Well, I have to admit, I always wait till the last minute, but it’s officially time to buy a new climbing rope. My wife has complained about the rope not feeding through the belay device smoothly enough for the last two months. It’s been a good rope, but it’s time for sure. (I always have two ropes minimum.)
While I consider a lot of factors, price included the first thing I really wanted to consider was the diameter. In my case, I’m stuck between two worlds because I do very little top-roping, but my wife does very little leading. If we both limited ourselves to one of the other, deciding on a bigger or thinner rope would be easier. (Thick rope for top rope, thin for leading.)
Keeping size in mind, I didn’t want to go to big or too small, so I focused my searched in the 9.2mm to 10mm range. The thinner ropes means my pack is a bit lighter, which is nice since I tend to carry all the gear and most of the water so my wife can handle a few toys for our daughter to play with. Because our daughter is only 3 years old, we’ve been limited to mostly single pitch routes. While a thinner rope seems straight forward in terms of weight on your back, these thinner roes also make ahuge difference on long pitches. When I first switch to thinner ropes, it felt like the rope didn’t exit,then I used a 10.6 and couldn’t imagine how I ever managed to climb with such a monster. (My first climbing rope was 11mm.) Clipping with thinner ropes, especially on over the head reaches, is just easier and will save you valuable energy and strength on thoe endurance pitches.
Length Matters Too
My first rope was 50 mters. I remember when people started talking about 55 meters, than 60 meters. I was resistant to the extra length, but I eventually made the switch and have never considered buying a rope shorter than 60 meters since. My last rope was 70 meters, but because of wear and tear on the ends, it’s now closer to 55 meters as I cut off end sections. I’m not ready to make a permanent change to 70 meter ropes, but some location could benefit from it. I will say, my rock climbing trip in France was severely limited because many of the sport routes in the area were 40 meters long, which would have required a 80 meter ropes. Because I wasn’t there long, I was fine with my 60 meters, but if I lived in the region, I would have gone to the store and bought an 80 meter cord for sure.
Pattern and Texture
While many people swear by the bi-colored ropes that switch colors mid length, I am not convinced that those are so useful for me. I realize the change in color make it easy to track when you reach the midpoint, but the first time you have to cut the end off onside, the whole system is down the drain.
To me, the texture is much more important than the color or pattern. I like a rope that feels smooth to the touch. Belaying does cause wear on your finger tips, so the better the texture, the longer I can last. For me, the extra cost of the smooth feeling rope is worth it.
Size Matter, Length is Important, but Protection Counts
I already won a rope tarp for my climbing rope, but since I was already shopping, I decided to explore and possibly buy a new rope bag. I like the one I have, but I wanted to see if I could do better. When it comes to rope bags, I like simplicity. The more simple, the better. The main purpose of the rope bag or tarp is to keep the rope clean at the cliff, but I also use it to keep the rope from being tangle free. After a lot of debate, I decided to also buy a new Metolius Ropemaster HC Bag. (Big spender I guess.)
So, after some brief looking around, I am now waiting on two new climbing ropes and a new rope bag. If all goes well, I’ll be breaking them in during Labor Day weekend in the Southern Sierra Nevada.
Use the comment below to let me know what you look for in a climbing rope?
What’s your favorite rope and why?
Have you owned a rope brand you would never buy again?
No matter what, happy climbing.
Don’t forget, Amazon Prime Members get free shipping on many items.