Climbing Rope Maintenance 101
Learning proper rope care can maintenance will prolong its strength and usability.
The title of this article is climbing rope maintenance, but the information applies to all rope. Whether it is high-quality or hand-made from plant fibers.
Climbing Rope Maintenance Contents
Avoiding Rope Deterioration
There are many things that will increase deterioration. When possible, avoid the following:
- Animals. They can gnaw and scratch at rope.
- Chemicals and corrosives. This includes chlorine, markers, oils, paints, petrol, etc.
- Moisture. Constant damp conditions will weaken the structure of the rope.
- Heat. Fire, friction, electronic heat sources, etc. Beware that rope rubbing on rope will cut rope.
- Direct sunlight. Ultra violet rays will deteriorate the rope.
- Dirt and mud. Dirt can work its way into rope making it stiff and brittle. Avoid leaving rope on the ground and be careful of stepping on it.
- Sharp edges. Sharp edges will cut rope. Be careful of glass, metals, rock, etc. Place something between the rope and any sharp edges for protection. For example, lay carpet over the rock you need to pass the rope over.
How to Prevent Fraying of Rope
This refers to the protection of the ends of the rope. There are 2 basic ways to prevent fraying.
- Fusing is melting the ends.
- Whipping is using a smaller string to bind the tips of the rope.
Whipping is better than fusing but takes more time. A combination of whipping and fusing is the best.
How to Whip Rope
There are a few ways to whip a rope. Here is a simple and effective way.
Lay your whipping string along the rope. Wrap around the rope five to ten times in such a way that the string will hold itself in place.
Make a bight with the string and then continue to wrap around the bight and the rope five to ten times. Thread the end of the string through the bight. Pull the other end so that the bight clamps down to secure the string in place. Trim the ends.
Cleaning a Climbing Rope
You can clean a climbing rope, or any rope, to prolong its life. Hand wash it in cold water with mild soap. Rinse the soap out and then air dry it. Avoid direct sunlight and do not use any artificial heating source.
How to Flake a Rope
Flaking rope is a good way to make it ready-to-use as it removes kinks and ensures that it will feed out smoothly.
First, take out any knots.
To flake the rope, find one end and lay it on the ground. Pull the rest of the rope through your loose fist and let it fall to the floor.
How to Coil a Climbing Rope
Coiling rope makes it easy to carry, use, and store. It will prevent it from tangles and kinks.
There are many different ways to coil rope. Here is a fast and easy method which you can adapt to different lengths, thicknesses, and types of rope.
First, flake the rope as described before.
Hold the end of the flaked rope in your right hand. Use your left hand to wrap the rope around your right elbow and the palm of your right hand.
When you run out of rope use your left hand to grab the coils together in the center.
Fold the coils in half. Use the loose end of the rope (not the end you held at the start) to wrap around the bunch of coils. Wrap it tight.
To tie it off tuck the end of the rope under the last wrap you do and pull it tight.
When you want to use the rope unravel it in the opposite way, i.e., untie, unwrap, un-coil. This will prevent tangles.
For shorter rope, you can wrap it around your hand instead of your hand/elbow.
Secure it in the same way. There is no need to fold it in half.
Once you have coiled the rope, either hang it in a cool dry area or place it in a bag for storage. There are purpose-made rope-bags you can use if you need something specific. If not then almost any bag will do.
You can also flake the rope straight into the bag. Tie the ends to the bag loops so they are easy to locate. This Is best for ropes that you need quick access to, e.g., rescue ropes.
When to Retire a Climbing Rope
Retiring climbing rope means to deem it unsuitable for use. For manufactured ropes the company often gives a recommended usage.
For rope that bears weight, especially for critical loads (such as a human), you should be stricter.
Inspect rope before and after every use. Look for fraying, burn marks, wear and tear, etc.
The rope’s history of use is also important to consider. For example, if it has suffered a big shock load, is very old it, etc. it will be weaker.
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Rope Care and Maintenance Conclusion
If you do any sort of activity that uses rope, proper rope maintenance is a must. Not only will it make your rope last longer, it will ensure your safety while using it.
Clean and store your rope using the above methods. Also, check it regularly for wear and tear. As soon as you think it is unreliable, get a new one.
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