Rock Climbing Ropes – Distinguishing the Types

By on Jan 29, 2011 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Rope Management on Flying Buttress Rope Management on Flying Buttress There are lots of discussions and debates climbing on forums and blogs about the different types of dynamic climbing ropes and best practise. The main types of dynamic rope used in rock climbing, ice climbing and mountaineering are broadly divided into single, double and twin climbing ropes, with hillwalking safety ropes as a smaller by product of the industry. These days it is a simple article of good practise to check that the rock climbing rope you are buying carries the appropriate UIAA rope marking label, heat shrunk onto the end of the rope. It really couldn’t be easier to make sure you get the right rope for the job. rope end indicator Rope End Indicator Labels Explained Most frequently seen of modern rock climbing ropes, is a single rope of between 8.9 mm up to 11 mm in diameter, designed to be used on its own as protection in a fall. Heavy weight singles and their more modern skinnier variations have found a resurgence in popularity in modern sport climbing;on climbs where the line doesn’t wander much and at crags where descent is an easy walk off. The thinner single ropes have an advantage in weight saving, but are not as durable as the thicker models. Abrasion or catches in the sheath, have a much bigger effect on the total strength and shock absorbing characteristics of these thinner rock climbing ropes. The more substantial single ropes up to 11 mm are on the other hand easier to grasp, can withstand more falls and wear and tear. A cut in the sheath is much less likely to lead to rope failure as there is substantially more material in reserve, to absorb the shock of a fall.. Double ropes were a British to the much smaller surface area of rock on our British crags which characteristically have intricate wandering lines. Double ropes were used to reduce the rope drag on zigzagging routes when a single rope was clipped into the protection either side of the climber as they picked their way up indistinct wandering lines. The use of two ropes brought about a need to reduce weight, leading to the development of half ropes around the 9 mm mark. Each half rope in the double rope system is rated to take a significant fall by itself, with recent products reduced . Another advantage, particularly useful on Scottish winter climbs and other large mountaineering undertakings is that, if a retreat is necessary, climbers can abseil the full-length of the rope, rather than half a rope length at a time. This is quicker and reduces the number of potentially dubious anchors that the climbers have to rely on. This short video clip from UKClimbing gives some very useful tips about managing double rope technique. Double Rope Technique As climbers and the gear firms have striven for lighter gear, for ever more extreme routes, twin ropes appeared on the scene for long ice routes and big mountaineering projects. The reduced weight and diameter of these skinny climbing ropes meant that they had to be clipped as a pair at all times. Each piece of pro had to be clipped with both ropes, because these ropes had much lower strength than a half or single rope. The elasticity and low “peak impact forces” of these thinner ropes also meant that a climber fell quite a bit further before the fall being arrested. .Even though climbers suffered much lower impact forces in a fall, the extra distance travelled, significantly increased the risk of injury through hitting obstacles such as ledges and flakes mid flight. Used as a pair, the ropes offered as much protection as a single thicker rope would in a fall situation and gave the advantage of being able to abseil full rope lengths as with using a pair of half ropes. They did however have the same disadvantage of rope drag when the line wandered from side to side as well as the added fumble factor of having to clip two ropes into protection. There are some really critical safety points here. Twins really aren’t suitable as half or single ropes, partly because of the extra extension when shock loaded in a fall and also, none of the ropes are rated to withstand significant falls as single strands. In the case of half ropes; although each strand is rated to take a big fall on its own, it is poor practise to use them as a single climbing rope, because they are much less resilient than a fully rated single rope. To illustrate this last point, I recalled an incident from one of our evening cragging trips in the Lakes. At the top of Castle rock of Triermain, in the Lake District many years ago, I was bringing up my friend at the top of Angels Highway, watching a young lad from Kendal as he topped put on a neighbouring route. Scrambling up the easy final 20 m or so above the belay of the big pitch, he hadn’t bothered to put any gear in and I noticed he only seemed to have a single 9mm (half rope) that he was tied into. I commented as he approached and he mentioned that they had forgotten one of their ropes. As he drew up level with me, he grabbed a loose branch without...

Testing Ice Anchors – Screws vs Threads

By on Jan 20, 2011 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I came across this video that shows a Petzl team carrying out some pretty thorough tests on screw and Abalokov ice anchors. It’s instructive. Which do you believe to be stronger; Abalakov thread anchors or a “good old” modern ice screw? The biggest problem these guys had was in finding a patch of consistent quality ice to enable a reasonable degree of “fair testing” to give their results some meaning. 20/01/2011