Climbing Calls

When you go to the crag you’ll hear a variety of phrases being shouted between partners. While some of them might be mild chit chat or abuse, others are actually used to let the partner know what the other has done or is about to do. These are climbing calls and are an important method of communication.

They need to be clear and concise and not easily confused with other calls, especially as they may be called over distance to a partner that is out of sight. For example, if you need the belayer to take in some slack rope you would generally use the phrase "take in!". You should avoid calling "take in slack!" as the first two words could get lost and result in your partner paying out rope as they thought they heard "slack!".

The following table outlines the main climbing calls used in the UK. I have tried to write them in chronological order, that is the order in which you would use them on the first pitch of a climb.

Call Description
Climb when you’re ready Belayer letting their partner know that they have them on belay and are ready to protect them.
Climbing Climber letting belayer know they are starting to climb
OK Belayer acknowledging climbers call. Climber should now start to climb.
Slack Call from climber asking for rope to be paid out
Take In Call from climber asking for rope to be taken in
Safe Call from leader to second to say there is no way they can fall, usually because they are secured to a belay and that they can be taken off the belay device
Off Belay Second telling leader that they have been taken off the belay device
Taking In Leader informing second that they are pulling in all of the slack rope between them
That’s Me Second telling leader that the rope has come tight against them
Climb when you’re ready Belayer letting their partner know that they have them on belay and are ready to protect them.
Climbing Climber letting belayer know they are starting to climb
OK Belayer acknowledging climbers call. Climber should now start to climb.
Tight Sometimes called by a second when making an awkward move and wanting a tight top rope

Some other calls that might be heard include:
Call Description
Below Called as warning from climber above when something is dislodged or dropped. Usually a rock or some gear
Rope Below Warning call to other climbers that a rope is about to be thrown down the rock face.

Back to top

Article written by Giles Thurston on January 15, 2008

Comments

There are no comments for this article yet.

Comment on this article

Unfortunately we have had to disable comment submissions, due to increasing spam abuse over recent months. We will be back when we have found a suitable alternative.

Apologies for the hassle this may cause!

Free Newsletter

Join our newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest developments on YouAreEmpty.com.

 

Weather


Mountains & Routes

UK Mountain Database

The mountain database contains details of all 3000 peaks in UK over 150m. You can browse by area or all the major ticklists including Munros and Wainwrights.

Example peak:

Table 'fcs_mdays-mtns.areas' doesn't exist

Route Database

The route database contains details of walks, scrambles, rock climbs, mountaineering routes, ice climbs and alpine routes added by our visitors. Why not log your own routes and share them with others?