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Seven Words Climbers Should Never Say
We all know that climbing has a jargon-filled vocabulary (beta, jug, crimp, etc.), but for the most part we understand that these words are useful when discussing our sport. However, some climbers, in perhaps a misguided attempt to set themselves apart from the masses, are trying to introduce dubious new climbing terms that at best seem forced and at worst just expose the shortcomings in their high school education.

Here are the seven words the almost all climbers should avoid.

The terms stoked, stokage and perhaps the most ridiculous variation, fueling the stoke, (think about it) should be banned from any climber’s lexicon. Every time I hear the words all I can think about are classic Whoa-Dudes likes Bill and Ted or Jeff Spicoli, uttering the phrase, “Whoa, dude, I’m so stoked.” Newsflash, it’s no longer the 80s (or even the 90s) and you’re not a surfer.
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I suspect that this word has become popular with boulderers because, just like they can’t climb more than five moves before getting pumped, they also can’t say long words (like boulder) before getting confused.

If you’re climbing in North America and you’re not visiting from France, the word you’re looking for is boulder. I’m sure that if boulderers practice saying the word a few times, they’ll be able to push though the vicious mind-pump and eventually use it easily in conversation. Practice with me: boul-der.
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Is there anything more uncomfortable than watching a group of North American climbers who can barely string an English sentence together, encouraging their climbing buddies by shouting allez? For those that don’t know, allez is simply French for go. And while it may be useful when climbing in France and cheering on French climbers, it doesn’t make you smarter or more sophisticated when you’re using it at your local choss pile. Save it for when you’re in France.
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Now that Spain has usurped the sport climbing crown from France, it seems that some climbers have started using the word venga to cheer on their friends (after all, allez is so late 80s mid 90s). Venga is the Spanish word for go. The reasons for not using it (including the fact that most North Americans can’t pronounce it properly) are the same as allez. See above.
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I was never a big fan of Deep Water Soloing (DWS), but at least the term clearly described what the climbers were doing.Psicobloc, which loosely translates into crazy bouldering, just seems so anguished. Yes, I realize that the term existed before the phrase DWS was popularized by the Brits, but when used in an English context it just makes the user sound like they’re trying too hard. Maybe they think that DWS doesn’t sound sufficiently extreme or dangerous and so they need to use the term Psicobloc (said in your best NASCAR announcer voice). Some folks may not realize this, but climbing is already sufficiently extreme. And adding the prefix Psico to any of climbing’s sub-genres won’t make our sport more dangerous. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go out to meet some friends. We’ve scheduled some Psicodrinking at our local bar.
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The latest trend in climbing is to go on a mission or better yet, go missioning. I’m going to say this once, unless you’re part of Seal Team Six or have Double O agent status (which gives you a license to kill or be killed), you are not going on a mission. What you’re actually doing is going climbing. If that’s not dramatic enough, feel free to add words like alpine, ice, trad or sport before the word climbing. Please leave the missions to the professionals.
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There was a time when the term splitter referred to a parallel-sided crack, but today some folks want to use this word to describe the weather. I think I understand the connection; splitter cracks are considered good, so splitter weather is also good - simple. Yeah. I’m not sure who started this trend, but I suspect it’s trad climbers (remember the crack climbing connection) who are perhaps looking to shed the crusty old-man image associated with plugging gear. Perhaps they believe by using more Whoa-Dude language their inconsequential headpoint ascents will seem relevant to other climbers. Which brings up an interesting point: could splitter be the stoke of the trad climbing community? If so, please see the recommendations for stoke.
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Gus Alexandropoulos is a freelance writer who has been involved in the outdoor industry for over 25 years. During his career he has been the editor at Canada’s national climbing magazine, as well as the gear editor for a national cycling magazine, triathlon magazine and running magazine. His work has been published in Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and he has been a guest on television and radio broadcasts. His passion for climbing began in Ontario in the mid 80s and he continues to travel extensively in search of crisp conditions and steep rock.