How long should I use my gym rope for?


Original Post
Benjamin Mitchell · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 0

I'm just curious if anyone has some insight on how long you can expect to use a gym lead rope. My rope in particular is a Mammut 10.1 and I've had it for 9 months. On average it gets used for 2 sessions per week with about 6 sizable falls per session (though if I try something at my limit I might take 2-3 decent falls in a single attempt). If it makes any difference I weigh almost 175 which is somewhat heavier than the average sport climber. The ends seem kind of tired, the sheath is slightly fuzzy and the rope folds flat against itself in this area. I already cut the ends when they started to feel worn and flat the first time so there probably isn't enough rope to do it again. 

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 1,875

Sounds like it's time for a new one (flat spots).

caughtinside · · Oakland CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,415

When the rope folds totally flat against itself its time to cut it shorter or retire the rope. 

Jack Stephenson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 0

Can't put a price on peace of mind my dude. 

Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 240

The amount of damage you describe sounds excessive for 9months. I would expect the rope to last a couple of years, at least... And you say that you have already cut the ends once, and contemplating cutting them again?! Doesn't sound like any ropes I've ever had. 

It's hard to say without seeing/touching the rope, maybe your perception of damage is a but exaggerated... The best thing would be to show this flat spot to an experienced local climber, and ask if he would climb on it still.

 How tall are your gym walls, how long was your rope to begin with, and how much did you chop off before?  

Brandon.Phillips · · Alabama · Joined May 2011 · Points: 0

I'd be very surprised if you didn't get a full 2-5 years out of gym rope.  I'd chop the ends if it gets to worn, but they probably aren't getting that fuzzy from gym falls. I'd also imagine that the gym falls are not all that huge.  

Don't worry about slight fuzziness, and the rope folding flat against itself is not a concern as long as the core is intact within the sheath itself (which is always something people say to inspect for, but I don't know of any real world scenario in which the core would be severed without associated sheath damage). 

If you are concerned about it, consider swapping ends after a large fall and allowing that rope end to "rest".

Virtually all rope failures are from a rope running over a sharp edge during a lead fall, which are not relevant in the gym, barring some serious route setting errors. If you are unsure about the fraying post some photos of it. 

Brandon.Phillips · · Alabama · Joined May 2011 · Points: 0

Let me amend that to say that it may depend on your interpretation of "flat".  And post some photos of the rope folding flat.  Even better, ask someone in your gym who has a lot of experience. 

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 0

climbing friend,

do you even troll?

for obvious as long as possible, until it is too scary with any core deformation (soft spot, flat spot significantly different than rest of rope) or core shot. 

yes if it is limp and folding against itself, there is no hope, this is not attractive

amarius · · Nowhere, OK · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 0
Aleks Zebastian wrote:

yes if it is limp and folding against itself, there is no hope, this is not attractive

Yes, that is exactly what she said...

Skye Swoboda-Colberg · · Laramie, Wyoming · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 110

Do you swap the end you tie into between burns or between sessions? I wonder if you are recreating the standard fall test. Do you feel like you are falling at the same spot in the same way multiple times? If the belayer is always standing in the same spot and you are repeatedly falling on the same bolt, I could see it being kaput in 9 months.

6 falls per session x 2 sessions per week x 4 weeks per month x 9 months = 432 falls. The mammut 10.1 gym rope has a UIAA falls rating of 7-8. Even if you are only hitting the future dead spot 1/50 times, you would expect to hit the fall rating in 9 months. If you're hitting the future dead spot 1/10 times, you would expect a dead spot to appear every month and a half to two months.

Ropes used weekly should be retired within a year, most people don't take as many falls as you, so your rope seems to be holding up pretty well considering the usage.

Bryce Adamson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 38

I really doubt the OP is taking UIAA factor 1.77 falls in the gym...

Jack Stephenson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 0

I'm definitely don't have the science to back it up, but one would assume that a proposed 432 falls would at least come close to the damage suffered by a few factor 1.77 falls. If nothing else in damage to the sheath. 

Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 240
Jack Stephenson wrote:

I'm definitely don't have the science to back it up, but one would assume that a proposed 432 falls would at least come close to the damage suffered by a few factor 1.77 falls. If nothing else in damage to the sheath. 

No. And sheath damage has nothing to do with UIAA fall ratings.

