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I am new to mountaineering/glacier travel. I took a guided climb on Mt Baker last summer and will be taking a mountaineering course this coming winter. I am looking to get a rope for glacier travel and plan to start with Mt Baker again next summer. I was looking to see if there was a dedicated thread for this topic but didn't find one. If anyone knows of one could you point me in that direction?  Wondering what type of ropes would be ideal for starting out with this level of climbing. I have read in various places that 3 people can be on anywhere from 30-50 m safely. I this accurate? Would 50 m be significantly extra for a 2-person rope team? The second question relates to diameter - would a half rope between 8-9mm be sufficient for this type of travel? I see that a bigger diameter rope (>9mm) is obviously going to weigh more and is often used in other types of climbing at longer lengths (60m). Is there a standard or ideal rope length and diameter that is standard or more versatile. Wondering what the thoughts are on trade-off between diameter, weight, length, durability and versatility. Any thoughts would be appreciated! 

Thank you,

Joe

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I use one an 8.2mm dry rope for all my glacier travel.  60m long.   It is 60m as it is part of my double ropes for alpine climbing.   It weighs 5.5 lbs.  I could chop it to 40 meters and save 2 pounds, but then I would need to buy another rope for my doubles.   I don't mind the 60 as that lets me put 3-4 people on the rope with some room on the ends.  When I go with just one person, each of us has enough coils to perform a rescue.   Remember that for a two-man team, each person needs coils that are just longer than the span between them to be able to drop the other end down.  You will see a lot of two-man, and three-man teams tied into the ends of a short rope but that gives them nothing extra for rescue.

50m would be long enough for a 2-3 man as well.  50m is almost worthless rock climbing or in the alpine though as most routes are 60.  Your 50m rope would be dedicated only to glacier, while a 60 can do both.  Also, if you get into where you cross glaciers then onto rock, a thin rope can be folded over and then used as a double for the rock climb if the pitches are short or you are simulclimbing.

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Posted (edited)
59 minutes ago, needtoclimb said:

50m would be long enough for a 2-3 man as well.  50m is almost worthless rock climbing or in the alpine though as most routes are 60.  Your 50m rope would be dedicated only to glacier, while a 60 can do both. 


This reminds me of the guy who wrote that Petzl Aztars can only climb WI 3, when my partners and I were climbing WI-5 with completely straight shafted tools 25 years ago.  Similarly, I have to disagree with the notion that 50 meter ropes are worthless in the alpine.  When I started climbing 50 meter ropes were all you could buy.  When 60 meter ropes came out, I jumped on board.  60 meters is still my go to length for cragging. 

For alpine climbing I went back to 50 meter ropes and I know a number of very strong, experienced guides and climbers who have done the same.  Steve House and Vince Anderson climbed AND DESCENDED the Rupal Face with one 50 meter half rope and one 55 meter, 5.5mm tag line. 

A 50 meter 8-9 mm rope will be a very versatile rope for glaciers as well as for alpine climbing, ice climbing, alpine rock climbing when used with a second rope.  Compare ropes using the weight in grams/meter rather than by diameter.  Rope manufacturers fudge the advertised diameter by 0.2 mm (that 9.8 mm rope may actually be 10 mm), but cannot fudge the weight.  Also, a really thin rope may seem like a great way to save weight, but don't go too thin or it will be harder to ascend and haul on.

Edited by DPS

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Posted (edited)

Just saying that most newer routes are put up with 60m ropes.  Steve House and Vince Anderson are in a different class than someone who has taken one course and it asking about his first rope.  You also have a lot of experience to go with a 50m so can "go back" to it.  Trying to give the guy advice so he only needs one rope and not having to worry about if his 50m rope is long enough to get him down on routes that are mainly put up with 60's now days.  I'd rather see someone new carry a little bit extra weight than rappel off the ends of their rope or have to simul-climb a bit.  With experience comes the ability to go lighter and faster.  "Worthless" may have been a bad choice of words though.  A 50m isn't worthless, you just need to know when to use it.  In this case, based on his question, he doesn't have the experience yet when to use it other than glacier travel.

A 60 is simply more versatile for one all-around rope is all I am saying.  I would recommend if you are going to get one rope to start with for multitude different climbing styles, it would be one 60m mid 9mm rope.  It will do glacier, alpine and cragging.  

