Discussion: Question on rope health

  • Started: 11 weeks ago on Thu 2nd Jul 2020

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Guillermo Camilo started this discussion 11 weeks ago.

Question on rope health

Hi! I've been climbing for a little while now using some old gear that was handed on to me. Until very recently someone tipped me about this site. After inspecting my rope section by section I found this small wear about half way along my rope. Can I still use it? How can I tell the rope is no longer safe for climbing? Thanks a lot! I'm looking forward to climbing more often.

Victor Geißler replied 11 weeks ago.

That should be perfectly fine. Looks Like normal wear after some use. But with used textiles you always want to know the history, as even short contact with chemicals, like sulfuric acid (Car battery), could severely damage the Rope. If the person that gave you the Rope stored and used it normally, then you are fine

replied 11 weeks ago.

But if he/she didn't?

Good idea to ask him/her about this.

Alberto Sanchez replied 11 weeks ago.

Hello! This is always a delicate topic since any advice given could be subject to culpability. Having said that I invite you to read the information on this link:

If you have no idea how old your gear is, a safe rule is to dispose of all the textiles.

In my opinion you could still use that rope for toprope climbing.

Mel replied 11 weeks ago.

don't use it.


Alberto Sanchez already said that it's a delicate thing to give such advice and added a good link (nice summary for this topic!)

with a little expertise for PPE and material inspection, I could also add some common answers to this question you could receive:

'Read the manual of the product and consider the information about it's lifespan.'
'The colors of the webbing shows that we haven't sold this rope for meanwhile XY years, don't use it anymore'
authorized expert:
'You don't know it's history. Throw it away.'
PPE inspection:
'We need to check the manual and the (reported) history of the rope. If it's okay so far we can do a manual and visual check.'
my personal view:
If you use ropes, after some time they look like this. It could still be good enough for climbing (my own rope for the gym looks worse at the moment). But I couldn't give you advice without knowing the history of the rope (what was it used for? how was it stored? how old is it?) and checking it by hand. Fabric and colors look old though.
common practice:
it's about saving your life. If you can't be sure, invest those 50 bugs for a new rope and use this one only for non-PPE stuff (like playgrounds, hammocks, handcrafting).

Guillermo Camilo replied 11 weeks ago.

Thanks for the comments guys! They're very helpful. It's been used only for climbing occasionally and carefully stored. But I definitevely need to be on the lookout for a new one. Great info!

Jan Hantke Sales replied 11 weeks ago.

A quick Test is: when you can bend the rope and the two parts come together (like on the Petzl image)

, It can't be used, but you can cut this damage seccion of the rope and still using it

Evan Wells replied 11 weeks ago.

A bug costs seven dollars in Australia. Chop it when you see the core, and carry on until it is of no use because its 35m, then make 3/4 of an edelrid ropemat. Free template on the world wide web

Guillermo Camilo replied 11 weeks ago.

Thanks! That's good info Jan Hantke Sales and I like the alternative use for the rope.

Tobias Auth replied 11 weeks ago.

Testing for core damage is fine but only if you are sure there's nothing else wrong with it. It's a weird topic. I don't think twice using someone else's rope when I'm on a climbing trip but I'd never buy someone's used rope to use it as my main rope. Invisible damage is rare (I guess) but not impossible. (Acids etc.)

Jef Van Alsenoy replied 11 weeks ago.

The standard advice you get for climbing related issues is always safe by a really big margin. I mean big big. My advice is to get more experience with handling ropes, so maybe if you don't have this experience right now start off with a brand new one until you feel like you can make good calls. Making a sensical, experience-based call is in my opinion better than following manufacturer's guidelines. Until you feel like you are able to do so, stick to the predrawn guidelines.

By the way: I climbed about another 4,5 years on Alberto Sanchez's old rope I bought of him back in the day. Over the years I had to shorten it down from 70m to 50m because the ends wear out the fastest. I retired it in January and I've never felt unsafe using it. I ditched it for the sake of logistics more than anything. Climbing ropes are really strong when used and handled well.

replied 11 weeks ago.

there is NO scientific releation between rope health and age of rope!! There is NOT A SINGLE rope faillure worldwide due to age of ropes. if you dont have damage or acid your rope is well for climbing greetings

Mel replied 11 weeks ago.

what Tobias Auth said!

