Why to check your rope regularly?
After the whole day climbing, when you are packing your rope, you can try and observe little details, which can in the end save life of your climbing partner or yours. After all, situations happen that rope is the only connection with your or your partner's life.
It was not intended purpose to monitor or display many climbing accidents in this document. What we want is to give you some small advice based on our experience of working with ropes. Advice, that would help you not to become one such a accident describing story, which is told by climbers around the fire or while enjoying the glass of favorite brew.
Climbing is known to be rather dangerous activity. If climbers followed basic safety rules (that are sometimes neglected) the risk would be pushed down to the possible minimum.
First, let us familiarize ourselves with the basic vocabulary, describing the rope's parts.
Dynamic (climbing) ropes (tested according EN 892)
Static (low stretch) ropes (tested according EN 1891)
- a) Sheath outer layer made of strands (usually 32, 36, 40, 48 strands)
- b) Core inner structure (from 3 to 20 cores)
- c) Strand element in sheath, consisting of separate yarn. 1 or 2 yarn (that is creating the strand) are crossing another strand, going in opposite direction.
- d) Yarn element consisting of fibers
- e) Fiber item that is purchased by manufacturers to produce ropes
- f) Filament basic (hair-like) single element.
Determiniation of the rope's age
The rope´s age can be determined according to the label that should not be thrown away. It may come in useful for any complaints at a shop and will serve as a register of an eventual accident in connection with the rope. If you do not have it, and if neccessary , you can cut asunder rope´s end and find out the production year of the rope according to colour control thread or data strip. Colour marking is not identical for all ropes, therefore colour thread in the rope´ s inner part does not have to always mean the same. In our ropes, the production year can be determined according to colour control thread as follows: 2009 – blue and yellow , 2010 – green and yellow, 2011 – black and yellow, 2012 – red and blue, 2013 – red and green, 2014 – red and black, 2015 – green, 2016 - blue, 2017 – yellow, 2018 – black, 2019 – red and yellow. In case of more than 5 years of rope's age (since the production year), it is generally not recommended to use this rope further, due to the natural ageing of PA/PES fibers, UV rays, or external influences.
Is your rope in good shape?
I can recommend to start your rope's diary and keep the record of any events while using this rope. Compare the number of arrested falls with the number of falls guaranteed (according EN 892, EN 1891) by manufacturer on the label. If the reality exceeds guaranteed number of falls, it is strongly suggested to put the rope out of service at once. If the rope sustained very hard fall (high fall factor) or the fall over the sharp edge, it is also strongly suggested to put the rope out of service at once.
What is your rope's sheath telling you?
The most basic and the most important thing to remember when estimating the state of your rope's sheath is, that not even one yarn in sheath is broken. By saying, “broken”, I mean that one yarn must literally be interrupted (due to cut, abrasion or other). If such thing happened, put the rope out of service at once. Single filaments of the yarn can be damaged (rope looks fuzzy). This rope is not dangerous for immediate use. On the other hand, you must not be able to see the core through the thin sheath (for the reason that so many fibers are broken). If that's the case, do not use your rope anymore. Local coloring (stains, spots, etc.) of the sheath, should be washed out in the lukewarm water. If the stains or spots do not disappear however, we can say that damage was caused by unknown chemical substance. Such damage lowers the strength and elasticity of fibers, and as such is very dangerous. While arresting the fall, this weak place could break. There are cases known that the black marker, was used to mark the rope's middle point and rope got broken in the test lab always in this marked spot during normal test fall. If your rope is stained, by any chemical put it out of service at once for your own safety. Another case of sheath damage can be described as the glossy surface. This also suggests putting the rope out of service immediately. High temperatures are permanently damaging synthetic fibers, that can break any time, when the rope would be arresting the fall or while descending or jumaring.
Inspection of your rope's core.
If you find one or more hard sections under the sheath, it can be:
- a) Local damage of one or more core yarns.
- b) Local knot-like bulk, which accidentally happened inside of the rope during the fall.
- c) In unlikely case some external object would find its way through the sheath inside of the rope.
As we are here to deal with the unexpected and with something that cannot be properly checked, if you find any of the above, put the rope out of service at once.
While placing the running belay (or top-roping), never allow your rope to run through other textile product (sling, tape, etc.). The immediate effect is that one of the two items in the safety chain will break at once while rubbing onto the other item (rope on sling, rope on accessory cord, for example). If you want to know more about this subject or you are trying to solve a particular problem with your ropes, or if you have some interesting information to share, please send us an e-mail.