climbing terms and lingo

Climbing terms and lingos – Everything you need to know

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New to rock climbing? If you are, you’ll find that there are terms that climbers use that you’ll have no idea what it means. Climbing has its own lingo. To be accepted by us climbers, you’ll have to learn to talk like us or you’ll be ostracised.

Climbing terms and lingos

These are a list of climbing terms and lingos that climbers used. This list does not include terms used for climbing techniques, handholds, wall features or equipment.


Beta is information about the route/problem. Having information about the crux or location of hand or foot holds when climbing a route can make your ascent much easier.


Huge and secure protection. An example is on a multipitch climb the anchor on the pitch is a bomber means it is solid and very safe.


There are 2 meanings for “clean” when comes to climbing.
1: Clean the route means clearing all the equipment off the wall after finishing a climb.
2: Climbing a route clean means finishing a route without hanging and resting on the rope.



To crank is to pull on a hold as hard as possible in order to reach the next hold.


The hardest part of the route. However, if the route has a few very hard sections climbers will identify them as crux 1, crux 2 etc. Hence there can be more than 1 crux.


Dab is a term used in bouldering when a climber unintentionally (or maybe intentionally) touches areas that are not part of the problem such as the ground, crash pad or parts of another route which might provide the climber with an advantage when starting the climb. This is not allowed and other climbers observing can be very particular about it.


When a climber directly hits the ground when falling off a climb.

Elvis’s leg

If you are old enough to know who Elvis is, you’ll know his famous leg moves when dancing. If you do not have this talent it’s fine. Because when you are doing a hard route and one of your feet is on a precarious foothold, Elvis’s leg will come naturally.

elvis elvis dancing
Elvis’s Leg

FA – First Ascent

First Ascent means being the first person to finish a particular route. There can only be 1 first ascent for each route thus having the first ascent for a climber is a big deal.


A flapper is a piece of skin that is partially ripped off at the inside of your fingers or palm while climbing.

climbing terms and lingo


Finished a climb on the first go. For a flash, you are allowed to have information about the route from other climbers before attempting the climb.

Free climb

In free climbing, climbers use only equipment for safety but not for aiding the climb. Climbers do not pull on or step on any climbing gear to help the climb up the route.

Free solo

In free solo, the climber is climbing by himself without a belayer or any safety equipment except for climbing shoes and a chalk bag. If the climber falls he or she will hit the ground.

woman climber wearing shoes

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French blow

The French blow is when climber blows on their fingers after chalking up.

French Blow

Ground up

Climbing a route from the ground up on lead.

Hangdog / Dogged the climb

A climber is not able to finish the route and needs to hang and rest on the rope while climbing on lead.


This is the ultimate achievement for a climber. Onsight is when a climber just shows up and sends a route on the first attempt without any prior knowledge of the route.


A problem means a boulder route.

Power spot

The spotter or spotters push/hold the climber up onto the boulder problem. This is common when the boulderer is working on a boulder problem’s upper section which cannot be reached from the ground.

Power Spot


Redpoint is when a climber finished a route on lead after more than 1 attempt.

Related Article

Redpoint vs pinkpoint – What is the difference

Rodeo clip

Run out

When the distance between protections is far apart. Routes can be run out near the top as the distance between bolt hangers gets further apart.


Climbing routes that are under-graded. Although climbing grades are subjective. However, sandbagging is sometimes common as the grade of the route might be set artificially low making the climb much harder than it’s supposed to be.


When a climber takes a huge lead fall on a rope (which will normally be accompanied with a scream at the same time).


When a climber gives out betas to another climber on how to climb a route without being asked to. Usually spraying is frowned upon by climbers. So only provided beta when asked.

Topped out

Climbing up and over the boulder or over the anchor for lead climbing.


Finishing a boulder problem after more than 1 attempt.

Watch me

A climber will say “watch me” to the belayer or spotter when he or she may fall. This is to ensure the belayer or spotters are paying attention and be prepared to catch the fall.


When a climber takes a huge lead fall.

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