The Climber’s Dictionary

Written By: Neal Royal on December 22, 2016

The Climber’s Dictionary (A-D)
By Neal Royal (Contributing Blogger) 

You’d think after finally getting your first V3 you would be met with a standing ovation and glorious applause. However, to your confusion, your friend says, “Nice job, but you dabbed.” You’ve heard this word before, but it’s typically associated with Cam Newton and middle-school boys rather than with rock climbers. I’ve done this “dab” they speak of, but there’s an actual word for that?

We’ve all been there. A fellow climber drops a climbing term and all you can do is smile-and-nod – acting like you understand. I want to move you toward social redemption by sharing some common climbing jargon. Like any good dictionary, I’ll supply you with a definition and real-life example. Add these to your arsenal to get some climbing street cred.


Arête: Two planes come together to form an edge in the rock. Commonly used as a hold itself, including one or both starting holds


Dihedral: Opposite of an arête. Two planes come together to form a corner in the rock.


Barn-Door: Body swing similar to that of a door hinge when in an unbalanced body position. Sometimes unavoidable but always controllable.


Bathang: Set both toes over the hold and hang upside down


Beta: The preferred way for completing the route. May be different based upon height


Cam: Both a piece of trad climbing gear and climbing move. The idea is to place the device or body part in between two surfaces so that the position may be maintained



Campus: Climbing using only your hands. No feet allowed!


Chimney: Look above you as you make your way through the Expansion entrance.


Crag: Mass of rock projecting upward or outward where a congregation of routes may be found


Crux/Cruxing: The most difficult section or move within a route. “Cruxing” is associated with a moment of struggle while on a route or any area in life.

Dab/Dad Dab: Making slight contact with the ground after starting a route. Difficult not-to-do on steep, overhung climbing.


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