Tech Tip – Hiking Terminology

backpacker in silly pose with beautiful landscape

Have you ever passed by a group while hiking and heard some weird lingo that you didn’t understand? “I was so stoked at the start, but after 15 miles, I totally bonked!” Every other day it seems like there is some new phrase being used out on the trails, it can be hard to keep up! Some of what you hear – or maybe even use yourself – are old favorites, while others are fairly new and require some explanation.

With Alaska hiking season in full swing, now is a great chance to brush up on some of our personal favorites used here at St. Elias Alpine Guides. Although not an exhaustive list of all the terminology used out on the trails, you’ll likely hear our guides utter at least one of these phrases while out on a trip with us!

Beta – Information on a specific route, usually obtained from someone who has first-hand knowledge. “You can get some beta from Anna, she’s done that route before.”

Bomber – Fail-proof or a tried-and-true favorite, often in reference to gear. “That brand has never failed me! All of their jackets are bomber.”

Bonk – Completely drained of all energy, you’re running on fumes. “I ran out of snacks halfway through the day and bonked on the last mile. I didn’t think I was going to make it!”

Cat hole – The hole that you dig to do the doo in the backcountry. “Please make sure that you’re digging catholes that are at least 6 inches deep.”

Cruiser – Very easy, often flat, hiking terrain. Variations include: ‘it cruises’ and ‘cruised’ (occasionally used in a misleading/understated way). “That boulder field is cruiser, such a privilege with a backpack on!”

GORP –  This one is a classic, Good Ole Raisins and Peanuts! Also known as Trail Mix. “Hand me a bag of GORP, would ya?”

It’ll Go – Phrase used when someone is route-finding and thinks they found something that’ll work (can be used overly optimistically). “It’s steep, has a few bushes and I can’t quite see the bottom, but it’ll go!”

Send it – A way of saying go for it, even if it might not be a great idea. “I haven’t trained at all…but I think I might sign up for that Ultra Marathon next month…” “Send it, bro!”

Stoke – Another word for excitement. “The stoke is high!”

Type II Fun – You might not have been having fun during the trip but, in hindsight, it was a lot of fun and something you’ll remember forever! Usually results from an unexpected challenge – bushwhacking, extreme elevation gain, getting slightly off-course, etc. “Did you guys have fun? I heard you got to bushwhack for 5 hours…” “We had Type II Fun.”


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