How to Cut a Climbing Rope

How to Cut a Climbing Rope
Since the ends of climbing ropes -- where the rope is frequently bent into a load-bearing knot as the climber ties in -- receive a lot of abuse, it's not uncommon for that part of the rope to become compromised while the rest of the rope is still usable. Climbers frequently trim the ends off their ropes so that they can continue using the structurally sound portion of the rope with no risk of failure from the compromised portion; the resulting, shortened rope may not be long enough to climb the longest of routes but is usually still long enough to be of use.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Climbing or electrician's tape
  • Sharp knife
  • Lighter or candle flame
  • Bowl of cold water
Step 1
Locate the place you intend to cut the rope. Wrap a piece of climbing or electrician's tape around the spot to mark it.
Step 2
Hold the rope taut -- either have someone hold it for you on either side of the place to be cut or tie one end to a sturdy, stable surface, use one hand to hold it taut, and the other hand to cut.
Step 3
Slice straight through the rope at the place to be cut, using the sharpest knife available.
Step 4
Fuse the cut ends of the rope to keep them from fraying and prevent the sheath from slipping. Hold each end near (not in) a candle or lighter flame until you see the nylon sheath over the rope start to melt. Dip your fingers in cold water to protect them from the hot nylon, then quickly pinch and smooth the nylon toward the end of the rope. Dip your fingers, pinch and smooth as necessary until each side of the cut is a solid, fused piece.

Tips & Warnings

A climbing rope is one of the only pieces of a climber's gear system that isn't redundant. If you're not sure whether your rope is still safe to use, even after you've trimmed off damaged ends, play it safe and get a new rope -- your life is worth the cost.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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