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What do you look for in a climbing rope?
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Nov 28, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Belaying 2nd (or was it 3rd? 4th?) on Turk's Head ...
Hey everyone,

So, the Black Friday deals have been tempting me to buy a second rope, but as I sift through the countless options, I've realized that, aside from a few key features that can be nice (bicolor/marked center, dry, 70M), I can't honestly say what makes one rope better than another. Aside from rope diameter, which makes a huge difference depending on your intended use (dragging a 10-11mm rope up a big lead is a pain in the ass, but toproping off a 9.4 all day is a sure way to destroy it), what do you look for in a climbing rope? Since I've only owned one, I find it hard to evaluate...yes, I love it (it saved my life!), but it's hard to say whether I would prefer it over another similar diameter rope. For those of you who have been through several ropes, do you notice a difference? Is it worth it to pay a little extra for Sterling or Petzl? Or, should I just go for the cheapest/prettiest rope in the diameter I need for its intended purpose?
Ted Pinson
From Chicago, IL
Joined Jul 11, 2014
178 points
Nov 28, 2015
I look through user reviews. It seems that every manufacturer is capable of fucking up a rope from time to time. Take the Edelweiss Rocklight II for example, I could pick that up as a 70M Dry cover for under $100 on Liberty Mountain, but as I looked further into reviews I found that many users were claiming issues with sheath wear. Look a little deeper and find that it's probably because they used a different weave patter than most of their other ropes. Probably to the effect of quicker production, which may explain why there are hundreds of that rope at a warehouse in Utah. So, I ended up with a higher end rope in their line with a tighter weave pattern, which also happens to be a Unicore rope. (I like Unicore technology, but I haven't put it through the ringer yet) These details aren't always obvious, but I think you can count on durability with added price most of the time, as with any consumer product.

However, to contrast this, my first rope was that blue New England 10.2 that is in every REI. That sheath held up to a lot of wear and is still fine 2 years later, but the sheath has slipped a little, and it's a bitch to feed through a tube style belay device. So, it depends, reviews are where you'll find answers.
George W
Joined Sep 14, 2015
41 points
Nov 28, 2015
I really like Mammut ropes for their durability. Rusty Finkelstein
Joined Nov 11, 2014
3 points
Nov 28, 2015
I mostly trad climb so I look for a thinner rope with good specs in
1. impact force/dynamic elongation (soft catch)
2. durability (%sheath and research it)
3. price

I wouldn't think number of falls is as important unless you're climbing hard sport and taking a lot of consecutive falls (which I don't do too much). Also, I don't think dry treatment is worth the money if you're not ice or alpine climbing.

Mammut ropes are great. My most recent is the eternity classic
Cheap and good specs.
Doug S
From W Pa
Joined Apr 14, 2012
45 points
Nov 28, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Reporting Live from some where on Canon Cliff, Whi...
What to look for in a climbing rope: if it has the "new england ropes" or "sterling" tag on it. Derek Jf
From Northeast
Joined Feb 29, 2012
398 points
Nov 28, 2015
Super topo has an extensive rope review on their site. Check it out. It has comparison graphs and descriptive write ups. Scottmx426
Joined Sep 19, 2014
0 points
Nov 28, 2015
Things to look for:

g/m (grams per meter)- this will tell you alot more than the diameter about just how skinny and light the rope is.

impact force- higher will usually mean a harder catch all things being equal. too low, though, and you tend to lose durability.

hand- how the rope feels. some people like sterling. others like mammut. some dont care one way or the other.

everything else on the tag doesn't really tell you much that will be useful to you.
John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Joined Feb 1, 2004
2,461 points
Nov 28, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Great exposure!
A few things to add

1.like John said, Diameter doesn't mean what it used to. Look closely at the rope weight and don't assume a smaller diameter means a lighter rope. Weaving has gotten better and manufacturers can pack the same amount of fiber into a tighter weave and the rope will be the same weight and a smaller diameter. They make small diameter as a sending rope because of weight - if you want it for that reason make sure you look at the right spec set.

2. UIAA falls shouldn't be a deciding factor. UIAA sets the rope up to take consecutive factor 1.7+ falls with an 176 pound weight (they use kilos as UOM). To be certified you have to pass with at least 5 falls held. Hopefully nobody will ever take that many of that type of fall on a rope ever. You can take lots of normal whips on a rope and never generate that kind of force.

