Terms | Speleology Terms |
Climbing Terms you might
want to know about!
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The act of lowering oneself down a cliff, pitch or steep slope
on a fixed rope. The controlled descent is obtained by friction
of rope on the body or passing the rope though a descending
device. Also known as Rapelling
Moving up a rock using fixed or placed protecting as a means
of progression (and not just for protection).
One of the most important, and versatile rocksports knots.
Its main advantage is that the two strands of rope emerging
from the knot are at 180 degrees to one another rather than
emerging in the same direction as in a figure-of-eight for
example. This makes it a good mid-rope knot as it has greater
strength than a figure-of-eight if loaded awkwardly.
Point where the rope is fixed, be it to the rock or to a suitable
tree or bolt.
Devices used to ascend a rope also called Gibbs, Jammers or
'Air Traffic Controller', belaying device made by Black Diamond.
To operate a safety line. (2) To secure (a person) at
the end of a rope. (3) To secure (a rope) to a
person or object. (4). To be made fast. (5) The set-up
of a safety line through a belay device, secured to an anchor
point. (6). The securing of a person or a safety rope to an
A friction device used in belaying, this can be the same as
a descender although usually a specific device is used.
A safe stance consisting of an anchor, a rope, and a belayer
(aka "the belay")
The person at the belay station securing the climber.
When the belayer is ready , he yells "On Belay".
Used to warn for impending impact with objects coming from
above (e.g. falling rock).
Caribiner with the gate bent to accept the rope more easily.
Rock climb that is so long and sustained that a normal ascent
lasts several days.
Short for Carabiner
A high tensile steel bolt used as an anchor point to attach
rigging for descending or ascending or safety line. The bolt
locks into a drilled hole by one of the following methods;
expansion of a threaded holder, chemical bonding, or by hammering
into a slightly smaller hole. The latter being the least reliable
Used to indicate that something is exceptionally solid, e.g.
an anchor, a hold. See also bombproof.
The illusion that an anchor is infallible
Climbing unroped on boulders or at the foot of climbs to a
height where it is still 'safe' to jump off.
This knot was once used for tying a rope around a belay but
is now most often used for tying the end of a safety line
rope around a person when belaying them up a climb or ladder.
This knot does have a tendency to loosen and can come undone
so it is a good idea to used a half hitch to secure the "tail"
of the knot to the loop.
A round bar attached to a carabiner, used as a descender.
A piton can be used for this purpose, this is referred to
as a piton brake bar.
Also the bars which make up a rappel rack.
A large hold, also called a jug
To climb buildings
The part of the mountain or rock that stands in front of the
Generic reference to the family of spring loaded camming devices
(SLCD) such as friends, camalots, aliens, TCUs, etc. Also
referred to as springs
A wooden training board with finger ledges that is used for
training dynos and finger power.
A deep valley with steep to vertical sides. Also to Canyon,
to pass through a canyon, usually by abseiling, swimming or
Metal connecting device, sometimes spelled with a 'K' . This
most essential device in all rocksports, it is also known
as a "biner", "crab" or "krab"
a powdery white substance (usually magnesium carbonate) that
keeps the hands dry in order to maximize grip on the rock.
Chalk bag n.
A cylindrical bag which holds chalk.
Harness worn on the chest (must be used with a waist
A wide crack that accommodates (most of) the body of the climber.
A climbing technique used to conquer chimneys. Requires the
use of opposing force against opposite walls.
A hold created with a hammer and chisel. This is not considered
ethical in rocksports and is frowned upon by Royal Rangers.
Generic reference to the family of passive wired protection
devices, also called nuts, stoppers, wires, and rocks.
A stone wedged between a crack, a chimney, etc.
A vertical piece of rock good for climbing (see also Crag).
A small hooking device used to aid climb up small ledges and
Shoes made of sticky rubber, designed for climbing .
A useful, easily adjustable climbing knot usually used to
tie the rope into a carabiner.
Thin static rope (5, 5.5 or 6 mm) Also called accessory cord
or prussic cord.
A legnth of dynamic rope used as a sefety line to connect
the lead ascender to the harness. It also contains a free
end to attach to an anchor or connect the wearer to any safety
line or loop.
Short for carabiner.
Name for a (small) climbing area.
