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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: 56

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 · · Kalamazoo, MI · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 3,958

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: 665

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?
Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

would you be retiring it this rope or do you climb until you see the core like real man?

the rope it is quite spongy at the ends from meat that is hucked many times off wall through time and space. the core feels quite soft upon pinchen, significantly softer than the middle of the rope. after taking several a whip and untying, the rope it is pressed quite flat where the knot was, like the pancake, however it does recover some from this.

upon the "pinch test" the middle of rope still holds nice bight or "eye" shape, but the ends have much smaller "eye" almost to where the rope folds in half flat like a tortilla, with no "eye" at all. If I pinch it quite hard, I could make flat like tortilla.

the sheath it is quite fuzzy at the ends but no core is shining through. it haz already been cut to 60 meter only, any shorter it becomes mostly useless dirty old rope!

(This also raises question, how is the pinch test performed, how hard are you pinchen, must there be no eye and it be completely flat to fail, or is a tiny eye barely holding acceptable, and how hard is the person pinchen in the petzl manual that shows a rope pinched flat in half folded over like tortilla with no space or eye at all?!?!?)

"A rope need only be discarded when
the sheath has been damaged such that
the core is visible. Once this occurs, further
sheath damage may quickly take
place during further use, to the extent
that the sheath will break. A rope with
broken sheath cannot be handled. In
particular, it cannot be used for abseiling.
However, even in this case, there is
no danger of the rope breaking, except
when loaded over a sharp rock edge.
If the reader does not believe these
statements and becomes anxious if his
used rope is strong enough or not, he
should use it for bottom lowering, or
abseiling, or on glaciers."
- Pit Schubert, president of UIAA Safety Commission in "about aging of climbing ropes"

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

I keep an eye on the core using the pinch test and once it gets to soft I get rid of it. Also keep an eye for sheath cuts and retire it if the sheath is ever cut.

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175
ViperScale . wrote: I keep an eye on the core using the pinch test and once it gets to soft I get rid of it. Also keep an eye for sheath cuts and retire it if the sheath is ever cut.

climbing friend,

i am curious on the opinions of the other. how do you define "pinch test" and how you define "too soft?" How hard are you pinchen during this "test?"
ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240
Aleks Zebastian wrote:

climbing friend,

i am curious on the opinions of the other. how do you define "pinch test" and how you define "too soft?" How hard are you pinchen during this "test?"

I normally test the rope when it is new so I know how much of an arch is formed during the pinch. After that arch is 50% smaller than it was when new I generally retire it to be used as an extra rappel rope when I need 2.

Serge Smirnov · · Seattle, WA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 242

18m is my cutoff.

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

you cannot utilize nasty old 18m rope, on 100 foot climb for the glory, the boldness. answer my questions above, you must. great research taking place on attitude of climber on rope retirement for Aleks Zebastian Institute for Bold Flash Sciences

Locker · · Yucca Valley, CA · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 2,267

I retire a rope from climbing if it's got a core shot or badly frayed sheath. Otherwise I use it for some aspect of climbing (Start off as a leader rope, as it loses dynamic qualities, ends up as a rope for TR soloing).

So for me, unless the sheath is shot, ropes are good for many, many, years.

:-)

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175
Locker wrote: I retire a rope from climbing if it's got a core shot or badly frayed sheath. Otherwise I use it for some aspect of climbing (Start off as a leader rope, as it loses dynamic qualities, ends up as a rope for TR soloing).

So for me, unless the sheath is shot, ropes are good for many, many, years.

:-)

climbing friend,

this approach sounds most wise, but at what point do you retire from service the rope from LEAD climbing, monster whippers holding?
cragmantoo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 175

When they pry it from my cold, dead fingers...

Suburban Roadside · · Abovetraffic on Hudson · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 1,464

NEVER!
Climbing on your cord, is not what wears it out.
Not climbing - hanging on your cord is what cause wear. The processes that cumulatively, are called the forces of work, on an object,
 include anything that occurs during regular use.
 Wear caused by "normal" use(ie, work), will over time show where wear is building,
 so that age spots, are what to watch.

