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When to retire a rope
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By Merlin
From Grand Junction
Jul 18, 2013

So,
I used to be a climber but life got in the way. I moved from Colorado to New York for a post-doc then back to Colorado for a dream job. Its probably been four or so years since I did anything real.

A recent climb of the Grand Teton has rekindled my desire to climb and do moderate alpine technical stuff. My gear is 4-8 years old (draws, ropes, webbing, slings, cord, etc.) I never took falls on my alpine ropes and they have been kept in bins and well treated.

The problem is some of the ropes have a 2005 mark on them, especially my 30 meter ropes. There is no detectable core shot or abrasion. Would you keep using them or should I buy new ones?


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By Josh Kornish
Jul 18, 2013
The Roach

Only retire core shot ropes!


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By Jon Marek
From SLC
Jul 18, 2013
gossamer

I would buy a new lead line, inspect everything thoroughly, and update as needed. Consider the storage of gear seriously, and check out the electric harness acid test. Also, nylon will hold up longer than dynex/spectra.

Edit to add: I have used nylon gear 4-8 years of age with confidence, the key is a good visual inspection.


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By Jeff Thilking
From Lynchburg, VA
Jul 18, 2013
Rap

I've always been told 10 years or so on soft goods that are very well treated, which it sounds like yours are. So if it were me I'd feel pretty good about it...


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By Jeff Thilking
From Lynchburg, VA
Jul 18, 2013
Rap

Jon Marek wrote:
inspect everything thoroughly, and update as needed. Also, nylon will hold up longer than dynex/spectra.


+1


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By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Jul 18, 2013
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV

+1 on getting a new rope to lead with. Better safe than sorry with your life line. I bet everything else is probably OK.


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By Merlin
From Grand Junction
Jul 18, 2013

I'm replacing my main trad/TR/Sport rope but I have a number of smaller ropes for shorter alpine routes. It would cost a small fortune to swap out 3 30-35 meter ropes that have never been fallen on. It feels very good to be getting back into the swing of things.

I just discovered the Tetons and Wind Rivers and think there is a ton of fun to be had with shorter technical but long and snow/glacier covered lines.


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By Mark Pilate
Jul 18, 2013

It sounds like the age and condition of your ropes is fine, its the length that may be unsuitable (30's for sure). A good 60m-70m multi-rated thin cord (8-9.8mm) for getting back into moderate Alpine like the Tetons or RMNP would be recommended.


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By Merlin
From Grand Junction
Jul 18, 2013

Mark Pilate wrote:
It sounds like the age and condition of your ropes is fine, its the length that may be unsuitable (30's for sure). A good 60m-70m multi-rated thin cord (8-9.8mm) for getting back into moderate Alpine like the Tetons or RMNP would be recommended.


We used a 7.8 for the grand, it was 60 meters, it was beautifully light. I wasn't afraid of falls as my buddy solos in the 9s and trad climbs in the 11s, too small for a crappy climber like myself though. I'm thinking a Mammut Revelation? My present is a Metolius Monster which is around 11 pounds and heavy, especially when pushing 40 years old.


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By Greg D
From Here
Jul 18, 2013
Out of the blue.  Photo by Mike W. <br />

Ropes are good for up to 15 years per the rope manufacturer Beal. If it passes a visual inspection and you know it has had light usage, you are good to go. Don't replace just cause people say silly things on the interweb.


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By Steve Williams
From Denver, CO
Jul 18, 2013

If you worry about your rope, retire it. Cheap insurance.


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By teece303
From Highlands Ranch, CO
Jul 18, 2013
Aiding.

10 years is supposed to be the limit.

The reality (backed up by some limited data) is that climbing ropes don't break. If it's not core shot, you can use it. Most people choose to be more conservative.

At the very least, use it for top rope.

I would have zero problems leading on it. Ropes wear out due to use or mistreatment, not age.


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By Greg D
From Here
Jul 18, 2013
Out of the blue.  Photo by Mike W. <br />

Steve Williams wrote:
If you worry about your rope, retire it. Cheap insurance.


No offense Steve, comments like these are worthless. I always worry about my rope. He just needs some information as to how long a rope can be"in use" and in storage.


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By David G.
Jul 18, 2013
racking up <br />

If you want a scientific basis for making your decision, read through the UIAA's "About Ageing of Climbing Ropes"

Document


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By Merlin
From Grand Junction
Jul 18, 2013

David G. wrote:
If you want a scientific basis for making your decision, read through the UIAA's "About Ageing of Climbing Ropes" Document


Very useful article. My ropes have had a very sheltered, hefty sack enclosed, dry box packaged life since I left Boulder over three years ago. Since I've only fallen on friends ropes I may well just swap out the heavy rope for weight.


