Climbing Glossary

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Ice Climbing Vernacular
 Go to Cameron Burns' Ice Climbing Glossary for a peek into the speak of those who can't get enough of the frozen stuff.
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daisy chain: a piece of webbing sewn with a series of loops; the loops offer many places to clip carabiners

descender: a metal friction device used for rappelling

dihedral: an inside corner formed by two walls of rock

edge: [noun] a small rock ledge; [verb] the act of standing on such a ledge

expansion bolt: a steel stud drilled into the rock; used mainly in sport climbing for protection where cracks aren't available

face climbing: climbing on an expanse of rock using only handholds and footholds; in contrast to crack climbing and friction climbing

fall line: a term used to describe the path of least resistance on a slope

fist crack: a crack that is too wide for a conventional hand jam, but small enough to wedge the fist in widthwise to gain purchase

flake: a slab of rock detached from the main face

flash: to lead a route successfully on the first try; see on-sight

free climb: ascending the rock face using only hands and feet; the rope and protection are used only as a safeguard against injury

free solo: to free climb without a rope

friend: spring-loaded camming device with a trigger to retract the cams

glissade: sliding down a slope in a sitting, crouching, or standing position, often performed using an ice-ax to control direction and speed

grade: the difficulty rating assigned to a climb; different countries use different rating systems

hand jam: wedging one's hand into a crack for purchase or ascent

heel hook: placing one's heel on a hold and using it for leverage or balance

hex: short for hexentric; refers to a hollow, nut-like, hexagonal piece of protection

ice axe: a mountaineering tool used for climbing snow and ice; distinguished by a curved pick and an adze at one end of the shaft, and a spike at the other end

icefield: a large body of glacial or free-floating ice

ice screw: a piece of ice climbing protection; a threaded metal tube that screws into ice

jam: wedging feet, hands, fingers or other body parts to gain purchase in a crack

jumar: one of several types of mechanical ascenders

lead climbing: style in which the first climber (the leader) starts at the base of the route with no preset rope and places protection as he or she climbs

lieback or layback: [noun] climbing technique that involves pulling with the hands while pushing with the feet in opposite directions; [verb] to perform such a move

mantle: [noun] a technique in which the climber presses up onto straightened arms, then brings his/her feet up to the same hold; [verb] to perform this maneuver

nut: a piece of gear that provides a secure anchor to the rock; same as a chock


Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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