Very pointy footwear use to walk glaciers or climb ice.
Portable gym mats to aim for when you fall bouldering.
A very small hold that accepts only the finger tips.
The hard bit, usually referring to a climb but is sometimes
used in canyoning.
A sling sewn (or tied) with numerous loops, used as an adjustable
sling in aid climbing.
Device used for abseiling.
The standard knot for tying two ropes together. (also called
the grapevine knot).
Abseiling on two ropes, used for canyoning. to enable the
rope to be pulled down after the decent
A kernmantle rope manufactured with twisted core strands and
has the ability to stretch sufficiently to break the fall
of a rockclimber.
(Pronounce with a French accent). Webbing ladder used for
aid climbing. Also known as 'aider'.
Yelled when a climber is (about to) fall.
The length of the fall divided by the amount of rope paid
A belay/rappel device which has two (one large, one small)
holes in it, aligned vertically, resembling a figure eight.
This is a very versatile knot most commonly used for attaching
ropes to anchor points.If you only learn one knot, make it
this one, and its varients.
The figure-of-nine knot can be used as an alternative to the
figure-of-eight. It is very similar to a figure-of-eight with
just an extra turn before finishing the knot. It is bulkier
than the figure-of-eight but has greater strength.
Simple knot to tie two ropes together. The double fisherman
knot, however, is more popular.
protection (fixed pro)
Bolts, rings, etc that may be found on a rock face for use
as an anchor or tie in point.
Moving up a rock using only hands, feet, and natural holds.
Ropes and pro are only used for protection of the climber
and not for progression.
A pitch where a rope (or ladder) hangs vertically and free
from the rock.
Free climbing while using no ropes for protection. You fall
- you die. Not permitted for Royal Rangers
Trade name for the original camming devices, now also available
as Camalots, TCU's, Quads, Aliens, Big Dudes, etc.
The act of clearing loose rock or debris away from an abseil
face or ladder climb for safety and in doing so reduce the
risk of objects falling on other people. Can be used to describe
ripping out a tuft of grass or bringing in a chain saw. NB
this should be done for reasons of safety only, and with care
and consideration for the environment.
The part of the carabiner that opens.
A type of ascender which grips the rope with a cam operated
by the weight of the climber.
A number denoting the seriousness of a route or difficulty
of a climb, canyon or bouldering problem.
See Fisherman's knot.
Belaying device made by Petzl.
A rope of 9 or 8.5 mm that has to be used together with a
second rope when leading a climb.
Slightly masochistic technique where the hand is wedged into
Big banana-shaped hold often found in indoor gyms. Great for
waving hello to admiring bystanders. I've never seen
one of those outdoors...
An arrangement of webbing tape used to attach the lower body
(seat harness) or upper body (chest harness) to ascender or
descender. The coolness factor can be significantly enhanced
by hanging things that go jingle from the harness.
Large and robust bag used to haul food, water, climbing gear,
sleeping bag, television, satelite dish, and other essential
equipment that is required, up a big wall or through a cave.
The main lighting source, mounted on a caver's helmet. In
Australia this usually refers to an electric light source,
with the location of the battery/s being irrelevant. In many
other countries this term refers to a carbide lamp.
The vocal alternative to S.O.S. -- it doesn't mean anything
but is understood by most people..
Solid plastic, or fiberglass. The helmet protect the head
from injury in a fall and from falling stones. This is not
an optional piece of equipment, all rangers must wear one.
Short for Hexentrix. A type of nut with an excentric hexadiagonal
shape. Works for wedging (as a nut) but also for camming.
Carabiner with one wide side used for belaying with a munter
hitch (aka pearabiner). From the German term for munter hitch
Anything that can be held on to.
Device used for ice climbing, glacier crossing.
A protection device for ice climbing. Looks like a large bolt
that can be screwed in hard ice.
See munter hitch
Wedging body parts in a crack.
Very large hold (short for jug handle) (Also "bucket").
A type of rope ascending device. See ascender.
To ascend a rope using ascenders.
Modern climbing rope consisting of bundles of continuous nylon
filaments (Kern or core) surrounded by a braided protective
Kilonewton. An abbreviation usually found on carabiners and
other climbing gear. For those of you who are not engineers,
one kilonewton is about 100 kg or about 220 lbs.
