/ Is a 1996 rope safe?

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L bearman68 - on 15 Jun 2017
An old by well loved rope, with no obvious defects, and always stored and handled correctly,and having taken Zero falls (I'm a wimp).
Is it going to be OK?
Lurking Dave - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

1. Absolutely, 100%, completely safe.

2. Not at all, death trap.

Pick your answer from above. Then realise that asking stupid questions on the internet will get silly answers.
Cheers
LD

Ron Rees Davies - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

> Is it going to be OK?

According to the manufacturers, no. Well past its use by date.

According to published data on tests of old (undamaged, uncontaminated) ropes, probably yes.

Just depends on whether you are willing to trust your life to that "probably" (which in turn depends on what you're using it for - top roping/leading etc.)

AlanLittle - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

Do you plan to discuss openly and honestly with your climbing partners the fact that they will be relying for their lives on your dodgy decisions about antique kit?
Pete Houghton - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:
I use gear until it literally falls apart and dies, I've got friends begging that I buy a new harness, and I've got metal dangling from it older than I am. But even I'd be a bit wary of a 20 year old rope.
Post edited at 05:42
L bearman68 - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Lurking Dave:

Thanks for your considered view. That really helps.
cb294 - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Pete Houghton:

I am a bit more paranoid about my harness, as connecting me to my rope is critical under all circumstances.

With an old rope, I would say it depends on what it is used for. I have a old but barely used rope from the early 90s as well. I have recently used it for rigging a handline and for abseil practise (which anyway involved toprope backup using my regular climbing rope).

Taking lead falls on that rope? No thanks, even though it would most likely still work.

CB
Pids - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

I bought a rope in 94, used it for climbing until 99 when I bought a new rope, stuck the rope in a cupboard until around 2010 when I used it as a swing in the garden for my kids - its still there, gets used, if not daily then at least a few days a week - rope is stretched, somewhat faded in colour but swing is still good, and I certainly use it as well

Would I use the rope for climbing - only you know the answer to that.

(The rope I bought in 99 has been retired from climbing, as has the one that replaced it)
Mark Kemball - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:
There was an article in a copy of Summit about 10 years ago, where various old ropes were tested, using the standard drop test. The conclusion was that ropes don't break until there is some visible damage to them. Every undamaged rope survived the first test drop, and did not break until after some damage was observed.

A bit of googling found this: http://personal.strath.ac.uk/andrew.mclaren/Journal%20of%20Materials%20Design%20and%20Applications/R...
Post edited at 09:52
mrphilipoldham - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

If you decide to retire it, maybe donate it to the manufacturer to do some drop tests on it then we can all find out the definitive answer!
L DanielByrd - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

You don't want to be using any old equipment when climbing, nothing but the best for your safety
CurlyStevo - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:
Its probably ok if its been stored carefully. Personally I would go on gut feeling, but mine would renegade it for at most top roping and abseiling purposes.

That said my single rope Is probably getting on for 10 years old and I'd still happily use it but I know its history. My half ropes are over 5 years old but look nearly new and I won't be retiring them any time soon!
Post edited at 10:05
tom_in_edinburgh - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:
> Is it going to be OK?

You gotta ask yourself one question: do I feel lucky?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Xjr2hnOHiM
Post edited at 10:07
L Ryanfuego - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

Sure, it will be, those ropes are good. Durable stuff really
Greasy Prusiks on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

If a new partner told me they had a rope and I turned up to find out it was over 20 years old I'd be pretty unimpressed. I might just be a wimp but there you go.
Mark Kemball - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Greasy Prusiks:

See my comments and linked article above - old ropes are fine as long as they are undamaged.
Coel Hellier - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

Even if an old rope doesn't break it is likely to be much less springy, and so produce a higher impact force and be more likely to rip marginal placements.
ModerateMatt - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

I'm surprised no one has said this already. How much is your life worth? A new rope is 60 - 70 pounds for 60m and much less if you only need a shorter rope for the likes of Grit routes. It's your call.
Siward on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

I have a virtually unused 1991 11mm dry treated rope that's been stored in the dark, in the attic, since 1991. (Made by 'Cairngorm climbing ropes' remember them?)

I wouldn't use it now because of the unquantifiable risk but I would genuinely be surprised if it wasn't as good as new.
bouldery bits - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

£70 - or deck?

Know which one i'd pick.
Steve Clark - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

I've got a purple 1995 9mm Marlow half rope that I still use. It's under the front door as a mat to wipe my feet.

Its sister is currently working hard holding the bottom of a rubbish chute over the centre of skip.

Timmd on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:
Ignoring the sarcastic people, if you google UIAA info on rope age and strength, that could be helpful for you.

