Get a Grip

A guide to translate climber-gibberish.

“Dude, I got nasty Elvis Leg after that crimpy crux, just before I hit the crack and landed a few bomber jams!”

Whaaaat? If listening to climbers spew about their adventures sounds like gibberish, never fear. It is gibberish. But once you read the following guide, you may be able to decipher at least some of what that rock-rat behind the counter at Spire is talking about.

Alpine Style: Climbing a mountain without using fixed lines or presupplied campsites for any stage of the journey. Also a style of fashion common in places like St. Moritz, Aspen, and the Yellowstone Club, mainly consisting of tight pants, endangered-animal fur, gaudy hats, and overpriced sunglasses.

Bomber: An adjective to describe extremely high quality and dependability, usually in reference to a handhold or piece of equipment. Can also describe any generally positive or beneficial object or state of being. Example: “Outside Bozeman is totally bomber.”

Bongs: Large pitons that vary from two to six inches wide and can double as large chocks. Also describes an elaborate smoking apparatus that can double as a juvenile coffee-table centerpiece.

Crack: An attractive visible split in a rock face. Or an unattractive visible split in the upper posterior of any plumber, electrician, or hipster who still insists on wearing low-rise jeans.

Crimp: This is a grip that allows the fingertips to rest on very small ledges. Also a 1980s hairstyle, eclipsed only by the permed mullet on the sliding scale of “fugly.”

Crux: The hardest move of any climb. Derived from the Latin cruc, which was a cross upon which people were tortured (crucifixion). Climbing is a fun sport. Really.

Elvis Leg: Also called sewing-machine leg, this is the uncontrollable shake of a leg during a climb. Elvis Presley’s actual leg sold on eBay in 2002 for $2.37 million.

Exposure: Being in an exhilarating situation in which you are very aware of your height off the ground. Or being in an exhilarating situation in which you are very aware of your public nudity.

Flapper: A superficial climbing injury that results in a loose flap of skin. Also the jazz-loving, bob-haired, moonshine-swilling female socialites of the 1920s.

Jamming: A technique in which the fingers, hands, or feet are wedged inside a rock crack to gain traction. Also a favorite pastime of dirty hippies, commonly involving a djembe, didgeridoo, and rain stick. And, naturally, at least one Bong (see above).

Nut Tool: A metal tool used to extract protection that has become stuck in the rock. And a terrifying medical instrument commonly used in urology and slasher movies.

Zipper Fall: Refers to a fast, dangerous fall that rips the climber's protective devices from the rock in rapid succession. Also describes an embarrassing symptom of poorly constructed trousers that leads to massive Exposure (see above).