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Rock Climbing Moves Glossary

As mentioned before, Rock Climbing is a challenging and physically-demanding sport. Climbers need to undergo physical training to prepare the body. Moreover, they should be knowledgeable enough about the different Climbing moves or maneuvers.

In this section, know the various Rock Climbing Moves.

Upper Body

To use an intermediate handhold to shift to a higher hold without changing the body position.

To climb using only the arms. A method of training grip, contact, and upper body strength.

A grip in which the first knuckle is extended, allowing the fingertips to rest on a small ledge while the second knuckle is flexed.

Grip a handhold that is above and to the side of the body with the hand in a thumbs down position. This is a potentially dangerous body position because of the stress placed on the rotator cuff of the shoulder.

Lock Off

Lock Off
Grip a single handhold with enough strength to allow the other hand to shift to a new handhold.

Successfully grip a hold, a skill that is dependent on contact strength, accuracy, and timing.


To touch a handhold but fail to latch it.

Bring both hands to the same handhold.

Side Pull
A hold that is oriented to the side of the body and cannot be pulled in a downward direction.


Bring one arm across the other as you reach for a new hold.

A hold which is oriented in a downward direction. Opposition can be created by pulling upward and maintaining body tension through the feet.

Lower Body

Placing a foot behind the body with the foot on its outside edge, allowing the hip to roll inward, closer to the wall.

Drop Knee
Similar to the backstep, but the knee is rotated inside and downward allowing the foot to push sideways or toe hook on a hold that is too high to backstep.

An extended leg that counterbalances the body and prevents the center of mass from barn dooring.

Hand-Foot Match
To place a foot on the same hold as a hand.

Heel Hook
Rest the heel on a hold, thereby taking some weight off of the arms, usually employed on steep or overhanging terrain.

Knee Bar
A resting position achieved by caming the top of the knee and a foot between two holds.

Frog Step Frog Step
A frontal body position in which both legs are extended simultaneously to reach higher handholds.

A rest position that can be useful when climbing steep or overhanging terrain, achieved by camming the upper thigh and foot against two holds.

Rock On
To shift body weight from one foot to the other.

High Step
Lift up a leg to reach a high foot hold.

To step sideways in front of the leg that you are standing, usually in a traverse.

Swap Feet
To exchange feet on the same hold.

Placing the foot directly on the rock where there are no obvious holds and gaining purchase solely from the friction between the shoe and rock (no pun intended).

Full Body

Barn Door
The tendency of the body to swing outward away from the wall on steep terrain when the center of gravity is not centered between points of contact.

A dynamic movement to reach a distant hold where momentum is required to propel the body.

Hip Roll
Rotating the hips from a frontal position to face sideways, bringing the hip closer to the wall. Used in conjunction with a backstep, the Hip Roll can be used to maintain body tension on overhanging routes by putting the leg in a more biomechanically effective position to push off of the foothold.

Lay Back
To support the body by creating opposition between pulling arms and pushing feet.

A hand-foot match in which the body rocks on to a ledge similar to the motion you would use to get out of a swimming pool.

To extend the hips and draw the body closer to the rock in a frontal position.

Twist Lock
A transitional movement in which the body is twisted towards the hold being locked off, allowing the locking off arm to straighten and bringing the reaching shoulder higher and closer to the wall extending its reach.

To support the body using opposition created by pressing the hands and/or feet outward in opposite directions.

Talking About the Route or the Rock

A protruding corner of rock.

Big Wall
A multi-pitch climb that typically takes more than a day to complete.

A crack wide enough to fit your entire body in.

The hardest move on a route.

An inside corner formed by two intersecting rock faces.

The unique features of the rock that allow climbing - (i.e. holds, cracks etc.) At indoor gyms, people refer to features as the permanent textures or holds in the wall itself as opposed to holds which are bolted on and can be moved around the create routes and boulder problems.

On-sight with beta.

Big, deep holds.

A small pocket that will fit only one finger.

Small holds that may make decent footholds, but are often too small to use as handholds.

An awkward sized crack that is too big for decent hand and foot jams, but too small for your entire body.

Lead climb from top to bottom without falling and without previous knowledge of the route.

Lead climb from bottom to top without falling after rehearsing the moves.

A hold without a definite ledge, typically requiring an open grip and subtle shifts in hand and/or body position to achieve maximum friction.

These are the different Rock Climbing Moves. Make sure to know these maneuvers and learn how they are properly done.

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Article Comments
Tuesday 31st July 2007 at 11:15:11 AM  

The hardest move on a route.

That's just the definition!

If you are on an easy route (up to 4+ or so) then the crux won't be so tough but if you're doing a 7c+ route then the crux will be hard as nails.

The crux will always be the hardest single move on the route, it's not a specific move in itself.

Thursday 10th April 2008 at 9:37:35 PM  

Good to know these terms when climbing. This way when someone is giving you Beta about the climb you will know what they are talking about. The crux of a climb can be different for different climbs.

Friday 11th April 2008 at 9:18:43 AM  

Also, the crux can be anywhere on the climb and allways study the climb before you attempt it and find the crux-the hardest spot on the climb.

Thursday 22nd May 2008 at 5:06:58 PM  

Forgot to mention the Figure four move, thats used when ice climbing.

Thursday 22nd May 2008 at 5:21:28 PM  

Figure Four- a move that is made by throwing one leg over an arm to get closer to a hold thats out of reach.

Sunday 13th September 2009 at 12:18:42 PM  

good read, thanks :).

Monday 8th February 2010 at 12:07:57 AM  

Thanks for this easy to understand glossary. I just started rock climbing and it''s so nice to find all this info in one place. My friends have been doing it for years so now I can actually understand what they''re talking about.

Wednesday 2nd March 2011 at 1:42:46 PM  

10 minutes to read and a lifetime to master....

Monday 16th May 2011 at 3:46:17 PM  

whats a thrux

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