Edit: Here you are.

http://theuiaa.org/documents/safety/About_Ageing_of_Climbing_Ropes.pdf
Post edited at 13:57
99ster - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to ModerateMatt:

> I'm surprised no one has said this already. How much is your life worth? A new rope is 60 - 70 pounds for 60m and much less if you only need a shorter rope for the likes of Grit routes. It's your call.

This!

Pedro50 on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Pete Houghton:

> I use gear until it literally falls apart and dies, I've got friends begging that I buy a new harness, and I've got metal dangling from it older than I am. But even I'd be a bit wary of a 20 year old rope.

A well known climber died when his ageing harness snapped. He was waiting for his sponsors to post a new one. You figure.
Tony Ryland - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

Has anyone ever experienced a rope snap under a leader fall unless it had already been frayed/damaged?
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Rob Parsons on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Pedro50:

> A well known climber died when his ageing harness snapped. He was waiting for his sponsors to post a new one. You figure.

Events like that - bad as they are - don't get us any closer to an answer to the question being raised here, which is whether or not ropes (and slings etc.) can have dangerously deteriorated purely by ageing, despite the fact that they visually appear to be perfectly good.

In that respect we've been over this ground before in previous threads: 'if it looks shitty, it probably is.' But the reverse?
Post edited at 15:39
thermal_t - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:
My general rule of thumb is that if I start worrying about a piece of gear I replace it. There can be nothing worse than making tenuous moves high above your last bit of gear whilst worrying if your rope will snap if you peel off.
Post edited at 15:46
wbo - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Rob Parsons:
The UIAA link indicates that they dont. Bad loading , edges are what snap ropes. The harness that failed was visually worn.

I have to confess i likely wouldn't lead on a 1996 rope i would likely top rope on it. I see people using harness and ropes that i would not be happy with at all that is newer, but battered, and i think that is what matters


Cog - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Pedro50:

> A well known climber died when his ageing harness snapped. He was waiting for his sponsors to post a new one. You figure.

Was that the well known climber who owned a climbing store in Wyoming?
Offwidth - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Timmd:

Exactly... the UIAA article says there is nothing wrong with unused old ropes and used rope use is probably OK at any age unless the sheath or core is obviously damaged or there has been some risk chemical (esp acid) attack has occured. Pete has it the wrong way round... old webbing is a genuine risk.
AlanLittle - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Mark Kemball:

Did they just not break, or did they completely pass the standard test including maximum impact force etc? I recall reading a similar study, in which the ropes didn't break but had lost a significant amount of elasticity.
CurlyStevo - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

yeah one of the manufacturers has been storing unused static and unsurprisingly it hasn't deteriorated at all with age yet. Of course its possible that rope that is half way through its life may not age with the same characteristics (perhaps relatively harmless chemicals / substances have a worse effect over a period of time etc)
Offwidth - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to AlanLittle:

I thought that was well used ropes, not old 'as new' ropes.
bpmclimb on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:


> Is it going to be OK?

Probably. But no one on here is going to 100% guarantee your safety. Are you completely broke? If not, why not buy a nice new rope, which will handle better, and give you (and your partners) peace of mind?
Morty - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

> An old by well loved rope, with no obvious defects, and always stored and handled correctly,and having taken Zero falls (I'm a wimp).

> Is it going to be OK?

Imagine you are ten foot above your last piece of gear, your forearms look like Popeye's and your fingers are slowly uncurling from the handholds.

Do you really want to be asking yourself the same question?

Conversely, imagine that you are facing committing yourself to a long runout to the next good hold, in a position where you could retreat safely. You are on the route of your life and you feel strong. Do you go for it? You want to but there is always that little niggling question in the back of your mind.
James_Kendal on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Timmd:
But can we trust 17 year-old science?
Post edited at 20:53
SenzuBean - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to Cog:

> Was that the well known climber who owned a climbing store in Wyoming?

This guy: https://www.climbing.com/news/loss-of-a-legend/
CurlyStevo - on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to SenzuBean:

it wasn't so much his harness was old as such it was that the belay loop was worn through pretty much
Timmd on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to James_Kendal:
> But can we trust 17 year-old science?

I guess the question to ask is, have rope materials changed in the last 17 years, enough for the age of the research to matter?
Post edited at 21:26
Timmd on 15 Jun 2017
In reply to James_Kendal:
That would be my scientific approach.
Post edited at 22:39
bouldery bits - on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to Tony Ryland:

> Has anyone ever experienced a rope snap under a leader fall unless it had already been frayed/damaged?

If they have, they're unlikely to be able to reply mate...
ScraggyGoat on 16 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:
I can confirm that a ten year old hardly used rope will survive a massive near factor 2 fall....which corroborates the uiaa article. It was around 1997 vintage.

Ropes are both stronger, and weaker (when it comes to edges........extreme paranoia is actually justified) than you think.

