Rope Suggestion For Ice


Original Post
Burnsoid · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

Hi Everyone

I am in the market for a new rope for ice and am interested in a thinner rope (maybe the Beal Opera-8.5mm) to lighten up my kit but I'm a bigger guy (6'5", 225lb) and I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts or experience on a big guy/little rope situation. Particularly I am curious if a thinner rope would be tougher when rapping (requiring a firmer grip) or would make it harder for my belayer to catch me were I to fall as the people I climb with are smaller than me. For reference I have been using mid-9mm ropes and been fine. Any thoughts or input would be most helpful. Thanks!

Faulted Geologist · · Lawrence, KS · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 8

Most will tell you that single ropes are way less of a hassle. Go single in the 9mm range for your first dry rope, then get double or half and practice rope mgmt. Maybe look for a partner that has doubles already and try it out.

Beal Opera is on my list to use as double, then you can use either as a single in case something happens. They weigh about as much as a 9mm and tag line setup. It really depends on how big of an objective you have and what the rap options are.

I'm not big and tall, so no advice there. It does suck catching heavier people on that dry rope. Double biner for the belay if needed for extra friction.

Matt Carroll · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 5

I have an edelrid 8.9 swift and its awesome. Perfect for ice. Make sure you get the pro dry version if you go that route. I don't think the big dude thing should be a problem. (Mainly because don't fall on ice in the first place...)

Edit to add: rapping on it likely wouldn't be any issue at all, plus you have gloves as well

Dharma Bum · · Glen Haven, Co · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 430

Pulling a lighter belayer off their feet would be more of concern than them being able to hold the rope. I've gone airborne more than once.

calebmmallory · · Seattle, N.Carolina, &Hong ... · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 175

Sterling Fusion nano IX

Burnsoid · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

Thanks for the input guys! I'm definitely going to go smaller. I guess I just overthought the warning on the Beal site about their smaller diameter ropes being more difficult to handle,

William Kramer · · Kemmerer, WY · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 625

I still think doubles is the way to go on ice. Just be sure to get a set that is rated for both twin and half. I'm 6' and 190 lbs, my main ice partner last year is your size, and we used my Sterling 7.8 mm and his 8.1 mm PMI ropes and never had any issues, even caught him on a small fall. Another pro for doubles, around here most ice descents are 70 m raps, doubles facilitating that makes everything easier.

Chris Walden · · Soldotna, Alaska · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 545

+1 on the Beal Opera ropes are incredible you will not be disappointed. Their Golden Dry treatment works fantastic and the ropes are single/half/twin rated.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 438

If you're concerned about friction on the belay device just use two of the same type of locker (both clipped to the belay loop). I'm a lighter guy at 155, rappelling on an 8mm mammut with a pack I used two attache biners and the high friction side of my ATC guide, had to feed rope into the device. Your partner will be able to arrest any lead fall just fine.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 1,865

A rope that small may well invert if you belay in "guide mode" (= no belay). I think Petzl has a bulletin out on that.

Alain Rodriguez · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 0

Any preference in terms of dry treatment ? Sometimes I go on multiday trips and it's tough when u have a frozen rope the next day, sterling has dry core dry sheet any preference between that and the beak opera treatment ? Or they are roughly the same ?

Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 615

If you are climbing ice, the dry treatment is a no-brainer. I'm not much help for single ropes, but I cannot say enough good things about a pair of Mammut Twilight 7.5 ropes... SMOOTH LIKE BUTTER.

Lou Hibbard · · Eagan, MN · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 225

I know it's very trendy to go as skinny a rope as you can.
Try googling "are skinny ropes still safe" and you will get varying points of view.

To me it depends on how hard you climb which your profile gives no hint at. A big guy climbing at low to medium level would probably see no performance advantage with a really skinny rope(s) but would incur more risk. A big guy would hardly feel the extra weight on the hike in.
A couple of points of view below - I don't know how dated the first one is. The second is from 2013.

http://andy-kirkpatrick.com/cragmanship/view/the_skinny
http://www.rockandice.com/lates-news/the-skinny-on-super-light-ropes

Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 615

I don't think that skinny ropes are any less safe in practical application, but they definitely wear out quicker.

