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Questions About Ropes


Original Post
Luke.d6 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 15

I have a few different questions about which rope or ropes I should buy. 

First of all I am on my way down to go climbing in Smith Rock and noticed you need to have two ropes to rap off the Monkey Face so I thought this would be a good time for me to buy a “tag line” of sorts. So I was trying to do research about what kind of rope to buy for that and it seemed as though you could just get a 7mm static nylon rope so that you can rap the full 60-70 metres then pull your tag line down. So the first question is, is that cool? Is that what most people do if climbing on a single rope but have to do double rope rappels? 

Then I started thinking well if I am going to buy another rope maybe I should get a super thin dry treated dynamic 70m (still a single full strength rope) that can be my main glacier travel rope but still be used to pitch out snow or ice or rock while mountaineering AND be light enough to carry for a tag line. So does this exist? Or am I trying to get two completely different ropes to do something they are incapable of doing. And if it does exist is there a specific diameter I am looking for or does it just depend on the manufacturers rating whether or not it’s full strength. Also any specific rope recommendations or links would be appreciated! 


Thanks in advance!

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

I think buying "twins" is a better option than buying a single rope and a tagline. Especially if you will be climbing often where double rope rappels are needed.

S. Neoh · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 0
Tom Sherman · · Bristol, RI · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 412

Totally poking my head beyond my purview, but isn't modern climbing more typically done with halfs rather than twins??

The greater discussion of is it worth it... is another issue....

Ryan Bowen · · Bend, Or · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 85

If you have a 80m rope, you can make it down off the monkey with one.  I know because my 70 left me just shy of another rappel station just two days ago.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Tom Sherman wrote:

Totally poking my head beyond my purview, but isn't modern climbing more typically done with halfs rather than twins??

The greater discussion of is it worth it... is another issue....

Some ropes are rated as single, twin and half, all in the same rope (as Neoh mentioned above)

Luke.d6 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 15

So is a triple rated rope commonly used for alpine climbing/mountaineering/glacier travel, to save weight? 

Would a triple rated rope work well for a tag line? Because I already have a climbing rope and don’t really want to buy two twin or half ropes.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 5
Luke.d6 wrote:

So is a triple rated rope commonly used for alpine climbing/mountaineering/glacier travel, to save weight? 

Would a triple rated rope work well for a tag line? Because I already have a climbing rope and don’t really want to buy two twin or half ropes.

Yes a triple rated rope would be fine for a tag line. It's a thin line, usually in the 8.6-9.1 range that is rated as a single, twin, and half rope. 

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 476

A triple rate rope expressly for a tagline is stupid IMO. You can do it and if you want to get a skinnier cord for other multi-pitch lines later I can see it making financial sense. If you want a simple tag line or plan to actually climbing using half rope technique (handy at Darrington) then go small. Weight wise you're looking at: 

~6.75-7lbs for a 60m triple rated rope range.
~5-5.5lbs for a half rope in the 7.5-8mm range.


This is kind of getting into another subject, but Triple rated ropes are really just skinny singles with a thin sheath. If you you compare total weight and sheath percentage to a "fat" half/twin rated only rope you'll see the later has for more sheath. The fat half rope will stand up to abrasion much better and a single strand arrests falls just fine. The super skin singles really should be reserved for hard red points sport climbing where the wear on the rope is flat spots/soft core and not the sheath wearing out. 

Good details about what to consider in a rope for different uses: http://stephdavis.co/blog/straight-from-the-mammoths-mouth-things-you-want-to-know-about-ropes/


Also adding to this Luke, I would highly recommend NOT using your glacier/ice rope on any rock routes. You will wear the dry coating off the sheath and it's going to soak up more water. We used my partners 7.5mm half ropes for some alpine rock and then on ice last winter after the sheath was fuzzy. The sheath absorbed so much water the damn things froze solid, at least bending them to break it up to feed through an ATC again made us both warmer.
I also wouldn't bother with anything over the low 8mm range for glacier travel, no need to lug around the extra weight. 

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

climbing friend,

it matters not. you would be doing the dying - today, tomorrow, in 60 years, it matters not.

get cheapest rope, huck your considerable meat into space, it will hold you if UIAA certified, yessszzzzzzzsssssszzzsszzszszsz

all your flash are belong to me



FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

Just like peple have a quiver of shoes for different uses,  it's good to have an assortment of ropes for different uses (twin 60's, a 70, a beater for toproping). Finances permitting, of course.

Luke.d6 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 15
FrankPS wrote:

Just like peple have a quiver of shoes for different uses,  it's good to have an assortment of ropes for different uses (twin 60's, a 70, a beater for toproping). Finances permitting, of course.

I am starting to get the feeling this is what it all comes down to haha. 

Luke.d6 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 15
Nick Drake wrote:

A triple rate rope expressly for a tagline is stupid IMO. You can do it and if you want to get a skinnier cord for other multi-pitch lines later I can see it making financial sense. If you want a simple tag line or plan to actually climbing using half rope technique (handy at Darrington) then go small. Weight wise you're looking at: 

~6.75-7lbs for a 60m triple rated rope range.
~5-5.5lbs for a half rope in the 7.5-8mm range.