However as soon as I start questioning a ropes integrity I'd retire it and buy a new one.
Post edited at 15:48
L bearman68 - on 18 Jun 2017
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

Thanks everyone for your input and arguments. The fact of the matter is that I am not in the slightest worried about the rope - well not until I thought about it and started to wonder.
I have 5 or 6 ropes kicking about (sorry stored under optimal conditions), and this is certainly the oldest, but only just. I have another pair of ropes from 1997, and a brand new one from 1999.
I used to climb as often as I could before getting married. Even after we were married,we climbed together all the time, but since kids, it's been a bit of a mare.
A month or two ago the kids went to an activity weekend, so we had the opportunity to spend a week climbing. Bosigran and a posh hotel were the order of the day, and we ticked all the easy routes in Bosi. (I'm not kidding, even ledge route was an epic outing full of adventure). Since then, we've been to the Edges with the kids, who seem to love it, but it was while one of them was dangling on the end of the old rope that I got to thinking. Couldn't see any reason for it to be bad, but I've been out of it for a while, and sometimes things change. (Dear Lord, you should see the antique nature of my rack - I've still got a fully functional set of Quad Cams - remember those?)
Thanks again everyone.
Timmd on 18 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

Nylon slings have a ten year recommended maximum lifespan (thinking about your cams and possibly other bits and pieces), but I couldn't say any more, either whether it's solidly grounded in practical science, or is because a lifespan has to be given because of the regulations.
AlanLittle - on 18 Jun 2017
In reply to Timmd:
Slings if not stored in the dark age more rapidly than ropes because every single fibre is exposed to UV, whereas UV is one of the many nasties the mantle of a rope protects the core against. Hence rope or cord better than tape for in situ threads.
Post edited at 20:01
AlanLittle - on 18 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:

> I've still got a fully functional set of Quad Cams - remember those?

I still have a set of rigid stem Friends, although they're the reserve set in case I'm doing something where I need a huge rack & my partner doesn't have any, so they don't actually make it out of the cellar all that often. They're on at least their third set of slings.
tripehound - on 19 Jun 2017
In reply to bearman68:
The rope is probably fine. However rope and harness are the most important bits of kit. If either is at risk of failure then you are effectively soloing.
As a mate once said its (new rope) cheaper than a funeral.
Rob Parsons on 19 Jun 2017
In reply to tripehound:

> As a mate once said its (new rope) cheaper than a funeral.

Ah, but look on the bright side: you personally won't be paying for your own funeral.
Phil79 - on 12 Jul 2017
In reply to Pedro50:

> A well known climber died when his ageing harness snapped. He was waiting for his sponsors to post a new one. You figure.

Todd Skinner? I don't think its ever been conclusively determined why his harness failed, but it doesn't appear to have simply due to age. Use of girth hitched sling causing excessive wear in the same spot (caused by the leg loops) seems to have been most likely cause. He was a prolific climber, I imagine his gear was used far more than your average punter.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1933713/Todd-Skinners-failed-harness-update

While its tragic to lose you life for the sake of a £50 harness, its not particularly relevant to the OP.
MrWayne on 13 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:

I imagine, given what I've read about ropes that it is entirely safe.

That said, I would buy a new one. My life is worth more than £50.
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SChriscoli on 13 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:

I had a similar dilemma. Bought a rope...used it a couple of times. Took a hiatus from climbing for 10 yrs...all the time rope was in a rope bag in my loft.

I ummed and ahh'd about it. Spoke to experienced people about it...and got the mix of opinion from its fine to leave it.

In the end I didnt feel it was worth my risk...

So started off using it for top roping..which was perfect for it, but in the end just cut it to use as anchor material.
tripehound - on 15 Jul 2017
In reply to Rob Parsons:

"Ah, but look on the bright side: you personally won't be paying for your own funeral."

Hee hee! Quite! But its a damn funny way to save money.



Offwidth - on 15 Jul 2017
In reply to MrWayne:

"My life is worth more than £50." You will have to let us know where you are buying new 50m ropes at that price! Since a rarely used but decade old rope would be fine as advised by people who test rope safety why not spend that £50 on something else that makes your climbing safer? Oldish rarely used modern climbing ropes that you know the history of and are clearly visually undamaged (and stored away from any possibilty of acid attack) are perfectly safe to use for leading.
MrWayne on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

barrabes.

Robert Durran - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:

If it's a single rope, I think I'd keep it for indoor use (I'm sure it would be fine) and tell climbing partners to bring their own rope if they weren't happy with it (an opinion I'd respect).
timjones - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to DanielByrd:

> You don't want to be using any old equipment when climbing, nothing but the best for your safety

Good call.

