Hey Maggi, nice question. To start you off I'll list the basics of what (I reckon) is important.
. These days 60m is the standard, and whilst you will find 50m and even 55m ropes still being sold, go for 60m. There are some climbs/ raps that really do need them (because they were established with 60m ropes).
2-Dry Vs Standard Ropes
: Go Dry. It is more expensive, but helps your ropes last longer (as dry ropes pick up less gunk etc), stay lighter and retain strength. (see http://www.koreaontherocks.com/forum...ight=ropes+wet
). So buy dry!! Not all dry treatments are the same...be careful. Some are just a coating, some are a manufactured process. Read up on the manufacturers web about exactly what it means.
Years back single ropes were all 10.5mm. Now we are seeing a lot of 10.2mm down to 9.8mm single ropes. Actually does add up to a fair weight saving...if that is really an issue
(like you are totally pushing boundaries, doing arduous alpine routes etc). Not be honest, here in Korea a simple single 10-10.5mm is probably
still your best bet. Diamater also affects how a rope handles/ feels/ belays. Ropes under 10mm are noticeably harder to brake on a belay tool, and tangle & twist much more than wider ropes. Some auto and manual belay tools are also not designed to handle super skinny ropes. That said, they can make rapping easier (heavier dia ropes almost lock off under their own weight when you are at the top of a long rappel!). If you will be doing a lot of hike ins, then the wight saving may be worth it also. Skinnier ropes also STRETCH more when weighted (explained below) which can make them horrible for hauling/prussiking/ jumaring, though softer for falling.
4-Rope Statistics: Yeah this is that info they put on the tags and sales pitch. Be careful, some is all but meaningless, some useful, some just saleshype.
(tested STATICALLY only - ie nothing like a fall situation which is dynamic). Should be less than 7% on 10.5mm ropes, but a bit more on skinnier ropes (the stretching action absorbs the fall shock...taking it off the anchors and your harness/back). Unfortuneatley it says nothing about dynamic stretch, which can be a lot
Again, basically irrelevant thesedays as all certified ropes have essentially zero sheath (outhside coulourful covering to white innner core) slippage.
c-Maximum Impact force
THE MOST VALUABLE INFO on the tag!
Lower is better, though as with everything this is a simplification. quoted below is an explanation from Justropes.com:
d-Number of Falls Held
Now, why should you care about impact force in choosing your rope? Well, because the impact force, in addition to giving you an indication of how "soft" the ride will be for you in event of a fall, is also an indication of how much force will be exerted on your protection in stopping a fall. This can be quite important in situations where the gear is deemed suspect or sketchy, such as with placing ice screws in thin or rotten ice, and anywhere you are protecting with thin rock gear, such as micro wires, or micro cams. In such cases, a rope that generates a lower impact force on the gear (typically by stretching more) is less likely to rip the gear. So, how do you decide? Easy. First, remember that impact force is really only an issue for dynamic ropes (that you intend to lead on), as static ropes are not designed to catch falls and should never be used for leading on. If you are buying your cord for ice or alpine climbing (where ice gear is expected) and/or intend to climb hard trad routes with thin or marginal pro, look for a rope with as low of an impact force as possible. On the other hand, if you are buying your rope for toproping, or for clipping bolts at your local sport crag and/or expect to climb routes with bomber gear, the impact force the rope produces is less of an issue, and is probably not something that will be a make-or-break in your decision between cords (although, everything else considered equal, lower impact force is a good thing).
You would think this, being a ropes very raison d'etre
would be accurate, honest and meaningful info, yeah? Alas not exactly dear friends. It should be. The higher the number of falls held the better - OK that is true generally, BUT this number is not required by the UIAA, nor the CE certifications. They only demand that of a certain rope holds a given minimum number of lab-generated falls. Fine, graeat. But when a manufacturer claims numbers beyond that minimum they are not using the same strict protocols as the UIAA or CE.
For example if sample 1 of "Super Rope" held 12 falls, sample 2 held 15 falls and samples 3-6 all held only (the legal minimum) 10 falls, the CE and UIAA would certify it as "safe", but a manufacturer could label it as holding 15 falls! This is because there is no legal barrier or requirement on how many samples or falls, just that A RANDOM SAMPLE PASSED THE MINIMUM.
So where does that leave you when buying a rope? Well, better informed anyway I hope. Most known brands err on the side of caution in their claims, for fear of law-suits and because they are often climbers too. Just take these Number of Falls held as a guide, not a concrete fact. If all else is equal, the higher number is probably better.
Colour may be a personal choice of value or valueless to you, but think where you'll be climbing and who with. Bright colours are easier to see in low light and darker ones less conspicuous in Nat Parks etc. It also can be a help if you have a different colour to your buddies, as you won't take home the wrong rope, and it's easier to know which rope to pull down (the knotted side) from a double rope rap anchor. Mid-point and end "few metre" marks are a great help in multipitch and trad climbing...so you don't end up with no rope and no place to put in pro before your belayer is outta rope! Never mark a rope with a regular marker pen yourself and even "rope" markers are a bit sus still. Chemicals on rope, bad. Twin colour ropes (change pattern or colour half way) are outrageously expensive but nice. If you don't mind dropping the dosh, go buy one. Otherwise be aware of at least where your midpoint is when belaying.
A few other links are posted below. Phew!! Sorry to rant, but opes are quite literally your lifeline.