/ Single vs twin ropes

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matt1024 on 07 May 2012
I'm a beginner trad climber just starting out and I have a question regarding ropes to use outdoors. I have a single 60m 10.2mm rope for use on sport routes and indoors at the gym although I've heard twin ropes are more suited to trad climbs. Is it safe to double up my single rope to act as twin ropes on short routes (obviously less than 30m) or is it better just to use the single and accept the higher rope drag?

Thanks for the help.
a crap climber - on 07 May 2012
In reply to matt1024:

By twin ropes you probably mean half/double ropes, as there is a difference. There is a short explanation of different rope types here

http://www.needlesports.com/catalogue/content.aspx?con_id=3e5f37f1-f997-40ec-940c-9d06012f50ac

You could use you single as a double, but for short routes it may be more effort than its worth, especially if your climbing in the easier grades where there is plenty of good gear.

If the route looks like rope drag will be a problem due to runners being spaced either side of the climb then give it a go. The best way to tie in is to use a bowline on the bight at the mid point of the rope. This is safer than using a crab to clip in. If you have to use a crab, make sure it's the second who uses it, not the leader, but as I said, its better to tie in.
highclimber - on 07 May 2012
In reply to matt1024: I assume you mean double and not twin ropes. Twin ropes are usually thinner than double ropes and both strands are designed to be clipped into the same crab. Doubles are to be clipped independently of each other and help to reduce drag on long winding routes. You could conceivably use your single as a double rope but i wouldn't advise using it as a twin!
Dave 88 - on 07 May 2012
In reply to matt1024:

Doubles-

Pros-
Less drag on wandering pitches.
Ability to make full length abseils.
Redundancy if one rope got severed.

Cons-
More faff.
Heavier (usually).
Can increase impact force on gear.
More expensive (generally).

Singles-

Pros-
Much easier to use.
More resistant to running over edges.
Can have less impact force on gear.
Lighter (generally).
Cheaper (generally).

Cons-
Rope drag on wandering routes.
Heavier for one person to carry (you can take a double each to spread weight).
Can only abseil half rope lengths (or use a retrieval cord-faff IMHO).
If you run out of rope half way up a route, you can't get creative and get a vital few extra meters out of the system (not recommended or a regular problem).
Dave 88 - on 07 May 2012
In reply to matt1024:

Oh and yes it is safe to double up a single, but if you extend your gear, it's not all that necessary. We Brits have an abnormal fetish with doubles, personally I prefer a single, much less faff.
a crap climber - on 07 May 2012
In reply to Dave 88:

I'm a bit curious as to how doubles can increase impact forces on gear? I was under the impression that they stretch more during a fall so dissipate more energy. Is the difference in impact force figures purely down to the different tests for single and double ropes?

Sorry for going a bit off topic here.
Dave 88 - on 07 May 2012
In reply to a crap climber:

Yeah I know, I really have no idea how that can possibly be. Just remember seeing it on Will Gadd's blog once (I'm guessing he knows what he's on about!), saying how he's gone back to using singles for ice, in part because of this reason.

I'll see if I can find the reference.

Or hopefully someone like Jim Titt will be along to let us know if I'm talking out my arse or not (a real possibility!).
Dave 88 - on 07 May 2012
In reply to a crap climber:

Ok, apparently it's not as clear cut as that. I can't find the blog post that I originally read, but here's some good data from another one of his posts-

http://willgadd.com/?p=274
a crap climber - on 07 May 2012
In reply to Dave 88:

Thanks for the link, makes for interesting reading.
Skyfall - on 08 May 2012
In reply to matt1024:

Probably the two biggest advantages of double ropes are 1) less rope drag if used correctly and 2) more options re abseil retreat etc.

I've always found the impact force arguments a bit strange for reasons I can't be bothered with right now. But would still opt for double ropes 9/10.
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In reply to matt1024: For a lot of British crag climbing a single is fine as long as you think about extending your runners and understand why you need to do this. Some routes really suit double ropes, but as you say - on many shorter routes you can always tie on to both ends of your single for that.

But overall, I wouldn't let only having a single put you off from going climbing on loads of UK single pitch crags. In many parts of the world that's what everyone does. Where I live in Finland, except ice climbing in winter (and it's not even that common there) I can't remember the last time I saw people using double ropes - and our crags are similar to size to many UK single pitch crags. Do note though when you look at Americans climbing on singles, they often have a load of of 60 cms slings over their shoulders - there's a reason for that! Long pitches so plenty of need to extend runners.

The others are right about the impact forces as well - because the UIAA test is different for singles and doubles it's very hard to compare the two; but it does seem (see the Gadd link) that there probably isn't so much difference in impact force between the two classes. Modern ropes are just really good!

Take care and have fun which ever system you use.

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