/ Advice on first trad rope(s)?

duckweed - on 03 Apr 2019

Hello,

Looking for some advice on whether my first trad rope should be a pair of half ropes or a single.

Ive read that half ropes should be the default choice, or to buy a single half rope and have a partner bring the other. As im just starting out ive got no regular partner or even any friends who would definitely agree to it so i guess ill try and climb with my brother as much as i can, but that means ill have to buy a pair or just the single.

Id like to climb around wales and scotland and work up to some cool multipitch stuff but im starting completely from the beginning with pretty much no climbing experience. I have one family member who climbed winter in the 80s-90s (with a single) but im sure practices would have changed since then and same with ice vs rock. Ive got a few books and will start on some easy single pitch stuff so between the two of us and a few guides i think we should be okay.

Im a little worried regarding learning placements and anchors and all of that stuff with the added two ropes in the mix but then again ive not really tried that so i dont know how much of a factor it would be.

Urban rock have the beal cobra 2 dry cover pair for £150 which have decent reviews but im not sure id be able to stretch a budget far past that - maybe id be better off getting a higher quality single? Not sure how fast id be progressing but probably far quicker than the rate of the rope wearing out, and again i dont really know the limitations of a single apart from what people have said on the forums.  Saying that, go outdoors have the mammut 10mm galaxy (70m is the shortest unless i want a 40m) for £69 which is 48% off and seems like a bargain. 

Any help would be appreciated!

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whenry on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

It's perfectly possible to trad climb with a single rope - and if you're climbing short single pitch routes might even be more desirable than faffing about with two great long half ropes. If you're planning to do much sport climbing then a single is better for that too.

Certainly half ropes are generally more useful for trad than a single - you'll have to extend far less on many routes, and will generally experience less rope drag. Placing gear and building anchors with two ropes is no more complicated than with a single, and in some ways can be easier.

I've read about buying one half rope and your partner buying another, but in over twenty years of climbing I've never come across anyone who's actually done that. Virtually everyone I know climbs with a variety of different people - most of whom have a set of ropes, but some who don't. Having a pair of your own gives you far more flexibility for climbing with others who don't have ropes (my siblings don't have their own ropes, but do like to come climbing with me occasionally). 

When I started trad climbing, I started using a single (I already did a lot of sport climbing), but quickly found that using two half ropes was much more preferable and forked out for a couple.

How long will they last? That depends how you look after them, but I've got a pair of Edelrid halves that I've had for seven years and they're still in decent condition - they get used about 50 -75 days a year perhaps. I suspect the Beal ropes will last you a few years - a few friends have them and they've lasted well.

I suppose, though, that the real question is whether you've done much climbing yet, and whether you definitely think it's for you. I'd recommend joining a club or finding someone experienced to climb with to start with - that way you can climb on their ropes and gear whilst you get used to it and decide whether it's for you or not - and you'll get the benefit of their experience.

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Gordon Stainforth - on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to whenry:

There are very few routes under VS where a double rope helps. Typically, they're a complete pain in the arse in the lower grades.

Edit: Extra point. Surely one of the greatest joys of the lower grades is the simplicity of climbing, so that you can even move together at times without too much faffing about? Just a single rope and a few runners (no ridiculous 'skirt') -  about half a dozen basic nuts and about half a dozen slings. Maybe a couple of Friends for speed. The whole spirit of the thing is lovely. I think always of many happy days on the east face of Tryfan, in my early days in all kinds of quite bad weather: rain, sleet, hail and snow, as well as dry and sunny.

Post edited at 22:01
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john arran - on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

This looks like a good deal:

https://www.needlesports.com/52470/products/beal-legend-83mm-x-50m-green.aspx

There's a pink one the same at the same price (£62.99). Together they look like they could be perfect for you.

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duckweed - on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to whenry:

Yeah in the beginning ill stick to some short routes to get to grips with belaying and placing gear but hopefully id get up some simple multi-pitch ones fairly quickly. I live within 2 hours or so of wales so going up for the weekend would be pretty easy to sort out which helps a lot to simply get out and practice/learn but i dont think sport climbing would have any bearing on the rope choice, the idea of placing my own gear 4 pitches up seems too cool.