Richard Schneider - no evidence so far, but still: PA ages. Not linear, but depending on circumstances.

And as we were initially talking about a used rope without knowing its history, I'd also answer to Evan Wells: I don't completely get how big Australian bugs are, but see: €1/m.

Preferrable choice over a foreign rope?

replied 11 weeks ago.

Mel how do you handle your rope? dont think that any climber treat their rope bad..

nevertheless if you want to protect our planet and be green, dont buy a new rope too soon, use them till it's End!! Physical End not Age!! greetings

replied 11 weeks ago.

I'm not recommending to climb with a rope that looks like that, however...

This is a Beal Joker and I was curious how reliable it still was so I sent it for testing to Beal. These are the results, as you can see it would still be good enough...

> You know that, in the drop test, the rope breaks in the « carabiner ». So we thought important to make a test with the « destroyed » section exactly in the carabiner during the test. We had enough rope to make a second test on the better rope section. I remind you that we had chosen to make fall factor 0.5 drop tests. In the standard drop test the interval time between successive falls is 5 minutes to allow the rope to partially recover. In the present case, we have decided to reduce the interval time to 1 minute, which is far much harder for the rope.

> Drop tests with the “destroyed” section in the pivot edge. First fall: breakage of the sheath. Impact force: 4.07 kN 9th fall: breakage of 1 of the cables of the core. Impact force: 6.02 kN. 14th fall: breakage of a second cable. Impact force: 6.38 kN 18th fall: breakage of a third cable. Impact force: 6.81 kN. 21st fall: breakage of the rope

> Drop tests on the “better” section. First fall: impact force: 4.01 kN 10th fall: breakage of the sheath. Impact force: 5.83 kN. At the 26th fall we got an impact force of 6.44 kN. We stopped the test because the rope could still hold many falls…

Victor Geißler replied 11 weeks ago.

That right there are some inspiring Numbers. My own rope looks really Bad, after Just two seasons, because of all the sandstone climbing around... But it's just the sheath. Haven't ever fallen on it either...

Mark Gamble replied 11 weeks ago.

Holy makrel, that is stunning Ulfi. The surety of modern rope construction.

replied 11 weeks ago.

Yes Ulfi, very comforting. I'll sleep better tonight.

Thomas Weber replied 11 weeks ago.

Does any one here know, first hand, of a rope that broke while climbing?

replied 11 weeks ago.

My 3 days old climbing rope "broke" (was cut) by a not very sharp vertical sandstone edge.

I fell to the ground.

Very simmilar to this documented case:

But i guess cutting ropes is an other topic.

Mark Gamble replied 11 weeks ago.

Yes, a YouTube classic!

There was a nasty groundfall at Frog Buttress many years ago. Similar to the clip. Rope ran around an arete and severed in a fall.

I read, some years ago, of a top Spanish climber who died when his rope was cut by rockfall.

It's pretty rare, but it does happen.

replied 11 weeks ago.

you cannot brake a rope due to age or any climbing...

but you will brake any rope due to sharp edge or acid...

Thomas Weber replied 11 weeks ago.

Nicky glad you live to tell! Did the rope come up in the crack on your picture and the out R to the Friend and was cut by the "Kante" in your picture?

Thomas Weber replied 11 weeks ago.

Watched the scary clip of Michele Caminati's rope shears as he falls off Elder Statesman. Apart from the the comments on lead rope management, sometimes you may find yourself with the rope potentially running like that. Double rope would be beneficial. Idea, if the belayer has the situational awareness he could feed out rope as the leader falls to increase the area of abrasion. Making this comment as a note to myself partly...

replied 10 weeks ago.

Thomas Weber yes exactly. The rope was within the crack and i was not particular far to the right. More dehidral styl But the fall direction was to the righ so that the rope was dragged over the edge.

Lamπ[tm] replied 10 weeks ago.

BTW:Did Michele survive the fall, and if he did, what happened to him?

Åke Wallebom replied 10 weeks ago.

Google said: "Miraculously, the Italian walked away with nothing more than a fractured wrist and heel."

Lamπ[tm] replied 10 weeks ago.

So lucky ...

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