Sport Climbing Vocabulary: Key Terms Every Climber Should Know

Sport Climbing Vocabulary: Key Terms Every Climber Should Know

Are you new to the world of sport climbing and feeling overwhelmed by all the terminology? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we will break down the key terms that every climber should know to navigate the sport climbing world with confidence. Whether you’re a beginner looking to improve your skills or an experienced climber wanting to brush up on your vocabulary, this guide is for you. Let’s dive in and expand your climbing knowledge!

Basic Climbing Terms


In sport climbing, belaying is the act of securing a climber with a rope in case of a fall. The belayer is responsible for managing the slack in the rope and providing a controlled descent for the climber.


A crimp is a small, sharp hold that requires the climber to use their fingers in a pinching motion to grip the rock. Crimps are often challenging to hold onto, especially on difficult routes.


Top-rope climbing is a style of climbing where the rope is anchored at the top of the route, providing a safety line for the climber. This is often considered one of the safest forms of climbing, as the rope is already in place before the climber begins their ascent.

Equipment and Gear Terminology


A harness is an essential piece of equipment for sport climbing. It is worn around the waist and thighs to support the climber in case of a fall. Harnesses come in various styles, including sit harnesses for basic climbing and full-body harnesses for more advanced climbing routes.


A quickdraw is a piece of gear used to connect the climbing rope to the bolts in the rock wall. It consists of two carabiners connected by a strong piece of webbing or wire. Quickdraws come in different lengths and styles, depending on the type of climbing being done.


A carabiner is a metal loop with a spring-loaded gate used to connect different pieces of climbing gear. Carabiners are essential for attaching the rope to the harness, connecting quickdraws to bolts, and securing various other pieces of equipment. There are different types of carabiners, including locking and non-locking varieties, each serving specific purposes in sport climbing.

Technique and Movement Phrases

When it comes to sport climbing, mastering various techniques and movement phrases is essential for success on the wall. Understanding and utilizing these key terms can help climbers improve their skills and conquer challenging routes. Here are three important technique and movement phrases every climber should know:


Flagging is a technique used to maintain balance and control while climbing. When a climber’s body position creates an imbalance, they can use their foot or leg to "flag" out to the side for support. This helps prevent swinging or falling off the wall and allows climbers to reach holds that may be out of reach otherwise. By mastering the art of flagging, climbers can navigate tricky sections of a route with ease.


Smearing is a technique that involves using the friction of the climbing shoe against the wall to support body weight. When there are no obvious footholds available, climbers can press the sole of their shoe against the wall and rely on the rubber to grip the surface. Smearing is especially useful on smooth or featureless rock where traditional footholds are scarce. By practicing smearing, climbers can confidently ascend routes that require precise footwork and balance.


A dyno, short for dynamic move, is a climbing technique that involves making a powerful and explosive leap from one hold to another. Dynos are often used to reach distant or hard-to-reach holds that cannot be reached through static movement alone. Climbers must generate momentum and launch themselves off the wall to successfully execute a dyno. This advanced technique requires strength, coordination, and precise timing. By incorporating dynos into their climbing repertoire, climbers can tackle routes with big moves and dynamic sequences.

In conclusion, understanding the key terms and vocabulary associated with sport climbing is essential for climbers of all levels. By familiarizing oneself with these terms, climbers can communicate effectively with other climbers, instructors, and guides, ensuring a safe and successful climbing experience. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned climber, having a strong grasp of sport climbing vocabulary will enhance your overall climbing skills and knowledge. So, take the time to learn and practice these terms, and watch as your climbing abilities improve.