How to Choose a Climbing Rope

How to Choose a Climbing Rope
The climbing rope is the lifeline of the rock climbing partnership. It's what connects the climber with her belayer, and it's what keeps a person from hitting the ground if she falls. Without it, a climber is free soloing, which is not really a good idea. Ropes purchased for climbing should always be brand new, and they should be made specifically for the sport of rock climbing or rappelling.


Difficulty: Moderate

Step 1
Figure out what sort of climbing you will mostly be doing. People who spend a lot of time top-roping will need a burly rope that can be subjected to a lot of wear and tear. These ropes tend to be much heavier and thicker. A mountaineer, on the other hand, will likely want a lighter rope with a protective coating that keeps it drier and more durable in variable weather conditions. Other things to consider include length of the rope (they range from 50 to 70 meters), whether the rope is marked in the middle, and the thickness of the rope.
Step 2
Do some research and find the rope that matches your needs. Ask other climbers about their ropes. Ask the employees at your local climbing shop about their favorite ropes and what they like and don't like about their ropes.
Step 3
Call customer service for any of the various rope companies. They will be happy to talk with you.
Step 4
Once you have narrowed down your choices, ask some friends if you can borrow their ropes or invite them to climb with you. Check out how the rope feels in your palms. Is it too thin or thick? Does it run through the belay device easily? Is it too stiff? Does it twist up easily? Is it too heavy for what you want to do?
Step 5
Lead climb with the rope to see how it feels while you are clipping a bolt or gear or rapelling off an anchor.

Tips & Warnings

Purchase a rope bag when you buy your new rope. It will help you manage your rope better and keep it clean.
Make sure the rope you buy is long enough for the type of climbing you want to do. There is nothing worse than getting out to a crag and discovering that you can't climb a route because your rope is not long enough.

Article Written By Lizzy Scully

Lizzy Scully is a senior contributing editor for Mountain Flyer magazine and the executive director of the nonprofit Girls Education International. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from University of Utah and Master of Science in journalism from Utah State University.

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