Getting started to grips with a new hobby can be really hard so to try and make it a little be easier we’ve put together a list of climbing terms and what they mean.


This is essentially where two features meet creating an edge.

Barn Door

This typically occurs when you are out of balance and your arm and leg on either side of you body come off the wall causing you to swing out like a barn door.


The series of movements you do in order to complete a climb.


This is a technique that tends to be more beneficial on either roof or overhang climbing. This is achieved by pushing away from your body with one foot and pulling towards it with the other to create tension and stability.


A form of rock climbing performed on rock or artificial walls without a harness. Typically a relatively short sequence ascending vertically or traversing sideways.

Bouldering Pad

This is a piece of equipment used when climbing outdoors and placed under the climb in the fall zone to offer a bit more protection should you fall off. Other terms for this include bouldering mat, crash pad or crash mat.

Brush / Brushing

This is the action of cleaning holds on a route. After an attempt often a residue of chalk is left on the route which can actually reduce the friction. Cleaning the holds not only gives you more chance of sending but also is good climbing etiquette to leave in good condition for the next person. Brushes come in all shapes and sizes to suit the various holds required.


This is essentially bouldering in an urban environment on buildings or other man made structures.


This is a technique of moving the same limb in consecutive moves.

Closed Grip / Closed Crimp

This is a technique used on small edges when the thumb is placed over the index and sometimes middle finger to allow you to put more pressure on a crimp.


This is the art of climbing without using any foot holds.

Campus Board

This is a piece of equipment invented in 1988 by Wolfgang Güllich and is typically used to build dynamic finger strength. Nowadays, they come in all shapes and sizes and are often a staple for those trying to take their climbing to the next level.


Chalk is made of magnesium carbonate and used in order to minimise moisture of the hands resulting in better friction on a route.

Chalk Bag

Chalk bags come in all shapes, sizes and designs. You typically dip you hands in to get a good coating of chalk before and sometimes during a route.

Chalk Ball

Similar to a chalk bag, this is used for chalking up before a route. Made of thin fabric it allows chalk to pass through to coat your hands.

Circuit Board

This is a route which starts and finishes at the same hold typically in a loop or figure of 8.


A cliff or outdoor climbing location.


A type of hold with a small edge. Also, the technique using the first pads of your fingers to use this types of hold.


This is the hardest move on a route.


This is to use a hold which is not part of the route. Purists will argue that is extends to touching any hold not on a route.

Down Climb

As the name suggest this is the action of climbing down from a route.

Drop Knee

This is a technique of twisting and turning down the knee to give extra reach.


This is the action of missing a hold on a route.

Finger Drag

It isn’t always the case that all fingers can fit onto a hold. Typically on a crimp you may drop the p[inky finger resulting in 3 fingers left fully extended on the hold. This is known as a 3 finger drag.

Finger Tape

This is typically applied when your fingers start to crack or you get a loose flap of skin.


Flagging is a technique used to counterbalance your centre of gravity typically using either leg.


To complete a route first time.


When a piece of skin (typically from a callous or blister) rips.

Font / Fontainebleau

This is an iconic area for climbing just outside Paris. It is also a grading convention used to describe the difficulty of climbing routes.

Frog / Frogging

This technique is used to sit into a squat position with the knees pointing out.


Gaston is essentially a side pull with the thumb pointing downwards.

Grade / Grading

This is the level of difficulty a route is deemed to be. In bouldering this is typically measured either as a V grade or Font grade.


This is the term used for an indoor climbing centre.

Hangboard / Fingerboard

A piece of equipment predominantly featuring crimps or slopers geared at improving finger strength.

Heel Hook

The technique of placing the heel on a hold to create balance and stability when moving to another hold.

High Ball

A high boulder problem.

Jam (Finger / Hand / Knee etc)

A technique of placing a part of your body into a crack/gap in the route to create friction to allow you to progress.


A large positive hold which allows you to comfortably grip.


Pushing withyour feel and pulling with your hands to create opposing tension allowing you to move up a route.

Link / Linking

Put a series of individual movements on a route together.

Lock Off

Holding your position with a bent arm.

Knee Bar

Lodging your knee and foot on a route to support your weight. Typically used to rest and recover.


Pushing your palms down and pushing your body up. The best way to think of this is how you would get out of a swimming pool.


Putting an additional hand or foot on a hold you already using.


A hold only big enough for one finger.

Open Grip / Open Crimp

This technique refers to holding a crimp with the hand in a more natural position, joints relaxed and not engaging the thumb over the index finger.


A route or part of a route which the lower portion is further in than the upper portion. This typically requires more strength and tension.


A hole that can be used as a hold.


A hold with a positive edge typically running perpendicular or in-cut to the wall. A jug is a good example of this.

Power Endurance

This is a training technique aimed at increasing your ability to complete hard moves consecutively without burning out.This is very important when it comes to bouldering.

Power Spot

This is the action of someone partially supporting your weight. Often this takes place on overhangs or on a roof.


The route of the climb.


A problem that you can’t do immediately and make take some practice.


Muscle fatigue caused by a build up of lactic acid.

Rock Over

As the name suggests this is the action of rocking your body weight on your leg to extend your reach.


A very steep overhang in which you are virtually climbing upside down.


Often used to describe when a problem is harder than the grade given. Originating from when a lighter climber belaying would need to attach a sandbag to provide extra weight.


To complete a problem.


The person who created the problem. Typically for indoor routes.


A vertical hold in which your fingers are perpendicular to the wall.

Sit Start

As the name suggests … having to sit to start pulling onto a route.


A route or part of a route which the lower portion is further out than the upper portion. This typically requires more technique.


This is a difficult hold to use and often referred to as a negative hold meaning there is no edge to grab. The key to this type of hold is getting your body weight directly under the hold where possible.


The art of spreading your foot on the wall without using a foothold to create balance and tension.


A particularly hard move but can also refer to something being painful.


This is a person at the bottom of the route who will catch or direct you should you fall off a problem.

Spraying Beta

Telling someone exactly how they should do a climb. This is typically frowned upon unless it has been asked for as part of the fun of climbing is the problem solving aspect.


To move through a route slowly in control without any dynamic movements.

Stem / Stemming

To push outwards applying opposing pressure allowing you to create the friction to move up a route.

System Board

A symmetrical board with holds a mirror image of each other allowing you to balance muscles and focus on remaining balanced.

Tape Up

To wrap tape around the fingers or hands typically as a result of abrasions.

Thumb Catch

Moving to a hold and catching it with … you guess it it … your thumb.

Toe Hook

Using your toe on a hold pulling them towards your body in order to create tension.

Top Out

A type of problem requiring you to climb over the top of a route. This is very common outdoors but some indoor gyms do have top out routes too.


Rather than climbing up a route a traverse is a lateral movement from one side to another.


This is similar to an upside down jug. It has a good grip however your wrist will be pointing upwards.

Vert / Vertical

This describes a route that is more or less straight up (not an overhang or slab).


This is a feature on indoor walls which protrude from the wall to give additional texture. You may find these also referred to as boxes in some gyms.