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A Guide to Mountain Slang

by Tim Wenger Oct 10, 2016

The lingo and expressions of mountain culture can be confusing. It often sounds like a bunch of childish gibberish, and to be honest, it mostly is. If you find yourself conversing in a mountain town but can’t think of an appropriate term to describe your most recent outdoors adventure, a basic go-to is to take a word commonly viewed as undesirable and use it instead to describe something awesome.

In the instance that you have no idea what the person is talking about, employ the smile-and-nod technique. We probably just need someone to listen to us talk about our day. It can be lonely up on the hill.

Here is a basic guide of frequently used mountain lingo, to make piecing together the sloppy sentences and exaggerated hand gestures a little more manageable.

“6-inch rule”

A rule that signifies unity among mountain town workers who support the common struggle of a trickle-up, worker-first mentality. The 6-inch rule means that if it snows six inches or more, calling in sick to work in order to hit the slopes is ok and even encouraged. This rule has yet to gain traction with management in most workplaces, however.


Navigating a run or trail with a high level of intensity and often mastery, sometimes accompanied by frequent bouts of whistling or general yelling from observers.


A variation on bro, best accentuated with a high pitch and the prefix ‘Ah,’. Perhaps this term arose when one bro stood on top of a run and yelled to his bro down below, with a gust of wind between them muffling the pronunciation and causing the lower bro to hear an ‘a’ instead of ‘o’.

“Sickie gnar”

Optimal conditions to be schralped. Rarely used without incorporation of other mountain terms, i.e. ‘Ah, brah, it’s sickie gnar schralpage time!’


A climbing term referring to a compact climbing area.


Someone who is out of their element in a mountain setting or the outdoors. Typically, this person spends more time gaping around and getting in everyone’s way than actually schralping.

“Gaper gap”

Caused when a skier or snowboarder exposes part or all of their forehead between the helmet and goggles, causing them to look as if they aren’t aware of how to properly put on gear.


This term is typically used to describe people from Denver or other large metros in ski-heavy regions that act like they own the slopes even though they have to commute to get there, when in actuality all they do is bomb it straight down cruisers all day. The term can be used more broadly, as there are plenty of flatlanders who do the same thing.


Fresh, untracked powder. The ultimate sign of a good day to come.


To have a unique and awesome style to the way one gets down the mountain.


After you’ve fallen off your rock climbing route, using the climbing rope to slowly get back into place by hoisting yourself up inch by inch.


To ride a line or area over and over again, often with a group of friends, while repeatedly pointing out exactly what you did on the last run and why this next one is going to be better.


Excited or amped. Can be used pre or post activity, like ‘I’m stoked on this line’ or ‘that burrito totally stoked me out.’

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