Climbing Jargon

Photo of author
Written By Margaret Satchell

I love helping people get in shape by playing sports instead of just boring gym routines. Live life to the fullest.





Have you ever found yourself fascinated by the unique language and terminology used in the world of rock climbing? From “belay” to “crux” to “send,” climbing jargon can be intimidating for beginners and outsiders. But fear not! In this article, you’ll be introduced to the fascinating world of climbing jargon, unraveling the meanings behind these words and phrases that seasoned climbers use effortlessly. Whether you’re an avid climber looking to deepen your knowledge or a curious beginner intrigued by this adventurous sport, this article will not only decode the jargon but also invigorate your passion for climbing. So, tighten your harness, chalk up your hands, and get ready to embark on a linguistic journey into the thrilling realm of rock climbing.

Climbing Equipment

Climbing Jargon


When it comes to rock climbing, one of the most essential pieces of equipment you will need is a harness. The harness is worn around your waist and legs, providing a secure attachment point for the rope. It is crucial to choose a harness that fits well and is comfortable, as it will be your lifeline during your climb. Look for a harness that has adjustable leg loops and waist belt, allowing you to customize the fit to your body. Additionally, choose a harness that is made of durable materials and has strong stitching to ensure your safety while climbing.


Carabiners are another crucial piece of climbing equipment that should never be overlooked. These strong and versatile metal clips are used to connect various components of your climbing gear together, such as your harness to the rope or your quickdraws to the bolts on the rock. When choosing carabiners, make sure to opt for ones that are lightweight, yet durable. Look for carabiners with a locking mechanism to prevent accidental openings, ensuring your safety while climbing.


The rope is arguably the most important piece of equipment in rock climbing. It is the lifeline that connects you to your climbing partner and keeps you safe in the event of a fall. There are different types of ropes to choose from, such as dynamic ropes for climbing routes and static ropes for setting up anchors and hauling gear. When selecting a rope, consider its diameter, length, and weight. Thinner ropes are lighter and more suitable for advanced climbers, while thicker ropes provide more durability and are ideal for beginners.


A quickdraw is a specialized piece of equipment used in rock climbing to connect the rope to the bolts or anchors on the rock surface. It consists of two carabiners joined by a nylon or Dyneema sling. The bottom carabiner is clipped to the bolts, and the top carabiner is used to connect the rope. Quickdraws come in different lengths, ranging from 10cm to 25cm, allowing you to choose the appropriate size depending on the width of the climbing route. They are essential for smooth and efficient climbing, as they enable you to quickly clip in and out of bolts as you ascend.

Climbing Jargon

Belay device

A belay device is an essential tool for rock climbers, used to control the rope during belaying, which is the process of giving and taking slack as the climber ascends. Belay devices provide friction, allowing the belayer to easily hold the rope in place in the event of a fall. There are different types of belay devices, such as tube-style and assisted-braking devices. Tube-style belay devices, like the popular ATC, are versatile and suitable for a wide range of climbing activities. Assisted-braking devices, like the GriGri, offer additional safety features and are recommended for beginners or climbers with less experience.

Climbing shoes

Climbing shoes are specifically designed to provide traction and support for your feet as you navigate the various holds and surfaces while climbing. They have a tight and snug fit to maximize sensitivity and precision, allowing you to feel the rock and make precise movements. When choosing climbing shoes, consider the type of climbing you will be doing. For bouldering and sport climbing, shoes with a downturned shape and sticky rubber are ideal. For trad climbing or long multi-pitch routes, opt for shoes with a flatter shape and more comfort.

Chalk bag

A chalk bag is a small pouch that climbers wear around their waist or attach to their harness to hold chalk. Chalk is used to keep your hands dry and enhance grip while climbing. It absorbs moisture and sweat, allowing you to maintain a secure grip on holds. Chalk bags come in various sizes and styles, and some even have a brush holder to clean holds when needed. Choose a chalk bag that fits comfortably and is easily accessible during your climb.


Cams, short for camming devices, are essential tools used in traditional climbing to protect against falls. They are spring-loaded devices that can be wedged into cracks or fractures in the rock, expanding and creating a secure anchor point. Cams come in various sizes to accommodate different crack widths and are color-coded for easy identification. They are considered a reliable form of protection and can be easily placed and removed during a climb.


Nuts, also known as nuts or stoppers, are passive climbing protection devices used in traditional climbing. They are small metal wedges that can be wedged into constrictions or cracks in the rock to create secure anchor points. Nuts provide versatility as they can be placed in a wide range of crack sizes. They are lightweight, easy to carry, and often used in conjunction with cams for added protection. When placing nuts, it’s important to evaluate the rock and select the appropriate size for a secure fit.


Slings, or runners, are long strips of nylon or Dyneema webbing used to extend the distance between your climbing gear and the rope. They offer flexibility and allow you to reduce rope drag, which can hinder your movements and increase friction. Slings can also be used for building anchors, creating equalized systems, or extending protection placements. When selecting slings, consider their length, material, and strength. Longer slings provide more versatility but can add extra weight, while shorter slings are more compact but have limited reach. Opt for slings that have high strength ratings and are made of durable materials.

About Author