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Where does the term "choss" come from?
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By Greeley
Mar 6, 2013
I know what the terms "choss" and "chossy" mean, but where did the terms come from? In nerdspeak: What is the etymology?

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By Woodchuck ATC
Mar 6, 2013
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008
did this term originate from climbing on the great white cliffs of Dover in the UK?

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By Fat Dad
From Los Angeles, CA
Mar 6, 2013
I know it was the Brits who first used that expression. Check the OED (Oxford English Dictionary). That has every imaginable word in the English language from the great vowel shift onward.

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By jim.dangle
Mar 6, 2013
Good question.

I checked the OED and there was no record of choss (or chossy). The only reference was as a variant ye olde spelling of "choose" or "chose".

I wonder if it is German in origin. "Schloss" means castle I think. "chossy" rock might be said to resemble a castle ramparts or uneven stone wall. Or something like that.

Really should be in the OED, but always good to know something the OED editors don't.

Jim

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By Martin le Roux
From Superior, CO
Mar 6, 2013
Stairway to Heaven
It might have started as British Army slang. Eric Partridge's "Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English" has the following entry:

Choss up. To wreck, esp. a vehicle. Army, since ca. 1946. Prob. ex the widespread deliberate pron. of 'chaos' as 'choss'.

Earliest climbing reference that I've found is Climber & Rambler, 1964. "We start slithering down, facing outwards, on chossy slabs".

Google Books Ngram viewer is good for this sort of research (books.google.com/ngrams). But be prepared to wade through a lot of mis-scans of "cross", "choose" and "chose".

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By Fat Dad
From Los Angeles, CA
Mar 6, 2013
Interesting. "Schloss" does mean castle in German. "Chose" means thing in French. The former could have been imported when the Angles, Saxons and Jutes ruled the country early on, but the latter was probably imported after William the Conqueror arrived. Of course, it could even be Welsh in origin. Brits are good at making up odd sounding words, so maybe it does refer back to wrecking a vehicle.

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By Pete Spri
Mar 6, 2013
Colorado Rockies. And Canadian Rockies!

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By dylanfllr
Mar 6, 2013
Eldo?
I've never climbed there, just jumping on the bandwagon.

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By Adam F.
Mar 6, 2013
Off topic but...... I ran into the term highball in "The Egg And I" referencing the highline cables they used for logging back in the day.

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By J C Wilks
From Loveland, CO
Mar 6, 2013
I was told it was a combination of chalky and loose.

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By Jace Mullen
From Oceanside, Ca
Mar 6, 2013
I'm sure that a lot of climbing terms have interesting etymology, one that I've always wondered is about the term "beta", as well as "redpoint".

They seem fairly arbitrary but perhaps I'm missing something.

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By Gregory D
From La Verne
Mar 6, 2013
fun in the (twilight) sun
Beta as in "if you watched the video of someone climbing it, you would know everything you would need to know". Betamax went the way of 8 tracks and full size laser disks.

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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Mar 6, 2013
Flaming Pumpkin
Can we extend this thread to be "The etymology of commonly used climbing terms"?

Also I'm pretty sure redpoint had something to do with red paint at the bottom of a climb. Can't remember which "famous" climber it was, or why he did it.

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By Nick K
From Somerville, MA
Mar 6, 2013
I'm pretty sure redpoint was one of the french hardmen (that might be an oxymoron) back in the 80s or so. He'd spraypaint a dot at the bottom of climbs he'd done so he knew he'd done them already. Since he was french, he was probably drinking a lot of wine, which explains why he couldn't remember what lines he'd climbed.

I might have just made that up, who knows.

Let's see who can come up with the most ridiculous stories to explain climbing jargon.

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By Nick K
From Somerville, MA
Mar 6, 2013
Also, the origin of beta was pretty obscure 10 years ago. Imagine how hard it's going to be to explain in another ten.

We'll have to explain what VHS was in order to explain what Betamax was.

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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Mar 6, 2013
At the BRC
Evan Sanders wrote:
Can we extend this thread to be "The etymology of commonly used climbing terms"? Also I'm pretty sure redpoint had something to do with red paint at the bottom of a climb. Can't remember which "famous" climber it was, or why he did it.

I think that was Bernt Arnold in the Frankenjura, who went around drawing a little red circle at the base of aid routes he thought would go free. When they were successfully climbed he filled in the circle , the "redpoint."

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By zoso
Mar 6, 2013
avatar
To add more fuel to the fire: Which climbing-specific terms have jumped boundries?

All I can think of is "beta". That one is pretty universal @ this point.

Or how about "guttering"?

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By chuffnugget
From Bolder, CO
Mar 6, 2013
Brits don't need a reason or an excuse to make up words for things.