I happily still use a well cared for, never ice climbed with or top roped, 40+ yearz old, 150'  8.8m, from Edlwiess....

How Old Is To Old for A "New" Rope?
Can anyone tell  when this rope was new from the beta on the label?
 

461016 97 lot#711070. 3414-20-00200 Old stock New with tags , still in original factory coil & plastic bag 
(200') - 60 m, 9.8mm, "Dry"Maxim,   . . . . .The 3 numbers ?
appearing in a softer or lighter print? stamped to the label,
 the numbers;" 6 97 " From the label  would make 6/97 a good guess.

Locker · · Yucca Valley, CA · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 2,267

"at what point do you retire from service the rope from LEAD climbing,"

Dearest A Zebstian,

That was answered in my previous post, but to reiterate = "as it loses dynamic qualities, ends up as a rope for TR soloing"

People wig about ropes, thinking they're going to break . How many recorded rope breaks are there, other than lab testing? A rope break where it broke ONLY from the weight of a climber, falling into open air, no banging against the rocks. I personally can't think of a single one. Not to say there are none. Just none that I know of.

They can, "Cut like butter" when weighted and run against sharp edges.

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175
Locker wrote: "at what point do you retire from service the rope from LEAD climbing,"

Dearest A Zebstian,

That was answered in my previous post, but to reiterate = "as it loses dynamic qualities, ends up as a rope for TR soloing"

People wig about ropes, thinking they're going to break . How many recorded rope breaks are there, other than lab testing? A rope break where it broke ONLY from the weight of a climber, falling into open air, no banging against the rocks. I personally can't think of a single one. Not to say there are none. Just none that I know of.

They can, "Cut like butter" when weighted and run against sharp edges.

climbing friend,

yes but your statement about loses dynamic qualities is somewhat vague and subject to many interpretations by the many peoples. you mean to inform me the internet that you would worry not about damages I have described them above? any you lead fall until you see the core if it still is given adequate soft catches, when you are falling repeatedly on your "project" like fish on line?
Locker · · Yucca Valley, CA · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 2,267

How many times does a climber fall on the exact same spot of their rope?

No "Flat spots", no core shots, no bad sheath damage and dynamics remain AOK = GOOD ROPE!

Anything less and for me, ropes get moved from lead position and maybe removed all the way.

How can you tell when the dynamics are lacking on a rope? Tie in, clip it solid above you with a good bit out, lean into it and if it doesn't give and show decent dynamic qualities, time to retire to some other area or out. Falling on a rope lacking dynamics would be like falling on a static line. Not a great idea. LOL!

EDITED:

"when you are falling repeatedly on your "project" like fish on line? "

I'm the "King of easy leading" and generally don't fall (Hard to fall on 5.0-)

:-)
Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175
Locker wrote:
How many times does a climber fall on the exact same spot of their rope?

No "Flat spots", no core shots, no bad sheath damage and dynamics remain AOK = GOOD ROPE!

Anything less and for me, ropes get moved from lead position and maybe removed all the way.

How can you tell when the dynamics are lacking on a rope? Tie in, clip it solid above you with a good bit out, lean into it and if it doesn't give and show decent dynamic qualities, time to retire to some other area or out. Falling on a rope lacking dynamics would be like falling on a static line. Not a great idea. LOL!

EDITED:

"when you are falling repeatedly on your "project" like fish on line? "

I'm the "King of easy leading" and generally don't fall (Hard to fall on 5.0-)

:-)

climbing friend,

most interesting, this is. but at what point is the entire 5m end of your rope considered a "flat spot" if it is all so soft, so spongy spongy in compares to middle, nearly folding in half like delicious tortilla with only light to moderate pinchen force utlized for testing.
Locker · · Yucca Valley, CA · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 2,267

Aleks,

my suggestion is that you just go ahead and do yourself in. That way you won't have any problems, confusion, or... anything!

No more problems!

Climbing OVER!

Done deal!

This stuff is too complicated for you.

:-)

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

for your insulting and obstruction of my research prohjicts, you shall from now until eternity henceforth not be known as "locker," but "cock blocker!"

ha ha ha ho ho, hyah, myahhhhhhh MYAHHHH!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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