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. You can also make a difference between indoor and outdoor ropes. Generally not much changes except for the length of the rope, since climbing gyms are usually not much higher than 15-20m a climber does not need more than 50m of rope. Having a specific indoor rope is handy because it weighs less than bringing your 80m outdoor rope and it saves time because you don't have extra 30m of rope to pull through your belay device.
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.
Indoor ropes: diameter between 9,8mm-10,1mm
In sports climbing the average rope length is about 60m but the range goes from 30m-80m for a single rope. The only thing you need to "watch out" for is that the rope is at least twice as long as the route you are attempting because you obviously have to get back down. Generally indoor ropes are no longer than 40m since the routes are generally quiet short (15m) compared to outdoor routes (30m) where you could need up to 80m.
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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