After watching the trailer for this British bouldering video, it has become very clear to me that as Americans, our desire to mimic the climbing vernacular of other countries is misdirected. I’ll be the first to admit that we Yankees say really lame things when we’re out at the crag. When your buddy is giving it his all on a sketchy topout, surely there is something more inspiring to say than “c’mon dude!” or “press it out bro!”
That’s where stealing words of encouragement from other countries comes in. Instead of cheering someone on in plain English, what could make you sound like more of a well-travelled climbing badass than shouting the Spanish “venga” over and over? Or why not go Frenchy style and use the always popular “allé.” Maybe you can fool people into thinking you’re just taking a short break from living in the enchanted forest of Fontainebleau to visit whatever crusty U.S. bouldering area you’re currently in. Well, this is where my opinion differs from much of the climbing community.
In my opinion, we ought to be stealing phrases from the British. Hell, at least you can understand what they’re saying. Well, sort of. In a serious climbing situation, where success or failure is on the line, why do climbers feel obligated to yell harsh foreign words repeatedly? Wouldn’t it be better to calmly urge your partner up the wall with a friendly “go on mate!”
What about when the situation gets really dicey? I mean when you are really buggered. We’ve all been there. You’re run out above some dodgy gear, get spooked and start thowing a wobbly, which makes the situation even worse. Rather than getting your knickers in a twist and yelling something unsavory like "oh, shit," what if you just muttered a nice “bloody hell.” It gets the point across that things aren’t going perfectly, but you’re going to try and keep it together. If things really escalate and danger is imminent, I think “bollocks” does nicely.
These wonderfully quaint expressions can be used in non-climbing situations as well. Like when your partner pulls a couple of Olympia tallboys out of his rucksack rather than a few pints of Newcastle Brown. In that instance, instead of calling your dimwit friend something hurtful like a “tool,” or an “asshole,” you can easily convey your disgust nicely by referring to him as a “sodding wanker.” You two blokes will have a nice laugh while you attempt to choke down that overly sweet Oly out of its chic orange can. If your pal doesn’t take it so nicely and becomes enraged, tell him to “come off it” or “piss off.”
I hope this gives you a good start towards broadening your vocabulary in climbing and non-climbing situations. I think many of these sayings are spot on and I hope you will too.
Until next time, cheerio!
Until next time, cheerio!