Sheath slip is important to me. You do a single rope rap and the sheath stretches 2% over 200 feet - that's 4' at the end of your rope that has no core inside it anymore and you now need to cut off.

Just my thoughts. Blast away!
Gunks Jesse
From Shawangunk Township, NY
Joined May 18, 2014
262 points
Nov 28, 2015
Percentage/proportion of sheath to core will reflect durability as well. There was a lengthy thread on this very topic not too long ago. Some say 40% sheath is around what you want for something durable. Scottmx426
Joined Sep 19, 2014
0 points
Nov 28, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Belaying 2nd (or was it 3rd? 4th?) on Turk's Head ...
Cool, thanks guys. Ted Pinson
From Chicago, IL
Joined Jul 11, 2014
178 points
Nov 30, 2015
Does anyone have any experience with the Sterling Fusion ion R 9.4mm bicolor? This will be my first Sterling and it seems it has some unique features like the twisted braid sheath. I know Sterling has a great reputation and loyal following. Any info would be great. Thanks in advance. Scottmx426
Joined Sep 19, 2014
0 points
Nov 30, 2015
Few points

- low impact doesnt mean low durability ... For example the beal top gun 10.5mm has pretty low impact forces but is a thick heavy sturdy rope

- weight is more relevant than diameter

- specifically the sheath % being based on weight ... Find one with 40%+

- low impact does mean less force on gear ... But low impact ropes tend to have more stretch so on ledge moderates theres a tradeoff

- the number of uiaa falls does matter all other things being equal ... A high # fall rope will take longer to lose elasticity and may take longer to go flat .... Remeber even rapping or lowering reduces the dynamic properties of a rope over time

- the diameter is perhaps the least relevant (look at weight) as the uiaa allows a +/- of 0.2mm on the specs

The word from mammut on steph davis blog

First question might be why we have multiple ropes of the same diameter that outwardly seem �the same��what�s the difference? The answer would be that we try to look at who is using our ropes�a beginner climber who is toproping a lot vs. a sport climber who is falling a lot on very overhanging routes vs. a trad climber who is climbing lots of granite cracks vs an ice climber�and design ropes that will give them the highest level of utility combined with light weight and durability.

Since each of the above mentioned climbers tend to ask different things of their ropes, and hence they may need very different propoerties in order to stand up to one form of abuse vs another. For instance, a sport climber who is projecting hard routes is taking a zillion falls that are all relatively short�that puts a huge amount of stress on one very small section of rope, and the rope simply loses its elastic properties there and goes flat. Contrast that to the trad climber who is falling much, much less, but is usually on terrain that is less than vertical�this subjects the rope much more to abrasion of the sheath. Then there�s the ice and alpine climber who virtually never falls, but is routinely dragging the rope over sharp edges, blocky terrain, getting it wet and drying it, etc.

If we build all of our ropes to make the sport climber happy�i.e. they hold a ton of test falls for their diameter�because we need to give up some elements of the rope in order to build a rope that can hold all those falls we might disappoint the other climbers who don�t need a rope to hold so many falls, they need different things from their ropes. One of the big differences between ropes will be how climbers wear it out�if they wear it out from falling a lot, or if they wear it out from abrasion on rough rock. Although there are other elements in play that we can use to affect these properties, one of the differences in construction we use that reflects these design priorities is the relative thicknesses of the core vs the sheath�we can make two 10mm ropes, one having a thin core and thick sheath, and the other having a thick core and thin sheath. All other things being equal, the rope with the thick core and thin sheath will hold more falls before going flat, but wear faster from abrasion; and vice versa.

For instance, our Genesis 8.5mm half ropes are designed for ice and alpine climbing. Climbers rarely fall in these situations but they do subject their ropes to incredible abrasion and they need them to be very cut-resistant. With these ropes we consider a high number of test falls held to be of relatively less importance, so we sacrifice the falls-held rating�which reflects to a large degree how long a rope will last under repeated hard falls�in order to build a rope that will be ultra-durable under very harsh abrasion conditions and will be more difficult to scrape through to the core. We do this in part by altering the tension the rope is braided under, the pattern of the braid, chemical treatments that are thermally applied during the heat-treating process, etc�but we also use a relatively thin core and a very thick sheath, because that helps the rope to be as durable as possible under these types of situations.

