If it's your first time in a climbing gym, or are relatively uneducated in climbing lingo, you may find yourself in an awkward situation when an experienced climber tries to explain something to you. This post is going to outline some of the most important words and phrases you need to know when talking with your climber friends.

Hold Types

There are seven main hold groups that practically all holds fall into, it's important to know what's what so you can discuss the route beforehand with other climbers.


Jugs tend to be the most common hold you will find on beginner walls. Mainly because they are easy to grab and hold onto, they lend themselves to being the safest of all the holds. A jug will typically have a rounded edge and should support your entire body weight


Pinches are exactly what they sound like, pinches. Typically these hold will have a rough edge on both sides and require lots of finger strength to hold. These can be tough for beginners especially if your grip strength is sub-par


Pockets are commonly confused with jugs for their similar shape and feel, but pockets are much different. Pockets only allow for a few fingers to fit into the usable part of the hold and are a bit more strenuous than jugs.


Slopers can be difficult for beginning climbers because they don't allow you an actual grip on the wall. Palming them like a basketball as seen in the picture is typically the best way to utilize them, as well as keeping your body pressure below them so you don't slip away from the wall.


Crimps are often the smallest holds you will see in your gym, generally, you will only be able to fit about your first knuckle on the flat edge. These ARE the most difficult holds for beginners because they require the most finger strength and technique when trying to keep your body on the wall.


Volumes come in all shapes and sizes, blocky or round, smooth or rough. Think of them as extensions of the wall. Typically you will see volumes with other holds on them they technically are not holds but sometimes they can be used as one. Before starting your route make sure to check the route card to see if your volumes are on or off. On meaning usable and off meaning not usable.

Other Important Vocabulary


The most technically difficult section of a climb.

Edging A technique used to place weight on very small or thin footholds. The climber uses the edges of their feet instead of the soles.


When you start your route or bolder you are sending.

Flash When a climber uses prior knowledge and beta to ascend a route cleanly from start to finish on their first attempt, without falling.

Heel Hook When a climber uses their heel to hook onto an edge or foothold to help secure their position on the rock.

Toe Hook

When a climber uses their toe to hook onto an edge or foothold to help secure their position on the rock.

Spotter Typically a spotter is a person who is ready to break the fall of a climber on a boulder problem. Their job is to direct them (More importantly, their head) towards the safety of the bouldering mat and make sure that should they fall awkwardly or suddenly, they are protected from hitting the ground or nearby rocks.


When a friend or fellow climber explains a route to you when you are on the wall, pointing out holds explaining techniques, etc.

Undercling When a climber pulls up on a downward-facing handhold to create opposing tension against their feet that are pushing down.

Barndoor When a climber swings away from the rock as a result of being unbalanced.

Arete The edge of a wall that is at a 90-degree angle like that of a corner of a building. These are found typically on the ends of bouldering caves.


A point of attachment for a climbing rope, usually made with slings, runners or the rope itself.


To keep a climber from falling too far by using friction on the rope. The system that stops a climber's fall. It includes the rope, anchors, belay device and the belayer.


To descend from the top of your wall and essentially reverse climb your route without jumping down.

Dynamic Climbing

To climb using very quick and fluent technique typically jumping and swinging hold to hold.

Static Climbing

To climb using a very slow and methodical technique generally moving from hold to hold one arm or leg at a time.


Climbing technique in which the sole of the shoe, plus proper weight over the feet, provides traction for moving upward.


A flat, near-vertical, surface with minimal hold requires good balance and proper technique.


As the name suggests an overhanging wall that forces climbers to hang onto the negative or outward-facing angle.


When belaying someone, safety is ALWAYS the number one priority. These phrases are the most commonly used and accepted when communicating with your belayer or climber.

Once both the climber and belayer are securely clipped in, the climber will start by communicating with their belayer and saying,

Climber: "On Belay"

This lets your belayer know that you are ready and prepared to climb the wall. If the belayer feels the same way and are prepared to belay they will respond with,

Belayer: "Belay On"

The climber then approaches the wall noting that both sides are ready and says,

Climber: "Climbing"

This is the belayer queue that they are about to start their route. Lastly, the Belayer responds with,

Belayer: "Climb on"

As a final OK for the climber to begin.

When a route is finished the climber is ofter too far away to clearly speak with their belayer so they give a simple gesture such as a thumbs up or a head nod to let the belayer know that they are ready to come down.

I hope this information proves useful for you in all your endeavors and will keep you safe when climbing booth outdoor and in gyms, it's important to stay educated and cal when you are putting yourself in risky situations. Happy sending!

I recommend you check out this book on Amazon, it's full of great information for beginning climbers and will surely prove useful. It's only $2.48 plus shipping so I highly recommend you consider.

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This is a topic that is more specific to certain people, but this is a common problem for rock climbers. Many people I know have to worry about the width of their foot fitting into the shoe, removing many top level shoes that other people would normally suggest. In this article, we are talking about the top 5 rock climbing shoes that are meant for people with a wider foot structure. Since this is a broader topic, this will instead list the top shoe for certain categories.

5: Best Beginner Shoe - La Sportiva Tarantula

This shoe is once again on a top 5 list. What can I say, it is one of the best beginner shoes out there. These are the perfect balance of comfort and performance. If you are starting out, this shoe will definitely last long enough until you get more experienced at rock climbing and need to upgrade to a more advanced, possibly more aggressive shoe. For an experienced climber already, I would go with any of the other 4 options above this, because of the shoe capabilities. But just because I have said this, do not underestimate the potential this shoe can have. I have seen multiple people use this shoe for years with great success. These shoes are also not too expensive at just under $100 on Amazon. For more information about this shoe, I have made a review about it specifically.

