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When do you retire your rope?

Original Post
tsouth · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 5

I was having this discussion with a few buddies the other day. We've all climbed a while 5+ years and there were some interesting thoughts. So I thought I'd put it to the mountain project community.

Do you go by lifespan that a manufacturer recommends? 1 year? 3, 5, 10 years?
Are you a sport climber who keeps cutting their rope until you feel it's too short to be largely useful? Or enough routes are longer than it? What length is your cut off?
Does your rope speak to you from the closet because you're a boulderer and never use it, and tell you it wants to die?

I'll start this off with the classic. If you do something someway yer gunna die.

JK- Branin · · Southern New Hampshire · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 58

I use a rope until it no longer gives me the warm fuzzies (fails a visual or tactile inspection). I've never once had a rope last to the manufacturers recommended maximum. I have had ropes last longer than some manufacturers predict for the amount of use they see. I'll usually get about 3 years out of a 10ish-mm.

Micah Klesick · · Vancouver, WA · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 3,979

I put over a hundred whips on a rope in about a year, so I typically replace it yearly as it's looking fuzzy and worn after that amount of time. It's all about how it looks and feels and your comfort level.

Ross Ayer · · Southington, CT · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 60

I've heard it stated that when you ask yourself: Gee, I wonder if the rope will hold?, that it is time to retire it. I would recommend that you never put yourself in the position to have to ask that, by erring on the safe side.

Billcoe · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 655

It depends. A tale of 2 ropes:

1st) I have a 10 year old 9.1 Beal Joker I mostly retired from lead climbing just this year but in fact I've lead on it this year. (I still use it climbing with 3 on easier routes.)

2ND) I have a new 9.9 Maxim Glider that looks like it will not make it 2 years before it's retired. Probably not that long.

  • The Joker was husbanded and used for long easy multi pitch routes like in Red Rocks or Yosemite. It spent a lot of time in the basement in a rope bag. I knew I would not fall on any of these routes, and didn't. The routes tended to be old established routes, with soft edges and no loose rock. IT'S 10 YEARS OLD AND I HAD IT OUT LEADING ON IT @ 3 WEEKS BACK.
  • The Maxim has seen a lot of aid pitches and jugging, all of it on new pitches with sharp rocky projections and occasionally with over 200 lb dudes carrying 50 lbs of gear. Multiple raps with grigris etc etc. Furthermore, we've been knocking rocks off all over the place, it's likely we've popped it with at least one rock (if not more) and are not aware of it. I WOULD NOT WANT TO TAKE A FREE CLIMBING LEAD FALL ON THIS ROPE. Although I suspect it's fine and I'll be using it to finish this aid route, and it's bigger than the Joker. It had a hard life. I have multiple brand new ropes in my basement, so why not retire it from lead climbing and use it top roping only for a while?
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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