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A Cheatsheet to Spanish Climbing Vocabulary

Deep Water Soloing BarilocheClimbing in Spanish / Escalar en Español

Rock climbing. It’s a lifestyle that some of us get so sucked into that we sell our belongings and move into a car to dirtbag around the country. Or maybe it’s a thing you do on the weekends. Wherever on the spectrum you fall, you’ve had to learn the ridiculous climbing-specific jargon that the uninitiated upon hearing roll their eyes.Stella the Subaru en route to Bariloche

Today is a different day than any other, though. You’ve decided that instead of heading out to your local crag or making the 8 hour drive to Moab, Canada, or other classic site in North America, the feisty ants in your pants that normally propel you up routes are now giving you the tingles to head somewhere exotic. No, I’m not talking Thailand or Italy…I’m talking LATIN AMERICA (or Mexico or Spain).

And you know what the coolest part about an international climbing trip is going to be? Not just the new routes you’ll climb or the far-off land you’ll see:  it’ll be the experience that mixing with the locals provides. From getting critical beta to scouting out new climbing partners (imagine:  you’ve gotten the balls to head somewhere unknown with only climbing shoes and a harness!), knowing a few key words in Spanish will get you ahead leaps and bounds. Plus, you’ll make friends that will respect you for trying to break out of the gringo bubble that so often follows traveling climbers from the USA, Canada, and other English-speaking countries.

So go do it. Buy that ticket right now, start organizing your gear, and get stoked. It’s time to pop that little bubble and go climb somewhere cool.

So “dale,” friend. It’s worth it, and you’ll never, ever look back.

Climbing Vocabulary/ Vocabulario de Escalada

Climbing Gear

  • Climbing shoes:  zapatos, pies de gato

    Rope Discussion

    Thomas checks for rubber damage while Johnny, Dani, and Bill discuss rope wear.

  • Knot:  nudo
  • Rope:  cuerda
  • Friends:  friends (as in cams)
  • Hike/walk:  caminata
  • Toilet paper:  papel higiénico
  • Backpack:  mochila
  • Quickdraw(s): cinta(s) express
  • Helmet:  casco
  • Sling: cinta
  • Runner:  cinta larga
  • Harness:  arnés
  • (Locking) carabiner:  mosquetón
  • Bolt:  chapa
  • Chalk:  magnesio
  • Injury:  lesión
  • Trad gear:  equipo clásico
  • Rack: “gear” [yes, just like that]
  • Nut / stopper:  “stopper”  [again, yes, just like that]
  • Safety devices (i.e. gri-gris, jumars, ascenders):  aseguradores

Route-Related nouns

  • Route:  ruta

    Fernando follow on Sudafricana

    Fernando works his way up Sudafricana’s first pitch while Johnny waits at the first belay. The formations to the right create the western flank enclosing the Frey’s most quickly accessed climbing areas.

  • Pitch:  largo, ie. “How many pitches is the climb?” => ¿Cuántos largos tienen la ruta?
  • Multipitch:  multilargo
  • Chimney:  chimenea
  • Crack / splitter:  fisura
  • Crag:  zona
  • Fall or whipper:  caída
  • Sport vs traditional:  deportiva vs. tradicional
  • Anchor:  reunión
  • Tower:  torre
  • Spire:  aguja
  • Crux:  crux
  • Dihedral:  diedro
  • Deep water solo:  psicobloc

Types of climbing

  • Slab climbing:  placa aplomada
  • Vertical face (climbing):  placa vertical
  • Overhanging face:  placa desplomada
  • Techo:  roof
  • Crack:  fisura

Body Parts

(To Spray Your Friends Down with Beta; To Indicate Injury)

  • Knee: rodilla
  • Elbow: codo
  • Wrist:  muñeca
  • Tendon: tendón
  • Ankle:  tobillo
  • Heel:  (of foot) talón ;(of shoe) tacón
  • Hand:  mano
  • Fingers:  dedos
  • Toes:  dedos del pie


Do This, Don’t Do That

Roof Techo Sudafricana Refugio Frey

Roof (Techo) on Pitch 1 of Sudafricana at Refugio Frey, Argentina

Memorize this:  “Dale!” / Send it!/Go for it!

  • to belay:  asegurar
  • to lead (as in a climb):  puntear
  • to follow: seguir(se)
  • to clean (a route):  limpiar (la ruta)
  • to onsight/redpoint/flash:  a vista
  • to fit:  ajustarse
  • to wrap:  envolver
  • to cross:  cruzarse
  • to tie:  atar (tie together) – Enlazar
  • to twist:  torcerse [noun:  torcimiento]
  • to pull:  tirar
  • to push:  empujar
  • to cross :  cruzarse
  • to stand:  poner (stand up, Poner derecho)
  • to focus:  concentrarse
  • to fall / take a whipper:  caer(s)se
  • to hurt: lastimar; hacer daño a…



  • Tight: apretad@
  • Loose: suelt@
  • Painful:  doloros@
  • Drinkable (as in water):  potable

 *Note:  These translations are specific to Argentina and Chile. Central America and Spain may include slight variations.

Many thanks Bariloche local Nacho for assisting with translations.

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1 Response

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