Daniel Arnold

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Rope Care

Rope Care

Every climbing rope is designed to be used, and wears during use. However, wear differs depending upon the type of use. The rope wears least, if it isn’t loaded, as with a classic ascent and descent without a fall. In this case only the sheath is chafed by friction on rock or ice, which after many years will become worn out. Heavy loading, due to awkward routing, or hauling over edges, increases abrasion and causes wear. Lowering, as when top roping, substantially increases wear. When rappelling, moderate speed is «healthier» for the rope than a fast, jerky descent.


At regular intervals, or after unusual usage (rock fall, stepping on with crampons, bigger falls) you should carefully examine your rope. To do this, run the rope through your hands meter by meter and feel for bulges, hard spots and other irregularities, and look for obvious damage to the sheath. Where there are larger physical irregularities and thin or open places on the sheath, the rope should be replaced. If in doubt a good dealer will give you information about severity of the damage.

Washing – even in the machine

Dirt reduces performance and worsens the rope’s handling characteristics. If a rope becomes dirty, you can wash it either in hand warm water in the bathtub or in a normal household washing machine. Occasional washing maintains good handling and increases the life span of the rope. A mild synthetic detergent is the most suitable for this. For machine wash, the same instructions for wool should be used to take best care of the rope. Please never centrifuge and tumbledry! To dry it – lay it out in a cool, dark place, rather than hang it up.


In order to slow rope aging, the rope should be stored in a cool dark place. Do not hang the rope from one of its coils, instead use a tubular webbing or accessory cord. Most importantly, ropes must be kept away from chemicals, particularly acids (i.e. car batteries).

Schrumpf bei Statikseilen

Static ropes shrink for two reasons: due to usage, which makes them somewhat thicker, and also after they have been wet and then dried again. (approx. 5%) Applications where the exact rope length is important, the rope should be soaked in water (for up to 24 hours) and then slowly dried. After drying, static ropes are noticeably stiffer, but become more flexible again during use.

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