/ noob question - rope diameters/thickness

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moonchip - on 19 Aug 2013
Hello all

First post so apologies if its in the wrong place

Getting back into climbing after a l-o-n-g hiatus and getting some new kit as can't find my old whelens sit harness anywhere ......

Ropes : Confusing a bit. For a single rope what is the difference between all the thicknesses of single ropes ? Is it just a matter of personal preference (or colour !)

Does an 11mm 'handle' differently from a 10.5 or a 10.2 ?

All replies appreciated -- Cheers, Tony
jkarran - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to moonchip:

Fat ropes (~11mm) are really for outdoor centers and the like or where extra toughness may be required. Given they're heavy and add little performance wise they're pretty niche these days.

Ropes between 10.5 and maybe 10mm are the workhorse single rope sizes, they're light enough for most climbing and tough enough to last a fair while. You'll probably find the particular weave and surface treatment changes the feel more than the small differences in diameter.

<10mm Singles are still a bit niche, they're aimed at climbers prioritising low weight over longevity. They can be pretty slick and difficult to hold without a suitable belay device. I'd not shy away from a good deal on say a 9.8mm but I'd be wary of the really thin ropes, they're generally pricey and need to be looked after and used carefully.

In reality longevity seems to have as much to do with the sheath weave and the use as it does the diameter. Thin ropes tend to handle and feed better but are harder to hold when abbing or catching a fall so care is needed in matching them with suitable kit. Fatter ropes weigh more. If they're going to get wet and freeze then dry treatment is worth the extra.

For a bog standard getting started again rope something cheap around 60m x 10mm will be easy to use and should last well. Don't get hung up on fractions of a mm, you'd struggle to measure the difference let alone discern it without tools.

jk
purplemonkeyelephant - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to jkarran:

Great advice!
GridNorth - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to jkarran:
> (In reply to moonchip)
>
Don't get hung up on fractions of a mm, you'd struggle to measure the difference let alone discern it without tools.
>
Too true. My 7.4 skinnies are now fatter than my 8.5 half rope. :-)

moonchip - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to jkarran:

Thank you very much
Jonny2vests - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to moonchip:

Just to add a tiny bit more. As James says, what you plan to do with it matters. The most punishment you can give a rope is bottom roping, so if you're into that steer towards a thicker rope, 10.5mm. For leading and seconding, you can afford to go a bit thinner because its kinder to the rope.
colina - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to moonchip: ive got a 10.5 mm rope ,to be honest cd do with something a bit thinner as it dsnt run through my carabiner well, although for sport use it gives plenty of confidence, I guess the ideal thickness is the thinnest one you can get that passes all the safety standards (for trad anyway as any weight saving can only be good)
robbo99 - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to moonchip: how much do you weigh? im 6'3" and 15 stone.. all well developed climbing muscle of course ;) and use an 10.2 mm 60m rope.

Reason i ask is i toproped a friends 9.8mm the other week, fell off halway up the 20 m route and almost hit the deck from rope stretch.

My 10.2 seems to have far less stretch; which makes sense physics-wise.

It also feels reassuringly fat getting it through a belay plate :)
Jonny2vests - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to colina:

> I guess the ideal thickness is the thinnest one you can get that passes all the safety standards

Not really, there's lots of other factors, as discussed above.

moonchip - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to robbo99:

Hi Robbo - thank you for your feedback. In answering your question I'm 6'4" and slightly less-thin than you are :)

I think I'll go for a dynamic as thick as I can find :)
adam 24 - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to robbo99: Falling 10m with only 30m out sounds a bit extreme. Thinner ropes do stretch more, but I've given a 100 kg guy a belay with a top rope on a 30m route using a 9.5mm. I caught him ok from a low fall, you just have to be very careful. Attentive belaying will probably make more difference than rope diameter. If that's a regular problem you might want to consider a grigri as you'll get less rope slippage than with a regular belay device.
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robbo99 - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to adam 24:
> (In reply to robbo99) Falling 10m with only 30m out sounds a bit extreme.

Perhaps i gave my belayer the benefit of the doubt when i asked if she was paying attention... :)

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