Some of our ultra-thin single ropes like the Serenity 8.9mm have a relatively thin sheath because even with all the tricks we can muster we still need a certain amount of core in order to pass the UIAA test for a single rope�in this case we use a thinner sheath to achieve a very low weight and thin diameter, but we do thins knowing that this is a very specialized rope that is only appropriate under very specific circumstances. In these cases they are used by very experienced climbers for hard sport climbs or alpine routes where they are willing to sacrifice a level of abrasion resistance in exchange for lighter weight�this is why we recommend that people do not use any of these very thin single ropes for workout climbing or toproping. People also need to recognize that even though these are single ropes, and even though the diameter is larger than our Genesis half ropes, under conditions where the main danger is cutting or abrasion the thicker rope might actually be LESS durable and have a lower safety margin.

People who are comparing two ropes of similar diameters can usually see this in the test results�Mammut publishes the % of each ropes weight that is sheath so that people can judge for themselves what rope they will be happiest with. If you fall a lot, choose a rope with a high fall rating; if you don�t fall that much then choose a ropes with a thicker sheath (and if the manufacturer doesn�t publish that info call them and ask for it!). If you climb both abrasive rock and you fall alot, then think about how you wore out your last rope�if it went flat 10 or 15 feet from the ends, then get the rope with the high fall rating for the size and if the rope just fuzzed up to the point it felt sketchy or fat or lost its dry treatment, then concentrate on a rope with a thick sheath and a compact weave.


stephdavis.co/blog/straight-fr...

;)
bearbreeder
Joined Mar 1, 2009
3,068 points
Nov 30, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Reporting Live from some where on Canon Cliff, Whi...
Scottmx426 wrote:
Does anyone have any experience with the Sterling Fusion ion R 9.4mm bicolor? This will be my first Sterling and it seems it has some unique features like the twisted braid sheath. I know Sterling has a great reputation and loyal following. Any info would be great. Thanks in advance.


Great rope, smooth feed through any belay device, stands up well to wear (ie doesnt flatten out or loosen from sheath), light weight for the approach and easy to clip. Get a 70M and be happy
Derek Jf
From Northeast
Joined Feb 29, 2012
398 points
Dec 1, 2015
Thanks bearbreeder. I don't recall where but I've read that recently. I'll be using it for low fall frequency trad in the sierras.

Derek good to know you liked it. I got the 60m as I have a 70m Glider which is holding up well. It's just heavy and like a cable. I got the Sterling half off so couldn't turn it down. Bi color is pretty nice to have also.
Scottmx426
Joined Sep 19, 2014
0 points
Dec 1, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Reporting Live from some where on Canon Cliff, Whi...
Scottmx426 wrote:
Thanks bearbreeder. I don't recall where but I've read that recently. I'll be using it for low fall frequency trad in the sierras. Derek good to know you liked it. I got the 60m as I have a 70m Glider which is holding up well. It's just heavy and like a cable. I got the Sterling half off so couldn't turn it down. Bi color is pretty nice to have also.


Great deal then man, you'll find it will be your new go-to send string. Enjoy
Derek Jf
From Northeast
Joined Feb 29, 2012
398 points
Dec 1, 2015
Rusty Finkelstein wrote:
I really like Mammut ropes for their durability.

+1

What i look for in a rope is a label that says Mammut
john strand
From southern colo
Joined May 22, 2008
2,392 points
Dec 1, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Expatriot
I've been a Mammut fan for a long time. Seems every time I get something different, I'm not happy with it. All of the ropes out there will hold plenty of falls. Mammut ropes wear really well and handle like dream. And I've bought a few ropes over the years. frank minunni
From Las Vegas, NV
Joined May 26, 2011
128 points
Dec 1, 2015
john strand wrote:
+1 What i look for in a rope is a label that says Mammut

Mammut Galaxy is a great rope, tho "heavy" by some measure. 60m now on sale - backcountry.com/mammut-galaxy-...
S. Neoh
Joined Oct 4, 2009
570 points
Dec 1, 2015
My first Mammut was a dry rope with the "Coating" finish, which seems to be a type of PTFE. I was surprised at how clean it seemed to stay and its abrasion resistance compared to the Beals, Maxims and Bluewaters I had used and retired.