Piece of cord with a knot tied into the end that is used for
protection (pretty much like a nut). A traditional method
of protecting climbs, and still used in the
Short for carabiner.
Used in caving. A flexible lightweight ladder with steel cable
and aluminum rungs.
Somewhat clumsy looking climbing technique where hands and
feet work in opposition.
The person directing activities of a caving party and held
responsible for the groups safety. In climbing the person
who leads a climb.
To ascend a climb from the bottom up, placing protection (or
clipping protection) as you go.
Flat bit on a rock (can be miniature or gigantic).
Type of rock wonderful for climbing but also where you find
Carabiner that can be locked. Usually a screwgate although
other types of locking carabiner are available.
To descend something or somebody.
This is a screwlink, similar to a carabiner but without the
sprung gate. It has a screw thread gate.
Term used to describe a fixed bolt that looks like it was
placed before the last ice age. Use these bolts at your own
Climb or abseil that consists of more than a single pitch.
An excellent self-reversing friction knot suitable for belaying
people when climbing or using a ladder. It can also be used
for abseiling and gives a smoother ride than a belay plate.
This one is worth learning for all those occasions when you
forget your belay plate or descender. (also called itallian
Metal wedge used for protection in cracks.
key or Nut tool
Piece of metal that can be used to remove stuck nuts or cams.
A call from an abseiler or belayed climber to indicate that
they have disconnected from the rope. Follows after the call
A simple (but solid) knot in a double rope.
The simplest type of knot possible.
Rock (or ice) that is "more than vertical".
A swing on the rope, either intentional to gain a distant
anchor on big wall climbs or unintentional when falling during
A section of between two belays and no longer than the
length of one rope.
Metal spike hammered into a crack . Also used as a descender
(piton break bar)
Anchors placed during the climb to protect the leader.
To prussic, meaning to ascend a fixed rope. Usually by means
of a prussic knot.
A friction knot which grips on the fixed ascending rope when
weight is applied and runs free along the rope when weight
is removed. Used to ascend ropes, however its possible
to descent but rarely used this way because the method is
Short sling with carabiners on either side.
The climbing gear carried during an ascent.
Also, abbreviation for Rappel Rack
Not trad. Slang for sport climbing.
A mechanical abseil device, able to be set with variable degrees
of friction to suit the weight of the abseiler.
Any additional attachment points (after the initial anchor
point) on a rope down a pitch. Rebelays are placed to avoid
rub or wear points on a rope or to split a long pitch. This
is usually only used in a cave.
. The setting up of descending or ascending equipment. The
term also includes a belay if required.
Also the equipment in total, required for an ascent or descent.
A large (2 inch diameter) ring that is cemented in the rock
as a bolt. These are excellent for abseiling.
General abrasion wounds. Common in most Rocksport activities.
Long and round nylon fabrication. Ropes are generally between
10 and 11 mm in diameter
Should be yelled when a rope is about to be thrown to the
base of the crag.
Any device used to protect the rope from abrasion against
the rock. Specific rope protectors can be purchased but a
square of carpet can work wonders.
A loop of tape or webbing either sewn or tied.
A runner threaded or looped around chockstones, flakes, etc
A call made by a person who has finished climbing/abseiling
to a another person who has been belaying, - to indicate that
they are safe.
A safety rope attached to a novice abseiler to give them confidence,
often part of a top belay.
A safety rope attached to a caver climbing a ladder or undertaking
a difficult maneuver, and belayed by another person either
above or below.
Easy climbing, usually unroped.
A very, very long fall.
Loose rocks and stones that cover the slope below a cliff.
With every step, scree slides under your feet.
The type of carabiner that can be locked with a screw.
The climber who follows the leader. See also following.
Rope Technique (SRT)
The abseiling method of using a single (11mm) rope. Includes
the methods of ascending and descending. Popular in caving.
To start a bouldering problem from a sitting position.
A particular type of hook used for aid climbing
Flat and seemingly featureless, not quite vertical piece of
A call made by a person being belayed, to the person belaying.
A request for extra slack in the belay line.
Foot technique where a big part of the climbing shoe is used
to generate as much friction as possible.
Climbing alone, though not necessarily without the protection
of a rope
Climbing routes of gymnastic difficulty while protection
oneself by clipping into preplaced protection.
