Climbing Lingo

November 21, 2023 16 view(s)

Climbing Lingo

The climbing world has a whole dictionary of words and phrases used for different things. When you first start climbing, it can be a bit overwhelming hearing everyone use all these terms that you’ve never heard before. In this blog, we’ll go over a bunch of the basic climbing terms to get you started!

Photo by Nikki Smith

Top Rope Climbing

The rope is already attached at the top of the route and the belayer is taking out the slack in the rope as you climb up.

Photo by Emily Trombly

Sport Climbing

You are attached to the rope and are clipping it into the pre-placed bolts as you go up the route. The belayer is feeding you rope as you climb up.

Trad Climbing

You are placing the gear in the wall as you climb up. The first person is leading the route and the second person is top roping.

Photo by Emily Trombly


Climbing close to the ground without using a rope. Your protection are crash pads on the ground below you, as well as a person spotting you.

Photo by Nikki Smith

Ice climbing

Climbing ice with the use of crampons, ice axes, and ice screws.

Photo by Nikki Smith


A climbing area


The hike to get to the crag or bouldering area.

Route / Problem

The specific line that you are climbing. With top rope, lead, and trad, it is a route. When bouldering, it is a problem.

Photo by Jacob Cook

Pitch / Multi-Pitch

One climbing route that can be done with the use of one rope length. A multi-pitch is a climb that is longer than the rope’s length. You are climbing more than one route, continuing up the same wall.

Big Wall

A multi-pitch route that usually takes multiple days to complete. This requires aid climbing, more gear, and sleeping on the wall.

Photo by Emily Trombly

Chalk / Chalk Bag

Chalk is used to keep the climber’s hands dry for a better grip, just like gymnast chalk. There is liquid chalk in a bottle, chalk blocks, or ground up chalk that you keep in a chalk bag.

Check out the chalk and chalk bags that we offer here!

Photo by Nikki Smith

Belay / Belayer

The belay system is what stops a climber from falling if they let go of the wall. To belay, you’ll need a belay device. The belayer is the person using the belay device and managing the rope to catch the climber in case they slip.

Check out our belay devices here!


When the rope is loose. The belayer is the person who manages how much slack is in the rope. You should have enough slack so that your climber can freely move up and down if they need to, but too much slack will cause a big fall if they slip off the wall.

Photo by Nikki Smith


Information about the climb. This can include specific spots to grab or place your feet, or specific


The most difficult part of a route or problem


A big fall on the rope

Photo by Emily Trombly

Sent it!

Finishing your climb!


Sending a lead climb on your first try without having any prior knowledge or beta.


Sending a lead climb on the first try, using beta.

Red Point

Sending a climb on any try after your first attempt.

Photo from Women's Outdoor News blog


A small edge hold that is only big enough for the pads of your fingers

Photo from Women's Outdoor News blog


A large hold that is easy to grip

Photo from Women's Outdoor News blog


A large hold, typically round, that you can’t close your fingers around.


Now that you've got a hold on some basic climbing terms, get out there and climb! Be sure to share your adventures with us on Instagram! @cypherclimbing

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