Modern climbing ropes are made of an inner core consisting of many strands of rope and a protective outer core. Climbing ropes come in a variety of different lengths and diameters, the most common of which are 50m and 60m in length. There are two main types of rope, either dynamic (stretchy) or static (not stretchy). Dynamic ropes are used for rock climbing as the stretchiness of the rope takes some of the strain in the event of a fall. Static ropes are generally used when abseiling, where the climber does not require the rope to stretch.
There are 3 main types of dynamic rope on the market. These are:
These are most commonly found indoors on climbing walls, on sport climbs or used on simple outdoor climbs where the protection is in a relatively straight line.
Using a double rope requires the climber to lead on two ropes and clip them into separate runners (if possible alternately). The double rope technique tends to be used mainly when trad climbing.
Twin ropes usually consist of two ropes which have been tested as safe, only when both ropes are clipped into the same protection.
Ropes are available with special coatings and treatments that prevent the rope from absorbing dirt and moisture or to help them slide over rough surfaces with less abrasion. Each rope comes with a fall rating. This is the manufacturers guide to how many “factor 2” falls you can take on a rope before it requires replacing. The fall factor is worked out using the distance fallen, divided by the amount of rope available to absorb the fall. A factor 2 fall is actually quite a large fall and most climbers would think about retiring a rope after having such a large fall. The rope fall rating is more an indication of the ropes strength, rather than it being an actual guide for use.
Before purchasing a rope it is worth considering what type of climbing you are going to use it for, the height of the climbs you wish to try and the conditions that you will climb in. As with all the expensive equipment listed on this site, we recommend you have a chat with your local climbing shop or preffered online retailer to discuss your requirements, before spending your money.
A Quickdraw comprises of two clip or wire type karabiners connected together with a length of dynema sling. Quickdraws are used to connect the rope to either the placed protection in trad climbing or a fixed bolt in sports climbing.
Quickdraw’s are sold in different lengths (the length of dynema between the two karabiners) and come in different weights. Multipacks of Quickdraws are available if you wish to purchase these. Bulk buying often works out cheaper than buying them individually, but we would recommend you talk with your local climbing store or online retailer to discuss the type of climbing you intend to do before making a purchase.
A belay device is a piece of equipment used to control a rope whilst belaying. The device allows the belayer to control the speed of the rope simply and efficiently. When used correctly after proper instruction a belay device will allow lighter climber to control the rope and when required a fall of a much heavier climber. Most belay devices work by looping the rope around a series of tight bends. The rope can be paid out or taken in as required. If the climber falls, the rope can be locked (stopped) to prevent the climber from falling any further than the amount of slack rope already paid out.
There are many different types of belay device on the market today. The most common are:
The ATC (short for Air Traffic Controller) is a very popular and inexpensive belay device. It is light weight, easy to use and allows good control of the rope. Black Diamond also offer a slight variation on the ATC, known as the ATC XP. This offers an increased friction option as well as the standard option available on the regular ATC. In addition there are also a number of other “tube” type belay devices on the market from other manufacturers. These look very similar to the ATC and operate in much the same way.
The Gri Gri is a belay device which automatically locks in the event of a fall. Because of this it can be slightly harder to pay out the rope, however many climbers are happy to overlook this as the Gri-Gri is very good belay device. Many indoor climbing walls use Gri-Gri’s when teaching youngster to climb because of the auto locking feature. A new version of the Gri-Gri (known as the Gri-Gri 2) is soon to be released. According to the official website, the device will be able to take a thinner rope size, be 25% smaller and lighter and feature a more progressive descent control system.
Self Belay Device.
Self belay devices are used for solo climbing. These are especially popular in big wall multi pitch climbs. The device auto locks when any force is detected on the rope (i.e. a fall).
There are many different types of belay device out there. Before buying one, it may be worth trying a few different types out at your local climbing wall or asking a reputable climbing shop to demonstrate the different ones that they stock.