Korea On The Rocks Forums (http://www.koreaontherocks.com/forums/index.php)
-   Climbing Chat (http://www.koreaontherocks.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=2)
-   -   the life of a rope (http://www.koreaontherocks.com/forums/showthread.php?t=442)

ricardo 04-13-2006 07:46 PM

the life of a rope
The ropes at our gym have been flattened from excessive lowering with Grigri's and having taken a couple of small leader falls on my fairly new rope myself, I set out online to figure out how much life my rope and the gym’s rope have left. I found some good info but also wanted to throw this out to you all to get your input.

This thread addresses the flattened rope issue. A lot of speculation and skeptical responses, but the last couple clarify the issue. It sounds like it’s not a problem for top roping (TRing), though I’d be less enthusiastic about using that rope for a challenging lead with runout.

The consensus about general rope retirement on this thread seems to be “ignore the falls and just check the rope for irregularities…unless it’s a high fall factor”

An interesting point brought up in the above thread includes a link to an article (with high geek factor) about using the same rope for TR and lead climbs. I highly recommend struggling through this if you use a Grigri and/or lower on your ‘lead rope’. (Their concern with TRing is not the falls, but with the lowering which most of us do after every climb; lead or TR)
ACC link: Rope elongation and TRing

In summary, the lowering action strongly reduces the elasticity of your rope, thereby reducing the number of rated falls by ½ (after 80 lowerings)

Two concerns with the affects of Grigri’s on rope integrity:
1) It is a static belay device. Meaning that it has zero capacity to absorb the shock of a fall (when it catches, it locks (although the bounce/uplift of the belayer does absorb some shock)). ATC’s or other similar function devices have a small amount of slippage before fully catching the fall which absorbs the shock better (those who use these devices can attest that the slippage may not even be noticeable).
2) When lowering a climber, (after TR or lead) Grigri’s add an additional dynamic shock (that other devices don’t) on the rope. The article states that since the lowering speed cannot be finely adjusted the speed “must be sharply slowed down” just before the climber reaches the ground (hence the additional shock). [Personally, I think this could be avoided by a smooth skilled belayer]

How do you determine how much life your rope has left???

(edit: fixed links)

B-Team 04-13-2006 08:58 PM

Good points ricardo! Also I would like to add, one of the best ways to keep a rope healthy and happy is to learn how to give a dynamic belay. Not to mention, the lead climber will be gracious as well.

skinsk 04-13-2006 09:00 PM

More rope talk from the "experts" at REI http://www.rei.com/online/store/Lear.../clmbropef.jsp They suggest early retirement, but of course, they are in the business of selling ropes. The same could be said for these guys, http://www.lookingglassoutfitters.co...bingropes.html with pretty much the same info. Blue Water provides a wealth of technical and general consumer info about ropes in general and their ropes in particular http://www.spelean.com.au/BW/TM/BWtechdyn.html All the rope manufacturers will have similar information
A wealth of good advice on topics from equiptment to anchors, lowering, etc can be found at: http://climbing.timeoutdoors.com/default.asp

firedawgUSAF 04-13-2006 11:10 PM

I think one of your links were broke I think I fixed it here. Try this


By the way excellent info thanks Rick

ricardo 04-13-2006 11:52 PM

thanks yats...i fixed the links

skinsk, your 1st two links discuss retiring the rope solely based on time/usage and not on fall/usage. using their suggestions, conservative climber-A who never falls should retire their rope the same time as gung-ho climber-B who falls all the time. both suggest retiring after taking any fall that approaches a factor 2 fall...but the rope is rated to take a minimum of 5 factor two falls (uiaa requirements). :confused8 i don't know...i find these recommendations unsubstantiated...but like you said, they're in the business of selling ropes.
your 3rd link has some great information especially about the repeated shorter sport climbing falls. i especially like this stated towards the end:


The following are general guidelines that can assist in deciding when to retire a rope:

* Sheath wear; the core is exposed or more than half of the outer sheath yarns are broken or it is badly glazed
* Overloading; the rope has been subjected to the kind of overload for which it was not designed.
* Chemical contamination; unless the chemical is specifically known to be harmless, it should be considered a contaminant.
* Lack of uniformity in texture; soft, mushy places or hard spots which may indicate core damage.
* Age; the rope is simply "worn out" from use.
* Lack of uniform diameter; a visible change in diameter resembling an hourglass shape.
* Loss of faith; the rope was used by persons you suspect may not have taken proper care of it.

...but retire from what? lead, TR, everything?

hey mutt...could you describe how you give a dymnamic belay?
thanks all!!!

skinsk 04-14-2006 08:11 AM

I particularly like the admonition not to use your climbing rope to tow your car-- good advice! BYW, webbing is much cheaper and can be used for this (but not for climbing afterwards, please!)

