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  • Lightweight All-Purpose Rope?

    I'm looking for a rope that I could use for water crossings and to support my weight in situations similar to "the Colvin step" where a short section of rope would be helpful. Is there something out there that will support my roughly 200 pounds with a pack on but won't weigh 10 pounds or more? I've only been able to find utility cord advertised as not suitable or climbing and climbing rope which weighs something like 6-8 ounces a foot. Ideally, it would be at least 20 feet long so that when wrapped around a tree, half of it's length would be useful.
    "There is pleasure when a sore is scratched
    But to be without sores is more pleasurable still
    Just so, there is pleasure in worldly desires
    But to be without desires is more pleasurable still"

    -Nāgārjuna (150-250 AD)

  • #2
    Originally posted by Altbark
    That's a good question. I asked a similar one during the winter season. I carry about 20-25 feet of 3/16 white nylon braid during the winter season for those reasons. I don't take it with me during the summer.

    Almost anything thick enough to hold reasonably comfortably will work in the limited application you describe. However, it is important to remember that there is a significant difference between the kind of rope you describe and the various certified climbing ropes used by those properly trained.

    I carry a chunk of black para cord during my non-winter wanderings not for climbing but for odd ball repairs and such. My chunk of non-climbing rope does find its way back into the pack during the frozen times but I have yet to use it. Maybe it's there to give someone else a helping hand. Al
    Is 3/16th nylon rope strong enough to support 200-250 lbs. of weight? That's what I'm wondering. I certainly don't need a rope capable of supporting 500 lbs. or one that has a protective outer layer or has any give or bounce or whatever they call it in climbing ropes.
    "There is pleasure when a sore is scratched
    But to be without sores is more pleasurable still
    Just so, there is pleasure in worldly desires
    But to be without desires is more pleasurable still"

    -Nāgārjuna (150-250 AD)

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    • #3
      I bought a 40' piece of rope this winter after that day on Colvin. I went to EMS and told them what I wanted the rope for, and they recommended the thickness. I don't remember what the thickness is or what the weight rating is, but it's climbing rope, and will be more than adequate for anything I'll use it for.
      ADKHP Wiki

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      • #4
        First, I do think that before you carry a rope with the intention of using it for any type of climbing assist, you should have a little training. (Since you are asking this question, I'm guessing you haven't done any technical rope work before. ) Ask about courses at the outdoor store, or you may have a local indoor climbing space -- you don't need to become an expert, just learn the most basic points and a couple of the right knots.

        I don't believe most folks with climbing experience would suggest you carry rope not rated for climbing even if you only intend to use it for the shortest assist down a short ledge. If the risk is great enough to carry a rope, it should be a rope you can count on. Maybe on the conservative side, but climbers take their equipment seriously.

        You can find ultra thin climbing rope in 7.5 to 8mm diameter, but many climbers that carry shorter lengths for tough scrambles will go for something a little thicker for how it feels and handles. We're talking a fairly small difference in weight, so why not go for 9mm or 10mm, especially if you can find it cheaper? You'll want to find a shop that sells rope by the foot as Kyler did -- no sense paying $130 for 60 meters of rope if you are only looking for a little help down a 10 foot ledge.

        If you can find a serious climber with a rope they are retiring, you may be able con them out of it -- a rope that's 5 or 6 years old or seems a bit too scuffed up for lead climbing would still be plenty safe for top-roping down a short ledge. And a lot safer than parachute cord!

        BTW -- you did mean to write .68 ounces per foot right? 20' of 10 mm rope should weigh less than one pound.
        Last edited by Cliff House; 06-26-2011, 05:41 PM. Reason: After thought...

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        • #5
          I'll second Cliff House's comments. You could use climbing accessory cord for what you're describing. I would use at least 7 mm, which is a common diameter for building belay anchors, and would provide plenty of strength without taking up too much space in your pack. However, a thicker cord would be much easier to control when lowering yourself down a ledge. I think gearexpress.com offers 9 mm by the foot. That should work well if you can't find someone who's willing to part with 30-40 feet of a retiring climbing rope. I wouldn't worry too much about the weight; think about what you'll be able to hold on to more easily.

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          • #6
            I have 60' of 7mm accessory cord (same as mentioned above)
            A quick search found this at REI:
            http://www.rei.com/product/729598/bl...ckage-of-30-ft

            It is rated for 11 kN (kilo-newtons) of force, if you convert that into a static hanging load that is roughly 2,500 pounds. Considering you'll likely only be using the rope for a hand-rail and not any sort of vertical rappelling I would say accessory cord has more than enough strength.

            As far as receiving training, look into getting (borrowing) a copy of "Freedom Of The Hills" which is frequently referred to as the rock climber's/mountaineer's bible. It has all sorts of information regarding friction based belay and rappelling techniques. As with all of these skills be sure to practice in a safe environment prior to using them in the field.

            On another note, during the winter mountaineering class I took at mountain-fest I learned an interesting trick for holding a rope:
            Instead of holding the rope palm up (with your thumb pointed to the load), hold it palm down (with your pinky holding the rope). Apparently you generate considerably more holding power palm down.
            Warning: BigNSlow may not actually be all that slow

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            • #7
              Thank you everyone for your help! I'm at work right now so I'll make this short - I'll try EMS or the Mountaineer to see what they have to say and consider the 7mm utility cord. Depending on the weight, I may or may not carry the rope with me on a regular basis. I'll also see if I can find a copy of Freedom of the Hills on the cheap.

              Thanks again!
              "There is pleasure when a sore is scratched
              But to be without sores is more pleasurable still
              Just so, there is pleasure in worldly desires
              But to be without desires is more pleasurable still"

              -Nāgārjuna (150-250 AD)

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Edelpeddle View Post
                I'll also see if I can find a copy of Freedom of the Hills on the cheap.

                Thanks again!
                When I was in high school I was able to (easily) request my local library pick up a copy for their shelves.
                Warning: BigNSlow may not actually be all that slow

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                • #9
                  In mountain rescue work, we carry a "Houdini kit", containing the minimum equipment to get ourselves out of any situation. The main component is a 30 meter length of 7-8 mm static (as opposed to dynamic climbing) perlon rope.

                  7 mm is strong enough to hold any normal load you might put on it using it to help in a steep descent, and pretty lightweight, depending upon the length. However, as someone already pointed out, thicker rope is easier to handle.

                  For your purpose, I would think that a 30 meter length of 7 mm would work fine. Important: be sure to use leather gloves anytime you use the rope. Thinner rope can give you a nasty rope burn, even over short runs.

                  Practice using the rope on shallow slopes before you actually have to depend on it. Lowering yourself by hand on a rope may appear to be a simple effort, but it's complicated by the fact that your can't use your hands to balance against rocks, trees, etc., so your feet have to do the balancing. Also, if you slip, you tend to have the rope slide through your hands a bit, so be sure to have those gloves on.

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                  • #10
                    REI has an 8mm version of the same cord for just a couple bucks more -- I'm just saying...

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cliff House View Post
                      REI has an 8mm version of the same cord for just a couple bucks more -- I'm just saying...
                      That's the one I use in my kit, Cliff. Just a bit heavier than 7mm, but easier on the hands.

                      BTW, I corrected my previous post re length: 30 meters, instead of 90 (unless you're stuck on El Cap or Half Dome)

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