So I decided to do a comparison between Mammut teflon coated v a non-coated standard Mammut. I alternated between the two for two years on similar routes, mostly on granite. Probably 150 pitches on each rope.

The coated stayed much cleaner and mostly fuzz free just like the rope it replaced. The standard got dirty and fuzzy like any other rope I'd owned. The standard got retired and the coated is still in use.

So, Mammut + PTFE is what I look for in a rope. The extra $$$ buys a longer lasting rope... at least in my head it does.

YMMV
Tapas
From Utah
Joined Feb 8, 2010
120 points
Dec 1, 2015
S. Neoh wrote:
Mammut Galaxy is a great rope, tho "heavy" by some measure. 60m now on sale - backcountry.com/mammut-galaxy-...



S- you will be happy i just got a 9.5infinty I'm a bit frightened still..good thing I don't fall anymore
john strand
From southern colo
Joined May 22, 2008
2,392 points
Dec 1, 2015
I've been at it for 20 years and I still don't know what to look for. I do make sure it's 10.2 or smaller so I can use the gri gri.

I like 70m but they don't go on sale too often.

Dry coating seems like a scam. Turns your rope filthy black way sooner than untreated ropes. It might be more abrasive to the aluminum or it adheres to the aluminum better, either way, it's a mess.

Bicolor is neat until you have to chop an end. You will have to chop an end.

I've owned several Sterlings, it wasn't until I was a few ropes removed from them that I realized just how bad their durability is. They are decent ropes but for the price, I'm hardly impressed.

Edelweiss is a lower end rope that seems to give you a lot of bang for the buck.

I don't know what brand my yellow rope is. It's at least 5 years old and has been hammered. I never really liked it, still don't, I can't see it ever wearing out though.

The softest catch on a rope I've ever used was a Lanex Tendon or some shit. Ukranian or something. The package smelled like stale cigarettes. Great rope.

All this rambling has a point. It's that everything works. The $120 super sale rope will have little practical difference than the $300 model. 10% of the time you'll wish you had a thinner/lighter/longer/brighter/nitrogen filled/whatever rope. After a little dust and fuzz though, it's hard to tell the difference.
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion
From Colorado
Joined Oct 29, 2012
43 points
Dec 1, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Me again!
Nearly every company has a good and bad rope. Mammut, Sterling, Beal, etc. If you buy the cheap version joke is on you. They will save your life and last forever, but, they fucking suck at handling. Or go with the nice version of the same. Good handling, clipping, etc, but, they break down faster caus they so nice and purty.

I say buy nice and use that shit. Afterwards you can use the material for landscaping and hauling beagles.

Of course, I have over ten retired nice ropes in my house, and four pieces of shit, so, I am sure I am guilty of something according to logic and ration.

Long lasting piece of shit= Mammut

Short lasting and ohh so nice (100 leader falls or so)= Sterling


To be fair, the answer is the sterling high end rope, but you need to earn the privileged to understand that. Mp is not good on that end.
J Q
Joined Mar 11, 2012
58 points
Dec 1, 2015
personal.strath.ac.uk/andrew.m... Pavel Burov
Joined May 6, 2013
70 points
Dec 1, 2015
john strand wrote:
S- you will be happy i just got a 9.5infinty I'm a bit frightened still..good thing I don't fall anymore

9.5, John? Have you gone mad? Nothing skinnier than a 9.8 for us of the infirm!! A friend of mine was given a 9.4 Ion some time ago, we each lead once on and belayed once with it. Then, we looked at each other and shook our heads, so into the rope bag that went and out came the 9.8 Velocity. I just do not have the mental fortitude for skinny ropes.
Oh, Sterling Velocity is a nice rope, Marathon Pro 10.1 is a workhorse. Hard to go wrong on rock with either if you can spare the $$$.
S. Neoh
Joined Oct 4, 2009
570 points
Dec 1, 2015
color! the brighter it is, the cooler you look......... Mike Grice
From north jersey
Joined Aug 10, 2015
0 points
Dec 1, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Gunking
It really doesn't matter. Just go with whatever is cheapest. JohnWesely
From Red River Gorge
Joined Nov 21, 2009
675 points


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