• Can You Decrease Fall Factor?
  • Should You Be Allowed to Practice Lead Falls in the Gym?
  • Rope Certifications: Twins, Doubles, or Both?
  • Are Cam Placements Compromised in Wet Rock?
  • What's the Correct Way to Girth Hitch to Your Harness?
  • Choosing Ice Screw Length
  • The Holding Power of Nuts
  • Should You Clip the Belay As Your First Lead Pro?
  • Should I Worry About Spinning Bolt Hangers?
  • Belay-Loop Myth
  • Rock Cleaning Made Easy
  • Why Not Clip Directly to Cam-Stem Loops?
  • What's The Protocol For Naming a Route After Yourself?
  • Is Dropped Gear Still Safe?
  • Can Ropes and Slings Be Contaminated By Essential Oils?
  • Is It Okay to Wear Socks with Rock Climbing Shoes?
  • How Should You Test Gear Placements?
  • Can You Use Adhesive Tape on Ropes, Cords, Webbing?
  • A Better EDK?
  • What's the Difference Between a Double and a Single Rope?
  • Does It Count As a Free Ascent If You Grab the Anchor?
  • I Found a Rope - Is it Safe to Use?
  • Am I Using a Daisy Chain Wrong?
  • Should I Buy a Plastic or Foam Helmet?
  • Why Doesn't Anyone Climb in Knickers Anymore?
  • Is Weight or Range More Important in Cams?
  • The Mysterious Phenomenon of Rope Shrinkage
  • Worst-Case Scenario - A Factor 2 Fall
  • The Nuts and Bolts of Nuts and Bolts
  • Why Are Climbing Shoes So Expensive?
  • Flaws in the Yosemite Decimal System
  • How Durable is Trad Gear?
  • Using Super Glue on Your Fingers
  • The Worst Gear Ever Invented
  • Marking the Middle of a Rope
  • Why Do People Use Oval Biners?
  • Is it Ethical to Clean a New Route?
  • Aid Climbing = Moped Riding
  • Will Sweat Harm My Harness?
  • Should You Use Rope or Webbing to Connect to an Anchor?
  • Choosing Between C4s and Friends
  • Can You Lead On a Static Rope?
  • Can I Use Climbing Bolts For Anchors in a Gym?
  • Are Falls Held or Breaking Strength More Important In a Rope?
  • Does Poop Harm a Climbing Rope?
  • Are Homemade Draws Reliable?
  • Shopping for Economy Carabiners
  • When You Fly, Can You Carry On Climbing Gear?
  • Can I Trust Fixed Draws?
  • Which Helmet WIll Fit My Big Head?
  • Are Adjustable Leg Loops Useful?
  • Should I clip Ice Screws with Screamers?
  • How do I Make a Bomber Anchor?
  • Can I Modify my Crampon Without Compromising the Integrity?
  • Hot Versus Cold Forging
  • Caring For Your Fingertips
  • Are Sewn Slings Stronger Than Knotted Ones?
  • When to Replace Climbing Webbing
  • Using Grip Dip To Color Code Gear
  • The Benefits of Cotton
  • How to Pull a Rappel Rope
  • How to Properly Orient a Carabiner Gate
  • Are My Fuzzy Quickdraws Safe?
  • How to Stretch Climbing Shoes
  • Are 1/2-inch bolts really better than 3/8-inch?
  • Should I Resole My Rock Shoes?
  • How to Hand Drill
  • Lonely Climber Looking for Woman
  • Is My Invented Knot Safe?
  • Difference Between Double and Twin Ropes
  • Dealing With an Argumentative Partner
  • Will Antifreeze Ruin Rope?
  • Why Is a Rack Called a Rack?
  • Rock Shoes For a Big Guy
  • Do They Kill Geese To Get Down?
  • How to Wash a Rope
  • Do Cam Teeth Do Anything?
  • Can I Fix Delaminated Rock Shoes?
  • Can I Mix a Static With a Dynamic Rope for Rappelling?
  • Should You Lower Or Rap Through Anchors?
  • How Should The Middle Man Tie In?
  • How Do I Get a Good Climbing Man?
  • Do Falls Weaken Bolts?
  • Should I Rope Solo?
  • Should I Angle Ice Screws Down?
  • How Should Old Climbers Train?
  • Can I Make a Belay Loop?
  • Reusing Ice Screw Holes
  • Overcoming the Fear of Falling
  • Choosing a Stove Fuel
  • Will My Hiking Boots Work With Crampons?
  • Do Heavy People Shock Load the Rope?
  • Can Offset Cams Subsitute for Regular Cams?
  • Can I Resling My Cams Myself?
  • Are Older Alien Cams Safe?
  • Will sports drinks freeze more slowly than water?
  • The Truth About Climbing Supplements
  • Can I Make My Leashed Tools, Leashless?
  • Rope Stretch Facts
  • How To Cut a Rope Without a Knife
  • Secrets of the Toprope
  • How to Sharpen Crampons
  • Should I Become a Climbing Guide?
  • Preventing Climbing Rope Wear
  • How to Remove an Old Bolt
  • How to Customize Ice Tool Picks
  • Double Rope Facts
  • Do It Yourself Fruit Boots
  • Climbing Rope Sheath Slippage
  • Rockfall Safety
  • Do Screamers Work?
  • Defining the Cheater Stick and Stick Clip
  • Climbing Skin Care
  • Selecting a Gym Rope
  • Quick Links for Climbing
  • Are Russian Cams Good?
  • When To Retire Climbing Gear and Ropes
  • Should I Get a Link Cam?
  • How to Get a Climbing Mate
  • Will Dog Urine Harm My Rope?
  • Using Steel Carabiners for Fixed Quickdraws
  • Petzl Tibloc and Climbing Rope Sheath Damage
  • Overcoming Anger
  • Fixing a Spinning Bolt
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    I Found a Rope - Is it Safe to Use?

