Rope Matters

Rope Matters

So I went to the Brenin last night and attended a lecture by Daniel Gebel on Rope Matters, this guy really is the ulimate geek when it comes to haning on a rope. His presetation was both  entertaining and eye opening. In aprticular I think as a guide I will have to reconsider a few of what used to be common practices, like lowering two people on a rope when scrambling.

His approach to the topic was to show his research, result and conclusions before offering his recommednations. Until the BMC it seems that teh DAV (German Alpine Club) is much more active when it comes to changing educartion practices in light of new evidence. Whether this is a cultural thing or something to do with the set up the the DAV it was an interesting observarion that the acted on some ofn the data they collected from climbing wall and then researched a solution.

Anyway I have written a breif overview of the findings, I have a more indepth review of the talk but essentially the take home messages are laid out below.


Rope Breakage


  • Don’t have two clients on one rope unless on a uniform snow slope or slab.
  • Lower clients individually.
  • Use parallel ropes systems in ascent with two clients
  • Use Abseils to descend rather than lowers.
  • Be careful of climbers who weigh 100kg or more.
  • Have a back-up rope when practicing rescues techniques.
  • Use 10mm+ Ropes for work (Although an extra 1.1mm of rope only gives you and extra 11% of strength.)
  • Acid damaged ropes are likely to sanp
  • Sharp edged in -situ carabiners can cut ropes.

Half Ropes and Hard falls


Take Home Messages:-

  • Do you need to use half ropes?
  • Is the belay device compatible to the diameter of ropes.
  • Using belay gloves make a real difference.
  • Explain the problem and expect the distance to stop to the fall to be great.
  • Place early runners (Jesus Piece)
  • Take great care when leaving the belay until a 6m+ up the pitch.
  • Consider increasing the friction of the belay device by using two carabiners with people up to 90kg.
  • If the climber is greater than 90kg consider not using half or skinny full ropes.
  • Teach clipping both ropes to the first few runners (like twin ropes) as an effective way to prevent the climber being dropped.


Take Home Message

  • Ropes lanyards are the only way to go.
  • If you improvise a lanyard with a sling nylon is preferable
  • If you have to use an improvised dyneema sling keep it under tension

Climbing Wall Accidents and Belay Devices

Take Home Messages:-

  • Teach and use assisted braking devices on indoor and sports climbing courses.
  • In work as a technical advisor pass on this knowledge to wall owners
  • Keep an eye open for guidance from BMC/MT

Belayer – Climber Weight Differential 

Take Home Messages:-

  • Use ground anchors with light belayers where possible
  • Consider using Z-clip or Ohm device with light belayers
  • Train light belayers about the potential of being pull off feet into wall and having a climber land on them.
  • Teach dynamic belaying and ‘Sansa Hand Technique’ to coaches, adult and parents.

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