UKC

Rope life

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 n1ge 13 Apr 2021

I have a pair of Edelrid half ropes that have only ever been used on about 5 multi-pitch climbs and have never been fallen on. However they are 20 years old. They have spent most of that time in storage. By today's standards they're pretty heavy. I think they might be as much as 9.5mm.

Do ropes deteriorate with age even when not used? Would they still be safe?

 PaulW 13 Apr 2021
In reply to n1ge:

You will probably get a whole load of opinions on this one. Without testing it would be tough to be sure either way.

I think Beal for example suggest 10 years of very light use plus 5 years of pre sale storage as being acceptable.

There is perhaps some slight degradation over time in storage even if properly stored out of the light. 

So safe? Who knows. For me I would hate to be on a climb with even the smallest concern about the condition of the equipment.

 Al Randall 13 Apr 2021
In reply to n1ge:

I think you would be pushing your luck a little with ropes that old but if they still handle nicely they would probably be OK.  If it were me I would buy new ones for the simple reason that you have now planted a seed in your mind and it will come back to haunt you when you get into a sticky situation.  For me once the doubt has surfaced that's it.

Al

 pdone 13 Apr 2021
In reply to n1ge:

If you do a search on Pit Schubert Aging of Climbing Ropes you will find that they are safe - provided there is no damage, which your post implies there isn't. 

 GPN 13 Apr 2021
In reply to n1ge:

Categorically, climbing ropes do not degrade with age. They degrade with use and exposure to chemicals, UV etc.

Whether to continue using them or not, only you can answer...

 Naechi 13 Apr 2021
In reply to n1ge:

From Edelrid

"Ropes  deteriorate  even  when  they  are  not  used.  At the  very  latest  they  should  be  replaced  after  ten years  as  synthetic  fibres  deteriorate  over  time.  A rope  that  is  only  used  occasionally  and  stored  carefully  can  provide  three  to  six  years  of  service.  If  you use  your  rope  on  a  very  regular  basis  and  it  takes lots  of  falls,  we  advise  you  to  downgrade  it  to  toprope  use  only  after  one  year.  It’s  not  possible  to  provide  exact  values  for  rope  lifespan.  In  particular, difficult  handling  or  a  worn  sheath  should  make  it clear  to  the  safety-conscious  user  that  it’s  time  to replace  a  rope.  It’s  important  to  replace  a  rope  if  it has  been  subjected  to  extreme  forces  or  if  it  is damaged."

https://www.edelrid.de/en/sports/knowledge/ropebook.php

Post edited at 19:51
 Gwinn512 13 Apr 2021
In reply to n1ge:

Testing from Black Diamond: https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en_US/stories/experience-story-qc-lab-old-vs-new-gear-testing/

There's also a section on this in the Risiko series by Pit Schubert (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sicherheit-Risiko-Fels-Eis-Sicherheitsforschung/dp/3763360166), saying that since the era of modern ropes, there hasn't been an accident caused by rope failure in a fall (outside of it being cut over a rock edge, which can happen with brand new ropes as well).

Take from that what you will.

 Cobra_Head 14 Apr 2021
In reply to n1ge:

There are loads of tests of old rope on youtube and around the internet, there is very little difference between old and new, unless there's been chemical damage.

I'd climb on them, providing I was certain there'd been no chemical damage.

In reply to Naechi:

> From Edelrid

> "Ropes  deteriorate  even  when  they  are  not  used.  At the  very  latest  they  should  be  replaced  after  ten years  as  synthetic  fibres  deteriorate  over  time.

People that sell rope advise that it is replaced often.

In other news, water is wet.

(OK, there might be some legal considerations, too.)

 Naechi 14 Apr 2021
In reply to Max Hangs:

This is true. Every single supplier... Plus any rope access retierment/replacement schedules - Probably because they cant guaruntee the integrity of rope 10 years from manufacture.

Of course, as mentioned above, advice from some (experienced yet anonymous) folk on a forum can always be followed... - its the OP' rope and the OP's life (and their climbing partner(s)).

Post edited at 09:04
In reply to n1ge:

This has become a classic UKC thread, except no one has resorted to insults yet!

So, a whole load of people say it is fine. A whole load of other people say it is not fine. Some quote some source and could be wrong. Some don't quote a source and could be right.

How to proceed? Accept that the answer is not clear; decide if you want the nagging thought as you are above gear, decide whether the uncertain risk justifies taking the chance, consider your risk tolerance, budget and climbing activity to determine whether buying new ropes is the way ahead.

If you use them and fall and nothing happens, does that mean the replies that they are safe are correct? No.

If you decide to bin them and buy new, does that mean the replies that they are not safe are correct? No.

Your rope, your life tied to it. Your call!

Post edited at 10:02
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

Yeah, that's fair.

"If you have to ask, you're probably gonna want to replace it!".

In reply to Max Hangs:

I clearly have a firm view on the question but really, really didn't want to state it as it would just be another view taking a side, which doesn't help the OP at all!


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