Climbers are fully cognizant of how essential their climbing ropes are. After all, there is something humbling at how such a seemingly simple piece of rope could hold one’s life. Therefore, it is important to give it the respect that it is due, and the only way to do that is to accord it the proper care and maintenance. Let us get into some things you should do and some others you shouldn’t do in using and caring for your climbing rope.
Things you Should Do to Care for your Rope
If you want your climbing rope to work the way you want it to, then:
- Use the rope only for what it was originally designed for: The climbing rope is for climbing purposes only, do not use it for hauling purposes around the house.
- Coil and uncoil it properly: When it is new and you are uncoiling it for the first time, hold it like it is a spool and have someone to pull the rope from it. A “backpack” or “butterfly coil” would be very handy in coiling it because it will prevent the rope from twisting. In case the rope is twisted, let it hang free and unwind it with your hand.
- Switch the ends alternately after they experienced a fall: The end that has taken the frequent falls tend to stretch more quickly, so try alternating them to avoid one end from weakening too much and also to give the stretched end time to regain its strength and elasticity.
- Maintain a record on rope use: Remember that ropes have their corresponding fall ratings they can “endure” before they should be retired from use. Make sure to keep a log of all the times you used the rope, and the number of falls you have taken while using it.
- Rappel and belay properly: Do not be too jerky or too harsh when you use the rope because it could result to the burning of the sheath.
- Inspect the rope regularly: Check out for cuts, nicks and other potentially damaging injuries to the rope that could lead to further problems.
- Use proper storage materials for your rope: A rope bag should be used to stash the rope in when it is not in use. While climbing, a rope tarp should also be used to keep the rope clean because it minimizes the rope’s contact with dirt.
- Wash it by hand: Prefer to wash it by hand using warm water and mild soap and then air-dry it away from direct rays of the sun.
- Store it in a cool, dry and dark place: Make sure there are no chemicals nearby, acids, or oxidizing agents.
- Replace it: When it gets old, damaged, or reached the numbers of factor falls, it is time to replace it.
Things you Shouldn’t Do to Care for your Rope
When it comes to handling and using the rope:
- Don’t step on the rope or leave it hanging out: Once dirt has worked itself into the rope fibers, it will gradually weaken.
- Don’t expose it directly to the sun for prolonged periods: Too much sun exposure can cause the webbing or the rope to fade and weaken.
- Don’t allow nylon to nylon contact: This will only burn the rope.
- Don’t hit it with ice axes, crampons and other sharp objects: The crampon spikes are particularly damaging to the ropes.
- Don’t use bleach in washing: It will cause damage to the nylon material.
- Don’t smoke carelessly around the rope: Cigarette ash can get into the fibers. Worst case scenario, some embers could get into the nylon and burn through the rope.
Take Good Care of your Rope
You could say that caring for your rope is also caring for your own safety and your life. Follow the manufacturer’s care guidelines and use some common sense when it comes to caring for your rope.