Well, as there are no "rope retirement homes," I have sent mine on as 1) a demo rope, to be cut up and given out so people could practice knots and 2) a static line put up to help people climb over steep areas at Tonsai.

Old ropes can also be used to tie up camels, and many have been traded for carpets in Morocco.

Ricky 04-14-2006 11:03 AM

Dynamic Belay.
Yes, please! More info on the dynamic belay. I may have already learned that in climbing school, but then I wouldn't really know if I had since it was in Korean.

Actually you could start a new thread on the dynamic belay.

Oh!~and... What are the fall ratings. Like, lead climbing at Halmae, and falling right as you get to your next clip...maybe 2 metres....what grade of fall would that be?

firedawgUSAF 04-14-2006 12:39 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Taken from a rescue study guide. See attached file

Fall factors. Fall factor calculations determine the
forces created in a fall. NFPA 1983 defines a fall factor as “a measure of fall severity calculated by dividing the distance fallen by the length of rope used to arrest the fall” When fall factors greater than .25 are anticipated, dynamic climbing ropes should be used. Some examples might help to clarify this point. Using the picture attached, say that the top person is attached to a 1-foot rope. If he falls after climbing to the top, from the anchor point, he will fall a total of two feet: one-foot back to the anchor, and another foot before his rope catches him. A two-foot fall, divided by only one foot of rope, yields a fall factor of 2. Remember that a fall factor of two is almost certainly going to result in severe injury or death. Simply stated, when the anchor is below the rescuer dynamic rope should be used to absorb any shock generated by a fall. In most rescue situations we encounter fall factors less than one. We will use the middle person for a second example. If the middle person is attached to a 50-foot rope he will fall 50 feet from the anchor point. A 50-foot fall, divided by 50 feet of rope, results in a fall factor of 1. This would probably result in severe injuries to the rescuer. For that reason, rescuers must take into account fall factors when establishing rope rescue systems.

Hope this helps you Ricky.


shanja 04-14-2006 12:50 PM

I'm a whimp and don't deny it...but I'm also a broke climber so when to retire a rope is for me; like a great many other climbers; a dilemma of safety versus economics. John Long once said that "if you're thinking about retiring a rope, that is a good sign you should do so." Here's my 5 cents worth:
It's really really rare that ropes break from over-use. It can happen but, the more common danger with older ropes is actually that they impart more stress (force) onto the climber (Ouch! Slipped disc anyone?) and the bolts/ anchors (how much do you really want to test 'em out?). As ropes age with time or use their dynamic quality fades, and they become essentially static lines. Fine if they are only going to recieve static loads (fixed lines like Skinsk has suggested), and so some Gyms have even been using the cheaper static ropes for pre-gigged TOP ROPE routes, where high factor falls are impossible to generate, and loading is less dynamic.
It's important to note that it's NOT the height of a climb, NOR the distance you fall that determines the FALL FACTOR (stress on rope and system), but the ratio of rope from last pro to climber versus the total amount of rope out. The climber who clips pro after 10m and then runs out 30m and falls will fall 60m on 40m of out rope giving a fall factor of 1.5 (not allowing for stretch etc) a climber who climbs up 3m and falls without clipping pro then falls 6m (if he/doesn't deck out; like on a muti-pitch), so he/she actually generates a factor 2 fall!!! Much worse. So to preserve your rope, and yourself, put in pro asap after beginning a climb.
Great techno-geek and super climber Craig Luebben (?) also says this in his engineering-esque study of ice-anchors in How To Ice-Climb.
STOP using Gri-Gris. They teach beginners bad and lazy habits. They are heavy. They are mechanical and have 10 times more things that 'could' stuff-up versus a tube belay tool, they stress anchors, squash ropes and don't grip icy ropes very well (supposedly). Also they cost as much as a new pair iof shoes, a few nuts, a cam or a decent bottle of Australian Red wine. All of which you need way way way more than a flashy gri-gri.
Climb and have fun.

Pedro de Pacas 04-14-2006 01:06 PM

Pedro on rope life and related topics:

I have an old (5yr) rope that is definitely ready to be retired. I do not pay attention to falls when deciding that a rope is ready to retire, unless they are crazy. I look for sections of rope that are skinnier (hourglass shape), exposed core and other sheath damage, overall elasticity, and an oval cross section instead of circular. Ropes have a huge safety factor. They are capable of lasting longer and holding more than the manufacturer tells us. They almost never break. In fact, the only time I have ever heard of a rope breaking was Dan Osman's fatal fall from Leaning Tower in Yosemite. If you are seriously sketched about your rope breaking retire it, otherwise it is fine.

