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Related UKC Forum discussions
A half rope (top) and a single rope (below)
© UKC articles
What is the difference between 'single', 'half', 'double' and 'twin' ropes?
A: Single and double are fairly obvious, half is a rope that needs to be used in a pair, twin refers to a rope designed for slightly different useage in a twin rope system.
Single rope is exactly that, a rope that you use on its own. It is most commonly used for sport climbing or short pitches on smaller crags when trad climbing. A thicker rope is used, usually 10mm up to 11mm thick. This is indicated by the manufacturer by using a '1' in a circle on the manufacturer's information.
A: Usually, as long as you can afford.
For double ropes 50m will probably be enough for most pitches and abseils. Find out what your regular climbing partner has though since there is nothing worse than climbing on double ropes of different lengths.
Someone offered to sell me a second-hand rope. Should I buy?
A: In general, probably not.
Two reasons: firstly, unless you know the seller well, it can be difficult to assess what sort of action the gear has seen. The rope you're considering might have held several factor 2 falls. Don't skimp on safety. Secondly, can you be sure that the kit wasn't stolen from someone's car at the bottom of Stanage?
When should a rope be retired?
A: Tough call.
A rope should be retired if it is damaged, if it has held a big fall, or if it has seen active duty for a prolonged time. Consult the rope manufacturer's technical documentation to find out what the expected life-span is. If the core is visible anywhere along the length then retire immediately. Also retire if it's been subjected to aggressive chemicals, e.g car battery acid or chlorine.
What is a 'fall factor?
A: A (crude) measure of the stress a given fall puts on the rope (or on the climber, if you like).
See full article here.
My rope is dirty. How do I go about washing it?
How do I mark the middle of my rope?
A: Probably safest using specialist marker pens.
The middle mark is essential when sport climbing and lowering-off a pitch. It is also a useful indicator when for coiling the rope, and to serve as a remider for the belayer when half the rope is fed out. Most ropes come with a middle marker in place; some flash ropes even change colour or sheath braiding pattern. However, some ropes at the budget end sometimes come without a middle marker, and the middle mark also tends to disappear over time on many ropes.
It's tempting to just take a marker pen and ink in the centre, but chemicals found in normal marker pens can potentially damage the kernel nylon fibres. Beal sell a rope-friendly marker pen specifically designed for this purpose.
Many people simply wrap some finger tape around the centre. This is a somewhat temporary solution - belay devices tend to strip off or move this after a while, but is perfectly adequate, especially if you mainly climb pitches shorter than half the rope.
How do I cut a rope?
A: Use any old knife
Get hold of any old knife, it doesn't need to be a sharp one. Heat it up on your gas cooker until it is glowing red then quickly slice through the rope over a block of wood. Use the hot knife to seal the end to avoid any further fraying.
Q: What is impact force?
Q: What does the rated number of falls mean?
Q: What is a UIAA standard fall?