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climbing on a double rope vs a single rope
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By Nick Bose
Jan 9, 2011

So I've been top roping ice for a few seasons now and am ready to venture into leading on ice. I've already put an ice rack together and the only question that I still have is weather it is better to use a double rope system or a single rope system for ice. I've used double rope a lot for wandering trad routes and understand the value of the system, I was just wondering if there are any specific advantages to using a one or the other on ice.


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By Jon H
From Northern NJ
Jan 10, 2011
At the matching crux

Lots of discussion on this. Primary advantages are redundancy in your rope system (on ice there's lots more falling crap to chop your rope) and easier, longer rappels because you're not gonna find a walk off very often.

I have singles and doubles and change it up depending on the day.


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By Auto-X Fil
From NEPA and Upper Jay, NY
Jan 10, 2011

I very rarely prefer doubles for a party of two on ice. In general the routes are quite direct and you place relatively little pro, so there's not much advantage on the way up.

Rappels are certainly nicer with two ropes, but I just bring a tagline. I use a 7mm dry static line, but in retrospect I wish I'd gotten a PMI because their static lines are ungodly stiff which prevents tangles in thin diameter. I also climb in the Adirondacks most of the time, where walkoffs are somewhat common.

Now, if you climb with three people - doubles are the only way to roll. I climb with two seconds a lot, so much of my ice climbing is done that way.

Actually, I prefer the simplicity of the single rope enough that I've taken to leading on a single and trailing a half rope on single-pitch climbs that require long rappels. If you like or prefer doubles already, then maybe you should stick with 'em.


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By Ice4life
From SLC, UT
Jan 19, 2011
GYM

My suggestion is to stick with a good single for starters.

As a new leader on ice your probably not going to be doing a ton of wandering routes, most WI3's are pretty straight forward and to the point. Singles are great for easy leads, which your probably going to be doing for the next season, then when your ready to, go to doubles and more wandering advanced mixed routes, doubles are the only way to go to cut down on rope drag.

If your going to be climbing a ton with a group of 3 (you and 2 seconds) then doubles are the only safe and easy way to do it. But I would focus on getting comfortable on lead using a single, less clutter, and easer to handle the mess.

Not sure of your climbing experience or technical abilities, so just use your best judgment. If your new to the leading game, stick to a single for now, it makes it easier to TR as well, with a single, puts less wear and tear on your ropes as well.


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By NYClimber
From New York
Apr 14, 2012
Awesome slab climb right out of the water! Rogers Rock, Lake George, NY. Summer 2013.

Ice4life wrote:
If your going to be climbing a ton with a group of 3 (you and 2 seconds) then doubles are the only safe and easy way to do it.


HI - I am curious why doubles would be the-way-to-go when climbing with a group of say - 3.

Why would doubles be more advantageous over singles for a group of say - 3?
????


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By Ben Beckerich
From saint helens, oregon
Apr 14, 2012
About half way up the East Arete on Illumination Rock

Michael Urban wrote:
HI - I am curious why doubles would be the-way-to-go when climbing with a group of say - 3. Why would doubles be more advantageous over singles for a group of say - 3? ????


So you can anchor belay both at the same time on two separate lines.


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By Buff Johnson
Apr 14, 2012
smiley face

Also, using a lighter weight for each rope to split up between partners on the hike.


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By NYClimber
From New York
Apr 14, 2012
Awesome slab climb right out of the water! Rogers Rock, Lake George, NY. Summer 2013.

Ahhhh - I see!


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By Jeff J
From Bozeman
Apr 14, 2012

Nick Bose wrote:
So I've been top roping ice for a few seasons now and am ready to venture into leading on ice. I've already put an ice rack together and the only question that I still have is weather it is better to use a double rope system or a single rope system for ice. I've used double rope a lot for wandering trad routes and understand the value of the system, I was just wondering if there are any specific advantages to using a one or the other on ice.



I have climbing on both systems...both of which work fine.

I prefer a single rope.
something like a Blue water Domninater or Hyalite or a Millet Magma, 9.4 with super low impact force, single rope; and bring along a 7.7 (ish) mm tag line. Each line I like as a 70 meter. climb with the single rope 9.4 rope and it keeps the cluster F$%s and the bleay station down. When you are ready to rapple bring out the tage line, tie together, and rapp of.


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By Princess Mia
From Vail
Apr 15, 2012
Chillin' at City of Rocks

For most single pitch climbs a single rope is typically sufficient. For example, in Vail a 70 m will work on all routes. Now for longer adventures we always use double ropes. Personally I think it sucks to trailer a rope.


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By Jeff J
From Bozeman
Apr 18, 2012

Mia Tucholke wrote:
I think it sucks to trailer a rope.


Why dont you put the spare rope in a pack while you climb? No need to tail it behind. . .


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By Princess Mia
From Vail
Apr 23, 2012
Chillin' at City of Rocks

I hate climbing with a pack even more.......LOL


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By Bang
From Charlottesville, VA
May 21, 2012
Thanks Hank Caylor!

