ABCD of climbing world

Everything you need to know to get started

Before you learn a subject, it is important to get familiar with the key terms related to that subject. Similarly, before we get deeper higher in the climbing world, let’s find out what stands for what so that we talk in the climber’s language.

Commonly used terms

Route: A line on a rock face or on artificial walls formed by holds that lead to the top of the wall. A climber climbs following the sequence on the line.


Hold: Any formation on the rock that can be held by fingers or toe can be rested on is a hold.

Climber at the top with Belayer at bottom

Climber: The person who is on the rock face/artificial wall, climbing up towards the top.

Belayer: The person who is responsible to protect the climber from falling using rope and a device. Belayer usually stands below on the ground, watching every move of the climber.

Belay: It is a process of giving slack (loosening rope) to the climber as he/she heads upwards. Belay is given using a belay device and a rope, in case the climber falls belayer holds the rope tight, removing all the slack to protect the climber.

Anchor: It is a point that acts as the support point, where the rope is attached then goes to the climber and belayer. An anchor is a strong point that can withstand the weight of the climbers. In sports climbing, an anchor is usually bolted. In natural climbing, big rocks, trees etc. act as the anchor point.


Bolt: A hole drilled in the climbing wall that acts as the safety point as the climber ascends a route. The hole is then attached with a hanger to which a rope can be anchored using devices.


Send: When a climber climbs the entire route from bottom to top without any fall or rest is called sending the route. It basically means to complete the route.

Climbing gym: A room/hall dedicated to climbing that has artificial walls.


PA shoe

PA shoes: These are specially designed rock climbing shoes made of rubber having pointed thumb and thin sole for more grip. They are tight fit not suitable for walking/hiking. PA stands for Pierre Allain who invented the design of rock climbing shoes.

Rope passing through Carabiner

Rope: It is the lifeline of climbing which is attached to the climber and the belayer. It acts as a medium to protect the climber from getting hit to the ground if he/she falls. There are different types of climbing ropes based on the purpose of climbing.

Carabiner: A D shaped gear like a metal ring that can be passed through bolts/rope knots. It is also called as a connector as it connects a climber to the rope, rope to the anchor etc. A carabiner has an opening from which bolts/rope knots can be passed. Based on the closing style of this opening there are different types of a carabiner.


Harness: It is a piece of safety equipment worn by a person that is attached to a rope which passes through an anchor. A harness is a medium to connect the rope to the climber’s body. It is worn like pants and is tightened at the waist and thighs.

Climber’s hands in Chalk bag

Chalk: It is powder mainly of magnesium carbonate to increase grip on the holds.

Chalk bag: It is a small-sized pouch-like bag that is used to keep chalk while the climber is climbing. Chalk bag is usually secured around the waist. When needed the climber puts a hand inside the bag to get more chalk.

Crash Pad

Crash Pad: A thick mattress laid on the ground to protect the climber from getting hurt after he/she falls. It is mostly used in Bouldering where a rope is not used for safety.

Figure 8 Descender

Descender: A device that is used to control climb down of a climber. Belay devices act as descenders. The most common descender is Figure 8.

A QD through bolt and rope

Quickdraw (QD): A device that is inserted in the bolts intermittently as the climber moves up to secure his fall. The rope is then passed through QD to protect the climber when he/she falls.

Helmet: A headgear used to protect the climber in case something falls from the top. It is mainly used in Natural climbing to be safe in case of a sudden rock fall. It also prevents head injuries if an accident happens.


These are basic terms you need to know as you enter the climbing world. We shall learn about more concepts as we proceed. Till then keep climbing!


Let’s all climb together!

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