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meatghost

Time to retire rope?

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I have a bluewater 10.5 rope I got back in 97, I purchased it and didn't use it until 2001 for a coule of lead climbs in leavenworth - no falls. Haven't used it more than 3 or 4 times since for TR only - question is, because of age alone should it be retired or if it's been well taken care of is it ok for TRing? I mean, what's the point of wearing a helmet or placing pro if yer gonna crater in when the sheath breaks - any thoughts?

 

confused.gif

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I have been climbing for about 27 years so have faced that decision many times. I have a rope about that old that I am just retiring, but it also has a funky spot. You can tell them by going over the entire rope and there can be flat spots, worn sheath, or other areas in question. I feel like I hang on to my ropes longer than many people. Generally, TRing doesnt place near the loads on it as lead climbing can. However, if you have to ask the question that means there is some insecurity on your part and that generally means time for a new rope....Personnaly, if it were used as little as you say, I would TR on it and get a new one for leading. Remember though, a rope is cheap compared to a hospital visit or worse....

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I realize that every rope, once it leaves the store, experiences a different history of use that will affect its strength and eventual useful life, and that there is no reliable way to draw solid conclusions about a rope's current capabilities, or whether or not it needs to be retired. At the same time, isn't it amazing that we all have to ask ourselves this kind of question, and that we have to often put ourselves in a situation of using a rope without being really sure how good it still is? It seems there should be at least some kind of database of test results of used ropes. I know the manufacturers wouldn't want to do it since they would be subjecting themselves to liability issues for false claims (and I think would likely sell a lot fewer ropes). And I know such a database wouldn't be completely reliable since every used rope is different and each rope's history would be anecdotal and inexact. But wouldn't it be useful if there were some independent lab where one could send ropes like the one meatghost has, along with a history, and have it drop tested? The lab could simply report 1) the type of rope, 2) the rope history and age as reported by the owner, and 3) the results of the drop test. While any specific rope report might be suspect, I'm sure there would be general trends that would give us all a better idea of the state of our own used ropes. My own guess is that we would all end up keeping our ropes a lot longer, even as lead ropes, but I really don't know.

 

This brings up another question. We've all seen the widely published guidelines for retiring ropes. After a "severe" fall, after a year of X use, or 2 years of Y use, or 3 years of Z use, etc. Has anyone ever seen any scientific basis at all for those guidelines?

 

Okay, end of rant. It just seems that, even though we're all in a sport where being conservative about equipment strength, we know very little about what happens to equipment with use and age. Ropes specifically, but also any other webbing or cordage. I guess I should either shut up or start this independent lab myself!

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A few years ago, ropes over 5 years old were tested and NONE of them passed the drop test, regardless of use history (I think they even tested unused ropes). Best to retire those older ropes. pitty.gif

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A few years ago, ropes over 5 years old were tested and NONE of them passed the drop test,. pitty.gif

 

Source? Seems similar to the micro cracks in cams myth.

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I have a bluewater 10.5 rope I got back in 97, I purchased it and didn't use it until 2001 for a coule of lead climbs in leavenworth - no falls. Haven't used it more than 3 or 4 times since for TR only - question is, because of age alone should it be retired or if it's been well taken care of is it ok for TRing? I mean, what's the point of wearing a helmet or placing pro if yer gonna crater in when the sheath breaks - any thoughts?

 

confused.gif

I have an identical rope purchaded in 1998. I've taken some big falls on it and I continue to use it, but I plan to retire it soon.

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A few years ago, ropes over 5 years old were tested and NONE of them passed the drop test,. pitty.gif

 

Source? Seems similar to the micro cracks in cams myth.

 

No- I had read this one in one of the climbing rags a few years back. Some of the ropes tested were over 5 yrs old but had been kept out of UV range. These failed on the first UIAA drop test.

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A few years ago, ropes over 5 years old were tested and NONE of them passed the drop test,. pitty.gif

 

Source? Seems similar to the micro cracks in cams myth.

 

No- I had read this one in one of the climbing rags a few years back. Some of the ropes tested were over 5 yrs old but had been kept out of UV range. These failed on the first UIAA drop test.

 

provide magazine name and issue # or it's still a myth.

anyone having old ropes they are scared of - send them to me - i can dispose of them properly. hahaha.gif

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I agree with Dru. It is a myth. I can assure you that a 5 year old rope will not fail the UIAA test unless there are other circumstances. Unless the rope has been subjected to UV, numerous falls, or some other significant source of wear the rope retains most of its original strenth. It is however possible that the ropes didn't meet the number of UIAA falls the manufacturer claimed.

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Also, Redoubt makes some good points. Believe it or not, the climbing community has performed a great deal more research on the strength/longevity of ropes that we ever see. It is however in their best interests (financial and legal) for us to retire ropes sooner rather that later. The fact is that ropes can last much longer that most of us use them but it at some point we all retire them because we are no longer sure they are still adequate. At that point, feel free to send them to Dru.

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A few years ago, ropes over 5 years old were tested and NONE of them passed the drop test, regardless of use history (I think they even tested unused ropes). Best to retire those older ropes. pitty.gif

 

Rumor

 

http://www.caimateriali.org/Eventi/Torino/rotturacordeschubert.html

 

Skip to the last 2 paragraghs. Then go back and read the text.