Take the UIAA rope test for example. I have witnessed these tests being performed and they are crazy. There is no way anything in real life could come close. The test consists of dropping an 80kg mass 5m on 2.5m of rope (a factor 2 fall). This is done repeatedly until the rope breaks. About 10 times for most 10mm ish ropes. The rope always breaks at the anchor where it runs over an edge with radius similar to a carabiner. The system is completely static, which is not possible in a real climbing situation.

Fall factor explained: Length of fall/Length of rope absorbing the fall = Fall factor. The highest fall factor possible is 2. This occurs if the climber has no protection clipped leaving the belay (say 10m up) and the climber is caught that distance below the belay (a giant 20m fall). 20m/10m=2. A lower factor fall will result if the climber takes the same giant 20m fall at the end of a 50m pitch. 20m/50m=.4.

Fall factor is not the only variable affecting the rope in a fall. Sharp edges, type of knot, length of fall, and dynamic belaying also come into play.

Dynamic Belay explained: A dynamic belay occurs if the belayer moves, rope moves through the belay device, or protection is dynamic (yates screamers). This will lessen the shock load on the rope. A dynamic belay can be accomplished by having a belayer with less mass, a belayer jumping toward the falling climber (takes practice), or letting rope slip through the belay device. All of these things sound sketchy as hell to me and should only be employed on runout climbs above sketchy placements. It is not worth the added risk to the climber to be "easy" on a rope that is likely not going to break in your lifetime.

Pedro's suggestion for retired climbing ropes: Make a rope mat for your front door.


I also advocate dog toys (not sure if you want to teach your dog to chew on climbing rope) and jump ropes for the local school.

Pedro de Pacas 04-14-2006 01:08 PM

So I feel like an *** for explaining fall factor after two others did as well.

Excuse: I was writing the post. Which is way too long.

Pedro de Pacas 04-14-2006 01:09 PM

Dude I put in A S S and it made it into ***! Whats up with that?

Ricky 04-14-2006 01:37 PM

Thanks for the info.

skinsk 04-14-2006 01:42 PM

Practical advice: OK, I have read all these numerous articles, visitied the Mamut booth at shows and watched ropes being made. Basically, there is no math to determine when to retire a rope, but whenever you flake it, check for worn spots, etc. I tend to retire ropes when they begin to scare my climbing partners and/or myself. Deserts and beaches are definitely fun for climbing, but hard on ropes.

Yes Pedro, we are being censored. . . for so long I had **** (in relation to Bush) in my profile. . . suddenly the **** was gone, but Bush intact, go figure!

Pedro de Pacas 04-14-2006 01:56 PM

I agree with all of Craig Luebben's points delivered via Shanja on GriGri usage.

Pedro's advice: The best gear is the gear you know how to use.

The upshot: GriGris are hard on the core of a rope, 8s knot the rope, but if you are safer with either of these devices you should use it.

ricardo 04-14-2006 02:24 PM

pedro, i suggest you use @$$ or your native tongue "culo" :becky:

thanks for all the input everyone!!!

skinsk 04-14-2006 03:19 PM

I don't think the part about Gri Gris came from Craig. Craig has written about proper grigri usage in his beginner's guide. I have probably belayed Craig on my grigri (given the weight differential!).

There are times and places for grigris, ATCs, etc (even the munter hitch. . . )and room for personal preferences. No device is an excuse for sloppiness, laziness or inattention. Of course, you should learn to use any gear you buy!

I have never dropped a climber (grigri or ATC or butt-belaying), but I have been dropped by a belayer with an ATC. I do not blame the ATC. Most of you I have belayed with a grigri:)

A dynamic belay can be a good thing-- putting less tension on the rope and the climber. Dropping someone an extra few feet purposely to avoid a bulge or flake can prevent greater injury (as sometimes can taking in extra rope). . . I won't try either of these with an ATC, where if someone falls, I want to break them off! . . . try to break them mid-fall and you could get nasty rope burn on your hands, making it even harder to stop the rope.

We should start a new thread for belay devices. . . or someone want to nominate another piece of gear for discussion? I just (finally!) washed my rope last week, so I was just checking rope pages to remind myself if it was warm or cold water (cold). . . but always good to refresh/update your knowledge, especially as gear and climbing continue to evolve!

ricardo, pedro: how do Spanish-speakers say "**** bush" ?

ricardo 04-14-2006 04:28 PM

foya bush!!

