10 words that every adventure lover should know

Vocabulary is a tricky, ever-changing thing. Remember the not-so-long-ago days when “YOLO” wasn’t included in the Oxford English Dictionary?

In the outdoor and action-sports worlds, superlatives and slang are particularly mutable. Is “gnarly” a good thing or a bad thing? Should you want to “shralp”? Are we ironically or un-ironically using the word “rad” these days?

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Let’s break it down.


A photo posted by Pete Willems (@frothonlife) on

An out-of-place fool who doesn’t know how to handle their equipment, their experience or their body. Can be seen everywhere from ski slopes to bike parks.

The Gaper has many location-specific relatives, including the Joey and the Kook. The Joey, for instance, tends to spawn in Long Island and travel to the mountains of southern Vermont, while the Kook is most often seen on the beaches of Southern California.

If you get called a gaper, it means you’re not from here, you can’t hang and we can all tell.


That dog is stoked. Photo: Atanas Teodosiev
That dog is stoked. Photo: Courtesy of Atanas Teodosiev
Adjective. Excited. But, like, the most excited.

The only thing better than being stoked is being soooo stoked. Bro.


This guy is sending it for sure. Photo: Jörg Angeli/Unsplash
This guy is sending it for sure. Photo: Jörg Angeli/Unsplash
To go all in. It stems from the action of launching yourself off a cliff, but it’s evolved to include any situation where you’re really going for it.

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You can send a climb, or a cliff, or a night at the bar. Synonyms include “hucking” and “getting after it.”


A photo posted by Jim Thornburg (@jimthornburg) on

Derived from climbing jargon, where “splitter” cracks are perfectly formed and aesthetically pleasing. Has translated to mean anything that’s beautiful, from weather to weed: splitter mornings, splitter hot springs, splitter pre-rolls.


Sorry, we can’t explain this any better than this guy.

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Specific information about a climb, ski, hike or other adventure. Completely unrelated to the native definition of the word “beta,” which is the second letter of the Greek alphabet.

According to Wikipedia, “the original use of the term ‘beta’ in climbing is generally attributed to the late climber Jack Mileski. ‘Beta’ was short for Betamax, a reference to an old videotape format largely replaced by the VHS format. This was actually a play on words, as Jack would often ask, ‘You want the beta, Max?'”


Was it gnarly? Epic? Did you get pitted? Photo: Thomas Ashlock
Was it gnarly? Epic? Did you get pitted? Photo: Courtesy of Thomas Ashlock
Merriam-Webster defines gnarly as both “very difficult or bad” and “very good,” so we can see why you might be confused here.

Let’s split the difference and call it “intense.”


The best. All-time. Unmatchable. It was gnarly, you got pitted and you were so stoked afterward.

Or, a Homeric journey where you, like Odysseus, were waylaid by weather, elements and sirens, and your trip was much longer and harder than planned.

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Applies to outdoor adventures as well as things like breakfast burritos and your morning commute to the office.


Snow, preferably of the light and deep variety. See also: cold smoke, champagne, chunder, chowder, corn, deepness, gnar, gnar-gnar, blower, freshies.

Sorry, what were we talking about?


"So pitted, bro." Photo: Arnaud Mesurer
“So pitted, bro.” Photo: Arnaud Mesureur/Unsplash
To speak effusively about your own accomplishments, experiences or abilities. A common trait of both gapers and jerks.

Try not to, if you can.

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