Definitions, ethics and rock types in bouldering
Climbing slang explained, along with the ethics and climbing styles required for different UK rock types and venues.

Definitions, ethics and rock types in bouldering

Bouldering slang

Beta - information (about the moves, etc.)
Bridging - using your legs as a step across a gap
Bucket - large bouldering chalk bag that is left on the ground
Crimper - small positive hold
Dogging - see Working
Dyno - dynamic movement across the rock
Flag - when you only have one foot in contact with the rock and the other acting as a counter balance
Flash - climb the problem or route with the full beta (sic), first time
Jug - large hold
Matching - sharing a hand or foot hold
On sight - climb the problem or route without any information, at the first attempt
Pinch - using your fingers and thumb to grip the hand hold
Redpoint - climb the problem or route after working (sic)
Rock over- high foot placement where the body weight is brought over the leg
Sidepull - a sideways hold
Sloper - a rounded hand hold
Smear - a poor, sloping foot hold
Static - slow, controlled movement
Undercling - using the underside of the hold
Working (or 'dogging') - attempting the problem or route until you can climb it ground up

Rock types and ethics  


In the UK there are two main areas of sandstone climbing. Southern sandstone which is very soft, consisting mainly of rounded sandy breaks. Northumberland sandstone, which is of a high quality although it is still soft and more fragile than other rock types. The climbing can range from technical to powerfully over-hanging, generally on positive small holds.

Ethics on sandstone: no wire brushes, as the outer surface of the rock can be weak. Clean only with soft brushes. No resin to be used on UK sandstone, as it permanently affects the rock. 


Gritstone is found mainly in the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District. In general the rock quality is very high. It offers a wide range of climbing from cracks and slabs, to pulling up on pebbles and powerful roof climbing on sloppers. In the main, the rock is coarse to very coarse so friction (grip) is usually excellent but can be hard wearing on both skin and boots. You can climb all year round but autumn, winter and early spring offer the best conditions when friction is greatest.

Ethics on grit: cleaning should only be carried out with soft brushes, no wire brushes, as the outer surface of the rock can be weak. Resin should not be used on UK grit as it permanently affects the rock. 


Mainly found in the Lake District and Wales. The quality is generally high but low friction means overhanging problems require great power and vertical to slabby problems are especially technically testing on your feet.

Ethics on slate: cleaning should only be carried out with soft brushes, no wire brushes, as the outer surface of the rock can be weak. Resin should not be used on UK slate as it permanently affects the rock.


Found throughout the country. The height of the crags ranges from small bouldering venues to long multi-pitch routes. The rock quality can be variable but the better quality rock is very dense and solid. Friction varies widely from very smooth, frictionless rock (like the slate) to a very coarse, sharp texture. Consequently, the nature of holds varies more than all other types of rock and this means it takes a little getting used to and requires a wide range of climbing styles.


The best granite in the UK is found in Cornwall and throughout Scotland. The rock quality varies but the best is excellent, and is usually quite coarse and provides good friction. The style of climbing is normally slabs, flakes and cracks.


Mainly found in Scotland, generally very smooth with a slate-like texture. The climbing style requires attention to body tension.

Environmental Ethics

  • Parking - show consideration for other climbers, walkers, landowners etc. especially where parking space is limited
  • The toilet issue - 'Go before you go.'
  • Do not use resin on any UK crag.
  • Keep your boots clean. This will increase your chances of success (clean boots grip better), stop the spread of muck up the rock face, and reduce erosion.
  • Chalk is generally accepted at all major climbing areas in the UK.
  • Take your litter home. Better still, take other people's litter home too.
  • Have fun but let other people enjoy the countryside too, so keep noise and 'language' to a minimum.
  • If you take your dog out, keep it under control at all times.
  • No wire brushing.


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