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Half ropes in 50m or 60m? Dont see the argument for 60...

Original Post
Climb Germany · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 2,525

Getting a set of half ropes and read through lotsa forum posts on 50 vs 60m like here .

Where: Southern Germany / Alps
Type: Mixed sport/trad routes, multipitch. nearly all rock.
Ropes: 2x Petzl SaLSA 8.2MM Dry treated

Still don't see convincing arguments for 60m. Can anyone can offer simple, clear pros/cons without arguing. I can still climb basically anything with 50s. The only question is whether the disadvantages area really relevant/frequent enough.

The only downsides I can find for 50 instead of 60 is:

  • Maybe I wont be able to do a full length rap on some routes which are >100m
  • Can't link some pitches, sometimes.

What am I missing?
Todd Anderson · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 160

Sometimes you run into bolted belays or rappels that were equipped for 60m ropes. Having two 50s kind of sucks in that instance. I can only think of one route I've climbed off the top of my head that actually required two 60s to rappel, but a few more that had 55m pitches between bolted belays.

There are probably better ways to save 900g than losing 20m of rope. Then again, I've never climbed in Europe, maybe it will be fine.

Pete Spri · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 170

50m pitches can be short; may not be able to use the rope to build your anchor.

Phil Lauffen · · The Bubble · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 2,240

You'll be fine with 50s except when you won't be. Just suck it up and buy the 60s. If you have them for a few years and really hate them just chop them shorter. Voila.

Sounds like you're looking for someone to agree with you ;)

Climb Germany · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 2,525

@Phil: Yeah you're kinda right there =) I hadn't thought about just chopping em later which is actually a good idea if it turns out 60 isnt necessary. Thanks

20 kN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,348
SwabianAmi wrote:@Phil: Yeah you're kinda right there =) I hadn't thought about just chopping em later which is actually a good idea if it turns out 60 isnt necessary. Thanks
Other than you're paying extra money for nothing. If you want 50m, buy 50m. I dont know what the routes in Germany are like so I cant say. In the USA dual 50s would get you up most climbs. If you're the type that doesent really care what you climb as long as you're climbing something, there will probably be many options for 50s. If you are the type that's set on climbing a specific climb no matter what, then you might be stuck with borrowing a rope or building additional belays if the route requires 60s.
Climb Germany · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 2,525

@20kN: Yeah I'm happy just to be climbing something fun and be outdoors. I just wanted to get one last round of feedback before pulling the trigger. But I think for my purposes and location, 50 oughta be fine.

ClimbLikeAGirl · · Keene Valley · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 15

I've always used 70 m single ropes because of how they get me around where I live and because if/when chopping the ends becomes necessary (rock fall, over use, etc.), I still have a viable rope shortening it to a 60 or 55m.

Likewise, I think getting a longer rope to start with the option of eventually shortening it is always the best option. I'm not sure of typical distance between anchors in S. Germany and the alps, but certainly consider it before making you choice.

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

totaly depends on what grade you are climbing. here in the US 5.9 and most often 5.10 and under you are almost certainly climbing old routes that were established with 45m ropes and usually have short pitches. most often you can run those short pitches together with a 50m rope. Many guides in the tetons use 40m ropes. The last set of 50m half ropes that I had were super handy and long enough for any moderate in the east that we ever experienced. Ice is a whole different game and the reason i switched to 60m and 70m ropes.

Allen Sanderson · · Oootah · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,135

If you are going to stay on established rock routes you are probably okay with 50m twins. But if venturing off into the alpine ice 60m twins are the way to go. I have a 100m rope that I use for ice. Great rope but every once in a while I wish I had 60m twins (then my partner could carry half the weight, too). That rope is soon to be retired and when it is retired I will be getting 60m twins.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525

I've used 60mm half ropes for many years now, much of the time in places that work fine with shorter ropes. I only own one set of ropes and use what I have for everything. True, sometimes I'm pulling up half the ropelength at belays, but by and large I'm happy with the versatility.

I can run two old-school pitches together (something I usually try to avoid, but it can be useful). I have plenty of rope at both ends for anchoring and setting up belays, which is nice because I don't normally use cordelettes. I have no problems with belays where the anchor is quite far from the actual stance and I want to be located at the lip and not far back and out of sight and communication. This works on big ledges on routes, at places where I'm forced to place the anchor much higher than the stance, and also at the top when tree anchors are not near the edge of the crag. I've also got the rope I need for situations that demand special directionals, either upwards or sideways, at belay anchors.

