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half rope vs single for trad
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By atritt
Apr 19, 2013

I recently used a half rope system for the first time this past weekend trad climbing in the valley. I thought it was an awesome system. I love the ability to rappel the full length and being able to minimize rope drag.

I've got a 9.4 70m that I love for sport climbing and I'm looking into getting another rope for multipitch climbing. I don't see a reason to NOT use a half rope system for trad climbing, and it also seems like this system would be great for aid climbing.

Can anyone give me a reason to not use a half rope system in either of these scenarios?

I've heard complaints about managing two ropes, as it can be annoying, but I wasn't bothered by multiple ropes.


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By bearbreeder
Apr 19, 2013

itll cost twice as much ...

when you climb 3+ days in the off season and 5+ days in season ... and go through ropes every 6-12 mo ... it adds up

i buy 100$ 60m ropes for general use ... vs having to pay 300$ for a pair of doubles

and i DO own doubles, i just keep em for the good long wandering stuff that requires full raps ;)


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By randy88fj62
Apr 19, 2013
Thunderbolt Peak in the Palisades

There was a recent thread going over double ropes for aid. The complexity arises when ascending / cleaning a pitch. Do you have one ascender on each rope? Or both ascenders on one and your back up knot / grigri on the other?

Seems like double ropes are not suited for aid climbing. Could you do it? Yes, but why when a single rope works fine and you have your haul / tag line as the second rope for any rappelling.

I use 7.7mm tiwns for ice climbing. I also used twin ropes for snake dike once since we started late and wanted the option to rap off if needed.

For trad; a lot of british climbers use doubles. Americans tend to stick with one rope. I have never seen double ropes used in Yosemite, JTree, Taquitz, or any other trad area in the US/Canada where I have climbed.


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By Andrew Mayer
Apr 19, 2013
top of mt. lady washington - rmnp

As randy mentioned, probably don't wanna aid climb with double ropes.

Main weaknesses of free multipitch climbing with double ropes in my mind would be the potential tangling/management of a second rope (although you said this didn't seem to bother you), the combined weight of doubles will be more than a single (although its super nice for each person to carry one on long approaches) and the extra complexity of remembering to properly/effectively manage/clip the proper rope while leading. Also price as bear commented on.

I think there is a bit of a learning curve to doubles but once you get them figured out, they would be great for multipitch, especially when long raps are going to be involved.

EDIT - I would also recommend getting dually certified half/twin ropes for maximum versatility if you decide you want doubles.


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By willeslinger
From Golden, Colorado
Apr 19, 2013
I was pretty bummed when they didn't greenlight my "Bourne Identity" style reboot of The Eiger Sanction. This was from the rough draft's first act.

I think I'll quote Blake Herrington's Alpinist "Tales of Dirtbaggery" article.

"Q: Is Earl Grey a tea or a person?
A: Earl Grey is a person.

Then get a single rope."


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By Ryan Hill
From Oakland, CA
Apr 19, 2013

I can't see wanting to use double ropes on an aid climb, too much stretch in the system, but I use doubles on the majority of my trad climbs. I also climb a lot at Red Rock Canyon which has a ton of wandering lines and long rappels. I figured it was easier to climb with two ropes than have someone carry an extra rope to rappel with (yes, you could use a tagline, but ascending or leading on a tagline is a scary proposition). I also like climbing with doubles when climbing in a party of three, super easy to manage your second and third.

Alpine routes in the summer time? Double ropes come with me, largely because it is easier to divide up weight equally between my partner and I. Plus it helps eliminate rope drag on longer pitches.

The other place I climb a lot in is Zion. Routes are pretty straight forward there, so I climb with a single rope there most of the time. So, the answer really is that it depends on the route. I have a solid collection of ropes, so I can be pretty flexible in choosing the right cord for the job.

I wouldn't say that wearing the ropes out is a concern. If you have a single and a set of doubles each rope gets about half of the normal wear. I climb a fair amount, but my two+ year old doubles still look good.

As for the complexity, managing an extra rope isn't difficult and after two or three routes you'll have a system down.


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By john strand
From southern colo
Apr 19, 2013

use a single.. if needed just get one 8mm 0r 8.5mm save some cash


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By wivanoff
Apr 19, 2013
High Exposure

Love my half ropes for the wandering routes at the Gunks. At short crags, I sometime tie in the middle of one half rope.

I also have some single ropes and have, on occasion, used a combination of one single and one half for double rope technique (but it's heavy). Used the single alone and used the single with a half rope as a tag line. Nice versatility there.

I wouldn't aid using DRT.


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