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By Brian in SLC
Mar 6, 2013
Climbing in Smuggler's Notch
Mark E Dixon wrote:
I think that was Bernt Arnold in the Frankenjura, who went around drawing a little red circle at the base of aid routes he thought would go free. When they were successfully climbed he filled in the circle , the "redpoint."


Kurt Albert. Bernd Arnold was active in Elbesandstein.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redpoint...

Rotpunkt
Rotpunkt


German kitchen appliances..."Rotpunkt" brand.

rotpunktkuechen.de/downloads/l...

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By Brian in SLC
Mar 6, 2013
Climbing in Smuggler's Notch
Nick K wrote:
Also, the origin of beta was pretty obscure 10 years ago. Imagine how hard it's going to be to explain in another ten. We'll have to explain what VHS was in order to explain what Betamax was.


Was probably more commonly known 10 years ago...

legacy.climbing.com/news/hotfl...

Shout out to the book:

mountaineersbooks.org/The-Clim...

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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Mar 6, 2013
Flaming Pumpkin
David Sahalie wrote:
Brits don't need a reason or an excuse to make up words for things.


Favorite Dave Barry quote:

"Me: Excuse me. Could you tell us how to get to Buckingham Palace?

British person: Right. You go down this street here, then you nip up the weckershams.

Me: We should nip up the weckershams?

British person: Right. Then you take your first left, then you just pop 'round the gorn-and-scumbles, and, Jack's a doughnut, there you are!

Me: Jack's a doughnut?

British person: Right.

Also they have a lot of trouble with pronunciation, because they can't move their jaw muscles, because of malnutrition caused by wisely refusing to eat English food, much of which was designed and manufactured in medieval times during the reign of King Walter the Mildly Disturbed. Remember when you were in junior high school, and sometimes the cafeteria workers would open up a large Army-surplus food can left over from the Spanish-American War and serve you a scary-looking dish with a name like "tuna bean prune cabbage omelet casserole surprise"?

Well, they still have a lot of food like that over in England, on permanent display in bars, called pubs, where people drink for hours but nobody ever eats. We saw individual servings of pub food that we recognized from our last visit, in 1978. Some dishes -- no effort is made to conceal this fact -- contain kidneys.

The English are very good at thinking up silly names. Here are some actual stations on the London underground: Marylebone, Tooting Broadway, Piccadilly Circus, Cockfosters, Frognal, Goodge Street, Mudchute, Barking and East Ham.

Londoners are apologetic about their underground, which they believe has become filthy and noisy and dangerous, but which is in fact far more civilized than the average American wedding reception. At the height of rush hour, people on the London underground actually say "excuse me." Imagine what would happen if you tried an insane stunt like that on the New York City subway. The other passengers would take it as a sign of weakness, and there'd be a fight over who got to keep your ears as a trophy.

Our primary cultural activity in London was changing money. We had to do this a lot because the dollar is very weak. Europeans use the dollar primarily to apply shoe polish. So every day we'd go to one of the money-changing places that are all over London, and we'd exchange some dollars for British money, which consists of the "pound" and a wide variety of mutant coins whose sizes and shapes are unrelated to their values, and then we'd look for something to eat that had been invented in this century, such as pizza, and we'd buy three slices for what we later realized was $247.50, and then we'd change some money again. Meanwhile the Japanese tourists were exchanging their money for items such as Westminster Abbey.

In the interest of broadening our 10-year-old son's cultural awareness, we visited some important historic sites, including the Tower of London, the Dungeon, and Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, all of which are devoted to explaining in clinical detail how various historic members of royalty were whacked into small historic pieces.

Needless to say this brand of history was a hit with our son. He especially enjoyed the guided "Jack the Ripper" tour that we took one dark night with a very intense guide. "Right on this spot is where they found the victim's intestines," she'd say. "And right here is where they found the liver, which is now part of the food display of that pub over there."

Another cultural activity we frequently engaged in was looking the wrong way before attempting to cross streets. The problem is that in America, people drive on the right side of the street, whereas in London, they drive on both sides of the street, using hard-to-see cars about the size of toaster ovens. The best way to handle this, as a tourist, is to remain on one side of the street for your entire visit, and see the other side on another trip.

But I definitely recommend London for anybody who enjoys culture and could stand to lose a few pounds. I learned many things that will be of great value to me, not just personally, but also professionally, and I'm not saying that just to be polite to the English. I'm saying it because of Internal Revenue Service regulations."

I was just going to post the first part, but the rest is too much comedy gold not to post.

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By Martin le Roux
From Superior, CO
Mar 7, 2013
Stairway to Heaven
Back to the OP (boring yes I know). Walt Unsworth's 1975 Encylopedia of Mountaineering has this to say.

CHOSS Colloqialism to describe a climb which is loose, dirty, covered in herbage etc. "A chossy climb" or "the place is full of choss". Possibly from chaos.

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