For only glacier, a 50m, 8.5 would be my choice.  On my 8.2mm, prusiks suck in trying to get bite but the Sterling Autoblocks work great and grab very well.  Microtraxion also grabs the 8.2.

Perfect world for me (The diameter listed below is a ballpark.)

40M 8mm glacier rope for two or three man travel on smaller glaciers.  It would also work for ski mountaineering or scramble routes where you are not sure if you will need a rope, but want one in your back just in case.

Double 60m 8mm ropes for wandering alpine routes or double-rope rappels are mandatory.   Use one for larger glacier parties or where crevasses are bigger (Rainier.)

60m 9.5mm for alpine routes where single rope rappels will get you down and for shorter crags.

70m 9.8mm for longer cragging routes

Quote
4 hours ago, DPS said:

Compare ropes using the weight in grams/meter rather than by diameter.  Rope manufacturers fudge the advertised diameter by 0.2 mm (that 9.8 mm rope may actually be 10 mm), but cannot fudge the weight. 

This I did not now about diameters being off.  Thanks.

I also started when a 50 was all I could buy.  Then 60's, now 70's and even 80's.  When is the madness going to stop?  Who the heck wants to carry an 80 meter rope?

Edited by needtoclimb

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in an alpine rock environment, 50 meters is a good length.  chances are you will experience too much rope drag when making pitches beyond 40 to 50 meters anyway.   then you have to deal with that extra length at every pitch change over.  I found that teams can go faster with 50 meter ropes, especially if there are short rope sections like on serpentine arete or even on ne butt slesse.  Plus alpine rarely do long rappels where a longer rope would be good.  shorter rappels make dealing with rope eaters easier.

I did almost all of my alpne climbing in a pair of 50m doubles.  whether I brought one or two depended on the route. 

 

If the rope is too short in the alpine, simu climbing takes care of that.  You should be very solid rock climbing and not pushing limits in alpine.  Short bits of simu should not be a problem.

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I totally agree with Gene.  Long rappels in the Cascades are tough due to the ledgy, vegetated nature of the climbing here.  50 is plenty, and rarely come up short while leading, and like Gene said you can always simu-climb.

needto climbalso made a good point:

"You also have a lot of experience to go with a 50m so can "go back" to it.  Trying to give the guy advice so he only needs one rope and not having to worry about if his 50m rope is long enough to get him down on routes that are mainly put up with 60's now days. "

I do have experience, and no fewer than  six ropes at this moment.  There is no one ideal boot or pack for all objectives.  Climbers will ultimately end up owning different footwear and packs for the wide variety of climbs they will encounter.  Ropes are similar.  The OP wants a rope to climb Mt. Baker.  50m in an 8ish mm diameter is a great choice.  If the OP wants to take up rock climbing, as in cragging,  I agree a 60 meter, ~10 mm, single rope would be better suited. 

FYIY, 8.5 mm is my choice as well, in Edelweiss, Sharp, Everdry 50 meters.  Had to special order them from Pro Mountain Sports, but they are totally worth what they cost.  They are probably 11 years old, well past their freshness date.  I should retire them, after all I have a fresh pair still in plastic.

Anybody have use for two, 50 meter dry half ropes, one green, one purple?  Rug art?  Tire swing?  Tie lumber down in the back of your pickup?  I would personally still climb on them, especially just for glacier travel, but at 11 years old (never been set on the ground, never fallen on, stored in a giant plastic bin), I can't endorse anyone doing the same.

The purple one is considerably newer with much less mileage, maybe joecav is interested in a donor for glacier routes, free of course.

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3 hours ago, DPS said:

The purple one is considerably newer with much less mileage, maybe joecav is interested in a donor for glacier routes, free of course.

There ya go Joe.  Grab the rope to start out.  Can't beat free and will get you through glacier climbs.

As you can see above, ropes are like footwear and underwear.  Everyone has their own style and preference.   Get out with more experienced climbers, see their style, and find one that suits you best.

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yup to DPS.  50m x 8-ish (whatever on sale) mm rope is great for glacier travel.  60m is kinda long and if there are 5 people in group, bring two ropes.

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i may catch grief for this but old ropes are fine for glacier travel.  even if they are a bit static-y.   the nature of glacier falls is such that the rope cutting into snow takes a bunch of the forces and makes the rope seem dynamic.  I am not suggesting to use a static rope like back in the DAY, but an old rope that has lost some stretchiness is not a big deal.

 

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