Being left out sucks. Conversely, it’s pretty sweet when you’re in a little clique. Knowing how to talk the talk is what it’s all about, and there ain’t no talk like climbing talk. Here’s a little run-down so you find yourself on the right side of the equation next time the strong-dudes in the training area are recapping their last trip to the crag.


Maybe the best word in all climbing vocab. In simpler times, ‘beta’ was just information regarding movements on a climb (put your hand here, foot there, etc). Now days, ‘beta’ can refer to inside information on just about any subject.

Dude, do you have the beta on the coffee situation in Blackheath?’

Or even (true story):

‘Hey man. Do you have beta on how to get into this conference?’

For the record, the beta situation for coffee in Blackheath is that you should go here.


Used outside of climbing circles but perfected by the dirt bag. On the surface, to be ‘psyched’ just means that you are enthusiastic about something.

“I’m psyched to go climbing today.”

Dig deeper, and ‘psyche’ often refers to the current state of a climber’s underlying, deep seeded motivation. As we all know, climbing is a bit love-hate. Psyche fluctuates. As such, you might hear someone say,

“I’m in a psyche trough right now.”



Simple one. The ‘approach’ is how you get to the climbing area. If you are going to a cliff that requires you to drive 3 hours on a highway, 4wd for 30 minutes, and hike 2 hours uphill through lantana, you would say,

“This approach is totally heinous.”



The more bomber something is, the more solid it is. Typically, it will refer to the integrity of the placement of a piece of traditional protection (a nut, cam, etc). A ‘bomber’ piece is one that won’t fall out. Every now and again you will hear a climber stretch its use (as they are wont to do) and describe a foot placement, or even a hold itself, as ‘bomber’ (unlikely to slip).

Often used on a continuum with ‘sketchy’. Ie,

“That first piece you placed was bomber, but the cam higher up was sketch-town. You would’ve decked for sure.”

Bomber, or nay?


Fall off, and hit the ground. A bit ambiguous. By that definition, technically you ‘deck’ whenever you fall off a boulder problem, but you won’t hear it used that way.

Having said that, if you try to boulder something that’s 10m high and fall off near the top, your friends might say at the gym the following week,

“Steve was being well sketchy, and he decked after he blew the mantle.”

Be your own person, and dictate the limits of the word for yourself.



Image result for choss rock

Another word to be familiar with, ‘Death block’. Picture, thousand words, etc.

This is one for the outdoor climbers. Choss is unstable or loss rock. Interestingly, I’ve actually heard – in some indoor climbing scenes around the world – it can be used to describe a shitty climb.

“That red route in the corner is choss.”

Who woulda thunk it.



The hardest section of a climb. You can also use it to describe a climb in general.

“That route is uber cruxy.”

This would imply that the route had a sequence of movement that was substantially harder than the rest of the climb. If you want to say the exact same thing, but use different adjectives just for the sake of it, you could say,

“That route is super bouldery.”



A large section of skin that has separated from your hand but remains barely attached – allowing it to ‘flap’ around. Grossly, I guess you could also have a ‘foot flapper’?

Typically happens when you’re climbing on jugs too much and a callous comes off in one swift, disgusting moment.



Barricade used to surround military encampments to increase defensive…

In climbing it means a route or problem that is much harder than it is graded. Australians are particularly fond of ‘sand bagging’ each other. Giving a hard climb a laughably easy grade. Sometimes an innocent mistake, often an instance of ego wars.

You could also describe a indoor climb in the same way.

“The route setters really sandbagged us with that red slab.”


What’s the upshot? Give beta generously, but not when it’s not wanted. Avoid choss and death-blocks, even if it means a longer approach – decking sucks. Place bomber pro before the crux, and hope to god you haven’t been sand-bagged.

One Comment

  1. Jeremy-Reply
    April 1, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    Love it!
    Can you add the other terminology like flashing, a project, etc etc

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