How to choose a climbing rope?
When going out to by a climbing rope there are four main features to consider:
- What type of rope do you need?
- What diameter and length should the rope have?
- What features should the rope provide?
- What safety certification should the rope have?
All of these entirely depend on what you need the rope for? Are you going mountaineering? Indoor climbing? Multi-pitch? Etc.
Type of rope
There are three main differences in rope types designed for climbing: single, half, and twin ropes. Furthermore, a difference is made between static and dynamic ropes. In climbing, static ropes are only used when lowering an injured climber or ascending a rope. They are not designed, certified or tested to climb on because they stretch very little, that's what dynamic ropes are made for.
Just like half ropes, twin ropes require a two-rope system. Twin ropes however have more drag due to the fact that you always have to clip both strands through each piece of protection, just like you would on a single rope. This component makes the twin-rope system ideal for non-wondering routes. Furthermore, compared to half ropes, twin ropes tend to be lighter because they are a bit thinner. As for the advantages and disadvantages of this system compared to a single rope they are the same as for a half rope. On one hand, two ropes can rappelle further than 1 rope and if one rope gets damaged you still have a second one. On the other hand, two ropes are heavier than one and working with two ropes is more complicated than with one. Just as with half ropes, twin ropes are designed and tested only for use as a matching pair; don’t mix sizes or brands.
Twin ropes have a circled infinity symbol (∞) on each end.
Twin ropes are best for trad climbing on non-wandering multi-pitch rock routes, mountaineering and ice climbing.
Climbing rope diameter:
The rope diameter of a rope can vary quiet a bit and can make a huge difference on your climbing experience. Thinner ropes for example have the advantage of being lighter than thicker ropes but at the same time they are not as robust and need more skill when belaying with them. So depending on wether you are top roping in your local gym/crag or going for long distance multi-pitches you'll want something completely different.
Twin ropes have a diameter of about 7-8 mm.
When comparing ropes these are some features to look for:
- Dry treatment is designed to reduce the ropes water absorption. While a rope is wet it becomes less resistant to falls, and if it should freeze, the rope becomes very hard to handle. Dry treatment is important should you plan on ice climbing for example.
- Middle Mark is a black dye mark half way of the rope to indicate that you have half of the length left.
- End warning marks are shown on some ropes when approaching the end of the rope
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