Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Bit About Ropes

Having a productive blogging day today it seems. Some of you millions of followers may be looking at getting a new rope / first rope, and you might be a little confused by all the options. So here's a little opinion on ropes and what to look at.

"Should I drop the big bucks on a sweet dry-treated rope?" 

ah the grand myth of the dry-treatment!

the big question is this: will you be ice-climbing with this rope?
or similarly: is the area where you climb known for it's insane wetness?

if you are not going to be climbing on a wet rope on a regular basis, you do not need the try treatment and are just spending unnecessary money.

focus on the dynamic and static elongation, and the impact force (this will give you an idea of the durability but also the comfort of the rope for climbing - stretchier tends to be more comfortable but a little less durable, high impact forces = harsh on the body/gear)

"OK but what about the fall rating for the rope?"

UIAA falls are generally a useless measurement so pay no heed. You will never take repeated falls over factor 1 in such quick succession as to test this capability of your rope.

"What about diameter?"

Unless you are leading backcountry 5.12, don't look at anything thinner than a 9.8. if you're only gym/sport climbing, go for a 10.1 - you'll get way more life out of your rope. Thinner ropes are always less durable, and do you REALLY need those weight savings if you're only lugging the thing a couple hundred metres from the parking lot?

"So how do I distinguish between all the offerings?"

go to a store and feel the ropes - is there a significant disconnect between the core and the sheath? i.e. can you compress the rope in a big way and really easily feel the core? if you can, that rope will generally be more likely to get core slippage later in life.

in north america, this is what i generally find:

- New England Ropes/Maxim: low core slippage, higher impact force, good durability. advantage: very inexpensive for a good rope.

- Beal: too spongy feeling for me, lots of space between core and sheath (except in the new glued unicore ropes). I have heard, though, lots of good things about Beal - especially for ice climbing.

- Edelrid: great bang-for-your-buck, very stretchy, durability so-so. good hand but not as smooth as others when belaying.

- Mammut: pricey but amazing, great balance of stretch and durability, hard to find a not-dry rope though.

- Sterling: amazing ropes, durability is great, great balance between stretch and durability. something for everyone.

- Petzl: they seem to have solved their durability problems, a little softer in the hand, quite stretchy, overall pretty good value.

My recommendation is Sterling....but I am probably biased.

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