(v.) A gym move named for a climber with stronger fingers than route-finding skills.* The act of pulling through on footholds instead of trying to figure out the proper sequence.
*Try making up your own terms for your friends’ technique failings. It’s fun!
(v.) To climb on the now-ubiquitous MoonBoard climbing wall.
(v.) The act of grabbing a hold and pulling really hard, recruiting all of your muscles. Sometimes this is the only way forward.
(n.) The hand version of a . A dyno so large and explosive that you need to “paddle” on intermediate holds like slopers, blobs, etc. en route to the target grip to maintain momentum. Aka a “second-generation dyno.”
(n.) The unnecessary extra safety precautions used by someone who’s not yet comfortable relying on proven methods and techniques.
(n.) A climber who refuses, despite years of experience, to do away with patently gumby-like behavior such as the daisy-chain thong, rappelling from lowering anchors, carrying a ton of unnecessary shit on his harness, belaying on sport climbs with a trad-style device, and so on. At present, there is no known cure.
(n.) To redeem yourself by redpointing a route after an embarrassingly bad attempt. For full effect, grab the chains with one hand, raise your other fist up into the sky, and scream, “SENDGEANCE!”
(v.) A rope-stretch whipper, occurring when a route is long enough that falling at a bolt results in what feels like freefall due to stretch.
(n.) The Time To Solitude for a given area, i.e., the length you must hike to find an empty crag. More-crowded areas will generally have a longer TTS, though this will diminish if the approach is steep or loose and/or involves bushwhacking.
(n.) A splingus, mingus, and utterly jingus mingosity you must hold onto in an undercling position in order to reach the next hold.