 

 

chris

 

 

edit for typo

Edited by chriss

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Myth, sure.

 

Do you read the instructions with that rope?

 

The Mfg says toss it.

 

Realistically, I just retired an 11 mil which was 10 years old I was still using for Toproping only (no falls, perfectly stored etc etc.). Your rope is 8.

 

Why not just replace it like the most knowledgeable people suggest? Ropes are cheap, and easy to buy, esp.compared to having your tibula snapped in 1/2 and stuck out through your leg muscle.

 

But I've only personally seen that with my own eyes one time. A 2 piece rope system so to speak.

 

I have heard of 2 newer ropes nearly parting during falls. Like 8 feet of sheath being ripped and exposted. Both at Beacon. FA of Young Warriors when Kenney took a fall on P2, and a rope drag fall on left Gull, rope wrapped around a column. (REI REPLACED! the 2nd rope it was Brand new.)

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I agree with Dru. It is a myth. I can assure you that a 5 year old rope will not fail the UIAA test unless there are other circumstances. Unless the rope has been subjected to UV, numerous falls, or some other significant source of wear the rope retains most of its original strenth. It is however possible that the ropes didn't meet the number of UIAA falls the manufacturer claimed.

 

I can't recall the reference to the old rope study but even without one, how do we know the number of years an unused but aging rope will still pass the UIAA test: 5,8,12, ? Nylon ages so there is a number. And the rope must pass on all counts: number of drops plus elongation.

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just make sure you only use it for TRing.

 

"7. Summary

 

The drop tests carried out on mountaineering ropes, which were aged in lowering procedures (toprope climbing), have shown that with an increasing number of lowering cycles the number of drops without breaking strongly decreases. Rope sections, which were bent in the figure eight descender or in the Munter hitch, for only 80 lowering cycles have only about half, or less than half, of the capacity of a new rope left. This safety loss occurs customarily after few days of top rope climbing. By superimposing other factors of rope degradation upon those caused by the bending in the belay devices and the top carabiner, one can expect a further decrease in the number of drops held without breaking. The safety loss is of no consequence for a rope used solely as a toprope because fall factors are small but is critical for lead climbing, when larger fall heights are possible."

 

Safety Safety Loss in Ropes from Top-Rope Lowering Cycles

 

Edit:

"When to retire a rope; a study of rope wear:

- it is hardly any news that the principal factors of rope wear are the combined effects of rubbing against rock, mechanical reduction (rappelling and belaying devices), dust and microcrystals that penetrate the sheath and the number of meters climbed (not the time used),

- the enemy of rope wear is friction - most intense in abseiling and top roping, made worse by dirt, and the inevitable rubbing against rock,

- to weaken the sheath means to seriously compromise the dynamic performance of the rope,

- the sheath of a sport rope is about 30 % of the weight of the rope. The core alone, of such an 8 - 9 fall rope, holds only one fall,

- some abseiling devices produce much more wear damage than others,

- after only 50 descents with a figure-eight, the dynamic resistance of a rope is reduced by one third (number of drops). The descents were undertaken with extreme care - slowly and without impact,

- rappelling with a Robot (a multi-use device manufactured by Kong) does not appear to compromise the dynamic resistance of the rope. The device functions like a carabiner brake,

- not surprisingly rope wear is much more severe on granite than on limestone,

- rope degradation is approximately proportional to the number of broken textile yarns of the sheath,

- current work confirms previously published information. After climbing approximately 5000 meters, the dynamic resistance of the rope is reduced to half and after an additional 6000 meters it is down to 30 % (UIAA Bulletin # 146, June 1994, in German),

- see also The Journal of the UIAA #3, 2000, pp. 12 - 13, available on the Internet under www.uiaa.ch."

 

A Summary of the Conference on Nylon and Ropes

 

Edited by wazzumountaineer

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Thanks for the replies - it's pretty much been relegated to being TR only - I have another rope for lead that's only a year old. Checking it for flat spots and other rope issues is a good idea. The main reason I asked is the talk you always hear about retiring a rope after X number of years, regardless of it's type of use. If I take a major fall on TR, I'll have to whack my belay person with a whiskey bottle or other suitable device.

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In the [way distant] past we climbed on ropes until the duct tape wouldn't go through the biners anymore. And I just replaced my 11mm soloing rope after about 11 years and somewhere between 15-25 falls (and half of it was magic markered every 15' for that 10 years).

 

Yeah, old ropes will fail a rigorous sharp edge tests and if I climbed on granite I'd probably be more concerned, but today's ropes are way better than any that we ever had in the past. That said, today's new "skinny" ropes are probably milking strength/durability/capacity that in that past would have been what we got by on. I certainly wouldn't stretch out the life of one of today's 9.2-8's, or even a 10.2 for that matter (though I suspect my Supersafe will last more or less forever).

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From the link mentioned above,

 

"During my work for the DAV (German Alpine Club), during 32 years, I investigated many old ropes from time to time, when I received them from climbers and mountaineers, who wanted to know whether their rope was still good. Some of these ropes were 15, 20, 25 and even 30 years old. They were tested by a UIAA-approved test laboratory. The result: All ropes hold minimum one fall on the Dodero-test-machine, most of them more than one fall; and no rope broke in the knot, always at the orifice."

 

 

 

chris

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