To flake or not to flake (the rope)


Original Post
normajean · · Reading, PA · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 50

I apologize ahead of time if this is a really dumb question, but I am reluctant to experiment with this so I hope someone can answer it.
For single pitch sport/trad climbing, if you use a rope tarp where you can tie rope ends to the two loops, is it necessary to re-flake the rope? I don't mean "ever", but multiple times per outing. Just to make my question clear: you flake the rope once and tie off the ends. When you get to the crag, is it ok to untie the end you tie into and climb through the day as long as you don't drop that end back into the pile?

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

Yeah that works fine, I do that when single pitch craging.

Pavel Burov · · Russia · Joined May 2013 · Points: 25

There are two ways to have your rope run smoothly:

1. To have it perfectly in order.

2. To have it perfectly in chaos.

Any intermediate will end up with occasional twists and knots going in your way or even jamming into your belay device.

The thing is "not enough order" means you have a lot of half-loops of different lengths. Once a loop will fall thru/over several loops, then you'll lift it up, create a bend, form a knot, etc.

An advice on "perfect chaos" solution. Sit or bend a knee when stowing rope on a tarp, this creates very short loops (about 1' long) cannot catch one another because they are too short and thus straighten easily.

For sure #2 is wa-a-a-a-a-a-ay easier to implement. I would say flaking the rope is for carrying/packing purpose only. Update: the last statement is made with "gym climbing" context in mind.

Roy Suggett · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 6,245

Maybe fine for not knotting up the rope, but there is something to be said for running your hands over the rope and possibly discovering a "bad" spot.

ErikaNW · · Golden, CO · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 40

I think the answer is 'it depends'. I personally hate encountering rope clusters when belaying - seems like they always coincide with my leader hitting a crux - so I take the extra time to reflake/stack the rope if it looks like it is in disarray. To gauge this I might pull a few feet off the stack to determine if the rope got flipped/tangled whatever during transport to the crag or between climbs. It doesn't take much time to reflake and can be done while the leader is shoeing up. It's just habit for me and can be done very quickly.

Yes - I always attach both ends of the rope to the rope bag loops - also ensures I always have a closed system (rope will never pull through my device if the rope ends up short on a lower).

I've also jumped in and helped plenty of newer climbers out who are trying to maintain a good belay but have a complete rope cluster heading towards their device. Seen a few with closed knots in the middle too - those are always fun to deal with. These situations seem to occur with a new climber belaying when the experienced leader said no need to restack before taking off - then they end up complaining about being short roped!

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 105

I always flake it first go. Nothing worse that having your buddy on lead and the rope starts twisting in your device.

I mean he's racking up why not just give it a once over?

During the day only if it needs it since you are just kind flipping it.

Ellis L · · Toyota Matrix, CA · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 35

Usually when cragging I'll switch ends every few pitches when I pull the rope. Just tie the bottom in, pull it, and flake what drops down. Helps keep the new rope breaking in evenly.

greggle · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 0

I/we do this all the time.

I'll tie one end to the red loop on my bag-tarp thing, flake it in, then tie the top-side end to the green loop. Roll it up, pack it in, and I'm off!

When I return, I unroll it, tie into the green end, and go. However, we generally use 35m ropes for weekday cragging. YMMV.

Just exercise caution, use your best judgment, etc. Flaking really doesn't take that long. Usually.

greggle · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 0
Muscrat wrote:^^ This. climb on both ends of the rope, especially if you are taking falls or weighting the rope.
Agreed.
Muscrat · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 3,040
Ellis L wrote:Usually when cragging I'll switch ends every few pitches when I pull the rope. Just tie the bottom in, pull it, and flake what drops down. Helps keep the new rope breaking in evenly.
^^ This. Especially if you are taking falls or weighting the rope.
mcarizona · · Flag · Joined Feb 2007 · Points: 25

Oh Sweet! here's my chance:

So these gymmers are climbing and pulling the rope from the roof.
The place is all crowded with beautiful people gettin rad on every cm of floor space and colored wall and someone yells ROPE! and the whole lot of nylon comes crashing down to the floor

- oh then one hero snags the very end of the rope and there is a collective "nice" from the group.

I always ask "what am I doing and Why"

The only reason (why) for this disturbance is so the sport climber doesn't have to re-flake the rope. For his/her convenience. Now others are getting whacked or jumping out of the way, to save him/her the trouble of flaking. Cut that out please!

