Glossary of Bouldering Terms

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A glossary of terms used in bouldering and in this Wiki.

Contents: Top - 0–9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

0-9

2nd Generation Move

A concept popularised by Johnny Dawes, in which the idea is to use momentum to carry you through holds that are too poor to use statically. The most common example is the double-step dyno, in which higher footholds can be kicked on the way up for an extra boost. Less common are 2nd gen hand movements, with the traditional "double-clutch" method of doing The Joker being a good example.

A

Aerocap

A portmanteau of Aerobic Capacity.

Ancap

A portmanteau of Anerobic Capacity.

Ape index

The ratio of your height to your arm-span, a positive ape-index indicates your span is greater than your height whilst a negative indicates the reverse. See wikipedia

Arete

The edge of a piece of rock. it can be a sharp blade like feature. Alt A way of saying "Hello" in Yorkshire, although it is pronounced "Aaaaareeeeeete"

B

Back in the Day

Something older climbers like to say. Usually used when a youngster claims a new route/problem, only to be told "We all did that thing back in the day". Often abbreviated to BITD.

Barn Door

Sometimes, especially on aretes, you need to fight to prevent yourself swinging outwards and off. As the French say, "you must not open ze door!"

Beta

Information on how to climb a boulder problem. Pronounced Beeta not Beyta!

Bicycle

Gripping a feature with your feet, by clamping one foot in front and one behind, usually on a roof.

Boulder

A free-standing piece of rock of varying size that can be climbed by what ever means possible that is ethically acceptable.

Bouldering mat

A type of crash pad used to protect falling climbers from the hard ground. Typically made from foam encapsulated in a hard-wearing material. That can be folded or rolled (Taco style) up for carrying to and from the crag.

Bristol Heel

Dabbing the ground with a heel while the toe is on the rock. Tut tut.

Bump

A 'go again' move, with a hand or a foot.

C

Campus Board

A very specific training tool consisting of a slightly over-hanging board with horizontal wooden rungs of varying size and spacing. Named after the Campus Gym where it was first conceived as a training tool by Wolfgang Gullich.


Chalk

A magnesium carbonate powder used to dry the hands when they are sweating and thus improve friction with the rock. It should be used sparingly and excess chalk should be brushed off of holds when leaving a boulder.

Crimp

Can refer to a very small hold, which is typically grasped by crimping when the thumb is curled over the first/second joints of the index and middle fingers.

Cup

A hand grip in which a protruding hold is squeezed, over the top or around the side, between the fingers and palm, with the fingers on the side nearest the body. AKA guppy.

D

Dab

Touching anything other than the rock whilst climbing, thereby invalidating the ascent. Common dabs are spotters, trees, the pad ("I only scuffed it, honest") and the ground.

Deadpoint

The name given to a move in which the hold must be hit at the precise moment of zero gravity between upwards acceleration and downwards fall.

Dink

Small suggestion of a hold in some form or another. (Not a derogatory term)

Drag

To open hand a small hold that others might prefer to crimp.

E

F

Fontainebleau

Font Or Le Bleau (pronounced Le blow...ish) Located to the south of Paris, France, is a large area of the most amazingly frustrating bouldering that you may ever come across.

Foothold

Somewhere on the rock that the foot is placed!

Flag

Move a free leg to the side to aid balance.

Floppy Ploppin'

Bad footwork, originally used for Northumberland Sandstone, where good footwork is critical.

Fingerboard

Training aid used for increasing finger strength. Designs vary from a simple rail to multi-hold fingerboards and are usually made from wood or resin. Commonly found mounted above doorways in the home or at a climbing wall.

G

Gaston

A way of holding a hold whereby a pull to the side is made with the elbow pointing outwards. Named after the French alpinist Gaston Rébuffat.

Get In!

Someone just did their project. You can tell by this phrase that they are British. Notably, they didn't say "Sick!", "Rad", or "In the satch." These phrases are all legal grounds for deportation.

Gnarly

Quite hard.

Guppy

See Cup.

H

Half Crimp

Thumb not wrapped over fingers, angle at knuckles less acute.

Heel Hook

Using a heel to aid progress.

Highball

Describes a boulder problem that is high (but usually still fall-off-able). Going any higher and you're into solo territory; the boundary between the two is a grey one. Usually done above a large number of mats. A classic example of a highball boulder problem is Not to be Taken Away at Stanage Plantation, Peak District.

Hobbit

Term used to describe vertically challenged climbers who find it difficult to "lank" (below)

I

J

Jamming

Climbing a crack instead of the boulder problem next to it.

Johnny Jugs

Those holds would be jugs for John Gaskins, but they are unlikely to be much use to you.

Jug

A very large hold that you would have to try very hard to fall off of.(unless you're Oldmanmatt).

K

Knee bar

Often heard in Scotland. when you ask if a route is ok you'll hear the locals say " Aye it's knee bar" Alt With your foot on a decent hold wang your knee (on the same leg) under or into a break. This allows both hands (subject to terms and conditions) to be released for a rest. It is not recomended doing this in shorts as it is likely to hurt.

