Today’s vocabulary lesson is rock types in German for all you. You can’t get far in climbing without discussing your favorite type of mineral, whether pocketed limstone, gorgeous granite or supernaturally geometric basalt columns. I’ve sadly yet to climb basalt but hope to change that soon with an eventual goal of Devil’s Tower of course. But back to the rock:
Via reddit user jojoo commenting on a picture I posted of Donautal, comes a new (to me) German climbing word: Schwabenbruch. It means “Swabian choss” and describes the soft limestone of the Swabian Alb (Schwaebische Alb) locally known to be rather chossy. I can definitely confirm based on the several crags I’ve visited such as Stuhlfels and Schreyfels where you’d think the popularity and frequent climbing would ensure little loose rock.
Let’s take the word apart. Schwaben means Swabian(s) (e.g. die Schwaben – the Swabians) and bruch in this specific context means choss. The adjective is bruechig. It’s another great example of the German language’s ability to form incredibly specific words.
Today’s topic for German climbing vocabulary focuses on movements and action. Smearing, liebacking, heel hooking and jamming are all gibberish to most English speakers, because of course they don’t climb. Finding those words in a school book or dictionary can be even tougher for German learners.
Jargon is always tough and best learned by doing. I’ve stuck to constantly asking people at the gym or crag and reading German books on the subject. It’s a great way to expand both vocabulary and understand its use in context.
So let’s see how to describe the most common climbing moves and actions in German.
German climbing vocabulary for movements
Ich klettere gern / I like to climb
fallen / stuerzen
ich bin immer beim letzten Zug gefallen/gestuerzt - I always fall on the last move
to lead (climb)
Vorstieg klettern / vorsteigen
Kannst du Vorstieg klettern oder nur top rope? - Can you lead climb or just top rope?
Willst du vorsteigen oder nachsteigen? - Do you want to lead or follow?
to top rope (climb)
top rope klettern
In Deutschland ist top rope klettern eher ungewoehnlich - In Germany, top roping is actually uncommon
to clip (a quickdraw into a bolt)
eine Exe einhängen
Also ordentlich strecken und die Exe einhängen / So reach and clip the quickdraw.
to clean (a route)
Ich klettere zuerst, und dann kannst du nachsteigen und abbauen / I'll climb first and you can follow and clean the route.
to smear / smearing (n)
auf Reibung stehen / das Stehen auf Reibung
Stehen auf Reibung heisst ohne Tritt, d.h Fuss direkt gegen die Wand - Smearing means not having a foot hold, i.e. your foot directly against the wall
In der Verschneidung musst du viel stemmen / You've gotta stem a lot in the dihedral
Piazen versteht man das Klettern auf Gegendruck / Liebacking means climbing using opposing force
Fuer Risse musst du klemmen lernen - For cracks, you have to learn to jam.
to heel/toe hook
Same as English, also "hooken" sometimes
Der Heelhook ist eine Tritttechnik fuer Fortgeschrittene - Heel hooking is a technique for advanced climbers.
to rap / rappel
Beim Schreyfels musst du abseilen. / At Schreyfels you have to rappel.
to tie in
Erstmal einbinden und dann losklettern - First tie in and then start climbing.
to give slack
Beim Clippen musst du schnell Seil geben - When clipping you need to give slack fast
crack climbing (n)
Rissklettern findet man haeufiger in den USA als in Deutschland - Crack climbing is more common in the US than Germany
Next up in our series of German climbing vocabulary are words and phrases you can use to describe walls and routes. After all, a route is more than simply holds. it could be overhanging, steep, less than vertical, slabby or have a roof. I’ve continued to try and use real, natural examples of words that you may hear someone say or read in a guidebook. I feel they are more useful than a very short, simplistic sentence.