behind the wrenches: lexicon

This installment of BTW will focus on the lexicon of the setting world. While the climbing lifestyle has a deep pool of jargon and slang, routesetting has is its own sub-genere of unique terminology and archaic vocabulary. It would be impossible to catalog the entire lexicon of RJ routesetting in one post, but here is a brief introductory course to get you up to speed.


noun: 1) Lucas ‘LaMarcus‘ Arnold

verb: 1) to remove a cross threaded hold from the wall with great vengeance and furious anger. “Hey, Chris, can you get a hammer and lamarcus that spinner off the wall?” 2) to vanish like a ghost at the end of the day. “Man, Jamie sure lamarcused out of there yesterday. I never saw him leave!”


noun: 1) a route or boulder problem. “Check out this rig. Purple holds and orange tape. So dank.”


noun: 1) a loose hold that is stuck on the wall. Happens most frequently when a bolt is cross-threaded and the t-nut rips out of the plywood. “So, who wants to go behind the wall and help me with this spinner?” 2) the misunderstood art of routesetting. “Bro, do you spin?” “Yeah, I spin.”

be*hind the wall

noun: 1) a dark, dangerous, dusty place no one should ever have to see; like that cave in Empire Strikes Back where Luke battles Darth Vader only to discover he was battling his own internal darkness. “I went behind the wall to tighten a bolt hanger today…” “Do you want to talk about it?” “No. No, I don’t.”

dirt/dirty/the dirt

noun: 1) the best route in the gym. “That yellow 5.10 is the dirt, homie!”

verb: 1) to set a route of extremely high quality. “What it do, Corey? You setting dirt today?”

adjective: 1) when a route or move or sequence (or anything, really) is particularly engaging. “Listen to these dirty beats, bro. Skrillix is the best.”

See also: sick, the gnar.

add a foot

verb: while forerunning, an admission of defeat. “Take here, Jamie, I need to add a foot.”


verb: 1) to approach a hold or section of a route from an awkward position. “Ugh, I was all undercrunked up in that dihedral. It was the worst.” 2) to grab the bottom or underside of a hold. “Undercrunk your right hand, step through, then fire to the lip.”

fresh shapes

noun: 1) brand new holds. “Did you see that box of fresh shapes in the hold closet? I’m gonna set the dirt today, fellas!”

set*ting  tu*nic

noun: 1) a stylish blazer worn to and from morning setting sessions during the colder months. “Did you see LaMarcus’s setting tunic? The one with the embroidered crest? He’s so baller!”

rai*ning  de*struc*tion

verb: 1) the act of dropping many large holds or features from high on the wall. “Yo, check yourself, I’m raining destruction here.”


noun: 1) old busted jug; the opposite of fresh shapes. “I’m setting the 5.5 today, where’s the bucket of O.B.J.s?

drop my lad*der

verb: 1) to retract an extension ladder when the setter using it transitions to setting on a rope. “Hey, Keith, be a dear and drop my ladder for me, yeah? I’m roping up now.”

the pro*gram

noun: 1) two up, two over; the time tested method for setting easy routes. “Nah, I’ll be done quick. I’m using the program on this 5.7.”

go*ing  an*a*log

verb: 1) to set without the use of an impact driver. “Crap, I left my impact at the south gym. Guess I’m going analog today.”


adverb: when a move is too hard for the climber. “Rylan, that all-points-off dyno is too reachy. You should add a foot.”