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Definition of a Climbing Word


Ian Spencer-Green uses handholds and footholds on a limestone cliff in Montana.

Footholds are super important when you're climbing thin vertical faces.

Photograph © Stewart M. Green


A foothold is a point on a cliff face where a climber places his foot, which allows him upward progress. There are three basic types of footholds: smears (also called friction holds) where a rock shoe smears against the rock surface for purchase; edges where a rock shoe is placed on a protruding edge or shelf, which is usually a positive hold; and toe holds, which is when aclimber sticks the toe of his rock shoe into a pocket or places the toe on a foothold.

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