It is possible that the quickdraws in the OP's gym are more worn out/sharp than they should be, and that is causing more damage than average. It is possible that the rope comes from a bad batch, and it is certainly worth checking that there aren't a bunch of other similar complaints about this particular rope recently. It is possible that the OP has been working the same route over and over and falling in the exact same spot with the exact same amount of slack, always on the same end of the rope, and so there is one spot on the rope that is taking the brunt of the damage and abrasion.

It is also possible that the OP is exaggerating the amount of damage due to inexperience, and we are all going by what he said, without ever seeing the rope.
2x a week in a gym for 9 months under normal circumstances shouldn't cause so much damage to the rope that the ends have been cut once already, and are in need of cutting again. Something is off.

One of the gyms I climb at provides their own ropes for leading, and requires that people only use the gym-provided ropes for leading. E.i. these ropes see a lot more use than 2x a week. They are used daily, and at least on the weekends people are sometimes waiting for ropes, e.i. as soon as they are turned in by one party, they get checked out again for the next party. And yet these ropes last longer than 9 months.

unemployed astronaut · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0
Jack Stephenson wrote:

I'm definitely don't have the science to back it up, but one would assume that a proposed 432 falls would at least come close to the damage suffered by a few factor 1.77 falls. If nothing else in damage to the sheath. 

The UIAA test isn't just a factor 1.77 fall, it's a relatively short factor 1.77 fall over a pretty sharp edge, which combines to make it a far and away more abusive fall than any fall you could take a gym

Skye Swoboda-Colberg · · Laramie, Wyoming · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 110
It is also possible that the OP is exaggerating the amount of damage due to inexperience, and we are all going by what he said, without ever seeing the rope.
2x a week in a gym for 9 months under normal circumstances shouldn't cause so much damage to the rope that the ends have been cut once already, and are in need of cutting again. Something is off.

Either the OP is exaggerating and cutting off more rope that he needs, or he is actually taking a lot of falls and making the correct call. Either way, he's doing a good job of eliminating any risk because he is the one at risk. Who in their right mind wants to risk a fall in the gym because of a bad rope, this would be super embarrassing, I respect the OP, its damn hard to take cut that lifeline you spent your hard earned money on. I think its rude to call this guy a troll, and see no evidence of this accusation. 


They are used daily, and at least on the weekends people are sometimes waiting for ropes, e.i. as soon as they are turned in by one party, they get checked out again for the next party. And yet these ropes last longer than 9 months.

The only person who should be making this kind of statement is a gym employee charged with periodically replacing the lead ropes. Is this your role? Maybe you know someone we do not? I would not expect a rope that is used daily to last full year, let alone more than a year. That's according to a few websites as well as my copy of Freedom of the Hills.

dino74 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 10

I think it also depends on the type of routes you do at the gym. I do a lot of routes at my gym where there is a ridge between two draws and upon lowering, it rubs. Overtime (6-9 months at 2-3 times a week), the rope gets very fuzzy.

Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 240
Skye Swoboda-Colberg wrote:

Either the OP is exaggerating and cutting off more rope that he needs, or he is actually taking a lot of falls and making the correct call. Either way, he's doing a good job of eliminating any risk because he is the one at risk. Who in their right mind wants to risk a fall in the gym because of a bad rope, this would be super embarrassing, I respect the OP, its damn hard to take cut that lifeline you spent your hard earned money on. I think its rude to call this guy a troll, and see no evidence of this accusation. 

The only person who should be making this kind of statement is a gym employee charged with periodically replacing the lead ropes. Is this your role? Maybe you know someone we do not? I would not expect a rope that is used daily to last full year, let alone more than a year. That's according to a few websites as well as my copy of Freedom of the Hills.

I didn't call the OP a troll. Are you responding to someone else? If you scroll up, my comment was that the damage sounds excessive and he should have someone experienced look at it to confirm. I didn't say nah, it's nothing, just keep climbing on it, did I?

In any case, the guy didn't ask, " should I keep climbing on it, or should I get a new rope?" Re-read the OP. He is just curious if it is normal for the rope that is used 2x a week in a gym, under what he described to be about average number of falls in a session, to be so worn out after 9 months. In fact, the rope got worn out a lot earlier than 9 months, because at some point in the past 9 months he already cut the ends-- BOTH ends!!! -- once.

And the answer to that is no, it is not normal. Can it happen? Sure. I offered some possibilities of how it could happen in my second post. 


