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Gear Guy

Will Spilled Beer Harm My Climbing Rope?

I tossed a few brews into my pack, only to hear the dreaded psssst of a beer can evacuating itself all over my precious cord. Should I be worried?

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You recently tested ropes and slings to determine whether common substances might harm them, but you did not include beer. Last winter I tossed a few brews leftover from the previous evening into my pack, only to hear the dreaded pssst of a beer can evacuating itself all over my precious cord. This happens to me all of the time. Should I worry about my contaminated rope?

—Jim Cowley, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

A good rule of thumb for determining if a substance will harm your rope is to put it on your skin. If a liquid doesn’t burn you, it probably won’t harm your cord. Since hairy-chested beach goers (men, often) routinely douse themselves with beer, we know that the only harm it does is to the beholder’s eyes.

Aside from solvents (cleaning solutions) and acids (batteries), there is little else that your rope might contact during normal life that might
damage it. Sunshine is perhaps the most common and degrading influence on your rope. Climb (and drink) in the shade.

The greater worry is why you spill beer on your rope “all the time.” I have to think that you must be serving a low-grade beverage such as Coors at your parties. I sweat more alcohol than they put in that Rocky Mountain Spring Water. Demand a more flavorful sud such as Guinness (imported from Ireland, not the Canadian piss) and you will not have any left over to leak onto your lifeline. Problem solved. Gear Guy has spoken!

This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 213 (October 2013).