As I illustrated in my previous post on the history of many climbing terms, climbing's past isn't the neat, sensible topic you'd read in a history book. Our ancestors were a nutty bunch, inventing words and gear on the fly, with little thought as to how much they were affecting the future of climbing, they were so into the now. Without these brave, often impulsive souls making the sport into what they wanted, we would not have many of the gear and phrases we readily have access to today.
As many of you that have visited our newly remodeled Carrollton location have probably noticed, we have changed up the way we rate problems there. And no, we didn't do it to confuse you guys or be annoying. We've switched over from the classic V-scale widely used in most American gyms, to the circuit system many gyms in Europe utilize. We swear the switch-over was not arbitrary — the circuit system is a more efficient training method, and gives you a more accurate idea of where your skill level is at. Here's the history of this particular system, and why we decided to integrate it into our gym.
As we tore down the panelling to begin our reconstruction project at Summit Carrollton, the dust, chalk and God-knows-what-else from the past 22 years came pouring out of the gym's walls, like smoke from the microwave after you accidentally nuke a fork. (Similes are not my strong suit.) Besides giving us the anticipation of potential future lung problems, the dust brought with it some very strong feelings of nostalgia from a lot of us who have been climbing at this old climbing gym for the past few years. This gym — now Summit, but formerly Exposure — is one of the oldest climbing gyms in the state, as well as the country. A lot of people have graced its walls, (Climber Jack Mileski, who coined the term "beta," actually got his start at Exposure back in the day), and it's seen many, many changes throughout its 22-year history in the Dallas area.
Climbers have a very particular vocabulary. If any outsider were to eavesdrop on a conversation between climbers for even five minutes, they would leave very confused and probably disgusted. Our slang terms get slangier, and shortened, and misspelled until we're left with a language so exclusive, that I'm still learning new words all the time — and I have been in the climbing game for about 13 years now. I compiled a list of 20 of the most common climbing terms that y'all might be interested in hearing the origins of. Let me know if I missed any! GriGri: Believe it or not, the term "GriGri" is derived from Voodoo. Yep, spell castin', doll stabbin' Voodoo. In Voodoo, a "gris gris" is a good luck talisman — thanks to its auto-locking feature, I'd say the GriGri is a pretty good luck charm against your partner's crappy belaying. So be sure to make an animal sacrifice to the Petzl gods, in appreciation for them creating you such a glorious device.