Rock Climbing Lingo – introducing to fun advance techniques

As I learn more about rock climbing, I learn that rock climbing has its own rock climbing lingo, slang, or language to communicate efficiently and effectively to other climbers. Plus they sound pretty neat and far out such as “Have you been to a crag lately?” or “Wow, that was an impressive gaston!”

I came across a list of lingo that caught my attention so I thought I share them. I use them sometimes when I climb to communicate certain techniques or movements for beginner to intermediate climbers:

Crag — A cliff, group of cliffs, or a vertical rock reasonable for rock climbing. This is usually outdoor and not a climbing gym.

Gaston — This is an upper-body position on two holds generally shoulder level. With both arms pushing or pressing outward and sideways to keep equilibrium and balance. The palm is usually away from the climber, the thumb is pointing down, and the elbow points out. Gaston was named after a French climber Gaston Rébuffat. (not to be confused with the Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast).

Beta — Giving specific information about a climb such as techniques on certain handholds or footholds to assist the climber in climbing a route efficiently.

Barn Door — When you are climbing, one hand and one foot on the same side of your body are holding on imitating like a hinge of a barn door while the other hand and foot swing open. This happens especially when a climber cannot find an appropriate hold for the opposite foot and hand to keep balance on the wall.


Flagging — It is an intermediate technique that helps prevent a climber from “barn door-ing.”  It’s an invisible triangle position with your body by having both hands on hold, a foot on a hold, and the other leg and foot keeping straight as a fourth point against the wall to keep the body balanced and hug the wall.

Heel Hook — A position where a climber uses the heel of the foot to hook onto a hold waist level. This keeps the climber balanced and prepared to move upward to the next hold. The intermediate to advanced rock climbing shoes have a special arc shape that assists tremendously in the heel hook position.


Crimping — It is a position where you use the tips of your fingers on a ledge. The ledge can be as wide as an inch or as skinny as 1 or 2 mm. These ledges are called crimps. When you are holding these crimps with the tips of your fingers, you are crimping.

Stemming — Using one foot pressed against one side of the wall while the other foot pressed on another wall. The climber stands straight up balancing and using his/her legs. This position can be done when there is a corner. This is a good place to allow your arms to rest while your feet hold your body up with friction.

Chimneying — Similar to stemming, you will need corners to be able to use this technique. Chimneying is when your back is against one side of the wall while your feet or arms press or pull against the other wall.

Smearing — This is a technique where a climber press the ball of the feet (the rubber of the shoes) against a surface of a wall for friction. This works well on a slab wall. A slab wall is a climbing wall with less than 90 degrees incline. Beginner rock shoes are great shoes for smearing on slabs because of the flatness of the shoes.

Mantling — This is a technique where a climber uses both arms to push the body upon a ledge with both elbows being straight while the feet are looking for the next foothold to step or stand up.


Toeing-in — It is a position where your foot is 90 degrees to the rock while you are using the front tip of your shoe to stand.  It is commonly used on pocket holds.

Side pulls – A position where you pull sideways with your hands/arms such as a gaston technique using opposing force for balance.

Crux —  The most difficult or challenging part of the route is called a crux.

Dyno (Dynamic) – It is a move where the climber jumps from one hold to a higher hold.  Dyno is short for dynamic. Dynamic in rock climbing requires an explosive movement such as a jump.

Static – It is a transition where a climber smoothly moves from one hold to another holder without having to jump.

Lock-off – It is a position where you pull on hold with one arm bent slightly 90 degrees and lock into place with body tension to reach with your free hand to the next hold.

Ascent / Send — Here is a mind-boggling one that I just recently learned. At first, I thought ascent and send mean the same thing. I was wrong! Ascent means that a climber climbs to the top with an aide. The climber may fall on the way up but still, make it to the top. Send is where the climber climbs to the top without falling, resting on gears, or having an aide.

Flash – A climber completed a climb to the top on his / her first attempt.

I also have a handful of terminologies on climbing holds. Please refer to Climbing Holds for more lingo.

I love to hear your thoughts on rock climbing lingo. Please write your comments below.


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