Climbing vernacular is pretty ubiquitous at the crags. Most climbers are aware of it from the first several times they go climbing and then begin to develop a working knowledge of it: “Nice send!” or “you hangdawgged your way up that thing” or “whoa, that was my first time catching a whipper.” As climbers gain more experience this lingo begins to get woven into our everyday conversation, even when climbing isn’t the subject, to wit: “wow, what a splitter, blue sky day” or “whoops, failed to onsight those directions” or “can you give me the beta on the dumpster diving scene?”
Knowing the definitions of these terms is a basic climbing skill that is essential for novices to master. Being respected and trusted by climbing partners (friends or strangers alike) is important and part of this is representing our feats and failures correctly and honestly. If for example: earlier I had watched a climber struggle on Coyne Crack on top-rope and later that evening heard them say “oh yeah, I climbed Coyne Crack today.” Are they being dishonest? I would contend that no, they are not, but they are not fully truthful by not claiming the true style of the ascent. Another example may be a climber who is looking for a partner: in doing so they may say, “yeah I climb 5.9” when they typically hang once or twice when top-roping a 5.9. From that, the prospective partner might infer that the climber leads 5.9 onsight regardless of type of protection or being on slab, off-width, or overhanging pocketed limestone. I am striving to encourage full disclosure through education and a small bit of humor.
Here are a few definitions that I find useful and are basic climbing lingo.
Onsight: to climb a route from bottom to top without hanging on the rope or falling off (in the case of a boulder problem) the first time you ever attempt it and without receiving beta from anyone or anything.
Flash: to climb a route from bottom to top without hanging on the rope or falling off on your first try with the help of beta.
Redpoint: to climb a route from bottom to top without falling or weighting the rope after having failed to onsight it. This could be your second try or your 101st try. Still a redpoint.
Pinkpoint: the same as a redpoint except with gear or quickdraws or preplaced traditional gear in place.
Beta: information on a climb.
Hangdawg: this CAN happen when one fails to onsight, flash, or redpoint. Climbing a route with multiple hangs on the rope, often times making it up with help or assistance from a reallllly tight belay.
Whipper: taking a lead fall in which significant distance is fell and the fall is caught by the belayer and the rope.
Crater/Deck/Ground Fall: when a roped climber falls and is not stopped or caught by a belay. This could be due poorly placed protection, lack of available protection, or failure to place protection that would keep the climber from hitting the ground or a sizeable ledge. It could also be a result of belayer error (inattention, lack of skill, too much slack, etc.)
Dyno: short for dynamic. This is a style of climbing move where the climber moves to the next handhold(s) by generating upward movement in a lunging fashion.
French Free: to pull on a piece of protection to quickly move through a hard move of a rock climb.
So with this basic language in mind, I seek to introduce a new vocabulary for the more novice, scared, or less lead-inclined of us out there. While the above terms do indeed also work with top-rope climbing when prefaced or prefixed with the phrase “ top-rope” as in “I got the top-rope onsight of Elmo Fish” or “shiiiiit, I hangdawgged the crap out of that on TR!” or “after belaying Jill on lead, Sammy got the top-rope flash of The Nose”, I propose the following:
TRonsight: climbing a route bottom to top without falls or weighting the rope on your first try with no beta, on top-rope.
TRash: climbing a route bottom to top without falls or weighting the rope on your first try with beta, on top-rope.
TRedpoint: climbing a route from bottom to top without falling or weighting the rope after having failed to onsight or TRonsight it. This could be your second try or your 101st try. Still a TRedpoint.
TRipper: any fall taken on a top-rope climb
TRench TReeing: when a climber pulls on gear to make the moves on top-rope; in a TR setting, this gear is often left by the leader to help the partner bypass a hard section in order to enjoy splitter climbing above; also easily done when following multipitch climbs.
TRadah: (pronounced tray-duh): top-rope beta; this often differs from lead beta as one can often climb things differently when on top-rope i.e. the lie back, traversing lower due to protection of a TR, or jamming where gear might go on lead.
TRyno: top-rope dyno
While this is just a proposal for creative, more forthcoming terms for climbers wishing for full disclosure, I would like to point out that it is quite easy to continue to propagate new terms in this top-rope vernacular. For example: “they TRucked that move” (stuck a move on TR) or “they TRiked it” (hiked it on TR) or “how is the planning going for your TRexpedtion to Patagonia next winter?” (a top-roping expedition.) The possibilities are endless…