The fact that the ropes are longer than most of the 40--50 m rap station intervals gives an extra margin of safety in terms of running off the ends on the occasional rope-stretcher, and I can often run two raps together when the stations have been set up for doubled single ropes without stretching things to the very tips.

The main penalty is the extra weight (1 pound per rope so 2 pounds for a pair of my Mammut Genesis over 50 m lengths). Two pounds is an ordinary day's worth of water and could be a decisive drawback for remote climbs where carrying the ropes is a significant part of the overall experience. On the other hand, the extra length provides a nice cushion for back-country emergencies. If I was still doing a whole of lot of back-country climbing, I'd probably spring for super thin twin/half rope like the 7.5mm Mammut Twilight, reserved for the back country, and keep the 60m length.

A secondary drawback is the extra rope that has to be pulled, stacked, and handled at belays (no big deal for me but perhaps this is because I've gotten used to it and no properly longer appreciate the absence of an extra thirty feet).

Russ Keane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 150

woah- 100m rope! Sounds incredible!

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

It sounds like you're pretty set on the 50, you should be fine.

I have 60's and considered the 50 before purchase. I chose the 60 and am happy I did. Below is an unordered list of reasons I prefer the 60.

-I've never noticed the weight or bulk.

-60 is much easier to find in the store, so you have more options when shopping

-Pulling an extra 10 each pitch doesn't take as much time as splitting a pitch or adding a rappel

-There are lots of easy routes where I'll only rope up for 1 short pitch or I'll simul the entire thing. I only carry one rope for that. In that situation, I'd rather have a 60. Half of that is a better length for simul and offers a little more insurance for short raps off the backside of something.

-You can always shorten

-Thin ropes are easy to damage, you might end up with 50 in a few years anyway

-Most route developers are using at least 60m ropes. This is dependent on rock terrain of course but don't be surprised if a bolted rap route has anchors every 59m.

Norm Larson · · Wilson, Wy. · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 55

If you don't need 60 then 50 will be lighter and you can take a bit smaller rack too.

Tony B · · Around Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 23,205

I know nothing of the alps.
However, in my experience, as a person who links pitches with great regularity, there may well be an advantage to longer ropes.
What can I say? The ropes I use in the Rockies and used in the walls in Norway were 70M and I strongly preferred that to even 60M.
Fewer pitches, fewer raps, fewer belays built, etc. Light and fast.

The 2*10M of extra 8mm is not a lot of weight to me, I guess, but fewer pitches/belays/leader changes, raps, etc is a lot of time.

If it is lower angle, wandering or very ledgy, then obviously the value of longer ropes is decreased. Likewise if you just end up carrying a larger rack.

Disclaimor: this is all coming from a guy whose 'short' single rope is a 70m. I climb with an 80m to link alpine pitches.

ViperScale . · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 235

The weight of the rope really only matters for hiking in. You will not notice a difference in the weight while climbing. It all depends on where you plan on climbing. Where I live I would never recommend a rope shorting than 60m and some areas you really need a 70m even though you can get by with a 60m. If you had a 50m in these areas it would not work.

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425

50 doesn't leave much room for error.

Chris Rice · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 50

Having learned to climb in the days of 45m being normal and 50m being "long" I think it depends so much on where and what you climb. Almost all of the older "classic" routes will go just fine with 50m ropes - especially considering that you have 2 of them come time to descend. I had 50m doubles for years and now have a pair of 60m doubles and seldom have they been "needed" - but are of course nice to have on occasion. If you want 50s then that's what you should buy, next time I plan to go back to 50s. Longer ropes require bigger racks and more weight - an issue in the mountains - especially those with long approaches.

20 kN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,348
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote: Most route developers are using at least 60m ropes. This is dependent on rock terrain of course but don't be surprised if a bolted rap route has anchors every 59m.
60m single ropes, not two 60m ropes. Most climbs do not require 120m of rope to get down. Depending on the area, often a single 70 is enough and even a single 60 can be enough depending on the area. What's particularly annoying is when a climb does require two ropes, but only for one or two pitches, the rest of which can be rapped with a single rope. Talk about a waste bringing an extra rope for one pitch...

If the climb has a separate rap route, typically there is a higher chance you'll need two ropes compared to a climb that raps the climbing route.
Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

If you know the area and can get away with 50m ropes it a ton les rope to drag arround.

Zac St. Jules · · New Hampshire · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 1,133

70m halfs is where its at. Not even kidding.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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