Ricky 04-14-2006 04:40 PM

Maybe I'm so wrong on this. But I think, given the type of climbing I do, and the unlikely hood of a huge fall (because I'm such a wuss), I would feel better about having someone I don't really know well belay me on a gri-gri. Also, I would feel more comfortable belaying a heavy person on a gri-gri. I just think...if I get launched by a heavy fall, who knows where my arms are going to be flailing, and I'm afraid in that case I might actually drop the climber. I don't know...maybe that wouldn't happen.

Also. When I'm belaying that's usually part of my rest time for my pumping forearms. Belaying on a figure eight kind of tires them out. I like a gri-gri, because it doesn't require you to hold your hands up for the duration of the climb.

I'm all about the gri-gri. Funny cuz I don't actually have one. But I think it's safer for beginner climbers. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Oh! One more thing. Whether your being belayed on a gri-gri, atc, or figure eight, or butt (really wtf? That could give you worse A S S burn than jeollabuk-do kimchee) you should always check to make sure it's being used correctly by your belayer. And your belayer should be kind enough to check your knots and harness too.

Why do I say this. At climbing school. One of the guys put the gri-gri on completely upside down and the climber just got on the wall, unaware if she was properly secured. A bystanding teacher picked up the error before she got too far.

firedawgUSAF 04-14-2006 05:03 PM

If you are afraid of going airborne during a belay there are usually a bunch of things around you can make an anchor out of. When I first learned how to climb years ago in the boy scouts we were all required to be anchored into something that way in the event of someone much heavier than you falling you wouldnt go airborne. If your using webbing to build the anchor it is very simple. Just make sure its a good anchor strong tree for example. Hope this helps you ricky


firedawgUSAF 04-14-2006 06:50 PM

you've gotta be fuckin shitting me see you can still swear you just need to be a little creative :cool8: this easily could be a topic in and of it self "How to get past the censors" :becky:

Ricky 04-14-2006 08:45 PM

I'm sorry. What is webbing? Do you mean..what I call a sling? Like flat rope. Sometimes it has like loops in it so you can make it the desired length. Well not exactly rope...... It can also be a rope. Much thinner than a climbing rope. You tie a fishermans knot in it and you can adjust the length.
Sorry. God! I'm such an amateur.

ricardo 04-14-2006 09:03 PM

nylon webbing is the flat stuff that is either 1 inch wide (good for anchors) or 1/2 inch wide which is used for sling. the ends are tied together with a water knot.
cordallete is the mini-rope you're thinking of. usually 5-7mm diameter and is tied together with the double fishermans.
link w/ pics

skinsk 04-14-2006 09:55 PM

Yeah, webbing is that flat nylon stuff that slings (a sewn sling, for example is one of those nylon loops that is sewn together by industrial strength machines and threads) and daisy chains (the ones with the loops so you can adjust the length for clipping in). Cord is the stuff that looks like tin rope. Both webbing and chord come in different diameters with different strengths accordingly. Cord and rope are usually tied together with a double (or triple) fisherman's knot and webbing is best tied with an overhand threaded through in reverse. The lose ends after the knot is tied should be facing different directions.

BTW, firedawg mentions anchoring in when you're belaying (a good idea, especially if you're light). . . I keep my daisy girth-hitched "permanently" through my belay loop and often use it to tie myself to a tree or whatever.

As my partners know, I am in the habit of threading my grigri and saying out loud as I look at the pictures "ok, you're on the climber end; I'm the hand" or something like that. . . but I recently rigged (the 3rd of 5) simoul-raps with a grigri wrong, and my partner luckily caught it! An embarrassing situation (I don't often rap with a gri gri, the last time having been over 5 years previous) but it's always good to know your partners are looking out for you. Especially important when there is a language barrier.

firedawgUSAF 04-15-2006 12:00 AM

All very good info I don't need to stress safety any more skinsk did a good job of that. There are multiple ways to create anchors with webbing im not going to get into that right now but one of the most common (at least in my little Fire/Rescue world) Is the wrap 3 pull 2. If you are using a rope the tensionless hitch works well you can see an example here now please notice that they demonstrate this with a biner at the end. However if you are short on equipment you can use a figure eight flow thru in place. Just be sure to tie the figure eight first make your wraps and then follow thru. Also the water knot is essentially an overhand follow thru but the link to a bunch of useful knots including the water knot can be found here Ricky don't be afraid to ask questions while some people are more knowladagable than others no one knows everything! You can always learn something from someone. I am by no means an expert I have my specialties as I'm sure you have yours!


"Beware of the climber that tells you they already know everything."

kimcito 04-18-2006 05:41 PM

check out this article about the safety of climbing ropes.

All times are GMT +9. The time now is 09:13 PM.

Powered by vBulletin Version 3.5.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.