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Unsent: 18 New Climbing Slang Terms

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Unsent /un-sent/ 1. To have failed so badly on a route you had previously climbed that you negate your redpoint. 2. A humor column.

Thriller Boulder Camp 4 Yosemite Rock Climbing Bouldering
A beach bash at the Thriller Boulder, Camp 4.James Lucas

Like a parent snooping on her teenager’s text messages, climbing slang sounds like utter nonsense to outsiders. It’s not unique to our sport. Surfers, skateboarders, and (probably) standup paddleboard yogis all have their jargon. But does rock climbing have enough slang? Until “climber speak” is so dense that it’s listed as its own language, we say, “No.” Add the following new terms to your vocabulary to better communicate with your fellow climbers—and to communicate way worse with everyone else.

Bail Deadline

(n.) The latest time at which you can bail on climbing plans without pissing off your partners. For days with an early start, this should be before anyone goes to sleep the night before, so they don’t wake up at 5 a.m. for nothing.

“Mark needs to learn to respect the bail deadline. If I wake up to one more ‘Sorry, I’m not feeling it today’ text, he’s dead to me.”

Beach Bash

(n.) When a crag looks more like a party zone than a climbing area, packed with hammocks, bluetooth speakers, and more people hanging out tanning, snacking, and gabbing than climbing.

“We swung by Avalon, but it was a beach bash, so we continued up to Wizard Rock because people only put in the effort to hike up there if they actually want to climb. It was empty.”


(v.) A technique in which you are taller than 6 feet and skip a crux by reaching really, really far.

“I had to layback off a heinous side-crimp, bump off a sloper into a ring lock, then dyno to the mono undercling. Derek was able to just be-tall his way past all of it.”

Climber Fat

(adj.) When you are fit compared to the general population, but feel like a blimp compared to the climbing community, with their rippling abs and striated back muscles.

“Ugh! I’m so climber fat. If I could only lose this last percent of body fat, I could finally break out of this V13 slump.”


(v.) To toprope, especially on steep terrain with no directional, where a fall would result in a wild swing.

“I couldn’t decide if I wanted to TR the 50-foot roof or take a giant rope swing, so I freesnaked it and did both.”


(v.) A parkour-like move in which you must run across a series of footholds with no handholds in the gym. The appearance of grinds typically coincides with a new season of American Ninja Warrior.

“I ate shit when I face-planted into that volume after missing a foot on that grind. Oh, well—the doctor says I’ll be eating solid food again in no time.”

Gym Name

(n.) Much as through-hikers have trail names, the climbers you see frequently at your local rock gym also have gym names—only in this case, it’s you giving them their names … in secret, in your head.

“Crap, ‘Bald Guy with Headphones’ is hogging the auto-belay again. Guess I’ll head into the bouldering cave and…shit! ‘Angry Guy with Ponytail’ is in there kicking his chalk pot. Maybe I’ll just do a little traversing in back here where … Oh, no! The ‘Gossip Girls’ are sitting below that panel, shoes off, trading stories about their boyfriends and blocking the wall. Guess I’ll just go home.”


(n.) To redpoint a route while “belayed” by a super-chill brau or brauette lying in a hammock listening to crunchy grooves. Best done on a route two to three number grades below your limit that’s short and has a good “landing.”

“Rainbow gives a really good hammockpoint belay; just make sure your rope doesn’t get tangled up in Denali’s leash or in her iPhone speaker cords.”


(v.) A gym move named for a climber with stronger fingers than route-finding skills.* The act of pulling through on footholds instead of trying to figure out the proper sequence.

“Grab the undercling, to your left! To your left! Next to the—OK, fine, or just Jake it. You made a 5.10 into a 5.12, but what do I care?”

*Try making up your own terms for your friends’ technique failings. It’s fun!


(v.) To climb on the now-ubiquitous MoonBoard climbing wall.

“Janice doesn’t even climb anymore. She spends all her time Mooning, talking about Mooning, and checking the app for new Daniel Woods problems she can’t climb.


(v.) The act of grabbing a hold and pulling really hard, recruiting all of your muscles. Sometimes this is the only way forward.

“You can keep looking for a secret foothold, but there’s nothing there. You just gotta bear down on that crimp and muscle-fuck it.”

Paddle Dyno

(n.) The hand version of a grind. A dyno so large and explosive that you need to “paddle” on intermediate holds like slopers, blobs, etc. en route to the target grip to maintain momentum. Aka a “second-generation dyno.”

“When you see two giant volumes eight feet apart with a couple miserly slopers between them and no other visible means of ascent, it’s probably some twisted setter’s new paddle dyno.”

Paranoia Pro

(n.) The unnecessary extra safety precautions used by someone who’s not yet comfortable relying on proven methods and techniques.

“Did you see all the paranoia pro that guy used? He had five quickdraws in his toprope anchor, and his belay loop was backed up with an auto-locker through his tie-in points.”


(n.) A climber who refuses, despite years of experience, to do away with patently gumby-like behavior such as the daisy-chain thong, rappelling from lowering anchors, carrying a ton of unnecessary shit on his harness, belaying on sport climbs with a trad-style device, and so on. At present, there is no known cure.

“In the deep-blue gloaming, the permagumby donned his helmet, harness, rock shoes, backpack, and headlamp to make his way from the gym parking lot into the foyer. You never could be too careful on a predawn start, he mused.”


(n.) To redeem yourself by redpointing a route after an embarrassingly bad attempt. For full effect, grab the chains with one hand, raise your other fist up into the sky, and scream, “SENDGEANCE!”

“You may have brushed me off in a leg-behind-the-rope, upside-down whipper today, Kiddo Crack, but tomorrow I will return and I will have sendgeance!”


(v.) A rope-stretch whipper, occurring when a route is long enough that falling at a bolt results in what feels like freefall due to stretch.

“I clipped the twelfth bolt, went to sit on the rope, and took a 15-foot screaming stripper. I thought my partner had dropped the rope.”


(n.) The Time To Solitude for a given area, i.e., the length you must hike to find an empty crag. More-crowded areas will generally have a longer TTS, though this will diminish if the approach is steep or loose and/or involves bushwhacking.

“Damn, Morning Glory Wall is crowded today. What’s the TTS?”
“30 minutes.”
“Let’s just stay here.”

Washington Pass North Cascades National Park Rock Climbing
TTS at Washington Pass, North Cascades National Park, WA: Hours.Andrew Burr


(n.) A splingus, mingus, and utterly jingus mingosity you must hold onto in an undercling position in order to reach the next hold.

“Spling the fling, ming—as in, the underfling jing.”

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"The Nutcracker" explores the mental challenges of solo climbing and the tactics Cornell used to help him send the route.