Bob Wightman

Glossary

The terms below are intended as a help in reading the rest of this section. They may not be the best way of describing the term but are intended to demystify some of the jargon used.

Anchor
Part of a belay (q.v.), a point of securing the climber to the rock in order that they may then
Arête
A rock feature similar to an outside corner of a house. Quite precarious to climb as there is a chance of “barn-dooring”, q.v.
Barn Dooring
An unintended movement where the hand and foot on one side of the body lose contact with the rock and the body pivots around the other two points of contact away from the rock. Usually followd by a fall.
Belay
Both a noun and verb. A belay(noun) is a point at which a climber stops and secures themself to the rock so that they may then
Bold
A climb (or climbing) that has a risk of either big falls or injury (or both).
Chimney
A crack that is wide enough to fit your whole body.
Crack Climbing
Making progress by means of jamming hands and feet in fissures in the rock.
Crimp
A very small hold that is less than the width of a finger tip in thickness.
Dyno
Quite literally a full, or semi, jump between holds. May be caused by the holds being too far apart for the climber to climb statically, or as a last act of desperation as arms tire!
Face
A plane of rock.
Face Climbing
An “exterior” style of climbing, similar to a spider on a wall.
Flake
A leaf of rock lying across the line of the main face of rock.
Glacis
A section of rock at a very low angle. Usually less than 30 degrees from the horizontal.
Groove
An internal corner. Note that a corner usually refers to an internal angle of approximately 90 degrees and grooves to other angles.
Jam
Both a verb and a noun. The means of locking fingers, hands or toes in a crack to afford progress.
Jug
A large hold that the whole length of fingers may wrap around.
Layback
Often used to climb the cracks formed by flakes or those in a corner. The technique is to hold the edge of the flake in the hands and place the feet against the main face. By pushing with the feet and pulling with the hands the climber can then move one limb at a time to make progress. Very strenuous unless you are fit and consequently only used when jamming the crack is not practical. Laybacking is also used on some arêtes. This is a very precarious means of progress.
Nubbin
A small protruberance coming out from the face of the rock. Usually rounded, it is similar to a mole or wart on skin. Rarely much use as a handhold, they can be useful footholds.
Off-hand
A type of crack in the rock that is too wide for the fingers to comfortably utilise but is too narrow to take the hand. As a consequence climbing such cracks can feel very insecure.
Off-width
A crack that is too wide in which to use a hand-jam but not as wide as a chimney. Requires a specialist technique to climb and tend not to be very popular because of this. The ascent of some off-widths are said to require enough energy to light a small town!
Overhang
A section of rock that is around 30 degrees past the vertical.
Pinch
A means of holding a protuberance by grasping it between thumb and fingers usually with thumb and fingers extended as when holding a household brick rather than closed as in grasping a racquet handle.
Pocket
A small, shallow depression into which may be placed fingers or the toes of boots.
Pro (Protection)
The means by which a climb is rendered safe, or at least reduces the risk as perceived by the climber. The protection is obtained by the insertion of metal wedges into cracks and clipping the rope to these in a way that permits the rope to run freely. In the case of a fall, the climber will only drop around twice the distance from the last piece of protection. The protection is removed by the second climber for reuse, either later during the same climb or on another climb.
Pumpy
On steeper climbs as the arms begin to tire, lactic acid builds up in the muscles causing a mild pain and tightening of the muscles. Unless the climber is fit and able to rest the muscles at some point, “The pump” will eventually cause chronic local fatigue which in turn will cause the climber to release the holds and fall.
Roof
A horizontal section of rock where the exposed plane faces the ground.
Slab
A section of rock lying between 30 and 70 degrees from the horizontal.
Sloper
A hold that slopes outwards and downwards from the rock face. On steeper climbs these can be very difficult to hold on to.
Thin
Used to describe climbing on very small holds.
Wall
A section of rock lying between 70 degrees and vertical. Note that rock that overhangs slightly are also known as walls.