When i say not much climbing i just mean a few years of wall climbing as a child (aged 10 or so) and then having a blast when going to the wall with scouts so im pretty confident ill enjoy it - maybe im just hoping people will tell me to get a pair of doubles!

As for the gear i bought a harness/shoes and a second hand pair of nuts but ive been given a big bunch of gear (vast majority being metal) so ive got everything apart from rope sorted. Theres my dads 25 year old single (apparently its only taken 2 lead falls) but i dont really want to take a whipper off that even if it does look in good shape.

Ill be on the look out for a more regular partner after my exams finish but im happy enough setting up anchors on my banister between physics papers and hopefully i wont seem completely incompetent when i do meet someone

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duckweed - on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Yep that was definitely my main reservation on the doubles, but does that sentiment hold true even for lower grade tall climbs and traverses? I dont think rope drag or any of the more subtle things would bother me much right now so i think its mainly balancing "futureproofing" whilst not wasting twice the money on something i wont benefit from as you say.

Tryfan is on my starting hit list! Ive read that Y Lliwedd and throughout Ogwen valley have some great beginner climbs and a range of difficulties when the time comes

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duckweed - on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to john arran:

Thank you - I saw the pair of these ropes for 124.99 (green and pink as you mentioned) on urban rock but I think it would be an idea to go for the slightly thicker and dry coated cobras for longevity and obviously rain. Also couldnt find as much material on those legends but maybe im not looking hard enough

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Luke90 on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I think you're confusing "grades below VS" with "grades that are well within my own personal limits". I don't think climbs below VS are noticeably less wandering than those above. I think that when you've got a few grades in hand you just find it easier to think about rope drag and maybe skip some placements that you wouldn't at your limit.

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Harry Cook - on 03 Apr 2019
In reply to whenry:

Hi, 

First of all Ive sent you an email. 

Secondly, A single will do you for your first year if as your profile suggests your on Peak Gritstone. I did my first season on a single and climbed routes upto HVS on a single and Ive seen people doing harder. Yes you'll want halves for most mountain routes but for learning the ropes a single is easier to handle when you need to concentrate on your placements. 

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McHeath - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

Belaying with double ropes could be a major stress factor and potential accident cause if you're climbing with inexperienced partners, so I'd definitely recommend the single rope; just choose the climbs which don't wander about too much!

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Gordon Stainforth - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Luke90:

No, I disagree totally. It's all to do with the nature of the terrain. Surely one of the joys of the lower grades is the freedom and simplicity: that one can move easily with a minimum amount of rope and fuss? About half a dozen nuts and a few slings. I'm thinking particularly now of wonderful days on the east face of Tryfan or the Idwal Slabs in all weathers, in rain, sleet and snow, as well as in warm sunshine.

I should add that I regard (regarded, because I no longer climb) myself as an extremely average climber ... which is surely true: top leading grade E2 (though seconded much harder), but spent much of my climbing career around VS/HVS, and kept on doing loads of sub-VS. My brother and I started climbing properly in 1968, and I think we were average even then (though I suspect that, because it was quite a lot more dangerous, there were fewer wallies around). The general vibe then was that you weren't really doing real climbs until you were climbing VS. Our experience of breaking into the VS grade only confirmed that hunch.

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Luke90 on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Surely one of the joys of the lower grades is the freedom and simplicity: that one can move easily with a minimum amount of rope and fuss?

Absolutely, but that's not going to be immediately relevant to a beginner and "the lower grades" that permit that kind of easy movement are entirely relative to one's ability level. I don't think difficulty determines the relevance of double ropes. You can find straight routes where double ropes are irrelevant or wandering ones where they're invaluable at any grade.

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stevevans5 on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I get that for leading lower grades when you've been trading climbing for a while, but when getting into it, gear placement is likely the limiting factor, and getting more placements on the easier routes will speed up the learning process compared to sticking a couple of runners in and running it out... 