Steve

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 105
mcarizona wrote:Oh Sweet! here's my chance: So these gymmers are climbing and pulling the rope from the roof. The place is all crowded with beautiful people gettin rad on every cm of floor space and colored wall and someone yells ROPE! and the whole lot of nylon comes crashing down to the floor - oh then one hero snags the very end of the rope and there is a collective "nice" from the group. I always ask "what am I doing and Why" The only reason (why) for this disturbance is so the sport climber doesn't have to re-flake the rope. For his/her convenience. Now others are getting whacked or jumping out of the way, to save him/her the trouble of flaking. Cut that out please! Steve
So he didn't pull through the draws? Like just free falling? that's stupid.
Rick Blair · · Denver · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 163

I don't understand. Doesn't it take less than a minute to flake out a rope?

lostlazy · · Hoboken, NJ · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 0
Pavel Burov wrote:There are two ways to have your rope run smoothly: 1. To have it perfectly in order. 2. To have it perfectly in chaos.
Nailed it.
Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 95

If you flake it on the tarp and don't mess up the flake, it stays flaked. There is no reason to fuss with it.

When you move from one climb to another, you need to roll up the tarp, move it, then unroll it. As long as you know which end is on top, you are good.

For my gym rope, I keep it in a tarp. At the end of the might, I flake it, tie off the top end of the rope (I don't bother with the bottom end any more), roll up the tarp like a burrito, and put it away. The next day I use it, the tarp is unrolled, I tie into the top end and away I go. No reflaking needed.

Outside, because the ropes are longer and there is often less room to set up the tarp, you may not get a good flake, so you have to take that into account.

Daniel Joder · · Boulder, CO · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 0

When in doubt, flake it out.

Ken Noyce · · Layton, UT · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 2,037
Scott McMahon wrote: So he didn't pull through the draws? Like just free falling? that's stupid.
No, it's not stupid, if he had been hanging and falling on the rope it's good practice to pull it through like he did so that the next climber is climbing on the other side of the rope.

As far as flaking, the only way I ever flake the rope is pulling it down from the previous climb. I've never had a problem doing it this way and don't expect to start having any problems anytime in the future. When I'm done climbing for the day I roll the rope up in the tarp, and the next time I go to climb, I unroll the tarp and it's ready to go.
Faulted Geologist · · Lawrence, KS · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 8

Ropes are rated for a number of falls, usually around 6. On top rope, this doesn't really matter as the falls are very minimal. If you are taking huge lead falls or belaying Andres the Giant, it is good to use the other end of the rope after a few big falls. This gives the kernmantle construction and molecules time to go back to a rested state. Let the other end take abuse for a while. It is only the end 10-20m that takes the brunt of the pain in most cases (climber end thru biners and belay device, less rope to accept the force so more is imparted). If you say TAKE, don't worry about your rope as it is just taking a low amount of force.

Just flip the rope over to do so, and re-tie the end of rope knot in the just used side.

I re-wrap my rope mountaineer style so it is in good order when I open my tarp. There be gremlins in this world who like twisting and knotting me cables and ropes.

Charles Ciaffone · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 240
ErikaNW wrote:I always attach both ends of the rope to the rope bag loops - also ensures I always have a closed system (rope will never pull through my device if the rope ends up short on a lower).
I always have my belayer go ahead and tie in before I cast off. That achieves two purposes.

1) I can check my partner's tie-off, just like my partner checks mine.
2) I don't run the risk of climbing through the belay device.

As for flaking my rope, I have some crappy rope-management on the wall, but keep working on it. Neither leader nor belayer likes snarls in the rope during the climb.
Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 40
normajean wrote:I apologize ahead of time if this is a really dumb question, but I am reluctant to experiment with this so I hope someone can answer it. For single pitch sport/trad climbing, if you use a rope tarp where you can tie rope ends to the two loops, is it necessary to re-flake the rope? I don't mean "ever", but multiple times per outing. Just to make my question clear: you flake the rope once and tie off the ends. When you get to the crag, is it ok to untie the end you tie into and climb through the day as long as you don't drop that end back into the pile?
No flaking needed. I've never had a tangled rope or knot if I tie both ends to the bag. That said, if you think you need to flake.. just do it and save the headache. There's nothing fun about looking down at your belayer and they're messing with the rope.

A friend showed me a great way to carry the rope bag to the base. Wear the bag so it's in front of you. The strap will catch on your pack.
mcarizona · · Flag · Joined Feb 2007 · Points: 25
kennoyce wrote: No, it's not stupid, if he had been hanging and falling on the rope it's good practice to pull it through like he did so that the next climber is climbing on the other side of the rope. As far as flaking, the only way I ever flake the rope is pulling it down from the previous climb. I've never had a problem doing it this way and don't expect to start having any problems anytime in the future. When I'm done climbing for the day I roll the rope up in the tarp, and the next time I go to climb, I unroll the tarp and it's ready to go.
Thank you Scott!

It's inconsiderate and kinda sez: "check me out everyone" (chalk blow), (bzzzzat!)
As said before: flaking the rope gives an opportunity to check your gear.

Steve
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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