Alexander K · · The road · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 45

When I started out ice climbing I asked the same question to my friends and they told me to get a 70 m single dry rope, I'm still happy I did. Toproping ice tends to be much longer than rock and the 70 is very helpful. And if you lead multipitch routes you will often do full rope lengths as you can belay anywhere and there is no rope drag. I think any rope between 9-10 mm works well. Main source of rope damage is impaling it with sharp things so having a longer rope also makes trimming the ends less of an issue.

Thickness does effect the weight, but unless you have heinous approaches I don't really see the advantage to going below 9 mm. I have a pair of Mammut twilight's and they are awesome for big stuff, but definitely won't last as a work horse. Also max dynamic load can vary substantially between ropes and especially with lead falls on screws as a heavier guy, you might want to consider that, particularly with twin ropes (using ropes rated as single/half in twin mode will always increase the max dynamic load).

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 87

In my opinion, the best rope for the job depends on what you're doing. If you're going to be mostly single pitch cragging (like Ouray, Catskills, etc), a single rope is way easier to manage and deal with. This is doubly true if you'll be doing a lot of top-roping. For bigger routes, double ropes are nice, mostly for the long raps, but also for some redundancy in a bad situation. I do think a single with a tag line also would work, if that's your jam.

Faulted Geologist wrote:then you can use either as a single in case something happens.
I don't think that having a double rope that is also single rated is as valuable as lots of people believe, and it ends up adding weight to a system for a feature you probably won't use. Personally, I much prefer a smaller double rope (8-8.5 mm), rather than paying the dollar and weight penalty for a single rating you don't need.

If a rope you want happens to be double or triple rated, that's cool, but I don't think it's a necessity.

William Kramer wrote:Just be sure to get a set that is rated for both twin and half.
Why do they need to be twin rated? You don't want to clip 2 ropes into a single ice screw. I would suggest that there is no reason you "need" a twin-rated rope.
Burnsoid · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

Thanks for the input everyone! Based on what I am hearing from you guys and read in the article posted by Lou Hibbard, I think I might stick with something closer to what I have now (Beal Stinger). I live in Michigan where pretty much everything is single pitch and I'm usually on WI4 (but sometimes 3, sometimes 5) so even though it would be nice to save the weight with a skinny rope I'm thinking another single in the low 9's might be the way to go.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 40

I'm not sure I agree with some of the things written here so I'll throw out what I do. I weigh 250 lbs. I have a Bluewater Eliminatior 10.2mm 70M dry single for days I think we're going do a little bit of everything. Leading, toproping ice mixed or dry routes. I think I would buy 9.8 next time.

I have a Bluewater Icon 9.1mm 70M dry bi-pattern single. It's great for days when I'm doing one or two big routes, the alpine or days when we're out there leading every pitch. I have used it for toproping but you need to careful about climber/ belayer weight difference. I never have any problem rapping down the Icon.

I went out one day with a friend who weighs 150-160. We planned on leading but conditions were as such that we ended up toproping, My friend couldn't lower me safely so he tied a knot in the end of the rope, worked away from the waterfall to pull slack in and walked back to lower me. I would hate to think how difficult it would be to catch a fall considering the skinny dry rope and the fact screws are so far apart.

If you're only doing single pitch ice I would buy a single. Doubles/twins are great when they're needed.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 438

Bill have your friend throw two biners through their ATC and belay loop next time. It will give them all the friction they need to lower you very safely.

Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 615
Kyle Tarry wrote:You don't want to clip 2 ropes into a single ice screw.
This is a strange thing to say... ice screws are STRONG in good ice. I would say that half ropes are optimal, but there is nothing wrong with using twin ropes on ice.
Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 40
Nick Drake wrote:Bill have your friend throw two biners through their ATC and belay loop next time. It will give them all the friction they need to lower you very safely.
That works well but the lighter belayer stills get dragged around if there's nothing to anchor into.

I'll have to remember your advice though.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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