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By Ryan and Jesse Morse-Brady
Jul 19, 2013
Leila

Read any report regarding Todd Skinners death. How many days of work is your life worth.

this has been added after lower comment - the initial inquiry was on ropes, dogbones, webbing and nylon. Sorry to offend you by put accident reports among speculation. As for my own stance, I would bet that your gear will not randomly fail on you.


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By bearbreeder
Jul 19, 2013

Ryan Morse wrote:
Read any report regarding Todd Skinners death. How many days of work is your life worth.


did he die from rope failure?

gotta luv MPers who use deaths to promote their own viewpoints on something thats unrelated

hmmmm ....


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By Tom-onator
From This Galaxy
Jul 19, 2013
Tom-onator

www.climbing.com/climber/loss-of-a-legend/
Todd's unfortunate death was a result of webbing failure at a worn belay loop.

Not rope failure.

Read the article?


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By Steve Williams
From Denver, CO
Jul 19, 2013

Excuse me, Greg D, but it is a valid viewpoint.
One can buy a rope for a bit over $100.
That's pretty cheap. How much is YOUR life worth?


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By clay meier
Jul 19, 2013
Thats Me

I have no idea whether you should trust your rope but if you do decide to retire it I'll pay shipping for you to send it to me. I'll fall on it all day long. Wow don't you feel better now that some random dude who has never met you or your rope says its good to go?


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By wfscot
From Boulder, CO
Jul 19, 2013

Steve Williams wrote:
Excuse me, Greg D, but it is a valid viewpoint. One can buy a rope for a bit over $100. That's pretty cheap. How much is YOUR life worth?


The problem with this logic is that it's entirely subjective, non-actionable, and a slippery slope. You can *always* say something like "Any doubt, replace it. How much is your life worth?".

I took a fall on a cam. --> Replace it. How much is your life worth?
I got some tree sap on my rope. --> Replace it...
My rope once looked at a car battery funny. --> Replace it...

The point of these threads it to try to get some sort of objective and actionable criteria. Granted, it would be better coming from experts, but experienced climbers do have something to offer.

Bottom line on this, though. I challenge anyone to find an accident report involving an old rope that was in otherwise good condition breaking. In the absence of evidence that it could happen and with manufacturers generally saying 10-15 years, I say go for it.


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By Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
Jul 19, 2013
OTL

^yep

My car doesn't have 10 airbags --> replace it. Your life is worth $25k, right?


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By teece303
From Highlands Ranch, CO
Jul 19, 2013
Aiding.

I'm not gong to make fun of anyone that wants to play it safe. Your rope is your life.

But as mentioned just above me, rope don't break. There are almost zero documented cases of a rope that passed a visual inspection breaking. And there have been some small studies that showed old ropes are plenty strong.

So I also don't have any problem climbing on old ropes that pass a visual inspection.


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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Jul 19, 2013
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background

What everyone brings up is that an old/used rope does not break...of course that's pretty much true. But a rope should do a lot more than just not break. What about the effect of use and age on the elastic properties of a climbing rope? I have no idea if age alone affects a rope's impact force (negligible, I suspect), but perhaps lots of use does? My old ropes sure "feel" different, but I guess I've never seen any data.


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By Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
Jul 19, 2013
OTL

An initiative should be set up for retired ropes and draws/slings.

Everyone mails their rope/draw/sling with age and use history as known, to someone with a pull tester. They pull test a few sections of rope (couple from the middle, couple closer to the ends, etc) and collect the data. After a few years we'd have a nice database of real world data. Perhaps a paper could be written up on it.

Not too hard for the retiree (just pay shipping), but the tester would need the time and desire to make it work.


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By bearbreeder
Jul 19, 2013

csproul wrote:
What everyone brings up is that an old/used rope does not break...of course that's pretty much true. But a rope should do a lot more than just not break. What about the effect of use and age on the elastic properties of a climbing rope? I have no idea if age alone affects a rope's impact force (negligible, I suspect), but perhaps lots of use does? My old ropes sure "feel" different, but I guess I've never seen any data.


then stop leading in it if its not stretchy anymore ...

if people on MP were truly worried about elasticity over the lifetime of a rope .... they would stop buying these maxim ropes with almost 10kn impact force NEW .. and buy beals

as a rope gets whipped on more and more it will only LOSE elasticity ... so why start with something with an already high impact force

;)


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