The first long ropes were produced by winding strands of reed in Ancient Egypt. Climbers use several types of ropes climbers use in the early 21st century. When it comes to rock climbing, there are two basic types of rope.
- Static ropes for Sports SRT caving, fixed ropes, rigging, and abseiling.
- Dynamic ropes used for rock climbing.
Dynamic ropes are diverse and complicated. Each type has its own unique use as well as pros and cons. In this article, we’re going to clarify types of dynamic rock climbing ropes.
In climbing, it’s important to ensure your safety by choosing the right equipment because, in most of the cases, you’ll be hanging on the sheer cliff feeling all alone. Knowing you’re having the right equipment properly installed is the most comforting. You’d want to make sure the right rope is fastened into the rock climbing harness safely and securely.
In all types of climbing, no matter if it’s ice climbing, sports climbing, trad rock climbing or mountaineering…, it’s important that you know what types of ropes are limited to each particular style of climbing. This is because the rope manufacturers cater their products to the diversity and demands of climbers.
When choosing a climbing rope, every climber needs to take into consideration 5 important measurable technical characteristics of the rope:
- The weight of the rope (g/m)
- The fall rating
- The impact force
- The elongation
- The diameter
Besides, toughness and flexibility are less measurable qualities critical to your climbing performance.
Types of climbing ropes
Workhorse singles (Diameter: 10.1mm to 11mm, Weight: 65g/m to 77g/m)
These ropes are designed to protect against sharp and rough rocks adequately. The diameter is larger making it easy for both the climber and the belayer safeguarding him to grasp. Even though it’s one of the heavier ropes, it’s perfect as a first rope, for redpointing sports routes, and top roping. These workhorse singles can endure regular as well as severe use which is ideal for guides and outdoor centers and activity companies.
All-around singles (Diameter: 9.5mm to 10mm, Weight: 60g/m to 64g/m)
All-around singles are preferred by more experienced climbers. As you can see, they’re thinner and more lightweight than workhorse singles. Usually, they have a good fall rating. This type of ropes is perfect for trad climbing and sports climbing where the route’s line doesn’t wander around too much, thus, most commonly used by sports climbers.
Skinny singles (Diameter: 8.9mm to 9.4mm, Weight: 52g/m to 59g/m)
Just like its name, the rope itself is skinny and lightweight. Climbers who climb long routes prefer to use this rope. However, keep in mind that this kind of ropes doesn’t have a lot of durability against rough and sharp rocks due to its reduce bulk and being lightweight. In case you plan to take a lot of falls, it’s important to make sure your belay device, for example, the Black Diamond’s ATC series, which offer adequate friction and match the skinny diameter.
Half ropes (Diameter: 8mm to 9mm, Weight: 41g/m to 53g/m)
When using half ropes, climbers use two of them at the same time. 2 half ropes will be fastened into alternative gear placements. There are several reasons why half ropes are designed:
- Half ropes reduce the abrasion against a sharp edge or rock face due to the fact that, most of the times, 2 ropes won’t be cut at the same time. It also reduces the severity of the fall as 2 ropes are strong enough to hold a fall.
- When the line of the route is complex and a straight is not safe enough, climbers use one rope on their right and the other on their left for gear placements so that the rope drag will be reduced significantly.
- When climbers want to increase the rappel distance to the length of a full rope, they tie two half ropes together.
However, it’s more wearisome to carry two half ropes than a traditional single rope due to its bulkiness and weight.
Twin (Diameter: 7mm to 8mm, Weight: 37g/m to 42g/m)
They’re very skinny, apart from the fact that they’re less bulky and more lightweight; they’re quite similar to half ropes. They offer some similar advantages of half ropes while being more lightweight. Climbers must fasten them into each piece of climbing gear because when compared to a single rope; they are not rated to hold a big fall.
Since there is a lot less nylon in the rope to soak up the energy of a high factor fall, the fall rating of these ropes is much lower. So each time they have to hold a fall, they will suffer much greater damage.
They can also be used for greater rappelling distance much like half ropes. However, since their diameter is smaller and they’re more lightweight, they can be very slippery on abseil. These types of ropes are not for the faint of heart and require extreme care.
Less measurable qualities
When choosing a climbing rope for your climbing activity, you will have to make quite a few considerations to make sure you’ll get the right one. Besides those measurable technical characteristics, you’ll also need to consider if:
- It behaves in icy or wet conditions if you’re a masochists or winter climber.
- Is it easy to tie knots with it?
- It has sufficient flexibility.
For professional climbers and climbers who are highly active, it’s best to have more than one types of ropes to match your rock climbing styles.