Climbing Terminology - A Guide To Bouldering Jargon

Climbing Terminology - A Guide To Bouldering Jargon

Just like all sports and hobbies, bouldering has its fair share of unique terms and phrases. To the uninitiated, this can seem like people are speaking a different language down at the climbing wall! To help you learn your gaston from your guppy and your slab from your sloper, we've put together a handy guide to bouldering jargon so you too can start talking like a climber!

Arete - In indoor climbing, this is the corner of two walls which can be used as a hold while climbing

Barn door - A climber swinging off the wall like a door on a hinge because of incorrect body positioning

Beta - Instructions or advice on how to complete a climb

Bicycle - Squeezing a foothold between your feet on an overhang to keep both feet on the wall

Bloc - Another name for a boulder problem

Bump - A move wherein a hand is moved to one hold, then moved straight up to the next hold. The first hold is usually bad and only used as an intermediate to the better hold

Burly - A climb involving big powerful moves which need a lot of strength

Campus - Climbing without using feet

Crimp - A hold which is only big enough to be gripped with the fingertips. Gripping these holds is called crimping!


Crux - The hardest section of a climb

Cut-loose - Where a climber's feet come away from the wall on an overhang so that they're left hanging on with just their hands

Cut Loose

Dab - A bouldering term for accidentally touching the floor, a hold from another problem, or anything else which might help the climber complete the problem

Deadpoint - A movement in which a climber reaches for a hold at the end of their range of motion where at least one foot remains on the wall throughout

Downclimb - To climb down from the top of a problem using any holds (rather than jumping!)

Drop-knee - A move where one of the climbers knees is twisted inwards to reduce the strain on their arms when reaching for a hold

Drop Knee

Dyno - A dynamic movement in which the climber has to jump and release all points of contact on the wall before catching a handhold. Our favourite!

Eliminate - Usually used in outdoor bouldering to prevent the use of certain holds in order to make a climb harder. Also used as a game indoors where some holds in a problem are eliminated to make it more difficult

Fingerboard - A piece of training equipment with a variety of edges and holds on used to train finger strength

Fist Bump - The best way to congratulate someone for sending a problem they've been working on!

Flagging - When a climber's leg is placed against the wall to maintain balance, but not bear weight - usually to stop a barn door!

Flapper - When a climber's finger or hand skin rips leaving a loose, flapping piece. Very sore, and best treated by clipping the loose skin off, taping over the affected area to continue climbing, and applying balm after the session

Flash - Completing a climb on the first attempt

Gaston - A type of grip on a hold where the climber pulls outwards with their elbow, using a lot of shoulder strength

Guppy - A type of grip on a hold where the climber cups their hand sideways over the hold with their pinky finger next to the wall, rather than with their palm facing the wall

Heel hook - When a climber uses the back of their heel to put pressure on a foothold to pull themselves in closer to the wall or maintain balance, more often found on indoor climbs

Heel Hook

High ball - A tall outdoor bouldering problem which is more dangerous because of the potential higher fall

Hold - Any feature on the wall which a climber grips or stands on in the process of climbing

Jam - Wedging a body part into a feature in the wall, mainly used in crack climbing

Jug - A large hold which is nice and easy to grip because it's very incut

Knacky - A problem that has a particular knack to it, e.g. one that requires an unusual move or lot of coorindation

Knee Bar - Where the knee is jammed against a protruding feature on the wall to create pressure between the foot and knee. Usually used to let a climber rest their hands or to get extra leverage on a difficult section

Lock-off - Pulling on a hold until the arm is bent, then holding that position using body tension

Mantel - A move used to climb onto a protruding ledge or the top of a boulder problem where the climber pushes down top of the ledge before getting their feet onto it and standing up

Match - Using more than one limb on a single hold e.g. matching both hands on the same hold

Nails - A particularly hard problem, as in 'hard as nails'!

On-sight - Similar to a flash, but completing the climb on first attempt without receiving any beta beforehand

Overhang - Any climb that is angled beyond vertical to the ground

Pinch - A type of hold which can be pinched between the thumb and fingers by the climber

Problem - A boulder problem - any short indoor or outdoor climb carried out without ropes

Project - A problem which has to be worked on over many attempts or sessions which is usually near a climber's limit of ability

Psyched - To be excited about climbing or a particular climb - a constant state for the addicted!

Pumped - When the forearms get so tired that even holding on to simple jugs becomes incredibly hard

Rockover - Rocking the bodyweight onto a raised foothold in order to push up with the leg to reach a high handhold

Roof - An overhang so steep that it is almost horizontal!

Send - To successfully complete a problem

Slab - A flat wall which is slightly declined and usually consists of only small hand and footholds - deceptively difficult!

Sloper - A hold which slopes towards the ground, usually with no real edge or incut

Smear - To use the sole of your climbing shoe for friction on a flat surface or hold rather than the edge of the shoe

Thumb catch - A hold which has to be gripped with just the thumb, at least initially

Toe hook - When a climber pulls onto a protruding foot hold with the tops of their toes in order to keep their feet on and pull their body close to the wall

Toe Hook

Top - To complete a climb by reaching the top hold

Undercling - A hold which is gripped with the palm facing upwards, usually requiring good body tension and arm strength

Vert - A climbing wall which is more or less 90 degrees from the ground - basically vertical

Volume - A large feature bolted on to climbing walls to adapt the shape of the wall and make more varied problems possible - usually not counted as a 'hold' but can often by gripped or stood on to some extent

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