Rock Climbing Jargon & Lingo: 28 Bomber Rock Climbing Terms

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Seems that you are baffled by the myriad of jargon when reading books on mountaineering or introducing yourself to the exciting world of climbing.

If you are an adventure freak and love climbing, it is important to relate and make yourself aware of the words that are commonly used in the climbing industry. This will help you to understand their language and easily blend with the approaches and practices.

There is an exhaustive list of climbing terminology and here we have compiled the most common and basic mountain climbing terms. It will be helpful for those who are new to this sport. Let’s make sense of the climbing lingo that you’re going to hear at the cliffs outside or at a climbing gym.

Words used during climbing

Free Climbing

Free Climbing means basic rock climbing. This sport climbing is done without the use of slings or makeshift ladders. Here, the climbers only use their arms, feet, hands, knees, etc. to ascend the features of the rock.


Bouldering is climbing through short routes (10 – 25 feet tall). These are usually done on short cliffs or large boulders where a climbing rope isn’t justified. A cushioned mat (crash pads) is used to lay a soft-landing zone. A climber in the form of a spotter is assigned to guide other climbers into the landing zones when falling.

Lead Climbing

Lead Climbing is when climbers use roped climbing right from the base. The climbers use rock climbing equipment and small, removable anchors in the rock features. The climbers fix the rope to each anchor as they pass. In case a climber falls, the rope will stay attached to the most recent anchor protection and limit the fall. This type of climbing is further categorised as traditional climbing (trad climbing).


Scrambling is the bridge between rock climbing and hiking. Scrambling is when a climber needs to move through rocky terrains (not steeper) or needs the help of a rope to climb. Hikers or climbers often need to scramble through short or moderate boulder fields.


An Approach is the base of a specific area or the hike to the area of climbing. It can be anything from a 5-minute walk to the base camp, a 20-minute hike on a trail or a full-day scramble across the forest.


Arete is the vertical corner of rock pointing out, away from the mass of main cliffs.


Dihedral is the inside corner of a rock. It can be short or sometimes continues for a long stretch, often continuing for an entire climb. It is the opposite of an arete.


Chimney is the gap formed between two opposite faces of a rock. Chimneying is the action of ascending through the chimney by pushing on both opposite walls simultaneously. The action is quite energy-consuming as the climber needs to employ his/her back, feet, hands, elbows, knees and even head depending on the width of a chimney.

Crack Climbing

A climb that follows a crack or a set of cracks to the top is called crack climbing. It requires different techniques of jamming the cracks with the help of hands, feet, and fingers to progress upward.


Crag is a small area of rock climbing that is physically defined by the features of a dominant rock. A crag generally consists of multiple climbing routes.

Face Climb

A Face Climb is a climbing technique that defines ascending on a more-or-less vertical climbing wall of rock. The rock face usually features no major corners, large ledges or cracks. It is similar to the routes offered in a climbing gym.

Route Rating

Route rating is used to define the difficulty level of a route. It is usually designated by the person who first climbs the route.

Slab Climb

A slab climb is similar to the face climb but here, the vertical degree is lesser. Slab climbs often demand strong balance as they offer few holding positions. They require ample smearing and delicate movement to make upward progress.


A problem defines the climbing path of a boulder. It features specific starting and finishing points. Sometimes problems feature managing situations, like starting as low as possible (even crossing the ground in a seated position). A single boulder can have many problems and solving them is even tougher.  

Sport Climbing

Sport Climbing is a form of Lead Climbing but with permanent or already fixed anchors in the rock. The climbing route features multiple points of protection, allowing climbers to continue higher with confidence.


The term “Bomber” refers to solid holds or anchors that offer utmost safety during a climb.

Bomber holds or anchors provide climbers with an extra layer of security and assurance during the ascent. Unlike most other rock climbing terms, the term “bomber” does not refer to a specific type of anchor or feature, but rather is a term used to describe any hold or anchor that is particularly solid and reliable.


Beta is the information of a climbing route that portrays the best or key holds. Also, the sequence required for ascending. A belayer may offer beta to other climbers and make suggestions for the placement of the hand or foot.


The toughest section of rock-climbing route is called the crux. Cruxes matter to a climber’s efficiency.


Friction is the resistance formed between two surfaces that move across each. This is significant when it comes to rock climbing. Friction is used by a belay device to assist in the stopping of a fall or controlling a descent.


Pumped means the energy consumed to climb a certain area. Due to extreme grip strength, the blood-flood in the forearm causes pumped-up blood vessels.


Pitch is the part of a climb completed using a single length of a rope.


Stance is the place where a climber stops after a pitch to secure a belay.


It is the arrangement of gears to take the weight of a top rope or belay


“Rock!” is yelled by climbers in the form of an alarming signal. It is done when they sense a falling rock or any tumbling object.


“Take!” is also a form of communication when the belayer wants the rope to be pulled as tight as possible so that the climber can put weight on the rope. Climbers “take” when they are ready to descend.

Terms Used To Indicate Climber’s Position


Lead is the person leading the climb


Second is the person who is following the lead climber


Belayer is the person who manages the rope and protects the climbers against a fall.

To Conclude

Whether it’s rock climbing or ice climbing, these terms will be really helpful in the near future when you head on an ultimate adventure on mountainous terrain. The jargon will help you to understand the atmosphere and situation so that you can plan accordingly.

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