Jeff J wrote:
Why dont you put the spare rope in a pack while you climb? No need to tail it behind. . .


From my limited climbing experience, I would say trailing a rope behind has a better balance than putting the whole weight of the second rope on in the pack. The heavier pack will definitely interfere the leader's movement. However, the weight of the second rope's weight affecting the leader is a function of length. The higher one climber, the second + lead rope get heavier. So over all, the leader does not need to deal with the extra weight of the second rope until she has climbed to certain height.


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By Jake Jones
From The Eastern Flatlands
May 21, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.

One of the advantages to wearing your second rope or packing it is that it won't get stuck.


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By Bang
From Charlottesville, VA
May 21, 2012
Thanks Hank Caylor!

muttonface wrote:
One of the advantages to wearing your second rope or packing it is that it won't get stuck.


That's a good point! I did not think of that scenario


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By Princess Mia
From Vail
May 23, 2012
Chillin' at City of Rocks

Trailing a rope or carrying it sucks either way....IMO
Hence why we use double ropes when doing routes that need two ropes for rappelling. A no brainer in my book :-)


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By percious
From Bear Creek, CO
May 23, 2012
Hanging out with some scooter trash.

For shorter pitches I use a single rope usually. However, using double ropes has a few advantages that have not been mentioned. Typically when you place screws, you are placing them at your hip, to the left or right of your stance. If you clip the left ones with the left rope, and the right ones with the right rope, you will theoretically have better protection, since the screws will not experience sideways forces at each point (think of a zig-zag vs a straight line ) in a fall. Also, it's possible that if your screws are close enough together you will be protected by multiple screws in the event of a fall.

I agree that double ropes is ideal for a party of 3 on ice, since usually there is more than one line that can be taken on ice (people can climb side-by-side). This also applies to long [rock] slab climbs like the flatirons in boulder, or whitehorse in NH. Having a set of doubles gives you some additional flexibility.

The disadvantage is that your belayer has to manage 2 ropes, which can be a lot to handle for someone new to climbing. Also, it's more to haul around, but the thin doubles are almost as light as a single fatty.

As for the advantage of rapping 70m in one shot... Anyone ever try to pull down 70m of rope before? I have on the back of the 3rd flatiron. It is a CHORE.

Food for thought anyway. I like my doubles, but they rarely make it out of the closet. I recommend NOT buying the Petzl Dragonfly's. Lots of folks (including me) are having problems with them.

[edit] I forgot to mention that it's nice to bring a single double on an easier climb that you don't expect you or your follower to climb on. Nice and light for a quick run up the flatirons, on terrain the leader would feel comfortable enough to solo.

Also, doubles tend to have WAY more stretch than singles, which means a lighter catch on your screws. Every little bit helps when you are talking about 10k holding strength on a well-placed screw. (think about leading above an RP)
[/edit]

cheers.
-chris


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By divnamite
From New York, NY
May 23, 2012

percious wrote:
Also, doubles tend to have WAY more stretch than singles, which means a lighter catch on your screws. Every little bit helps when you are talking about 10k holding strength on a well-placed screw. (think about leading above an RP) [/edit] cheers. -chris


Read this by Will Gadd on impact force. willgadd.com/?p=274

1. Half ropes likely do not offer significantly lower impact forces than single ropes in high fall-factor falls where one strand is clipped as is common.
2. Rope diameter alone is NOT a good indicator of impact force (some of the “fat” 11mm ropes offer lower impact force than the “skinny” single or half ropes).
3. The “published” impact numbers may not mean much (there’s a wide range between the published and actual in Jim’s data).
4. Terrain is more important for rope selection than impact force. If I’m heading up on a route with sketchy gear I may just use my standard single rope, simpler. A single rope with low-impact force may actually be better. But, for routes where the gear is all over the place then half ropes are likely better for less drag (and possibly less chance of both ropes getting cut…).
5. I’ve got a lot more questions than answers about rope stretch (elongation) with different fall loads–these fall tests are with a very harsh (1.77) fall factor. What happens with low fall-factor loads in terms of elongation and impact forces?


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By percious
From Bear Creek, CO
May 23, 2012
Hanging out with some scooter trash.

divnamite-

Interesting read. Thanks for referencing Will Gadd's article. I love hard data.

I might note that the OP asked about double ropes, not half ropes. I can tell you that my doubles have significantly more stretch than my fat (9.6) ropes. YMMV. I'm guessing that double ropes (which are rated to take falls all on their own) stretch as much as they do in order to take the impact of a fall appropriately without breaking the leader's back.

That being said, I'd love to see the same tests done on double ropes.

cheers.
-chris


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By andrewc
May 23, 2012

percious wrote:
That being said, I'd love to see the same tests done on double ropes. cheers. -chris


Half ropes are "double ropes."
You use half ropes for double rope technique.
Twin ropes for twin rope technique.
Confusing but it is what it is.


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By divnamite
From New York, NY
May 23, 2012

Just to be sure, when you say double, you mean twin or half? Double and half in my experience are the same. The UIAA drop test done on half rope is very different than single rope.


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