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Rad

thin rope perspective

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Looking to buy a lighter rope to save some weight on harder (for me) single pitch rock routes because I'm too lazy to train more.

 

Recommendations? How thin is too thin? Some ropes out there are ex$pen$ive (>$230)!

 

Thanks

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dunno - seems to me that single-pitch crag routes ain't the place to be stoogey for rope weight - if that's what's holding you back from sending, probably something bigger going on anyhow :)

 

light ropes are for the alpine! leading on anything under a single 9 mm strand give me the heebie-jeebies (have you seeeeen how much those bitches stretch when a 250 lb phat-ass like myself takes the ride?!?)

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8.9 would scare me too. I've been told 9.9 is too phat. I was wondering about 9.2 - 9.4.

 

You're right that I should not blame the rope, but I want to have everything stacked in my favor.

 

And ropes are supposed to stretch - that's why we call them dynamic. Another concern is whether thinner ropes will work in the belay devices my partners carry.

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i think a 9.4 or 9.5 would be fine, but I personally wouldn't go below 9.4 for regular single-pitch use.

I have a 9.7 and use it regularly and feel good about it.

but I also have a 9.1 joker and wouldn't subject it to daily cragging use.

I have climbed on a serenity 8.9 at a crag, and did feel a little nervous about it - but it wasn't mine, so I didn't mind abusing it.

I think the main thing to worry about is whether the weight savings of the thin lines is really worth it given how expensive they are, and how much more frequently they'll need to be replaced.

For any of those diameters 9.4 and above, any device except a grigri should work fine. But the thinner ropes do require a bit more attentiveness.

I've developed a rule of thumb for myself that I try to always use a belay glove when belaying/rappelling on < 10mm.

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I dig my partner's Mammut 8.9 for alpine stuff but it definitely is not the ideal rope for cragging. I prefer ropes in the 9.4 to 9.8 range for general crag abuse. My favorite crag rope is the Millet silver triaxle 9.8, the hand is very nice and the durability is unbeatable in that diameter/grams per meter category. Even my "workhorse" 10.3 did not hold up as long as the Millet 9.8 has.

 

Regarding belay devices, I've generally found that for 9.8 and up a normal ATC is fine, for skinnier ropes or if there's a large weight difference between climber and belayer a device like an ATC-xp/guide, Reverso 3, Jaws, etc. is nice. Also 9.8's are nice because you can still use a gri gri with them whereas my 9.6 won't lock off in a gri gri.

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I've been on skinny ropes a few times, and I've never worried about whether they'll hold a fall or not. What scares me most is lowering or working moves on a single line when the rope runs over an edge of any sort. Tension...SNAP! Aaaaahhhhh!!!!! Not sure if fatties are any better in those circumstances or if mantles are tough enough that I shouldn't worry about this too much.

 

 

 

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oh yeah, and if saving a few grams is your main concern - also look closely at the grams/meter weight of each rope, and not just the diameter - some ropes might be 0.1mm thicker, but actually lighter.

 

Edit: I think that the sheath/core ratio plays a role in the weight per meter, and unfortunately, that leads to the weight per meter & edge durability of a rope being inversely proportional

Edited by hemp22

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How did guys back in the day get up stuff with 11mm ropes? OMG.

 

I guess I am old school but I woudl think that 10 mm is a minimum for cragging mainly from a durability standpoint. Seems like durability and the right amount of stretch is a bigger concern than weight.

 

but then again, I don't send 11's or 12's either so what do I know.

Edited by genepires

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Maxtrax,

 

How did you like the mammut 8.9 for alpine stuff? After lugging my rope up to my last alpine climb, I'd like to spoil myself with a thin/light rope in the mountains...Thanks

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but then again, I don't send 11's or 12's either so what do I know.

 

Maybe you just need a thinner rope.

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How did guys back in the day get up stuff with 11mm ropes? OMG.

 

Many of the old 11's were 120'. Or 150' if you got the really long version. Then came the 165'er; "wow, who would ever need a rope that long". Pretty soon we'll 80 meter 7.9mm.

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I crag on a 10.2 or so (whatever is cheap) and save my 9.1 for alpine. I dont have the $$$ to crag on a skinny rope.

 

I've climbed (and fallen :laf: ) on both the Beal Joker (9.1 mm) and Mammut whatever it is (8.9 mm) in the alpine. Few thoughts:

 

They might have changed them this year but last time I checked though the Mammut is 0.2 mm smaller than the Joker it actually weighs the same (g/meter). I went with the joker as a little more cut safety (thicker) for the same weight is the way to go (IMO).