A person who watches and stands behind/below a boulderer in
order to catch them if they fall awkwardly.
See Single Rope Technique.
A kernmantle rope manufactured with parallel core strands
and has little stretch with the weight of a person abseiling
or prusiking. This type of rope is not suitable for lead climbing
as the small amount of stretch would induce high shock loading
on a person, when arresting a fall. Static ropes are used
by cavers, canyoners and abseilers.
A belay device consisting of a plate with two slots in it.
An original creation by Franz Sticht.
The top of a mountain or rock.
To lessen the amount of slack on a climbing rope.
A flat or tubular webbing tape, usually made of nylon. Used
to make harnesses and slings.
A harness made from one continuous (5mtr) piece of tape, secured
with a tape knot.
This knot is primarily used for tying tapes into slings for
caving or climbing. (also called a water knot)
This knot is tied so that the load bearing tape emerges from
opposite sides of the knot so it will sit naturally when the
sling is in use.
A rope set so that it goes through anchors at the top of the
cliff and back to the ground for both the climber and belayer
Also, to climb using a toprope
Traditional climbing, characterized by the placing of protection
(cams, nuts, etc.) in cracks and pockets. Opposite of Rad.
A short length of woven wire fitted with interlocking rings
fitted at each end and used to attach a flexible ladder or
rope to an anchor point.
Flat and strong strip of nylon, that is hollow in the inside.
See tape knot.
Wet suits are invaluable in canyoning and can also be useful
in wet caves.
A mechanical descender made from an aluminum block, designed
to apply varying degrees of friction depending on the number
of slots the abseil rope is passed through.
Some Speleology Terms
you might want to know about!
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 |
An experienced caver who is now incapable of caving or a person
still able to, but has lost the urge to actually go caving.
On the other hand they may spend much of their time writing
or reading caving books and hours may be spent reminiscing
over photographs from past trips.
A clear flexible tube about one metre long. Used like a straw
to drink water from small crevices or inaccessible pools.
The original name was the Super Syphon Sucker, first utilised
widely around 1973-74 by Jeffory Smith a Venturer Scout in
the Kotara Unit (N.S.W). Jeffory used it extensively on bushwalking,
caving and cross-country skiing trips and the use of such
a tube spread widely among outdoor enthusiasts from there.
Several name changes occurred over the next few years, however
during the last 10 to 15 years the name Boob Tube has been
most widely used.
A collapse of rock from floor to roof
which makes further progress difficult or dangerous.
Cave atmosphere containing a high concentration of carbon
dioxide (CO2) which affects a cavers respiration and metabolism.
This term usually refers to air which contains 1% CO2 (by
volume) or greater. Simple test:- A lighted match will go
out if foul air is present.
A small insignificant cave with no
possible leads, often tight and difficult to manoeuvre oneself
The systematic search of the surface ground for cave entrances.
A small loop of rock shaped like a handle, used as an anchor
point or hand hold to aid climbing.
Short for Karabiner. A steel or aluminium alloy snap-link
used in rope work.
A term used to describe a child or an adult caver of small
build - able to fit through narrow passages and seemingly
able to dislocate their joints to negotiate tight corners.
A ledge or shelf of rock which projects past the rest of the
rock face below. Also referred to as part of an abseil (either
above or below ground), where the abseiler is hanging free
of the rock face. This occurs once an abseiler has passed
a projection of rock which makes it impossible for the abseiler's
feet to touch the rock face without swinging on the rope.
The act of edging oneself along a small water-filled passage,
on your back with only sufficient airspace for eyes and nose.
It should be pointed out that this practice can be very dangerous
for inexperienced persons.
An edible random mixture of nuts, dried fruit, rice crisps,
unwrapped lollies, chocolate and edible seeds. The mixture
is consumed by cavers, bushwalkers and other outdoor enthusiasts
as a source of high energy food. It is made up to suit an
individuals taste and requirements.
A group of tourists at a commercially developed caving area.
In other words those people who go on guided or self guided
tours where fixed lighting is provided to view the caves.
"Stay out of sight of the tourists (touri)", is
often one of the conditions attached to a caving permit, where
the permit cave is in the close vicinity of a commercial tour
Attiring oneself in suitable clothing and necessary equipment
in readiness to go underground.