BB's guide to Boulderspeak - part 1 |


The basics

If you're new to the sport, it can feel like boulderers are talking their own little language half the time. Why do they keep telling me about their flashes?! Why are they so happy about having new problems?! But have no fear! The BB guide to boulder-speak is here. Just learn these words and phrases and you'll be talking an 8C+ game in no time...


A sequence of moves that make up a bouldering climb. Called a "problem" because of their sometimes tricky, puzzle-like nature, which can take some working out.


A collection of problems designed to be climbed together. The idea of bouldering circuits comes largely from the forests of Fontainebleau where circuits are marked on the rocks to give you a large set of problems in one location of very roughly similar grades.


The difficulty of a climb. Notoriously subjective and the subject of endless arguments both indoors and out. Best used as a rough guide and not taken too literally!

Beta ("bee-ta")

Information about how to climb a particular problem. As in, "have you got any beta on that problem over there? I can't do it." Never be afraid to ask for beta, but beware of "spraying" beta at climbers who haven't asked for it - they might not appreciate having the problem solved for them! Pronounced "bay-da" at your own peril.

Send / tick

To complete a problem cleanly (i.e. in one go, without using any disallowed holds or features), from start to finish. Often the culmination of working a problem. A fancy way of saying "do".

Working a problem

Trying a problem several times in order to unlock its secrets and work towards a send. Problems can be "worked" move-by-move, with all the moves pieced together once you know you can do all the individual bits. Best done with a friend on the ground to "helpfully" point out where you're going wrong, before not being able to do it themselves either.


To send a problem cleanly on the first attempt, having already had some beta. Does not (necessarily) involve nudity. Not quite as good as, but still often used interchangeably with, an on-sight.


To send a problem cleanly on the first attempt, having never laid eyes on, or otherwise had any beta for it before. The purest style of ascent, often seen in the finals of bouldering competitions.

Sit start

To start a problem with your bum on the ground, pulling up off the ground as the first move. At Boulder Brighton we don't generally specify whether problems should be sit-started or not - but if the starting holds are close to the ground this may be the best way to go about doing the problem. Here's a particularly gnarly looking one at Squirrel Buttress in the Peak District.

Top out

To finish over the top of a climb. An essential move outdoors, which can be practiced on our top-out boulder - the Duck - at Boulder Brighton. Makes this sort of thing a lot less nervy.


Watching out for another boulderer to make sure that he/she will land properly if they fall, particularly when bouldering outdoors over sketchy landings. See this link for a textbook example:

some snowmen in jackets spotting a boulderer outdoors in the snow