What is Hangdogging?

Definition of a Climbing Slang Word

Eric Horst "takes" on the rope while hangdogging or wrking on a sport route at Shelf Road in Colorado. Photograph copyright Stewart M. Green

What is Hangdogging?

Hangdogging is a rock climbing slang word that is the process of hanging from a climbing rope while working on the hard moves of a difficult route.

Climbers Hangdog When They Can't Do the Moves

Climbing routes that are harder than 5.12, which is the upper limit of difficulty that most climbers can hope to do, are rarely "flashed" or climbed on-sight by a climber who has never been on it before. Instead, most climbers work on the route, climbing from bolt to bolt and figuring out the sequence of climbing moves. While they are working the route, the climbers will hang on the rope to rest or to feel different handholds or to try a hard move with tension from the rope. Over time they are able to figure out the beta and sequence of moves while hanging from the rope so that they can do a clean redpoint ascent, which is climbing from base to anchors without falling. Hangdogging then is a technique that is the means to an end. Climbers usually say "Take" or "Tension" when they want to be held tight on the rope while hangdogging.

Origination of Hangdogging

Hangdogging originated in the 1980s when sport climbing, simply gymnastic-style rock climbs preprotected with bolts placed permanently in the rock, was in its infancy. Prior to the new sport climbing ethic which evolved at that time, most climbers tried to climb a route in the purest way possible--by climbing from base to summit without falling or hanging on the rope or gear. Trad climbers looked askance at sport climbers and derisively called them hangdogs.

Hangdogging Usage

Usage as a verb: “I spent all afternoon hangdogging on the crux moves of Slice of Life at Rifle Mountain Park. I think I'm close to sending it.”

Usage as a noun: "Little Jimmy is nothing but a hangdog, just look at the way he hangs on that route all day."