/ How long do climbing ropes last when not in use?

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Richard Justice - on 13 Feb 2014
I have recently got back into climbing.
I have three ropes ( a single and a double) that have been sat in the loft for 10 years in rope bags, and are unused.
I am inclined to think they are okay, the ones in the shops certainly don't have sell by dates. What do other people think?
Not worth the risk, and save them for top roping?
Or still as good as new?

Thanks


Merlin - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Dick, Still a Fat B:
If it looks and handles fine, it generally is fine. I would use them.

I have some 30m ropes which are in similar state (nearly new, stored for 10years) which I will be using at the wall as my Mammut Galaxy is now like wire and due to be binned.

Ropes generally need binning when a) physical damage is eveident (not just a bit of fluffy sheath) b) it's exceeded its life and is now not comfortable to fall on and belay with, you will know when this has happened, it very obviously starts to feel aged.
Post edited at 12:09
andy_e on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Dick, Still a Fat B:
I think most manufactures say that the life span is 10 years maximum from date of manufacture, regardless of how much the rope has been used or stored. Although I presume that this time scale would err on the side of caution.

However a rope can be destroyed on it's first use out, and regular use can see it feeling old after a few years.

Your ropes *might* be okay, if they have been kept dry, and away from sunlight and other damaging chemicals but I'd personally replace them and have total piece of mind. After all your life is worth more than a couple hundred quid!
Post edited at 12:09
Richard Justice - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Merlin:

Thanks

My concern was that the alternating hot and cold would have damaged them, but I guess it is UV that really rots synthetic materials.
Merlin - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Dick, Still a Fat B:

If it has damaged the rope I would expect to see signs of degredation (which you would notice), it's simply not going to snap on you.

*Small print - it may snap on you! ;0)
CurlyStevo - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Dick, Still a Fat B:
How long did you own them before putting them in to storage?

Manufacturers will tell you to bin them, most recommend a max of 5 or 10 years of use and 5 years on a shop shelf PRIOR to use, but inspecting the rope and retiring it appropriately are the key concerns on ropes of less age than this. Bare in mind the manufacturers will err on the side of caution and AFAIK they can't have an obsolescence date longer than 10 years of use on PPI by EU law.

Your ropes of course could have been manufactured over 15 years ago if the shop had had them for 5 years and you stored them for a while.

However I saw some tests (I think by blue titan) on pretty old rope (IIRC around 20 years old) which had never been used and they found it was as strong as new (I'm deliberately not defining strong here as I couldn't easily google the experiment, but IIRC only tensile strength was tested). So there is debate about how long textile gear lasts and in recent years some manufacturers have upped there estimate from a max usable lifespan of 5 years to 10.

I'd start by inspecting the rope for abrasion or contamination by liquid and run it through your hands with a bend of rope between them and look for soft spots. At the end of the day you then have to decide if you trust it or not and what for (ie trad, sport, top roping etc)
Post edited at 12:15
CurlyStevo - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Merlin:

Abrasion and some chemical damage can be spotted visually however not all chemical damage is this obvious. Really you need to be confident it hasn't been damaged this way.
Richard Justice - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to CurlyStevo:

The single was used on one dry weekend on Grit, the double is brand new ( just old). I am happy they have not been exposed to any chemicals.
I am more worried about some of my friends, that are now 35 years old!
I think I will have to replace the tape on them with some dyneema cord.
Merlin - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Dick, Still a Fat B:

Do lots of people keep chemicals in their loft?!

CurlyStevo - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Merlin:

The question should be does the OP!
CurlyStevo - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Dick, Still a Fat B:

here's a bit more info
http://www.fishproducts.com/tech/Ropeshelflife.pdf
CurlyStevo - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Dick, Still a Fat B:

this is worth reading too
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=478032&v=1#x6589628
Merlin - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to CurlyStevo:

My point being; ropes coming into contact with chemicals is a bit out of context given the OP's original post - people seem to immediately jump to their own conclusions.

Although, I would imagine the most common place for soemones rope to unknowingly come into contact with chemicals is in a car boot where spare antifreeze, oil, windscreen wash etc rolls about - but I didn't mention that because it's compeletly irrelavent.

Merlin - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Interesting about fig 8 descents - given that, I'm suprised they are still produced.
CurlyStevo - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Merlin:

> My point being; ropes coming into contact with chemicals is a bit out of context given the OP's original post - people seem to immediately jump to their own conclusions.

> Although, I would imagine the most common place for soemones rope to unknowingly come into contact with chemicals is in a car boot where spare antifreeze, oil, windscreen wash etc rolls about - but I didn't mention that because it's compeletly irrelavent.

I see your point although I think it is worth considering where and how they were stored for the last 10 years.


Rod Witham - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Dick, Still a Fat B:

The UIAA have answered the question in a paper by Pit Schubert

http://theuiaa.org/upload_area/files/1/About_Ageing_of_Climbing_Ropes.pdf

If that link doesn't work do a Google search for UIAA 3/2000

Rod Witham
CurlyStevo - on 13 Feb 2014
In reply to Rod Witham:

That was already provided in the UKC thread I linked to.....

The other link that has not been pasted in to this thread is:

http://theuiaa.org/upload_area/files/1/Conference_on_nylon_and_ropes.pdf

mattsccm - on 14 Feb 2014
In reply to Dick, Still a Fat B:

The article by Pit encourages me in that it suggests that ropes over 20 years old do not break.
I have one that was put into a bin bag 20 years ago and hasn't been out except for me to check that it was still there ( you know what I mean) . I intend to use it on easy ground, , as a scrambling rope etc this winter.
I am happy . I think.
CurlyStevo - on 14 Feb 2014
In reply to mattsccm:

Actually the 20 year old rope did break second fall, the energy absorption capacity of the rope was significantly weaker.
Richard Justice - on 14 Feb 2014
In reply to Dick, Still a Fat B:

Thanks for those articles and comments.
I am happy my rope is okay now.
Just need the weather to improve a bit.
wbo - on 14 Feb 2014
In reply to Dick, Still a Fat B:

Steveo, which 20yr old rope in which article are you refering to? As my reading of Pit Schuberts article is also that aging without use or chemical attack is trivial
CurlyStevo - on 14 Feb 2014
In reply to wbo:
Hmm ok seems I may have slightly misquoted here.

However Pit says:

"has been proved by many tests of such old ropes not even 25-year-old ropes and one 30-year-old rope broke in tests in accordance with the standard; they still held at least one drop"

Assumedly these ropes would have held more than one drop when brand new so there was a measurable decrease in energy absorption capacity, although Pit does say that this reduction is primarily down to metres of use not age.
Post edited at 12:40
Merlin - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to CurlyStevo:

It's a shame that centres etc bin their ropes based on a time period rather than their physical condition, purely because someone (usually without a clue but an overwhemlming fear of risk) mandates them too. They are usually prevented from passing them on for personnal use (due to liability) and therefore literately destroy them. Barking mad, but keeps the rope industry healthy I guess!
andrewmcleod - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to Merlin:
I would assume most centres trash their rope through the massive amount of use they get long before their age starts to be an issue (at least directly)?
Post edited at 15:16
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Jonny2vests - on 18 Feb 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

Walls do. Outdoor Ed centres throw away good stuff all the time. The services are really over the top too.

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