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Ropes. Thinnest acceptable for emergency rescue, glacier travel, and single line rappel?


Original Post
Justin B · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0

Looking to carry as light a line as possible for use in emergency rescue, non-technical mountaineering, and possible single line rappells. What is the thinnest you would go? Could a single strand of 1/2 and/or twin be considered for these applications? Possible senerios where such a line would be used: belaying second(s) on class 3 or 4, belaying second on via Ferrara, snow wlaking, and finally (as stated,) emergency rescue. Thoughts?

Sam Feuerborn · · Carbondale · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 810

Just get a triple rated rope, they are not the lightest thing every but they're definitely not heavy and then you'll never have to second guess your decision in any of those scenarios.

FosterK · · Edmonton, AB · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 43

A twin or half rope would be sufficient for the scenarios you've outline (they go down to 6.9 mm); however, you might find that belaying on class 3/4 terrain (i.e. short roping) will beat the hell out of the rope, and a larger single (9 mm+) will be more appropriate.

climber pat · · Las Cruces, NM · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 215

I use a mammut 8 mm phoenix for the purposes you describe.  Any twin or double rated rope would be adequate.  In more severe situations you can have one climber tie into both ends and the other climber tie into the middle and use the rope as designed but 1/2 as long (30 meters if you bought a 60 meter rope).

Make sure the belay device you have is suitable for the narrow diameter of your rope.

Isaac Christensen · · St. George UT · Joined Aug 2017 · Points: 508

I would say 6-8 mm would be fine for emergencies Petzl sells a 6mm rope called the RAD line https://www.petzl.com/US/en/Sport/Ropes/RAD-LINE-6-mm. It's pretty pricey though but it shows that a 6 mm could work in an emergency.

climber pat · · Las Cruces, NM · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 215
Isaac Christensen wrote:

I would say 6-8 mm would be fine for emergencies Petzl sells a 6mm rope called the RAD line https://www.petzl.com/US/en/Sport/Ropes/RAD-LINE-6-mm. It's pretty pricey though but it shows that a 6 mm could work in an emergency.

The rad line is a static rope, not dynamic.  So no leading on it.


Edit:  Perhaps no lead falling, although it is advertised for glacier travel.

Isaac Christensen · · St. George UT · Joined Aug 2017 · Points: 508
climber pat wrote:

The rad line is a static rope, not dynamic.  So no leading on it.


Edit:  Perhaps no lead falling, although it is advertised for glacier travel.

Good point yea you probably wouldn't want to lead on it but what would you think about belaying a second and keeping it tight the whole time?

climber pat · · Las Cruces, NM · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 215
Isaac Christensen wrote:

Good point yea you probably wouldn't want to lead on it but what would you think about belaying a second and keeping it tight the whole time?

I think you would generally be ok but you would want to keep the slack out of the system and avoid any traverses.  Mountaineering often involves traverses.  At 35 g/m is the edelrid flycatcher which is a 6.9 mm dynamic rope.  I think it is still the thinnest dynamic rope on the market.

You would also need to get an edelrid micro jul or other (I'm not sure there is another) belay device suitable for such skinny ropes. 

climber pat · · Las Cruces, NM · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 215

You could go with a shorter rope too.  Lots of ropes are sold in 30 meter lengths for glacier travel.  But a shorter rope further limits the length of a pitch if you fold it in half.

Daniel Hamilton · · Iron Range, MN · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0

Smallest I've ever emergency rapped on single line is 5mm maxim techhcord with a super -double munter. It was an emergency and it probably saved a life. But it felt like i was hanging from dental floss. It's rated at 22kn. NOT suitable for leading.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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