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Gear Guy

Can Sleeping on Your Rope Cause Damage?

Entire generations of luckless alpinists have used ropes to level out ledges and insulate against the cold ground, ice and snow.

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Can sleeping on your rope cause damage?

—Andrew D., via rockandice.com

In Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, Quasimodo loved the
bells. He “caressed them, talked to them, understood them. From the carillon in the steeple of the transept to the great bell over the doorway, they all shared his love.” So, while sleeping on your rope might seem weird, paraphilia has occurred throughout the history of humanity, or at least been thought of by a classical writer.

Whether it causes damage is another matter. Physically, sleeping on a lumpy cord might cause medical maladies that are out of my wheelhouse, and you will need to chat with my colleague Dr. J. Psychologically, you may need help.

Now, whether the rope cares for you equally is a different conversation. Some people believe that inanimate objects have feelings. The archer Erika Eiffel married the Eiffel Tower in 2007, and founded OS (Objectum Sexuals) Internationale for people with “significant relationships with inanimate objects.”

Perhaps your rope doesn’t appreciate you sleeping on it and would prefer your partner. For the rest of us who believe ropes have the emotions of shower curtains, you aren’t harming a rope by simply lying on it. Entire generations of luckless alpinists have used ropes to level out ledges and insulate against the cold ground, ice and snow, and we’ve never heard of a resulting rope failure, although if that did happen the family would weave the truth into a story more suitable for retelling in church.

The caveat: If your rope is tossed in the dirt and you lie on it, you will grind particles into the cord, and these will cause friction and premature wear. After you’re done sleeping with your rope, wash that thing! Next!


This article appeared in Rock and Ice issue 228 (August 2015).


Also read Gear Guy: Kinks Be Gone! How to Rappel and Lower Without Twisting the Rope