 

I know a few people that dont like the amount of stretch the Joker (and for that matter all Beal ropes) has but IMO as long as you keep that in mind when you are protecting the pitch you should be fine. I personally rather fall on a rope that stretches more as that mean lower impact force and therefore one is less likely to rip pieces (i.e. ice screws).

 

But both are great ropes.

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I have 2 crag ropes, 10.2 70 m bluewater and the 9.1 70m joker.

 

If I plan on just cragging in my comfort zone, the 10.2 comes along. If I want to try to send some hard for me routes, the 9.1 comes out. And yeah it stretches. The lightness however is only 1/2 the pleasure, the other 1/2 is how will it handles and runs through pro.

 

I started using a fader sum for the 9.1 - it locks up agressivly (way more than a gri-gri) and feeds way better too. Lowering though needs your full attention. After a few months, it fattens up a bit that a "newish" gri-gri worked fine.

Edited by area51

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Kevino: I really like the 8.9, the hand is really nice, it runs very smoothly through pro and the weight savings is noticeable even compared to my Edelweiss 9.6.

 

Durability-wise I've taken a 35-footer on it and there was no visible damage/abrasion at all where it ran around a rounded/blunt edge. It took awhile to untie my fig-8 at the end of the day though... We've only taken it on a handful of climbs so time will tell how it stands up to general use and abuse.

 

As John mentioned the weight per meter is almost identical between the Serenity and the Joker, I just don't like the stretchiness and comparative lack of durability I've found in Beal ropes.

 

Another option I like for saving weight on mostly less than vertical climbs, like a couloir with short steps of vertical rock is taking a single 60m strand of 8-8.5mm half rope and doubling it over to 30m if needed for the rock steps.

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Welcome to the "Dark Side" (Bill says as he stuffs a bon-bon in his mouth while perusing the new lightweight Metolius biners and thinks of saving an additional 1 lb on his rack:-)

 

I think you can't go wrong but definitely please remember these 2 things.

 

1st) If you don't already own it, then buy a belay device for the specific sized rope you get and try it out someplace safe before you decide to do that rap from 1/2 way up El Cap cause you are dehydrated and disoriented having found out that you screwed the pooch on the predicted heatwave and then the screams from the rope burns you get cause YOSAR to mobilize a rescue. Better, do what I did, I bought 2 TWO! DMM Buggettes and clipped them to my 9.1mm Beal Joker ropebag. You are going to be giving AND getting belays:-) Of course, if I grab the 9.4 and forget, I'd be screwed except my regular device these days is the awesome stainless steel DMM V-twin. The Buggettes are nice though.

 

2nd) These damn things don't have the 1/2 life of plutonium like the old 11mm ropes. 3 years of use may be overdoing it depending on what and how much you are hitting it. Here's the Black Diamond informal tests of a used 9.4, so you can subtract life for anything smaller. Joseph has tested some skinny slings with basically similar results. As material disappears so does the life of these soft goods. I sharpie the year on my slings and it's shocking how fast time flies. I still use some early non-nylon 1/2"? slings I bought in 1990, but for TR only and not alone. That was 19 years ago but they seem like they were just bought..... time flies. I'm going to just toss the newer 8mm skinny Mammut's away most likely when it's time.

 

HERE'S THE LINK, JUST CLICK IT IF YOU CAN'T FIGURE OUT THE FORMATTING ERRORS ON THE CHART. (that's just how I lazily roll LOL)

 

BLACK DIAMOND 9.4 USED ROPE TEST ARCHIVE

 

"January 19, 2007—Retiring Old Ropes

 

We’ve all seen it at the cliffs, and I’m a major offender myself—climbing on old ratty ropes. Yeah, ropes are expensive and that’s the main reason people push their ropes to the limit—trying to squeeze every last ounce of use out of them until they become a dog leash or door mat. I’m not going to lie—I get sweet deals on cords, but still, I don’t like to be wasteful and usually end up climbing on my ropes a little too long.

 

Ropes can develop a sentimental value to some people—maybe it’s the cord you sent the “proj” with, or had a great trip up a Valley wall with—so you just don’t want to retire it. I had such a case—a special 9.4mm. I kept climbing and climbing and climbing on it. It was beat. It started out as a 70 m, then after endless days of constant whippers, it became a 65 m, then 60 m, then 55 m. I just didn’t want to see it go.

 

So one weekend I was taking REPEATED MONSTER whippers off the VERY LAST move of one of the many nemesis routes of mine. I had to skip the last clip because I’m too weak to clip it—and go for a huge chuck to the finishing bucket. I would sail onto the end of my trusty 9.4 mm time and time again. The last 10 ft or so of the cord were absolutely throttled—at the end of that weekend, it was time to say goodbye.