This is kind of getting into another subject, but Triple rated ropes are really just skinny singles with a thin sheath. If you you compare total weight and sheath percentage to a "fat" half/twin rated only rope you'll see the later has for more sheath. The fat half rope will stand up to abrasion much better and a single strand arrests falls just fine. The super skin singles really should be reserved for hard red points sport climbing where the wear on the rope is flat spots/soft core and not the sheath wearing out. 

Good details about what to consider in a rope for different uses: http://stephdavis.co/blog/straight-from-the-mammoths-mouth-things-you-want-to-know-about-ropes/


Also adding to this Luke, I would highly recommend NOT using your glacier/ice rope on any rock routes. You will wear the dry coating off the sheath and it's going to soak up more water. We used my partners 7.5mm half ropes for some alpine rock and then on ice last winter after the sheath was fuzzy. The sheath absorbed so much water the damn things froze solid, at least bending them to break it up to feed through an ATC again made us both warmer.
I also wouldn't bother with anything over the low 8mm range for glacier travel, no need to lug around the extra weight. 

Totally get the point, that trying to use the triple rated rope as a tag line And also for glacier travel doesn’t quite make sense. Especially the whole bit about wearing out the dry treatment. I haven’t done much ice climbing but I plan on doing a lot more this winter and taking a course. 

So maybe I should just get a 7mm static tag line (seems like it’s only around 100 dollars) and then get some nice dry treated twin ropes for glacier and ice? 

If that makes the most sense then my only other question is if you are in a situation where you have to be in glacier travel mode to get to the base of an ice/rock climb where you will then use both ropes to climb is one half/twin rope appropriate to use while in glacier travel mode?

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Luke.d6 wrote:

 then get some nice dry treated twin ropes for glacier and ice? 

If that makes the most sense then my only other question is if you are in a situation where you have to be in glacier travel mode to get to the base of an ice/rock climb where you will then use both ropes to climb is one half/twin rope appropriate to use while in glacier travel mode?

The twins or doubles would be for rock climbs with long rappels (or very wandering routes). I believe most people use a skinny single for just glacier travel. If you are doing a rock climb and glacier travel, bring your fatter single for both and leave the twins at home (unless the rock route rappels necessitate twins). A fatter rope has better protection from being cut by a sharp edge on rock routes than a single skinny rope.

Lothian Buss · · Albany, NY · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 15

I do exactly as the OP said: 7mm diameter nylon accessory cord (same as you'd use for a cordelette). It works fine. take a little extra care with your EDK, and there's no need for "biner blocks". I often prefer climbing on a single, if my second doesn't mind backpacking the tag. That said, a 7.5 mammut twilight would only be marginally heavier, work the same as a tag, and be more useful in the future, although at least double the price.

A tag line is a cheap and good way to get set up for those 60m rappels. 

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 476
Luke.d6 wrote:

Totally get the point, that trying to use the triple rated rope as a tag line And also for glacier travel doesn’t quite make sense. Especially the whole bit about wearing out the dry treatment. I haven’t done much ice climbing but I plan on doing a lot more this winter and taking a course. 

So maybe I should just get a 7mm static tag line (seems like it’s only around 100 dollars) and then get some nice dry treated twin ropes for glacier and ice? 

If that makes the most sense then my only other question is if you are in a situation where you have to be in glacier travel mode to get to the base of an ice/rock climb where you will then use both ropes to climb is one half/twin rope appropriate to use while in glacier travel mode?

Frank's answer was pretty spot on, totally normal to use one strand of half/twin rope for glacier crossing. Actually I've used a single strand of half rope for a lot of alpine rock also, but usual disclaimer, yer gunna die. 

The only thing to consider on a static tag line is rope snag when you pull. If you have the static as the pull cord you may have to lead back up on it. Not really a concern on Monkey Face, but somewhere like Red Rocks it could be an issue. There I would use a skinny half/twin for a pull cord or rig to pull the dynamic line.

Luke.d6 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 15

Maybe I’m just trying to be cheap, but why not then buy a triple rated rope and a twin/half. That way it seems I would have the best of all worlds. I would have twin/half ropes for ice climbing, a thin lightweight glacier travel rope, a single rated rope for the days that I Glacier travel to an alpine rock climb and A TAG LINE haha. You would also  then have a dynamic to climb up if the rope snagged while pulling it.

Do you not use triple rated ropes ice/alpine rock climbing just because the sheath is thinner and could potentially break easier?

Or does everyone here really have :

1 rope for sport climbing

1 rope for glacier travel + alpine climbing

2 ropes for ice climbing + glacier travel

Any others I’m missing?

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 476

That would totally work. It's not *ideal* for ice/glacier travel for the fuzzy sheath, but that's not the end of the world. I use a 60m triple rated sterling nano and 8mm mamut for the half rope on rock/pull cord. I'm using my partners ropes for ice.


And yeah some of us are crazy. Quiver:

30m edelweiss 8mm for volcano ski tours

60m mamut 8mm half/pull for rock

60m sterling nano 9mm for light alpine 

70m beal joker 9.1mmfor light alpine with long pitch/raps.

80m beal zenith 9.5mm for cragging/working

70m edelrid boa 9.8 prior rock workhorse, lost its stretch. Now for tr/instructing/route work 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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