/ What rope to use for wilderness hiking

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Zen on 25 May 2013
Hi guys,

Last week my friend and I were in Arran doing a bit of wilderness camping in woods on the south of the island. While the trek wasn't intended to have any elements of climbing and was more to go exploring, there was a situation where we had to lower ourselves down safely having climbed a 100ft ridge that gradually steepened until it hit a 10ft 'proper' climb near the top. We weren't keen on trying this section while carrying gear and having no rope, when suddenly a lot of loose ground from heavy rainfall started to slip own the hill; we had to use 550 paracord to lower our packs down and then each other. I commented that a belay plate and some actual rope would have convinced me to climb the last section or even lower ourselves down a lot safer.

Then, we scrambled our way up the side of a 100ft river gorge. When we neared the last 6ft the ground yet again started to give way and my friend narrowly missed falling back on himself.

Basically, I'd have done the same again but felt far more confident and safer with a lightweight trekking rope if such a thing exists, although I only boulder in my spare time so I have no idea about static/dynamic ropes, thickness etc. and what would make a good selection for our needs.

If anyone could recommend a rope based on the following, it would be much appreciated:

- Must be water resistant
- Must be lightweight (or be of a length that won't cause it to weigh as much)
- Must be heardwearing
- I would prefer the colour to be low-key black/dark green etc. but this isn't a necessity

On top of this, what other gear would we need to bring in order to use the rope safely? Cams, nuts, anchors, anything that could temporarily pin into soft or hard earth? I have little knowledge to go on with regards to this.

Thanks in advance,

Zen
girlymonkey - on 25 May 2013
In reply to Zen:
A hill rope is usually around 30m, about 8mm diameter roughly, and dynamic. However, if you ended up on a proper climb, then you want a proper climbing rope really.
Generally a hill rope is not designed to take a leader fall. If I carry one, I generally just take a large sling and a screw gate to use with it. I would use it in a circumstance where I was happy going up a section without protection but someone else with me might need the assistance of a rope for confidence more than anything.
If you are wanting to place gear then you should have a climbing rope and a harness. You can get any length of rope you like, they are easy enough to order by the meter, so you could take a short rope if you felt that was all you needed.
If you are looking at hill rope work, I would recommend either going out with an experienced friend or getting on a course.
Rob Parsons on 25 May 2013
In reply to Zen:

For a general hillwalking/river-crossing/etc. 'get out of jail' rope, something like 20-30m of 6 or 7mm static cord would suit. You could buy that off the reel at a climbing shop.

If you want something that could also take a fall, then maybe 8mm dynamic rope would be better. Edelrid and Beal and others sell such things: google for 'hillwalkers confidence rope' or similar. (See e.g. http://www.decathlon.co.uk/hiking-rope-8mm-x-20m-id_8249406.html )

Water-resistant? Forget it - but then, no rope is. Colours? Take your pick!

Other gear: disposable abseil tat (e.g. 6mm static cord); slings; nuts as required. It's impossible to suggest specifics, but climbing experience and trial-and-error will get you sorted out.
girlymonkey - on 25 May 2013
In reply to Rob Parsons:
> (In reply to Zen)
>

>
> If you want something that could also take a fall, then maybe 8mm dynamic rope would be better. Edelrid and Beal and others sell such things: google for 'hillwalkers confidence rope' or similar. (See e.g. http://www.decathlon.co.uk/hiking-rope-8mm-x-20m-id_8249406.html )
>

My understanding of confidence ropes is that they are half ropes and shouldn't take a lead fall without the other half. Is this not always the case? I'm no expert on the subject, but that was my understanding. If it was all I had then I would use it, but I didn't think it was to be relied upon as such?
Rob Parsons on 25 May 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

Thanks - you're probably right.

(Actually, looking at that link I posted, they rate that rope as a 'twin', rather than a 'half'.)

All I was trying to get at was that a dynamic rope might (only, might) be a more versatile option than the same length of static cord.
peas65 - on 26 May 2013
In reply to Zen:

I wouldnt suggest static cord as if your doing anything but abseiling, your on dodgy ground there.

A normal hill rope would be fine as an emergency rope but bear in mind it is a half or twin and not designed for lead climbing on its own.

If your leading sections you may fall on your only option is to get a short length of thin single rope such as a 9mm.

It all depends on your intended use. If your taking cams etc along then it sounds more like a climb, however sometimes on tough scrambles it is wise to take a couple of nuts just in case.
A sling and Krab are also invaluable.
Zen on 26 May 2013
Thanks for the helpful advice everyone, you've been invaluable as always.

With everything in mind, I'm steering more towards a 20-30m dynamic rope with some slings, nuts, a few karabiners and perhaps a belay.

With regards to belaying, would I be better buying a belay or using a karabiner/munter hitch setup that would save weight?

Thanks again
LesserTrochanter - on 27 May 2013
In reply to Zen: A munter hitch should only really be used for belaying direct from the anchor (the brake position of a munter-hitch is the opposite to a belay device, therefore awkward to do properly from a harness), which rules out belaying a lead climber in most circumstances. I'd recommend throwing in a lightweight belay device if you anticipate having to do any lead belaying.

As for the rope, Decathlon has a good priced water resistant hiking rope. Unless I suddenly find myself becoming a rich man, I'll probably get one as my emergency rope once I've completed my ML.
http://www.decathlon.co.uk/82mm-x-30m-hiking-rope-id_8174811.html
OwenM - on 27 May 2013
In reply to LesserTrochanter:
> (In reply to Zen) A munter hitch should only really be used for belaying direct from the anchor

Rubbish, you can use a Munter hitch in place of a belay device whether direct or indirect, people have been doing so for years without difficulty.
Snoweider - on 27 May 2013
In reply to Zen:
> Hi guys,
>
> Last week my friend and I were in Arran doing a bit of wilderness camping in woods on the south of the island...... we had to lower ourselves down safely having climbed a 100ft ridge that gradually steepened until it hit a 10ft 'proper' climb near the top. .... when suddenly a lot of loose ground from heavy rainfall started to slip own the hill; we had to use 550 paracord to lower our packs down and then each other.


Blimey man- people have gone in to the woods in the south end and returned changed persons! Would love to know which horrible corner of the forest you were exploring. I know it pretty well through survey and MRT work and its not somewhere I would go for 'fun'. Unless this is the wee hillock about the Urie Loch you are talking about?

On the subject of rope- what the others said.


AJM - on 27 May 2013
In reply to OwenM:

Agree.
Orgsm on 27 May 2013
In reply to Zen:

Based on your requirements I'd go for the 6-7mm cord. If you have an additional requirement for climbing, then that is different to a need for typical wilderness walking uses.
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AlanLittle - on 27 May 2013
In reply to LesserTrochanter:

Belaying with a munter hitch from the harness is perfectly ok, loads of older generation German/Austrian climbers still do it. It locks sufficiently to hold a leader fall with the brake hand backwards ATC-style, and was taught that way by the Austrian Alpine Club for years. Brake hand backwards instead of forwards is supposed to kink the rope quite badly, but that's not an issue for occasional emergency use.

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