    09-Aug-2016
    By

    A friend had her rope flaked out at the base of a route, and a 150-pound rock rolled down the hillside and landed on it. The rope didn’t appear damaged, but she threw it away just in case. I fished it out of the trash and am leading on it. Should I be concerned?

    —Poorboy via rockandice.com

    Rope damage such as this ripped sheath is usually obvious, but core damage can go undetected. This rope was nicked by an ice tool during a fall. It was prudently retired.Dumpsters are one of my happy hunting grounds. I have pulled out chairs and bags of topsoil, and other people luckier than me have scored winning lottery tickets and ancient Mayan artifacts. But a rope?

    I can’t believe you are even asking whether you should use it. If you found medicine in the dumpster, would you take it?

    I do get tired of all the “safety” people always saying: “If you have to ask whether a rope or any piece of gear is reliable, you should replace it.” I don’t want to pile on because if I threw away every piece of my gear that someone called questionable I’d be reduced to free soloing, but I do suggest erring on the side of caution when we’re talking about lifelines. You didn’t see the block hit the rope and your friend did, and apparently she was rattled enough by the incident to get another rope.

    Before you climb on any rope you should inspect it for two types of damage. Cuts, abrasions and melted spots on the sheath are obvious trauma. All ropes will develop “peach fuzz” but don’t worry about that. You are looking for contusions and the like that will compromise the rope’s strength. Examine every inch of the cord and run it through your hands, squeezing and bending to feel for bad spots that your eyes might have missed.

    The above is the standard check. For a “full physical,” clip the rope through a bolt or piece of gear about head high, and “saw” the rope back and forth through a carabiner. Pull the rope hard and feel for irregularities. If the rope checks out fine, rappel on it and again feel for odd spots.

    Your question does beg whether a rope can have damage that is undetectable to the eye and hand. We know that chemicals such as battery acid and solvents can cause “invisible” damage, but can actual physical damage go unnoticed?

    I don’t know, so I posed the question to John Branagan at Sterling Ropes. “It is improbable that the rope sustained damage that you can’t see or feel,” says Branagan, “but not impossible and the only sure way to know if the rope has core damage is to cut off the entire sheath and examine the core fibers under a microscope, which is like drowning a witch to see if she was a witch—if she dies, she wasn't a witch.

    “The rope is probably fine,” says Branagan, “but next time you go for a dyno or a move you might fall on, do you want any doubt in your mind? And if the rope breaks, you don’t get a second chance.”

    To answer your question, you should be concerned. Use the rope, just not for climbing. Tow cars with it. Make it into bullwhips or dog leashes or weave it into a nice throw rug. Next!

     

    This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 204 (September 2012).

     

    Find More Climbing Gear Advice Here

     

    GOT A QUESTION? E-mail Gear Guy! rockandicegearguy@gmail.com

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