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Climbing Rope Buying Guide - How to Buy Climbing Ropes

In general, a Climbing Rope is used in any kind of rock climb. However, take note that not all ropes are suitable for climbing, and not all Climbing Ropes can be used in a certain style. It is therefore imperative to ensure that your rope is designed to meet the demands of type you are interested in. Know what to look for in Climbing Ropes.

Climbing Ropes - Types Types

Climbing Ropes come in many types and can be categorized based on different properties. This section covers the different types of ropes which indicate the type of test performed. Know the features of Single, Twin, and Half Ropes.

Climbing Rope Buying Guide - How to Buy Climbing Ropes As mentioned in other buying guides, it is very important to determine the type of climbing that you think you will be doing often. You also have to get familiar with the different Climbing Rope Types. These two factors can greatly help you in narrowing down your selection.

Rope diameters range from 7.5mm to 11mm. In general, a thicker diameter means a stronger and more durable rope, but it is also heavier.

  • Generally speaking, you will be on the safe side with a rope diameter between 10mm and 11mm. These ropes are appropriate for rock, ice and glacier travel.

  • Ropes with a diameter lower than 9mm are used in pairs and clipped to separate protection pieces to reduce rope drag on circuitous routes. These ropes should not be used singly!

  • Lightweight, 9mm single ropes are used for simple glacier travel but are too thin for holding falls on vertical rock.
Choose a rope length depending on the types of routes you typically climb. Longer ropes allow longer pitches and rappels. Shorter ropes weigh less and take up less space. The standard rope length of 50 meters has been supplanted in many areas with 55 and 60 meter cords, and now, some climbers are stretching it out to 70 meters. A longer rope means more to coil, carry and manage, but the extra utility is often worth it. In some areas, a longer rope might allow you to lower or rappel with a single cord, so you can leave the second rope at home.

The strength of a rope is measured by the rating of static elongation and maximum impact force.

The elongation measures the amount a rope stretches when weighted with a standard load (80 kilograms/176 pounds). Ropes with low static elongation stretch less. Higher static elongation means ropes have more stretch (cushioning the impact of a fall).

Maximum impact force refers to the amount of force transmitted to a climber during a fall. Low maximum impact force means the rope (not the climber or the protection) absorbs more of the energy generated in a fall. However, such ropes stretch more, increasing your chances of hitting the ground or a ledge.

Dependent on these two variables, a rope can be called semi-static or dynamic. A semi-static rope is one with low static elongation and high impact force. This is designed for caving and canyoning and is also useful in aid climbing. A dynamic rope has a high static elongation and a low impact force and is useful in climbing and Mountaineering.

Dry or Non-dry
Rope will get wet when ice climbing or mountaineering. Wet ropes are heavier and less able to absorb falls. In addition, the absorbed water can freeze and make a rope weak and unmanageable. Therefore, it is important to choose a rope that is dry-treated to keep it from absorbing water. This lasts longer than a non-dry rope and is easier to handle when wet. However, dry ropes are not completely waterproof, and treatments do wear off over time. Take care of your dry rope by using wash-in products that are available for re-waterproofing your rope. Non-dry ropes are less expensive and ideal for use in dry conditions.

Climbing Rope is a very important tool in Rock Climbing. The different aspects of ropes given above are just some of the things to take into account when buying ropes for climbing. Make sure to buy one that is suitable to your needs.

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Article Comments
David Perkins
Sunday 3rd January 2010 at 1:28:14 PM  


Good read. And very informative thankyou. I''m not entirely sure how you define a fall though.
I''m looking at buying a rope, mainly for indoor leading but a bit of outdoors too, and am not sure about the durability. The ratings for each rope give a certain number of falls as a guideline on when to replace the rope, but there are many ways you can fall!
Is there a certain distance you have to fall to constitute a "fall" as it is viewed by UIAA standards? Or alternatively, is this a matter of personal opinion?

Also, are there any tell tale signs for when a rope is needing retirement?

Any help would be much appreciated.

Many thanks,


Monday 18th January 2010 at 10:42:17 PM  

all accessories of mountain climbing its up to you to chose whats the best gear.find more

Wednesday 10th November 2010 at 5:12:05 PM  

In answer to David Perkins, and his durability question; I''ve just bought a brand new Beal Cobra II. The new style safety booklets that come with "approved" ropes are pretty informative on this. They are suggesting anything between a year for heavy regular use, barring obvious damage and up to 10 years for a rope that rarely sees the light of day and has taken no falls. Grit, sharp edges and falls are the real rope killers.

Tim Miller
Saturday 13th November 2010 at 8:47:35 AM  

A great article that''s not over complicated, just the information a buyer really needs to know. Cheers guys.

Wednesday 6th July 2011 at 10:36:21 PM  

I am not versed in climbing techniques and gear. I purchased 150'' of Edelweiss Speleo 9mm low stretch rope. We do a lot of camping and wanted a good rope for the purpose of crossing streams and lowering gear or people down short drop offs and going down steep hills. I bought this rope because I got a good price on it. I would appreciate any input on the quality of this rope. Thanks

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