 

Of course, I brought it into the lab and figured I’d do some testing.

 

(non-formatted chart removed here by BC)

 

I decided just to test the ultimate tensile strength of the rope in different areas, and compare it to a brand new rope of the same model and make. We didn’t do anything fancy—just a figure 8 on each end, and pulled to failure in the tensile tester. We were just doing this quick and dirty for comparison's and curiosity's sake.

 

When tested like this, breakage at the knot is almost always the failure mode—and remember—figure eight knots can reduce the strength of a rope somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-30%.

Results

 

The first test we did was a piece from one of the totally worn-out ends. It broke at around 6 kN—and NOT at the knot.

 

Yowsa, I had just been whipping all over the place on that cord—and it broke at 6 kN, and NOT at the knot—scary stuff. Though the sporto falls I was taking were super soft (my wife was belaying and is light, and I am fat)—chances are the tension seen in the rope wasn’t anywhere near 6 kN, but if I had gotten slammed hard, low to the ground, etc??? It’s definitely possible to see these kinds of loads in the field.

 

We decided to do more tests on my cord—on the ends, and in the middle, as well as on a brand new 9.4 mm for comparison purposes. In all subsequent tests, the sample broke at the knot as expected, but we still saw some frighteningly low values.

 

*broke in the middle of the test sample

 

We tracked down another beat 9.4 mm from one of the QA guys—and put it through the ringer as well:

(2nd non-formatted chart removed here by BC)

 

Still curious and given the results we’d seen—the boys in the lab and I decided to do the same with some other tattered ropes that were around. We did similar tests with more Beal ropes as well as Sterling, Edelweiss, Mammut, etc. We found very similar results:

 

* The worn out, frayed, end pieces of any rope we tested were consistently significantly weaker than the middle sections of the same cord.

* We DID manage to find other samples that broke in the middle (as opposed to at the knot) – and at relatively low loads—less than 7kN.

* The end pieces, and middle pieces were consistently weaker than a section of a brand new cord.

 

Bottom Line

 

* Ropes, like all climbing gear, don’t last forever—the ends of your rope take a beating—be wary of super frayed, worn, puffed out, beat up tattered cords. Yes, ropes aren’t cheap, but they’re also your lifeline—literally—so take care of them.

* When the ends of your cord get all beat and tattered from dogging up routes, cut the ends off, or a buy a new rope.

o I always cut equal lengths off BOTH ends so the middle mark is always in the middle.

o Be sure to mark the new length on BOTH ends so you and your partners know what you’re dealing with.

o And while you’re at it—tie a knot in one end—too often you hear of someone being lowered off the end of their rope—definitely not cool.

* For me the most important thing… to train harder and get stronger, so I won’t be whipping in the first place.

 

Be careful out there,

 

KP"

__________________________________________________________________

Edited by billcoe

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Good stuff Bill!

 

I think part of the deal is that, while some minor advances in the nylon and rope manufacturing have taken place, they are just that - minor optimizations. It's not like we now have spider silk ropes that is stronger than steel and can barely be cut over an edge. Bottom line? the technology of nylon and ropes hasn't changed so much that you can just say skinny ropes are bomb and ignore reality. Making ropes 'skinny', or making any gear 'ultralite' for that matter, involves some real world trade-offs and these need to be acknowledged and understood. Things don't get skinny or lite without a cost.

 

For me that means I [trad] climb on either 9.8's or 10.2s depending on the specifics of the rock and route I'm climbing. I only buy ropes with high fall factors, high sheath percentages, and teflon coatings regardless of their size - they last longer and should be less likely to cut (in theory at least). They are a little stiffer, stretch less, and have a slightly harder catch; all attributes I personally like in a rope.

 

When evaluating rock and routes I also don't limit my options; I also consider whether doubles or twins might be more appropriate - even here in Oregon. On the route I've been working on I've variously used double 9.8s and even paired a 9.8 and a 10.2 for a specific pitch before just settling in on a single Mammut 10.2 Supersafe.

 

Single sub-9.8s might be ok for sport climbing at crags where the risk of a sharp edge is minimal, but you won't find me trad climbing on a single smaller than a 9.8 until the material science advances significantly.

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11 x 50 is still the way to go, especially with the way today's climbers spend more time hanging/falling than actually climbing.

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9.1mm-9.5mm x 70m

 

"Buy cheap and buy often". When you find a screamin' deal, buy 2.

