Choosing the Right Rock Climbing Rope

Climbing Rope

The type of climbing you engage in dictates the type of rope you need to buy – this ensures that you have the right equipment to use for the job at hand. Choosing the right rope is not a one-type-fits-all proposition, there are certain factors that you have to consider in order to ensure that you are making the right choice.

Your choice of a rock climbing rope is one of the most important decisions you will make because not all rock climbing ropes are created equal. Climbing ropes have various attributes according to the specific type of climbing activity the rope will be used for. When choosing and shopping for your rock climbing rope, all you have to remember is 3D1R – dynamic, diameter, durability and rating:

* Dynamic – the term refers to a combination of both the rope’s tensile strength and ‘stretching’ property; a rope with high elasticity greatly reduces the forces a climber is subjected to during a fall because it partially absorbs the downward force during a fall. Tensile strength is crucial as you want your rope to have the strength to resist the forces generated in a fall without breaking.

* Diameter – rock climbing ropes have normally been between 9mm to 11mm in diameter but are gradually becoming thinner due to technological advances in manufacturing processes.

* Durability – the rope’s resistance against severe abrasion, heavy loads and extreme weather conditions and repeated use in harsh conditions.

* Rating – always ensure that you buy a climbing rope with a rating of more than 2000 pounds (on a free-fall, a human body can generate forces far in excess of 2000 pounds!)

Choosing the right rope does not begin and end with 3D1R, there are other factors you have to consider in order to come up with the right choice. Several factors go into the production of today’s modern climbing rope that makes them different from one another. This makes it more worthwhile to determine what your various options are for your type of climbing.

The construction of today’s climbing ropes is primarily described as kernmantle, a term derived from two German words: kern (core) and mantle (sheath). Kernmantle-type rock climbing ropes are made from very fine polyamide (nylon) threads and are used by ice, rock, mountain and wall climbers alike.

Rope manufacturers continually improve their rope production processes that cater not only to the competitive and recreational market but also the highly specialized rescue and military sectors.

Manufacturers claim that their manufacturing techniques give their ropes an edge over their competition; however since almost all braiding machines are technically identical; a particular rope’s advantage over another is sometimes due to the after-treatments applied to the rope after they are braided.

A rope’s core structure varies and ultimately dictates how the rope will behave in a climbing situation. It is from the material used and the design of the core that ropes derive their inherent elasticity and strength. On the other hand, the protective multi-coloured coverings (sheath) of the rope which provide the protection to the core are an equally vital factor. The colourful sheaths are not merely decorative but are visual indicators as to the type of rope in use. The different sheath colours reflect a rope’s characteristics like performance, durability and weight.