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KOTR is looking for a new owner. Are you a developer, a climber and have plans to stay in Korea for a while? If so, email me at [email protected]
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Unread 04-13-2006, 07:46 PM
ricardo's Avatar
ricardo ricardo is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Okinawa
Posts: 628
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)

Last edited by ricardo : 04-13-2006 at 11:14 PM.
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Unread 04-13-2006, 08:58 PM
B-Team's Avatar
B-Team B-Team is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2005
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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.
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Unread 04-13-2006, 09:00 PM
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skinsk skinsk is offline
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Location: Jochiwon (Sejong City)
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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
"If you can't do something well, you might as well learn to enjoy doing it poorly." -- from a de-motivational poster, but I find it oddly liberating!
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Unread 04-13-2006, 11:10 PM
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firedawgUSAF firedawgUSAF is offline
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Location: Kunsan AB
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I think one of your links were broke I think I fixed it here. Try this


By the way excellent info thanks Rick
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Unread 04-13-2006, 11:52 PM
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ricardo ricardo is offline
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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). 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!!!
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Unread 04-14-2006, 08:11 AM
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skinsk skinsk is offline
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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.
"If you can't do something well, you might as well learn to enjoy doing it poorly." -- from a de-motivational poster, but I find it oddly liberating!
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Unread 04-14-2006, 11:03 AM
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Ricky Ricky is offline
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Location: Mokpo
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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?
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Unread 04-14-2006, 12:39 PM
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firedawgUSAF firedawgUSAF is offline
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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.

Attached Files
File Type: doc fall.doc (70.5 KB, 7 views)
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Unread 04-14-2006, 12:50 PM
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shanja shanja is offline
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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.
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Unread 04-14-2006, 01:06 PM
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Pedro de Pacas Pedro de Pacas is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Ilsan
Posts: 21
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.
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