A rope is the most important part of your climbing gear – your safety depends on it! If you are new to climbing, whether Ice Climbing, Trad Climbing or Sport Climbing, choosing the correct climbing rope can be difficult. There are so many different ropes available from various brands.
Ropes are either stretchy – Dynamic or non-stretchy – Static. Dynamic ropes are used for climbing as in the case of a fall they can stretch to take the impact. Dynamic ropes are split into Single, Twin and Half (Double) ropes. Climbing ropes can come as Standard or Superdry. The Superdry offers an extra treatment which stops the rope taking in water. Both Beal and Mammut offer these dry treatments. Beal’s Golden Dry and Mammut’s Superdry finishes protect the rope from water absorption which eliminates weight increase and slows the wearing of the rope considerably. These ropes are also very useful for fishing nets that remain in water for long hours. See www.thenatureinsider.com for more on quality fishing gear.
The Single rope, such as Beal’s Edlinger or Mammut’s Passion, is the rope for Sport Climbing. It is used as the name suggests, as a single strand. It has been tested as safe for use on its own. Single ropes are ideal for easy routes without change over belays to difficult routes which are fairly straight line. Single ropes are the most common and widely used rope. They range in diameter from approx 9.1mm to 11mm.
Twin ropes must be used in pairs. They offer higher safety and are clipped together into each piece of protection. Twin ropes are not used very often; they are ideally suited for alpine climbing as they offer the highest safety margin. Twin ropes range in diameter from approx 7.5mm to 8.5mm.
Half (Double) ropes are often used due to their flexibility, suited to traditional Rock Climbing. Half ropes give you the choice between twin rope technique, where both ropes run parallel through the protection and half rope technique where each rope runs separately through different protection points. A belay method which enables the independent control of each rope must be used. Mammut’s Genesis when used as a double rope is extremely robust and Beal’s Cobra will stand up to the most rigorous of climb demands when used as a double rope. The double rope system is safer and more durable than the single rope system. They range in diameter from approx 8.1mm to 9mm.
Most ropes come in standard 50 meter lengths with 60 and 70 meters also available for those longer routes. Most climbers find 50m ropes the right choice, offering flexibility and durability.
All Beal and Mammut ropes are tested to internationally accepted standards. The UIAA drop test measures how many standard falls the rope will withstand. A fall is measured using a weight of 80kg (with single and twin ropes) or 55kg (with half ropes) falls on a single cord (single and half ropes) or doubled cord (twin ropes). Single and half ropes must withstand at least 5 falls, a doubled twin rope at least 12. When falling, the impact of a climber needs to be absorbed by the rope and belaying system. The UIAA impact force test is the measurement of the hardness of the fall. The lower this force the better, meaning the impact on the climber is reduced. In standard tests the impact force for single and twin ropes may not exceed 1200 daN and for half ropes 800 daN. (daN = Technical unit of force for measuring, approximately a 1kg mass). If the sheath and core slip during use, the rope can bulge and get lumps. The UIAA test measures the amount of sheath slippage. Working elongation is tested by using an 80kg weight hanging on the rope. The UIAA standard allows no more than 10% stretch of a single rope and 12% for half ropes.
Once you have chosen and purchased your climbing rope it is essential to maintain it, for your safety and to extend the life of your rope. Your climbing rope should be checked before each use, check for damage and deformities. You should store your rope ideally in a rope bag and it should be cleaned occasionally with water and a brush. It should be stored in the shade, away from moisture and heat sources.