Depending on the length of climbs you are interested in, you could get one half rope and use it in half? (Someone ties into the middle) Quite a lot of the peaks is accessible using half a 60m rope

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GrahamD - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

As you can see there are many opinions out there ! Personally I joined a club where everyone had a 'half rope' (one of the doubles you refer to). It was natural for me to buy just one half rope. It doesn't need to be the same brand as everyone elses.

 I very quickly got to like Mammut ropes so that is what I've always bought since Up at (!) My first rope.

So my advice isn't about ropes : it's try a club and see what works in that environment. 

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Thugitty Jugitty on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

Partly depends on your belayer(s). If they are unlikely to have experience of belaying with two ropes, perhaps because they recently moved from indoor climbing, then a single may be the way to go. There's quite a knack to belaying safely with two ropes, and you don't want to be worrying about that when you're leading.

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PaulW - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

I would suggest that a single will be fine for many single pitch routes if they don't meander too much but once you start doing more adventurous multi pitch stuff then a pair of ropes gives you the flexibility to back off things quickly in the event of bad weather or injury.

don't overthink it. Ropes are a consumable item, like shoes they will wear out over time, they are not a once in a lifetime purchase

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acrkirby - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

Umm you may want to watch for that "Dry" treated...

Beal has this nasty trick where the "Dry" treatment is actually an abbreviation for Durable, Resistant yarn. Actually waterproof ropes are Golden Dry and twice the price again.

If you are looking for some bargain fry ropes check the https://shop.epictv.co.uk/en/half-ropes/edelrid/kestrel-pro-dry-85mm?sku=EDES17_ROPKPD_AQU50 pretty solid rope IMO

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Paul16 - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

If you're starting out and near the Peak then get a 30m single and spend the summer climbing single pitches - there's a huge amount of routes that are fine with a single and under 20m long. After a summer of climbing you'll have the trad basics and then you can look to the mountains. The short single won't be unused after that, you'll probably be using it more than any other rope you buy!

If you want to get on multi-pitch routes this year then you'll need to be with someone experienced, and they'll have the extra gear anyway.

Twin ropes can be a pain to work with. They bring a few of advantages, especially on bigger routes, but they are definitely not easy to manage and as a beginner I'd suggest you steer clear of them and focus on the climbing. If I can get away with a single then I do, which is why I got triple rated ropes!

Good luck and enjoy the climbing

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L topper133 - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

where abouts are you based? I'm in a similar position, leading indoors, but wanting to get outdoors (sport and trad). I have a single 60m beal virus which i was going to use and booked a rock skills course in May to get some tuition, but I don't have a climbing buddy and the clubs near me (Huddersfield) seem to be dieing off and not very active at all which is a shame.

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slab_happy on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

> As im just starting out ive got no regular partner or even any friends who would definitely agree to it so i guess ill try and climb with my brother as much as i can

You could also post here looking for partners and see if you can find people who won't mind mentoring you a bit as you learn.

Trying to teach yourself from scratch with an equally-inexperienced partner isn't ideal (though it's not impossible); the books are great but not a substitute for experience and judgement, and it can help a lot to have someone else who can give you feedback on your placements, etc..

Do you know how to lead-belay?

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antdav - on 04 Apr 2019

I've never bought a pair of ropes and would certainly echo others that it's not the ideal thing to start with. 

Most climbs go reasonably straight and learning how to extend will stop the majority of drag. 

The few times I've seen a pair would help (eg. valkyrie) I tie into the middle of the rope and climb as doubles just lacking the colour difference, although you can buy a single rope with different colours on each half for this purpose.

I've seen far too many beginners climbing and belaying unsafely with doubles. 

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duckweed - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to acrkirby:

Does that mean you suggest getting the cheaper completely vanilla rope and that dry coated isn't worth it? I'm not aiming to go climbing in the rain - just thought it'd be worth it for the extra durability

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IanMcC - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

Hi

You could buy a skinny triple rated rope around 9.1 mm. (Petzl Volta or similar) You can later buy a half rope to complement it once you're sure you need double ropes. Only drawback is initial purchase is fairly expensive, and not as durable as cheap thicker single rope.

