Don’t know your karst from your krummholz? Do you think holloway is used solely as a surname? Able to walk the walk but have no idea how to talk the talk? An ability to read the land and a basic understanding of trail conditions can be the difference between embarking on a hard slog and pure bliss. Brush up on your hiking and camping terms with this short glossary.
ABC – Advance Base Camp. A lesser-equipped, less-comfortable camp serving as a launch pad higher on a mountain.
Abseiling – also known as “roping down.” A method of retreat, or for inspecting a climbing route.
Adz – ax-like tool used by trail maintenance to hack at stuff. Good for shaping wood in a trailish manner.
AMS – Acute Mountain Sickness. Occurs at high altitude due to diminished oxygen. Begins with shortness of breath, followed by swelling, flu-like symptoms, and eventually, death. Most people won’t experience symptoms until they reach heights well above 10,000 feet. Varies with the individual.
Bergshrund – A crevasse that separates the upper portion of a glacier from the mountain it backs into.
Bivouac — a temporary or makeshift shelter meant to protect hikers from inclement weather.
Black-Blazer – Someone — usually a disgruntled townie — who paints over or otherwise removes trail markers to prevent hikers from finding the trail.
Blue-Blazer – Term used by “thru-hikers” to describe those who will use shortcuts, connector trails, alternative trails, etc. periodically for a change of pace or break from monotony.