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Rock Climbing Dictionary


A method of descent where the climber uses a friction device (a belay device or figure 8) to repel.



A solid piece of protection to which the rope can be attached to secure the climber. Usually refers to equipment used for abseils or belays rather than protection on a pitch. 



An outward pointing bit of rock; a ridge or rib.



A device for climbing the rope - Devices include a simple prussik a mechanical device.



Any anchor used on a route is a belay. ‘The’ belay will refer to the end of a pitch, and a group of anchors. ‘To’ belay is the skill of holding the rope for a fellow climber. 


Belay Device

A device which enables you to hold the rope effectively for another climber - more see Climbing Shop



Climbing short problems, generally less than 6m. Will not require a rope. 


Bouldering Mat 

A crash mat, foam block for protecting falls while bouldering, usually small enough for 1 person to carry about. 


Chalk and Chalk Bags 

White powder that's intended to keep hands dry and increase adhesion to the rock.

Crimp or Crimping

A positive fingertips-only hold. 


Double Roping

Ropes which must be used in pairs, but are clipped separately, used to minimise rope drag. The most common ropes you will see on British traditional crags. Usually 8 – 9 mm in diameter. AKA Half Ropes. See also: Twin Ropes 


Dynamic Belay

When the belayer allows the rope to slide a little and themselves be shifted when holding a fall from a leader. Lessens the force on the anchors which sustain the fall. 



A dynamic movement, usually a leap, used to gain a hold. 


Figure 8

Most Widely used knot in climbing, creates a secure loop for trying onto your harness.



How difficult it is to climb something see our grading section



belay device which automatically locks when the leader of a climb pulls very hard on the rope. This can happen when they fall off, and less conveniently when they urgently need some extra rope.


In Situ

Equipment which should be found already in place, left by previous parties to protect a route. Can refer to single pieces of protection, or to abseil stations. 


Indoor Climbing

Climbing on artificial walls. 



A large incut handhold - useful when you find one.


Single Rope

A rope which is suitable for use on its own. Usually 9 -11mm diameter. Most popular for sport, indoor climbing and top roping, but often used on low grade traditional routes as well. 


Smear or Smearing

A sloping foothold, or the art of using the flat of your foot to create friction on the rock to propel you upwards.


Sport Climbing

Climbs protected solely by fixed protection, usually steel bolts, but occasionally pegs or thread runners.


Top Rope

Belaying a climber from a position at the top of the route. See also Bottom Rope 


Traditional Climbing

Climbing using natural features of the rock to provide protection in the form of nut, cam or sling placements. 


Winter Climbing

Climbing routes which can involve sections of snow and ice. You are likely to need specialist equipment such as crampons and Ice Axes

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