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duckweed - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Paul16:

That sentiment seems to have been echoed quite a bit by most users so yes I think I'll start with a single, but the triple rope looks interesting and easy enough to add another or decide on getting another pair later

Which one(s) are you using? I think 50m would be apt but I'm not sure why people think I'm climbing the peak district!

Beal joker is on sale through someplace but some people seem to think it is not too durable even with the high review scores so I'll look into it more

Post edited at 11:06
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krikoman - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

I bought a single, when I first started and that was enough for most climbs, if that's all you've got then you climb climbs where that's appropriate. If you really like climbing, you'll probably end up with someone else who does and they'll have  rope too, then you've got double ropes to climb what you like.

I would get eh cheapest you can at this point, dry treated isn't really worth the extra cost.

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duckweed - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to slab_happy:

Yes I can belay a leader and know the absolute basics and what is needed to just get up and go on a climbing wall but there's also gear placements and other bits and bobs not faced by wall climbers

As I said I've got my A level exams in 6-7 weeks so I can't get out much (if at all) until then or find a partner to commit with, so as someone else said I'm just trying to be a bit more flexible by myself and then will look for a partner later on when I have a free schedule 

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Paul16 - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

Hi, triple rated are not cheap. I splashed out and got some Beal Opera golden dry's but I have waited 4 years to buy them (£263 for the pair). They're 50m. I would say that at 8.5mm they're a bit skinny and slick for belaying when you're starting out. You should be looking for something around 9.2-9.5, mainly for durability and handling. If I'm going to a crag with single pitch climbing then I use one of my other single ropes, the opera's are for adventurous/wandering routes! None of the others are dry treated and have been durable, even on grit.

To sum up - if you want a general purpose single which you can use on 30m pitches, with some margin of safety to lower off if (when!) things get out of hand, then I'd suggest 60m, untreated, 9.something is what you're after. If you're on grit then 30m is plenty most of the time but for versatility 60m does make sense. In a few years when you have 8 different ropes you can chop it in half!

I'd echo the advice above and ask around for people who are willing to do a bit of mentoring.

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C Witter on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

If you're just starting out, I would go with a single rope. It's the most flexible - you can use it for trad, for sport, for top/bottom-roping, for hard scrambling/mountaineering routes or leading down the wall. Don't bother with expensive treatments and make sure it's not too skinny, e.g. I'd go for something 9 - 10mm diameter, 50m length. For trad, a single rope is also good to get used to spacing and extending your runners appropriately. And, finally, it's cheaper. Check out the rope stats and reviews carefully before you buy. Something like the Mammut Galaxy Classic is typical.

Double ropes are more specialised. They're fantastic for UK trad and winter, but they're a little less flexible and also more expensive and more faff. Once you start leading harder climbs (VS, HVS) you can think about splashing out, but in the meanwhile... I think it's best to stick to a single rope.

It's also a really good idea to find someone with a bit more experience who can show you the ropes - e.g. by joining a club, talking to people at the local climbing wall or asking around friends. If you're just doing your A-levels, look forward to joining a uni mountaineering club. I learnt to trad climb mostly by reading books, but having someone who can correct your mistakes for you is invaluable. Even better if they have a car and a rack ;)



 

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acrkirby - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

Umm complete opposite for me honestly, but then again i mainly climb winter and long multi-pitch (usually wet) routes. You are correct that dry treated ropes are more durable and if you have the cash i highly recommend them.

Just dont go buying Beal DRY ropes and expecting them to be water resistant its a mistake a friend of mine quickly came to regret.

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antdav - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

I have a Beal Joker and its a nice light triple rated rope but if you are going to making mistakes then why bother with an expensive rope you will barely use the twin/double feature of.

The Mammut Galaxy suggestion is what I would go for. Bomber and cheap at £70 for 70m (could even cut in 2 for a wall rope and an outside rope).

Dry treated I would only go for if you are likely to be climbing on cliffs where the rope could lay in puddles. 

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slab_happy on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

> Yes I can belay a leader and know the absolute basics and what is needed to just get up and go on a climbing wall but there's also gear placements and other bits and bobs not faced by wall climbers

Absolutely; I'm just thinking that if you can lead-belay solidly, that makes you more appealing as a climbing partner than someone who's starting completely from scratch.