I'd suggest that you never use anything more than 12 months old, I'm more than willing to collect all of your old equipment for safe disposal at my own expense
Lusk - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

> "My life is worth more than £50." You will have to let us know where you are buying new 50m ropes at that price!

Maybe it's New Old Stock?
Scotch Bingington - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to MrWayne:

> That said, I would buy a new one. My life is worth more than £50.

How much more, and are you open to offers?

oldie - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to mrphilipoldham:
"If you decide to retire it, maybe donate it to the manufacturer to do some drop tests on it then we can all find out the definitive answer!"

But would manufacturers ever release results that might leave them open to criticism if an old rope did break in use? Would they release data which meant people needed to buy their ropes less frequently?
Offwidth - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to MrWayne:

I think you will find thats probably a 30m rope and on that site right now even they still seem to me to all be over £50. Many might say they would be happy with an old rope in good condition but would be rather worried about a partner who couldn't sensibly assess rope lengths.
oldie - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:

In the many threads and articles there have been on this topic has there been a single mention of a correctly stored stored kernmantel climbing rope breaking in normal use due to its age? They have been around since the 1950s.
lithos on 16 Jul 2017
Lusk - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to lithos:

Nice, but no way am I replacing my 14 year old 60m 8.5 mill Cobras anytime soon.
mrphilipoldham - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to oldie:

Probably not, which would also be an interesting result in itself!
MrWayne on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

I think you will find it's not. I know because I've bought it from them. And it's still for sale there now. £1 per meter.
springfall2008 - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to Lusk:

Personally I hate furry ropes, they don't run nicely
L bearman68 - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to springfall2008:

This is not a furry rope - you would think it 3 years old unless I told you differently. Still using it, and not been killed to death yet.
Offwidth - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to lithos:
OK but you do need a discount card and such super cheap Sale ropes won't help those paranoid about things like rope age, will they... at some point the thought they must be that cheap for a reason will kick in?
Post edited at 07:12
DubyaJamesDubya - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

> "My life is worth more than £50." You will have to let us know where you are buying new 50m ropes at that price! Since a rarely used but decade old rope would be fine as advised by people who test rope safety why not spend that £50 on something else that makes your climbing safer? Oldish rarely used modern climbing ropes that you know the history of and are clearly visually undamaged (and stored away from any possibilty of acid attack) are perfectly safe to use for leading.

Isn't it two decades old?
DubyaJamesDubya - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

> OK but you do need a discount card and such super cheap Sale ropes won't help those paranoid about things like rope age, will they... at some point the thought they must be that cheap for a reason will kick in?

Really? You are questioning the quality of a Mammut Galaxy???
Offwidth - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:
Of course not, its a very good deal on a standard climbing rope. I was just pointing out that the sort of people who still worry about rope age on almost as new ropes (in the face of the evidence) might also be worried about why a rope is on sale. If a rope is in really good nick being nearly two decades old really isn't an issue. I've never heard of a rope breaking in climbing use unless cut or chemically attacked and the test results show old 'as new' ropes retain the dynamic performance to safely cushion lead falls. In contrast those using their ropes a lot maybe should be thinking about retiring quite new ropes from lead use if they have become heavily worn or taken numerous large fall factor falls.
Post edited at 10:03
lithos on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

stop digging is my advice
radddogg - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to bearman68:

"Climbing ropes should be replaced regularly"

"Who told you that?"

"The business selling them"
A Longleat Boulderer - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to radddogg:

Personally for the sake of a few quid I like to replace mine every couple of years regardless. The last thing I want on my mind when I'm shitting myself is whether my rope is ok.
Offwidth - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to lithos:

I guess you see a spade where I see a correction of common misinformation in climbing. Such is modern life: many people decide things in the face of evidence and its a free country so they can continue doing so. In contrast I see lots of kit in use that in my opinion should have been retired years back but not an old rope in good nick. People worry about a bit of fur on a rope and seem sanguine about fur on slings (where the consequent risk is way higher).

On raddgoggs point I have nothing against the manufacturer statements on rope life they need to err on the side of legal caution and need to make money from a notoriously mean 'tribe'.
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lithos on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

no i see someone claim you cant buy a 50m rope for 50 quid, presented with evidence that you can, then keep digging

i haven't commented on old ropes
Offwidth - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to lithos:
Yes I was wrong on that issue (and I am still surprised) and I thank you for spending the time to point that out in detail.
Post edited at 16:00
radddogg - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to A Longleat Boulderer:

Oh totally, I'm with you 100%. I replaced my single this year after 18 months use because the sheath looked a little fuzzy. I didn't need to but there was a good deal on in go-outdoors and like you say, when you're at the crux you want everything optimal in your mind.

I was simply pointing out that it's only like Calgon telling you that washing machines live longer with Calgon. And my £130 bathroom scales manufacturer telling me that people who weight themselves daily see better weightloss results.

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