/ Which Rope for the Alps??

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kozzi - on 04 Jun 2012
Hey, I am a relatively novice climber and have never been climbing abroard before, but this summer i am jetting off to the fabulous Chamonix valley to do some potentially quite long, multi-pitch sport climbs. The problem is i have no idea what rope i need.
Do i need half ropes?
What kind of lengh is nessecary?
Is it possible to get a rope/ropes that would then be useful for trad climbing back here?
Any advice would be much appreciated,
Many Thanks,
Nick
Al Randall on 04 Jun 2012
In reply to kozzi: Tough question. There is no rope that is ideal for every situation but in your shoes I would go for 60 metre half ropes that can be used as singles even though 50 metres is enough for every trad route I've ever done in the UK. 70 metre singles are good for European sports routes but the limiting factor is that you can only retreat 35 metres at a time which could be a problem multi-pitching in the alps if a quick retreat is called for (It's reassuring to know that you can always get back the way you have come if the worst comes to the worst and you can only guarantee that with half ropes unless you carry a haul line which has always seemed pointless to me). 60 metres is long enough for the majority of sports routes and more than long enough for UK trad.

Al
highclimber - on 04 Jun 2012
In reply to kozzi: Lucky you! I'd definately suggest some double ropes 60 or 70m. I have a set of ropes that are rated for use as doubles and twins which have served me well. Depending on your budget these might be out of the question but any double ropes will do for most beginner stuff in the alps and the UK. I certianly wouldn't consider anything under 60m, that's for sure
The Ex-Engineer - on 04 Jun 2012
In reply to kozzi: I'm not entirely sure what routes you are planning on doing in Chamonix as it has a fairly diverse range of routes that could loosely be described as 'long, multi-pitch sport' and ropes suitable for some will not necessarily be suitable for others.

A lot more detail, especially as regards grades, is really required in order to make any sensible recommendations.

I'm 90% sure a pair of 50m half ropes (8.1-8.5mm diameter) will be your the best option, but for steeper lines, a single rope plus a pull cord for abseils can be an equally good option.
bigbobbyking - on 04 Jun 2012
In reply to kozzi: #

Looking at grades on your profile I'd suggest a pair of 50 or 60m doubles. You won't need to abseil 60m but it may allow you to double up some abseils or retreat more easily. 50m would be fine too. These ropes will also be ideal for trad climbing in the uk.
yorkshire lass - on 04 Jun 2012
In reply to kozzi:

buy them out there, of the roll
you may get an extra ten metres

halfe ropes 70mtrs
and more pretty colours to

admittadly
if your hitch highking there
it dosn,t do your street cred any good if youve no ropes about you
but they wigh on a bit

yorkshire thing
kozzi - on 04 Jun 2012
yorkshire lass - on 04 Jun 2012
In reply to kozzi:

you only need one ,
let the guy your climbing with buy the other
as long as the colours dont clash



they are probably going to get trashed any way
find a rich freind

yorkshire lass
Mark / Alps - on 15 Jun 2012
In reply to kozzi:
I second Ex Engineers comments. For most alpine / Chamonix routes 50 metre ropes are fine, saves weight especially as you describe yourself as a novice. Much harder, more technical routes or other sport climbing venues are better with or require 60m plus ropes. All depends on what you are ,likely to be doing.
Some abseil descents can be done with a single rope but it is much easier / quicker to have two ropes. I would suggest either a pair of 50m half ropes or, more versatile, one half rope and a triple rated rope so that you can climb with a single or two half ropes depending on what routes you do. The triple rated rope can also be used as a single for glacier travel / easier mixed routes or access / descents. Chamonix has very different multi pitch sports climbs. Valley crags, mid mountain where you may or may not have some snow fields to contend with and scramble access / descents ( such as Aiguilles Rouges area or some routes along the Balcon Nord ), mountain rock routes that require glacier approaches and descents or some mixed climbing involved too. The guidebooks you use, such as Piola, usually indicate what gear is required.
In the longer term, assuming you choose to go from novice to addict, you will probably end up with loads of different ropes for different uses...
Bruce Hooker - on 15 Jun 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

> I'm 90% sure a pair of 50m half ropes (8.1-8.5mm diameter) will be your the best option,