> As I said I've got my A level exams in 6-7 weeks so I can't get out much (if at all) until then or find a partner to commit with

Good luck with your exams!

But after that, I'd definitely ask on here. Doesn't have to be a regular partner; just getting out a few times with people who've got more experience than you can help enormously.

Also (guessing that you might not have money for a course) you might want to keep an eye out for MIA trainees who want practice subjects

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spenser - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to C Witter:

The OP would benefit from joining a local club this summer and getting out as much as possible. I would strongly advise to not let them get strong armed into going out and doing routes with inexperienced people if they don't feel comfortable (this occasionally happens with university clubs, either due to stupid arrangements forced on clubs by the union, occasionally due to a simple lack of competent people). The experience built up climbing with a local club will help them tell who knows what they are on about and who is a dangerous nutter.

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GrahamD - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to Paul16:

I really don't get this twin ropes are hard to use. I guess because I started on double ropes they just seem as easy as singles.

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GridNorth - on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to GrahamD:

Apparently there is now a large caucus of new climbers that only feel safe if they have had some form of professional training, it may have something to do with that.

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C Witter on 04 Apr 2019
In reply to GrahamD:

They pretty much are... Except you've got twice as much rope to carry, to flake, to get tangled and knotted, to flake again, to get in your way as you climb, to manage on your belays, to accidentally knock off your cramped belay, and to flip on your cramped belay when you're not swapping leads. Plus, you've got to work out which rope to clip and why and when... Which is fine if you're not already worrying about placing gear... Not to mention that it's ideal if your belayer has belayed with two ropes before... otherwise, you've probably got to teach them into the bargain...

But, once you've got those things sorted, a pair of ropes is great!

To be honest, though, when I've been helping a friend start to lead independently, we just used double ropes because that's what I was using... there didn't seem much point swapping to a single rope just to "simplify" the situation.

Post edited at 23:05
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duckweed - on 07 Apr 2019
In reply to C Witter:

Hello everyone - just wanted to say thanks for the help - im back with a somewhat better idea of a selection of ropes which should suit my needs. I read the mountain equipment guide on rope stats and i think ive decided on a rope but just wanted to make sure there were no obvious issues im skipping over. Apparently you cant reserve something at go outdoors and have it shipped to a more local store to collect (maybe im just expecting too much, i thought this was a thing?) so the mammut galaxy is out out of the question but it sold out now anyway!

The selection is from Beal virus 10mm/ Zenith 9.5mm, Edelrid boa 9.8mm/Python 10mm/ Eagle lite 9.5mm so i imagine pretty standard, but as far as i can see the eagle lite seems to be the one to go for.

It has 62 (middle) weight g/m, 36% sheath percent (lowest of this list but same as mammut), 9 falls (highest), 9kN impact force (only 0.1-0.2 higher than next two highest), 29% dynamic elongation (lowest), 7.1% static (lowest) and is the middle price from the five (£79 down from £130 at v12).

The only reason i can see to not buy it is the hideous mango beige puke colour and the fact i think its intended to be a sport rope but then again it is a single. I think its also got the Thermoshield coating (poundland dry coating?) along with the python. All are 50m and compatible with the ATC guide AFAIK.

Thanks again!

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GaborS - on 13 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

Short single pitch - 10mm single (40-50 metres) would be fine.

Multipitch - you'll need a pair of halves (50metres). 

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ipfreely on 17 Apr 2019
In reply to duckweed:

If you can get 2 60m ropes for a good price get them, ( I would try for something from 8.3mm to around 9mm if possible) you’ll want them eventually anyway, if your just cragging about on shorter routes you can just use 1 rope doubled over so it’s like 2 30m ropes, stops you having to pull loads of slack through and gets your hand in at using doubles, and if your concerned your belayer can’t run 2 ropes, use the 2 strands as a single, ie clip both at the same time (as per twins)

what ever you do, have a good one, get out lots with different people & look on the lifts & partners forum.

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