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Communication and Climbing Commands

Updated: Mar 7

Communication and Climbing Commands

Even if you’re climbing indoors, it’s crucial that all members of a climbing party are using their commands; prior to setting out on a climb with your partners, make sure that everyone has a solid understanding of 1) the climbing commands that will be used by the party, 2) who will be saying what commands, and 3) the purpose/meaning behind each of these commands.

Below, we’ve provided a table of most of the climbing commands that are commonly used in single-pitch and multi-pitch climbing scenarios. Be sure to learn all the commands contained in Table 1, even if you only plan on climbing at your local gym.





On belay?

​Lead Climber

The lead climber is asking their partner if they are ready to belay

​Belay on


​To tell the lead climber that they are on belay (response to "On belay?")


Lead Climber

The lead climber is letting their belayer know that they will begin climbing

Climb on


​Go ahead and climb (response to "climbing")


Lead Climber

​This lets the belayer know that the lead climber is clipping a bolt and may need extra slack. This is very useful for roofs where the climber may be out of sight


​Lead Climber

​This lets the belayer know that the lead climber has finished clipping a bolt

Off belay

Lead Climber

Usually, in a multi-pitch climbing scenario or when cleaning a route, the lead climber will use this to make sure their belayer sees that they are safely attached to the anchors and that the belayer can stop belaying the leader

Belay off


​This tells the lead climber that they are no longer being belayed (response to "Off belay")


Lead Climber

This lets the belayer know that the rope is too tight on the lead climber and that the lead climber needs more rope so that they can move around