 

It ain't just the weight, it's the drag. Try pulling up rope to clip the 13th bolt on your project and compare a 9.2mm to 10mm. The difference is unreal.

 

 

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You can't pull up a 10mm and clip? Yeah, right. Like I said, sub-9.8 singles are for sport climbing.

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I aint buying the rope drag bit as a reason for skinny ropes.

 

I do believe as ropes have gotten longer, climbers have wanted lighter (skinnier) ropes for good reason.

 

Standard rope lengths in the early '70s were 150'. By the late '70s 165' or 50m were more common but certainly not the norm even by the early '90s.

 

I've done a few .12s on bolts and many more trad .11s and a few 12s. Most if not all on 10.5mm or 11mm x 150 ropes with the odd 165'/50m rope thrown in. Want to drop weight? Either take less pro or cowboy up and buy some of the super light biners or both.

 

While I have indeed bitched about the weight of the rope at the end of a pitch and the resulting rope drag, neither were a reason for failure. I might rethink that if i was using a 70m x 10.5mm

 

Having climbed the last couple of seasons on super skinny and long ropes (60m & 70m) I am really concerned about the extra stretch that happens on the skinniest ropes.

 

I also don't think that extra dynamic ability in the rope is a big issue on ice or bad pro when you have screamers/load limiters that will do much more for your safety and keeping gear in place. The extra rope stretch how ever can be dangerious as I saw catching a 30' fall on ice this winter. It was that extra 7 to 10 feet of stretch that caused the injury.

 

I use a 10.5 or a 11m x 50m (but a 150' would work as well) for cragging. 7.8s twins on ice generally and a thin 9mm single for alpine.

 

I still see no reason for a 70m rope out side of ice climbing unless you have some weird project/climb that actually has a 210' pitch that shouldn't/can't be broken into smaller sections.

Few climbs that a 200+ rope will make the ascent faster.

 

Although I can see times for a shorter than 150' rope.

 

Not many here freeing things like the Salathe headwall at one go.

 

CM: "How’s that monster crux pitch on the headwall?"

 

Alex Honnold" "The link-up is exactly 200 ft. I lead it on a 60meter rope once and had to untie just to walk across to Long Ledge (the top of the headwall).....It has rest stances that I milked as long as I could. So it took a long time."

 

My though is skinny and super long ropes are a great marketing program easily sold to guys that will never take advantage of them or more importantly never need to.

 

Bottom line for Rad? Get some super light weight hardware, biners, harness and drop some body weight for your project. Rope is the last place I'd go looking for a weight advanatge.

 

 

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Rope is the last place I'd go looking for a weight advanatge.

 

 

I second that emotion. Once I needed to cut 10m off a jammed rope. Getting down depended on it, but we had no knife. While my buddy stretched the rope across a boulder, I smashed it with a heavy, sharp rock. Wanna guess how many times I had to strike it? Hint: a positive number smaller than two. We were a little shocked at how easily the 10.5 cut. Since then my buddy hasn't complained that his rope is only 50m, so I've concluded that he isn't missing the convenience or the weight of the extra 10m.

 

I recall another spooky experience, when I was lowering a sturdy Norwegian girl off a Leavenworth climb. I noticed a pink "cloud" developing where the rope ran over an edge. The rope, less than one year old and with no falls, was immediately retired when large sections of its core were visible after the top-roping the girl.

 

After reading this thread, I feel the need to make an observation that might not be obvious to sport climbers who routinely fall on skinny ropes. If while trying to "send" your project, you fall off and your skinny rope fails....well....somebody else will be "sending" your project before you do.

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Rad has LW biners all around and couldn't afford to lose any body weight. He is already fairly skinny and if he lost anymore body weight, his harness wouldn't stay on which would make is setup lighter. The rope is the only place left to look for weight savings unless he wants to take up bouldering or soloing, which I doubt he would.

Edited by genepires

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Since this thread started I got a 9.5 mammut, which I will probably only use for sport onsight or redpoint attempts. Thanks for all your thoughtful responses.

 

In truth, I'm just responding to peer pressure to look cool. :cool:

 

It's probably a lost cause because I still wear my helmet on most leads. :blush:

 

I'm guessing that's why you haven't seen pics of me on the cover of Climbing Magazine yet... :rolleyes:

 

Fortunately, my wife likes skinny. :moondance:

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I still see no reason for a 70m rope out side of ice climbing unless you have some weird project/climb that actually has a 210'

 

Ever climb at a place called Index?

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Climbed a lot at Index on both the upper and lower wall...most of it on 165s and never felt like I needed anything longer.

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