Climbing Ropes Care
Whether you are mountaineering, rock climbing, canyoning or caving, your life, and success is literally dependent on the reliability of your gear and your climbing equipment needs to function at optimal capacity all through. Your climbing ropes, as well as your climbing harness, are conceivably the epitome of this particular mantra as they function as your only lifeline on the mountainside, with special emphasis on your climbing rope.
Every climber who wishes to be successful needs to dedicate time and effort into taking proper care of their climbing rope because slacking in your rope preservation routine is likely to spell disaster. Below are a few tips on how to care for your climbing rope.
You may not know this but proper handling of your climbing rope starts at the unpacking stage. The rope is coiled by the manufacturer and in order to lessen future battles with twists and kinks, you have to uncoil the rope properly. The best method entails twisting the coiled rope around your forearms and spreading the arms to form a ring. The next step is to rotate your arms around each other as you apply outward tension to the ring. The rope will be successfully uncoiled without many twists and residual kinks or twists can be relieved by flaking the rope from end to end. You can then recoil the rope or store in a bag.
Care Аnd Storage
Taking proper care of your climbing rope entails the use of a rope bag for storage; you should avoid leaving your rope on the ground to keep it from dirt that often contains tiny sharp crystals or chips. Also, keep your rope away from acids, chemicals, bleach, alkalis, oxidizing agents and most especially from concrete, sparks, embers and other causes of ignition.
Avoid walking on your ropes with your rock climbing shoes and keep other climbers from doing the same as this forms tiny sharp particles on the rope’s core or sheath. Also ensure that your climbing rope is restricted to climbing and should not be used for other purposes like towing a car. It is highly recommended for the new climbers to attain basic education in matters of rope management.
Climbing ropes should be inspected regularly and it is best to examine them at the beginning of every climbing expedition when you get it out of the rope bag. Use your hands to run along the length as you renege your rope checking for soft spots and abrasions. Excess fuzziness and roughness can later become a big problem.
The lifespan of your climbing rope can be extended by washing, but there are no set rules to accomplish this; you only resort your best judgment. However, the best recommendation is to avoid placing the rope in a washing machine since the fast twirling movement can cause massive entanglement and extensive damage. Rather, make use of a bathtub or a large bucket with specially formulated soap for rope washing.
Bokat Rope Washer is also good; it comes in the form of a tube equipped with a built-in brush which works to get rid of debris and dirt. Just get it hooked up to your hose before dragging the rope through the washer. You should equally avoid the use of bleach, detergents or other harmful cleaning chemicals. Most importantly, remember to wash your climbing harness as you are washing your climbing rope. The following steps will help;
- Fill up a tub or bucket with warm water.
- Pour in some rope-specific cleaner.
- Proceed to renege the rope into the bucket or tub.
- Swish it around with your hands and ensure that friction is applied all over the rope.
- Give the rope a thorough rinse in lukewarm water, running your hands along the entire length to get the rest of the soap out.
- Some owners of climbing robes leverage on the washing time to give their rope a thorough inspection.
When you are done with washing, your rope needs to be completely dried. According to recommendations, it is best to drape the rope over a shower curtain rod or better still, flake it on a towel. Some people prefer to spread their ropes out on a clean tarp to dry in a dark and cool space which has proved effective over the years. Avoid drying it out in the sun or using a tumble dryer. You need at least 24 hours to dry your rope before the next use as wet ropes spell doom for climbers.
Repairs are possible when a damaged area is small and very close to either of the ends; the damaged section can be trimmed off by following some steps.
- Measure a foot away from the damaged part and cut with a hot sharp knife.
- The cut end should be melted with a lighter so that it seals up when it grows cold.
- Take note of the length you have cut off as your rope becomes shorter with every cut. If your rope is the type that comes with a middle mark, you should note that the old middle mark will no longer suffice except if you cut equal length from both ends.
Apart from taking good care of your climbing rope, you need to take note of how long the rope has been in use and the extent of damage it has suffered. Any rope that has gone through excessive chemical damage, forces or anything that is an indication of core failure and sheath should be retired immediately. Erring on the side of caution has always been the best option since it is easy to replace climbing ropes, but lives are simply irreplaceable. Below is a list of lifespan guide – which just mere recommendations; your best judgment should be your own instinct when it comes to the right time to retire a climbing rope.
- Ropes can be used for ten years if they are brand new and have never been used.
- 3 to 6 years is suitable for ropes that are used occasionally (monthly) with appropriate cleaning and storage.
- Bi-weekly used ropes with the right cleaning and storage can last for 1 to 3 years.
- Frequently used ropes especially those on weekly use with lots of lead falls can last a year.
- Immediate retirement is recommended after a huge fall or damage.