As to the gym ropes, it is just a coincidence that earlier this week I checked out a rope at the gym, looked at it, noticed a fuzzy spot I didn't like, it felts flat-ish, I returned it to ask for replacement. So I had a conversation with the employee about their rope lifespan. And most ropes at the gym are retired because they have a schedule, not because they show any visible spot damage -- again, different than OP, who is seeing a damage spot on his rope, and it has happened more than once in 9 months.

Skye Swoboda-Colberg · · Laramie, Wyoming · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 110
Lena chita wrote:

I didn't call the OP a troll. Are you responding to someone else?

Sorry for the misunderstanding, we are on the same page. I was referring to Aleks Zebastian.

caughtinside · · Oakland CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,415

It's an interesting question, how long you would expect a gym rope to last.  9 months does seem short, but if you're hammering on it and taking many falls, lots of takes, etc maybe not.  I let my friends climb on my gym rope and in a session 5-10 combined falls is pretty normal, and I trim my rope periodically (but I haven't tracked how periodically.)

It also depends on your rope though My gym rope is a cheapish 10.0, and what I've noticed is that it doesn't wear "evenly," rather, it looks good... until one day it does not, it folds on itself with no resistance and it is time to trim.  

Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 240
caughtinside wrote:

It's an interesting question, how long you would expect a gym rope to last.  9 months does seem short, but if you're hammering on it and taking many falls, lots of takes, etc maybe not.  I let my friends climb on my gym rope and in a session 5-10 combined falls is pretty normal, and I trim my rope periodically (but I haven't tracked how periodically.)

It also depends on your rope though My gym rope is a cheapish 10.0, and what I've noticed is that it doesn't wear "evenly," rather, it looks good... until one day it does not, it folds on itself with no resistance and it is time to trim.  

I guess if you have a full 60m rope, and your gym walls are only 45 feet tall, you can do the end trimming for a very long time, without retiring the entire rope, and thus your rope would "last" a while, but if you bought a short rope for the gym, it's only couple trims, and then it's gone... You really think that you cut your rope 3 times a year though?

I don't have a gym rope, because our gym doesn't have leading, and the gym that does is couple hours away, and thus a relatively rare trip, and they provide ropes.

But going by outside climbing experience... I have been climbing for 13 years, and I'm on my 4th rope, (it's new as of last December).  In that period of time I got a core shot once (sharp fixed 'biner), and got a flat spot 2 or 3 times total, that necessitated end trimming. Usually when the ropes were retired it was because they just seemed overall fuzzy/worn out, or they started feeling stiff and unpleasant on lead falls -- they went on to people who needed old ropes for fixed lines, and I have also cut one for toproping, e.i. they were not, at that point of retirement, completely unusable.

The most recent rope I can actually count the number of uses, and I'm doing some math on it: It was the only rope we brought on a trip with us, so it's "life" started with 14 days of climbing. Let's translate that into 7 weeks of 2x a week gym climbing. It has since seen 10 weekends of climbing outside-- so in total that would be the same thing as 17 weeks of climbing at the gym 2x a week, e.i. about 4 months. It has seen more than 6 falls a day in that period of time. The first 14 days were on limestone, with plenty of bulges, roofs, and even toproping. The rest was on sandstone. And you know how much sand climbing at the Red entails... It still looks new. Dirty, not shiny-brand-new, but not fuzzy, flat, or anything.

But OP was, at this point, already cutting the ends of his rope in the gym? Assuming that the previous cutting happened about halfway through his 9 months of gym rope ownership? I'd be bummed if I had to cut ends at this point.

Benjamin Mitchell · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 0
Lena chita wrote:


But OP was, at this point, already cutting the ends of his rope in the gym? Assuming that the previous cutting happened about halfway through his 9 months of gym rope ownership? I'd be bummed if I had to cut ends at this point.

Hey Lena, I should have mentioned that the first time I cut the end was a bit of a special case. The rope somehow got stuck on a hold when the leader fell. A section of the rope sustained a fair amount of abrasion so I cut it off. I'm very surprised to hear that people are keeping their gym ropes for so long, I think maybe I'm overreacting. I will measure the rope, maybe there is just enough length to cut the end that wasn't cut before, and then I think I'll keep using it for at least a few more months. Can I get one other opinion? Is this cam ok? I fell on what seemed like a good placement but somehow on one side the lobes opened all the way up and then continued to bend back slightly past their neutral position a bit (look at the far lobes to see what it's supposed to look like).

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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