You can get these shoes here

4: Best All Day Shoe - Butora Altura

Many shoes cannot support your foot for a long period of time. This is where the Butora Altura comes in. This shoe has a rigid, flat structure meant for comfort and stability. With many similarities to the tarantula in regards to performance, for a beginner this is still a great shoe. The difference between the Tarantula's and these, however, is I would also recommend these to more experienced climbers as well. Now these would not be the absolute best shoes for competitions looking at ultimate peak performance, they can definitely last through training sessions. For an advanced rock climber, finding a shoe that can last an entire day of training without wearing out your feet, being able to increase your performance, and please those wider footed individuals, this shoe is an overall win. This shoe is more expensive than the Tarantula at around $160 on Amazon.

You can get these shoes here

3: Best Budget Shoe - Scarpa Helix

This shoe packs as much performance as the Butora Altura, but for about $70 less. The Helix is a slightly asymmetrical flat shoe, so it can keep a lot of comfort through its asymmetrical performance. The sole for this shoe is quite still, giving a lot of overall balance on most holds. I would recommend this shoe for people starting out, or for training purposes, similar to the Altura. The Helix can wear out your feet faster though, so keep that into consideration when comparing the two. This shoe comes with a naturally wider fit than most, but can stretch even more if needed. Despite the stretch, it can hold very well for a long time, so durability is not a problem. This shoe usually costs around $95 on Amazon, similar to the Tarantula.

You can get these shoes here

2: Best Bouldering Shoe - Scarpa Instinct VS

This is another very well known shoe, and one of my personal favorites. The Scarpa Instinct solves a problem many people have. Finding that perfect bouldering shoe no matter the size of foot. This is a shoe I can suggest to anyone, despite having a wide foot or not. Bouldering especially, you are going to find people wearing these shoes and for good reasons too. The moderate downturn of the shoe allows to balance between overhang and slab routes. It is a relatively comfortable shoe, allowing a good 90 minute training session to last. Your feet will not last longer than that without taking them off, however. This shoe usually costs around $185 on Amazon. It is more expensive, but you are getting quality for the cost. For more information about this shoe, I have made a review about it specifically.

You can get these shoes here

1: Top Performer - Butora Acro

If there is one shoe I would suggest over the rest, it would be the Butora Acro. This shoe works when bouldering almost just as well as the Scarpa Instinct, but can also excel at sport climbing or top rope. This is the most aggressive shoe on this list, so I probably would not suggest this as a first shoe. Besides that consideration, I would recommend this shoe to literally everyone else, especially that people that state they have extra wide feet. This shoe has a similar strap system as the Instinct, giving the shoe a glove like feel. It will need to be a little on the tight side in order to have the top performance. This shoe runs around $20 cheaper than the Instincts, at around $165 on Amazon.

You can get these shoes here

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If you have ever traveled out of your general area to explore a new climbing gym or outdoor-climbing hot spot you may have run into a new issue. You have never seen this grading system and don't know how it compares to your own.

This post will be broken down into three of the most common subcategories, explaining them thoroughly, and comparing them to one another.



In the United States, the most common form of grading you will see at your local gym is what you call the 5 point scale or YBS. Top-rope notation always starts with a 5. (where its nickname derived from) followed by a number generally 1-15 and sometimes followed by a + or - Symbol. The beginning 5. represents the type of wall, 5. meaning that it is a top rope wall. The second number of 1-15 is the general difficulty of the wall based on test climbers and route setter's choice. On average, the majority of climbers climb between a 5.7-5.11 route. Finally, the + or - symbol represents a more specific grading so a 5.10- is generally easier than a 5.10 and a 5.8+ is generally harder than a 5.8. Overall it lends itself to being a very straight forward system once it is understood.


In the US bouldering has a separate grading system from the top rope, the V scale. The V scale notation will always start out with a V "obviously" followed by a number B-10. But what is B? B is the lowest level standing for, Beginner, and ramps up all the way to V10. sometimes these grades are also followed by a + or - working in a similar way to the 5. scale.


Overall most people would agree that the French system is by far the most precise and for good reason. It is collectively used around the world in many places. Commonly used in Germany and in much of the European area. The French system is the internationally recognized system for grading sport climbs.

The French system always starts out with a number 1-9 either followed by a letter (a,b, or c), a sign (+ or -), or both numbers 1-5 may only have a sign working similarly to the US system whereas 6-9 will always be followed by a letter and a sign. Like I said 1-5 works similarly to the US system, ex. 4- is easier than a 4 and a 4 is easier than a 4+. 6-9 has 3 grades of specificity. First, the number is a general difficulty increasing as you go up. a, b, & c are a secondary level a being the easiest and c being the hardest. sometimes followed by a sign + or - being the most specific. Some combinations you might see for example: 6a+ or just 6a, 6a+ being slightly more challenging.


The Australian system is without a doubt the most simple system of them all, but that also causes issues when it comes to specificity. while it may be the most simple it is not the most accurate.

The Australian system basically just has a number as its grade ranging anywhere from 6-35 with each number increasing in difficulty as you continue, 17 is easier than 30 and 28 is harder than 21, etc.


Now, this is quite possibly the most important information you may receive throughout your read, how do these systems compare?

Use this chart below to decode and compare each route grade

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