The latest extract from the UIAA Alpine Summer Skills Handbook focuses on the factors which weaken a rope and features as part of a chapter dedicated to Equipment.

Limitations of a dynamic rope

  • A wet rope will be heavier and harder to use.
  • If your rope freezes, its performance capabilities diminish (by almost half compared to a dry rope).
  • A rope can easily burn or “melt” under severe friction (a large fall, an excessively fast rappel, rope-on-rope rubbing).
  • A burned rope has reduced performance capabilities.
  • Dust, especially grains of granite and sand, causes premature damage to the rope’s core fibers and shortens its lifespan.
  • Solar/UV rays speed up wear and tear.
  • Kinks and snarls render use more difficult.
  • Impact over a sharp edge can sever the rope, which is why double ropes are safest when trad climbing.

Extending a rope’s life span

  • Do not drag your rope through the dirt.
  • Do not let your rope snag on anything and arrange it neatly at belay stations.
  • Avoid running the rope over abrasive surfaces and sharp edges as much as
  • Alternate the belay and tie-in ends.
  • Wash your rope in lukewarm water with a very mild detergent.
  • Dry your rope in the shade, and store it in a cool, dry place.
  • Do not leave your rope out in the sun.
  • Use your rope only for climbing.
  • Inspect your rope regularly.
  • Store your rope butterfly coiled or loose in a rope bag.
  • Keep your rope away from chemicals and acids.

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