A Mountaineering Glossary

A Mountaineering Glossary

The following glossary may help with arcane mountaineering terminology. Enjoy!

Aid climbing. artificial climbing; progress using gadgets such as pitons, expansion bolts, bat-hooks, or nuts for direct aid on ground where free climbing is not possible. In theory, given the effort and rock of any quality, no climb is impossible using aid tactics. A2 indicates excellent placements of gadgets over hard ground.

Arete. A narrow or knife-edged ridge or rock feature; may be vertical or horizontal.

Belay. An attachment, or point of attachment to the rock or ice for security purposes.

Bivy. Bivouac. A site on which the night is spent with minimal shelter; usually exposed but relatively safe.

Crux. The most difficult or crucial move, pitch or section of a climb.

Col. The low point on a ridge be. tween two summits.

Chimney. A rock feature with parallel walls close enough to climb by shimmeying up.

Cairn. A pile of small rocks set up to mark a route, summit or trail.

Free Rappel. A means of descending by sliding down a rope, under control of the friction of the rope passing either round the body or through a friction device; while free rappelling, the feet do not touch the rock.

Fixed Rope. Rope anchored so as to allow a climber to clip in an ascending device and quickly move up.

Gully. A steep, narrow channel in a rock formation.

Hanging Glacier. A glacier whose terminus is over a vertical drop in elevation. very dangerous for mountaineers.

Ice Bridge. Over a crevasse in a glacier.

Icefall. The section of a glacier where a steep drop in elevation produces an unstable jungle of fissures and towers in the ice.

Jumaring. Climbing a hanging rope by means of two metal clamping devices that will slide up it but not downwards.

Pitch. Section of a climb usually between 60-150 ft, between ledges or belay points.

Schrund. Bergaschrund. The crevasse between an ice or neve slope and the glacier or further slope beneath, which is moving in a different direction or angle. Often a serious obstacle at the bottom of a rock wall or ice slope.

Styrofoam Neve. Hard compacted snow.

Spire. A tapering rock tower or fang rising thousands of feet of which there are many in Alaska.

Adapted from “Collin’s Guide to Mountaineering.”