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Ropes are the central component of every climbing system; with the use of the harness, they connect the individual to the gear attached to the walls and rocks. Furthermore, they also ensure that you and your climbing partner stick together, and can help each other out of tight spots.
Climbing ropes, in particular, can be found in a plethora of lengths, diameters, and material composition. Generally, they are made with two main components: the inner core, and the outer sheath, or covering.
There are many factors that must be taken into consideration when going to the store to select your ideal climbing rope. For one, there is a definite rating on climbing ropes based on how many falls they can take before becoming a safety hazard to use. This especially applies to climb ropes that have undergone the certification and examination process of the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation, more commonly known by their French name Union Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme, from which the UIAA acronym is derived, based on the number of falls they can take before being too dangerous to use.
With that being said, these ratings are based on worst-case scenario falls. In real life situations, a rope tends to withstand a generally higher number of falls than what it is rated, as a rope only really becomes a hazard to use once it grazes across a sharp rock, or exposed to cuts or chemical burns through inept storage habits. They still do wear out over extended periods of time, however, so it is optimal to get your ropes replaced every so often.
Ropes are put through extreme tension forces to absorb the energy of gravity going against your weight; the more tension energy that a rope is capable of absorbing, the less the force is on its protection.
While this is a minor concert for sports climbing, such might be more of a detrimental issue if the rope is being used on actual and traditional climbing conditions, as a rope with low impact force exerts less force on the rest of your climbing gear, it is more likely to hold the fall without sustaining significant damage. Hence, the lower the impact force a rope has, the more ideal it is.
After a fall, it is best to leave the rope alone for roughly five minutes for it to get back to its original shape, and recover its elastic properties. If you try to use it immediately after it sustains a fall, the ropes impact force increases almost exponentially, which could put you in danger of breaking the rope, and just lowers the ropes longevity overall.
Climbing ropes are found in a variety of diameter measurements. Generally, thin ropes tend to be lighter, whereas thicker ropes tend to be more durable. It is important to note that the rope’s diameter may dictate the types of belay devices you are able to use in combination with it. That being said, there are a good number of belay devices that are incompatible with significantly thinner or thicker ropes than the usual.