Glossary of Terms

This is meant to be a layman’s dictionary of climbing terms to help decode any climbing jargon used throughout the Brevard Rock Gym website and hopefully any other climbing material you come across.


Sport Climbing– Lead, rope climbing where you will clip quick draws, 2 carabineers connected by webbing, to a pre placed “hanger or bolt,” essentially an eye bolt, as you climb to the anchors.  Pending the area, bolts are placed about every body length as you ascend the route. Thus, a 60 foot route may have a blot every 6 to 10 feet for your protection.

Bouldering– climbing short stuff, 10 to 18 feet tall, with out a rope, often using a portable mattress called a crash pad. When outside you are often climbing boulders (go figure). Bouldering often times involves more power than rope climbing, initially. It is also the cheapest way to get into climbing. All you need are shoes, chalk bag and a crash pad. All of that combined is around $300 “ish.”

Traditional (Trad) Climbing– Lead climbing where you place removable, active and passive protection in pre-existing cracks, crevices, nooks, etc, as you ascend the route.  Trad climbing is also known as “Free Climbing,” not to be confused with “Free Soloing.”

Aid Climbing– When holds are too small on a route to ascend using just your feet or hands aid climbing is born. The climber moves from one piece of gear to the next, standing on webbing ladders, aiders, that they move with them up the line of gear. Cams and stopppers are used in aid climbing as well as copperheads, hooks and more to be explained in the gear section.  To Note: difficulty in aid climbing is ranked by how likely you are to die if you fall!

Free Soloing– climbing routes, over 30 feet tall, with NO rope or other protective gear.


Slopers- Slopers are what they sounds like, holds that are slopping and rounded. These are held by often times cupping your hand. Not ideal for hot and sweaty weather, great when it is coldy and sticky out.

Side Pull– A hold that is roughly perpendicular to the ground. It is held by your hand being turned sideways, fingers away from the body and palm going towards the body. You pull on it sideways, towards your body.

Gaston– Essentially a reverse side pull. The hold is still perpendicular the ground, but you hold it with fingers closest to the body and palm away from the body so it feels as though you are actually pulling away from you body. Not to be confused with the Disney character from Beauty and Beast!

Edge– Noted by an in cut, 90 degree turn from vertical to horizontal. It is exactly what it sounds like, an obvious edge.

Crimper– A crimper is a small edge that you can only get a fraction of your finger tips on and is held by getting as much of your fingers on to as possible and then wrapping your thumb over the top of your fingers increase the strength in your grip.

Open Handed- “Open handed” is not so much a hold but a way you hold a hold. Open handed is to not crimp, essentially but just use your 4 fingers and hand, no thumb.

Pinch– Easy one here, literally a hold that you pinch. Often fingers are on one side of a hold and thumb on the opposite side making a pinching motion.

Pocket- Usually only held by 1 to 3 fingers. It is a inset, sometimes rounded hold, that only allows room for a few finger. A one finger pocket, “mono,” would be similar to a small hole in the rock.

Jug– A very large hold easy to hold onto.


Arete- Outside corner of  a rock feature.

Dihedral– Inside corner of a rock feature. Stemming is often used to climb a dihedral.

Slab– less than vertical wall. Climbed with balance and solid foot work.

Face– Almost perfectly vertical rock face. These are often considered “technical” climbs.

Overhanging– Past vertical rock when you are beginning to feel almost upside down.

Roof– Your back is parallel to the ground. Lots of core, abs, is helpful in roof climbing.

Chimeny– Two walls that are parallel and provide enough room to fit between the walls and “shimmy” up.

Finger Crack– A crack in the rock with parallel “ish” sides big enough for only fingers.

Hand Crack– A crack in the rock with parallel “ish” sides big enough for hands.

Off Width- A crack in the rock with parallel “ish” sides too big for hands and fingers, too small for a chimney, but perfect for feeling awkward and insecure!


Crash Pad– portable “mattress” made of dense foam that usually folds in half or thirds with back pack straps used to help make the landing zone safer when bouldering. (Imagine a dense foam dog bed that folds in half and has backpack straps.)

Stoppers (Chokstones)– These are termed passive gear, as the gear in and of itself has no motion to its construction. These are “wedge” like pieces of  metal that are on a wire. Stoppers come in various sizes, are removable, used for Trad Climbing and are placed in “V Shape Constrictions,” where they wedge themselves tighter when weighted.

Cams (Camalots)– These are termed active pieces of gear as their design involves a spring loaded trigger function. Cams are placed in parallel cracks. They are placed by pulling the trigger which causes the lobes (half moon type pieces of metal) to pull down towards the shaft and then expand to touch both sides of the crack upon placing them and releasing the trigger. The idea is that when weighted the spring loaded lobes press harder against the sides of the crack. These are hard to explain in writing but compare this description with the physical device and is will hopefully make sense. Cams in a variety of sizes and everyone has their own “unique” spin on cams.

Quick Draw– Often referred to as a “draw” quick draws are 2 non locking carabineers  connected by a short piece of webbing. These are used in sport climbing predominately and in trad climbing as well. One carabineer is clipped to the bolt or hanger when sport climbing the rope is clipped to other carabineer.


Boulder Problem– When climbing on rope you climb what is called a “route.” In bouldering it is called a “problem,” meaning something to solve.

Send– To complete a route/problem top to bottom without falling.

Stick It– Reach the hold, grab the hold and don’t let go.

A Move- Moving from one hold to the next. A boulder problem may have 10 “moves” for example.

Crux– Hardest part of a route or problem. Often consisting of only a few moves.

Botch the Sequence– Grabbing holds in the wrong order which then messes up your ability to “send” the route/problem. Used in a sentence: “I really botched the sequence that time and fell at the crux.”

Hang Dawg– To hang from gear frequently when sport/trad climbing due to fear, lack of fitness, etc.

Belayer– The person who holds the other end of the rope for the lead climber and catches them when/if they fall.

Barn Door- “Barn Dooring” is a motion your body makes when you release one hand, let’s say your left, and your whole body swings to the opposite direction, so in this case to your right. Just like opening a barn door.

Crank– To “crank” is simply to pull hard or climb hard.In a sentence: “You wanna crank at the gym later.”

Lock Off– “Locking off” is pulling into a bent arm position (often times the elbow is at 45 degrees) and holding it.

Flagging– “Flagging” is straightening your leg out to one side with out actually placing the foot on a hold. This can be right leg to the right side or right leg, behind the left leg out straight, for example. This helps balance your body in order to do a move.

Stemming– “Stemming” is often used in an inside corner (dihedral) or in a chimney. It is the act of putting one foot on one wall and the other on an opposing wall.  In doing this the climber can often take their hands off the wall as they are balanced between two walls. A big stem would look like someone doing the splits between two walls or in a corner.

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