A Beginner's Guide to Climbing RopesIt's important to select the right climbing rope for each climb. In order to select the proper climbing rope, it's important to understand the many varieties of climbing rope available and their applications.
Static Climbing Rope
Static climbing ropes are used in many areas of rescue and recreational climbing including rescues, rigging, rappelling, ascending, and fall restraint applications. A static climbing rope is best suited for situations where there is minimal fall risk because it is designed to have a minimal amount of stretch.
Dynamic Climbing Rope
Dynamic climbing ropes are primarily used when there is a risk of a fall. When a climber falls, a well-balanced climbing rope will stop the fall in the shortest distance, while also lessening the impact felt by the climber and reducing force on equipment. In order to obtain these goals, dynamic climbing ropes have much higher levels of twist in the sheath and core yarns than static climbing ropes. This creates mechanical elongation to act like a spring absorbing the energy created during a fall.
Once you have determined whether a static or dynamic climbing rope fits your needs, the next step is to consider your climbing style. Will you be climbing using the Single, Twin, or Half climbing style? Each style has pros and cons and requires a different kind of rope.
Single Climbing Rope
Single climbing ropes have a diameter of 9 to 11mm and are suited for straight climbing routes typically found in top roping, rappelling, sport climbing, and big wall climbing. For top roping and rappelling you will want a larger diameter climbing rope. This will make the rope more durable to the friction of running through carabineers and rapel devices as well as easier for the belayer to control the rate of descent. Single climbing ropes are typically all purpose climbing ropes and are designed for climbing where one line is required.
Twin Climbing Rope
Twin climbing ropes are lighter and thinner than single climbing ropes. In the twin rope system both ropes pass through each point of protection providing a greater level of safety. This system is typically used for longer multi-pitch routes.
Double Climbing Rope
Double climbing ropes are used to reduce drag and provide some redundancy to the climber. The double climbing climbing rope system provides more flexibility to the climber than the single rope system and lessens the impact force on the protection in the event of a fall.
How Long Should Your Climbing Rope Be?
The next thing to consider is the length of your climbing rope. Lengths typically range from 30 to 80 meters though 60 meters is the standard. With a longer rope you will be able to cut the ends off a couple of times as they fray and still have a useful length.
How Thick Should Your Climbing Rope Be?
It is also important to choose the right diameter rope. In general, the larger the diameter of the climbing rope the heavier the rope will be. Larger diameter climbing ropes provide greater strength and wear protection than smaller diameter climbing ropes but also weigh more and are more difficult to use. Heavy duty or "workhorse" ropes are usually 10 to 11mm thick and are designed to handle a lot of stress. All purpose ropes tend to average 9.5 to 10mm. Skinny ropes range from 8 to 9.5mm. While these ropes are lighter to carry and use they are also weaker and more susceptible to damage.
Lastly, choose your color!
Climbing Rope FAQs
Q: What's a dry climbing rope?
A: The typical climbing rope gets wet when it rains and sits in a pool of water. This makes the rope weigh more, makes it harder to handle and diminishes some of its strength. A dry rope has been treated to be water repellent. This typically increases the cost of the rope.
Q: How should I coil my climbing rope?
A: To reduce twists/kinking, it is best to butterfly coil the rope over your neck, hand, or leg. Be sure each coil is laid down from left to right without twisting. At the end of the coil, wrap the sides together and pull a bight through the top of the coil.
Q: How should I store my climbing rope?
A: To increase the life of your rope, store it in a cool dry place away from chemicals and direct sunlight. Do not hang your rope from a coil.