Ditto for this, maybe going up to 8.6mm as Beal do (did?) this size. Best to have two 50s than one 100m - many people, me included, buy 100m thinking it will be better for abbing but get fed up with one person being saddled with the whole lot and cut it in two :-) The other advantage is that for easy routes can make do with just one rope.
Jones_88 - on 15 Jun 2012
In reply to kozzi:
Can you use half ropes for sport routes?Or am i confusing things here by miss readin what people are suggesting?
If so do you just clip the bolts alternatively as you would with a trad route instead of treating them as doubles where you would clip the two ropes in through the same quickdraw?
Mark / Alps - on 16 Jun 2012
In reply to Jones_88:
Half ropes are not ideal for sport routes, mainly designed with trad routes in mind. However, they can be used and are especially useful on the longer alpine bolted routes around Chamonix being asked about. Many of the routes are not that direct so the half ropes save drag, just like on a trad route, and are also useful for the abseil descents which many of the routes have.
Half ropes can be clipped alternately as you suggest but, as you know, if a route wanders or the bolts / protection are to one side or the other they don't have to be alternate. However, they must not be clipped into the same karabiner / quickdraw on running belays. 'Doubles' is another term for half ropes. It is 'twin' ropes that are designed to be clipped together into running belays. Twin ropes are made from slightly different materials, have different properties and uses.
Hope this clarifies...
Skyfall - on 16 Jun 2012
In reply to kozzi:

I'd agree that if you are doing long bolted multi-pitch routes in the alps then 2x50m half ropes would be fine. 60m halves maybe better in some cases but they weigh a lot more and, imho, are overkill in the UK.

If you were also going to be doing a fair bit of steep, hard single pitch stuff I'd say you need a single really so you could take one half plus a single rated as both half and double. Pair them or use the single on its own as required. Done this a lot.=
JLS on 16 Jun 2012
In reply to Mark / Alps:

>"However, they must not be clipped into the same karabiner / quickdraw on running belays."

While in theory you are quite correct, in practice it make he-haw difference if you treat your halfs as twins. Have you ever heard of anyone being hurt as a result of this mis-practice?

I'm with the two 50m halfs school of thought. Ie I use my UK trad halfs as alpine sport twins.
Bruce Hooker - on 16 Jun 2012
In reply to Mark / Alps:

Why wouldn't you clip both ropes into the same bolt when rope drag wasn't a problem? It seems to work well enough... from the logical point of view if it's ok for twin ropes why wouldn't it be for doubles?
Jones_88 - on 17 Jun 2012
In reply to kozzi:
Yeah that clears things up a fair bit thanks.
I assume you would be clipping them in alternative bolts though or you would need to take twice the amount of quickdraws as you normally need if you were not treating them as twins and clipping both ropes into each bolt.
How far appart are bolts generally spaced on alpine rock routes? Typically on f5/6a kinda stuff?
Or is that a bit of an un answerable question as some need a mixture of gear and bolts to clip
Mark / Alps - on 18 Jun 2012
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
Yes, I have clipped both half ropes into a runner too - but only on good bolts. Half ropes are UIAA tested with a 55kg weight on one strand and create an impact force of, I think, 8 kN. When both ropes are clipped in together on one piece of protection, contrary to the logic of my little brain, the impact force is greater. ( I think it is because the mass is shared between the two ropes so there is less stretch to absorb the force therefore the impact force is greater ). I believe 12kN is considered the maximum impact force the human body can reasonably withstand.
Possible conclusions: In trad climbing using cams, nuts, ice screws etc. the extra impact force from clipping both half ropes into one running belay point could be enough to cause gear to move or be ripped out. So avoid clipping both strands in this scenario. On sound bolts this should not be a problem so they could be clipped into the same runner if appropriate. However bear in mind that ( especially on some of the Chamonix multi pitch rock routes ) not all bolts may be sound and the higher impact forces can be uncomfortable.
Thanks Bruce, and the previous poster, for helping me to clarify my understanding and also to Beal for this useful page: http://bealplanet.com/sport/anglais/typecorde.php
Bruce Hooker - on 18 Jun 2012
In reply to Jones_88:

> I assume you would be clipping them in alternative bolts though or you would need to take twice the amount of quickdraws as you normally need if you were not treating them as twins and clipping both ropes into each bolt.

No, you just clip both ropes with the same quickdraw... Quite common practice in France on long routes which will involve an abseil descent.
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Bruce Hooker - on 18 Jun 2012
In reply to Mark / Alps:

Perhaps in theory but in practice they don't come tight exactly at the same time... Obviously it may be a compromise very slightly but if a bolt looks dodgy then you could always just clip one rope. It seems to work anyway.

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