L

Lank

to lank To climb something utilising one's optimal reach. A technique often criticised by some members of the climbing fraternity who are jealous souls, usually with underlying feelings of inadequecy.


Larn

just larn up, lad A dynamic move for a hold that is out of reach.


Lowball

The opposite of highball!

M

MTFU

Man The Fuck Up! A sexist term used when the boulder is winning.

Mono

A hand hold which is only big enough to allow a single finger.

Moon Kick

A method of gaining height by swing-kicking a free leg, sometimes useful when a dynamic upwards move is needed. Made famous by Ben Moon on his first ascent of Cypher at Slipstones.

Morpho

Describes a move that is far harder for an average sized (male) person. Long reaches possible only for lanky people are the most common example, but some (tall weak people) believe shorties sometimes have advantages too.

Micro-beta

Minute adjustments to positioning, eg: turn the thumb down and the grip improves; get the tip of your finger in that little dimple.

N

Nails

Very hard. Usually used when dangling from a rope after a fall, that's fucking nails. Can also apply to nailed boots that everyone climbed hard in back in the day.

O

Ondrawad

The amazing Czech climber Adam Ondra.


Open Hand

Gripping a hold with the fingers straightened (as opposed to Crimping). Offers less risk of fingery injury than crimping.

P

Pad

See bouldering mat.

Pinch

A grip that involves sqeezing the rock with one hand, as if holding a book by its spine. If you've ever held a book made of rock, you'll be an expert (for more practice with books made of rock see Moses and ask for the 10 commandments). Pinches vary widely in shape and consequently the techniques required also differ. Fat (or phat) pinches are the bane of the small-fingered, while crozzle pinches are the revenge of the small-fingered. Then there's the friction pinch, which necessitates a strong yet un-hasty and even application of force, as opposed to the edge pinch, which yields to instant and unfaltering aggression. And then there are the various thumb catch combos, which elevate otherwise miserable holds to quasi-pinch status.

POF

A resin used by climbers in Fontainebleau to improve friction when they are climbing a problem. Unfortunately over time its use ultimately polishes the holds.

Problem

In bouldering parlance a climb is called a problem. Perhaps alluding to the necessity to "solve" a problem, by unlocking it's sequence, before it can be successfully climbed.

Pump

The feeling in your forearms when you've overdone it and can't hold on any more. Referring to the muscles being pumped full of blood.

Punter

Loser. You can't climb anything.

Q

R

Repeaters

A method of training on fingerboards see Beastmaker : Training Data

S

Send

Americans are always sending things. One presumes these days it would be mostly via email.

Sharmeleon

Chris Sharma. Also called "The Sharmanator", "ShamRAAAAAA" and "the one who makes louder noises when the film camera is turned on."

SketchBall

Can apply to any type of climbing (boulder or route) that has an element of danger about it. Something is sketchball if when asked "alright?" your reply is "it's a bit sketchy"

Slimper

A slopey crimp.

Sloper

1. A rounded hold that requires friction between the hand/foot and the rock itself for contact to be maintained. 2. an outspoken tory supporter and ex member of UKBouldering.

Snatch

Forced to throw dynamically for a nearby hold. Snatching can be caused any number of factors, eg. poor footholds, meagre handholds, pumped arms or bloody terrifying landings.

Snowball

A variation of the highball, in which snow creates a better landing, making previously dangerous highballs slightly less dangerous. Often snowballers take some time to shovel snow into a decent platform before attempting the climb. Pads are used above the snow.

Spock

To grip a hold with fingers splayed, ala Spock's signature hand gesture.

T

Tickmark

Marks drawn onto rock with chalk to indicate the location of hard to see hand or foot holds. A much discussed activity that is often frowned upon because tickmarks are often not cleaned off and leave the rock looking messy. Please clean off tickmarks when you leave a problem.

Thumb Sprag

Press a thumb against something to aid progress. Often useful on slabs.

Thumb Catch

Snag the thumb on something small, allowing a (usually poor) pinch to be achieved in combination with other holds.

Thrutch

An onomatopoeic description of a poorly executed topout manoeuvre. Habitual thrutchers find it necessary to wear trousers with chainmail crotches.

U

Undercut

A type of hold where the hand is inverted with the palm facing upwards whilst the fingers are hooked onto whatever protrusion is available.

V

V-grades

A system for grading boulder problems developed by John Sherman in America (and generally despised by fatdoc).


W

Wad

Complimentary term used to describe a good climber or a good act/deed. I.e. to wad someone or give waddage. Opposite of punter above.

What Would Jerry Do?

Philosphers have still not exhausted this subject. In essence, he'd MTFU and get it done.

X

Y

Yes, Yes, Fucking Yes!

You are probably quite pleased with getting to the top of that boulder. You may also want to use this phrase for anything else you are remotely chuffed about. [Nibile would.]

Z

ZTAARRRR

The sound a Sharmeleon makes when performing a difficult move.


Further Reading

More lists of terminologies...