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Climbing Ropes and Cord

Ropes and cords are the most important pieces of mountaineering equipment and proper selection deserves careful thought. These items are your lifeline in the mountains, so selecting the right type and size is of the utmost importance. All ropes and cord used in mountaineering and climbing today are constructed with the same basic configuration. The construction technique is referred to as Kernmantle, which is, essentially, a core of nylon fibers protected by a woven sheath.

Kernmantle Rope

Kernmantle Rope

  • Ropes come in two types: static and dynamic. This refers to their ability to stretch under tension. A static rope has very little stretch, perhaps as little as one to two percent, and is best used in rope installations. A dynamic rope is most useful for climbing and general mountaineering. Its ability to stretch up to 1/3 of its overall length makes it the right choice any time the user might take a fall. Dynamic and static ropes come in various diameters and lengths. A standard 10.5- or 11-millimeter by 50 or 60 meter dynamic rope is generally used for rock climbing. Thinner, shorter ropes are often used for glacier travel because they're lighter and not typically subjected to high-impact falls.
  • When choosing dynamic rope, factors affecting rope selection include intended use, impact force, abrasion resistance, and elongation. Regardless of the rope chosen, it should be UIAA certified.
  • Cord or small diameter rope is indispensable to the mountaineer. Its many uses make it a valuable piece of equipment. All cord is static and constructed in the same manner as larger rope. If used for Prusik knots, the cord's diameter should be 5 to 7 millimeters when used on an 11-mm rope.

The Climber's Bible