Flaky Ropes


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 1 - 15 of total 15 in this topic

Trad climber
portland, or
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 7, 2014 - 12:16pm PT
After years of lurking, I posted my first thread years ago, dealing with a Royal Robbins limerick. Now, after more years of lurking, I'm about to start another thread, and guess what? It's climbing related! Perhaps this has already been done, but I'm too lazy to search for it, so here goes.

Where did the phrase, "flaking the rope" come from? When you're done climbing, you coil the rope, not flake it. When you get ready to climb, you uncoil the rope, not flake it. What's up with this phrase anyway?

Jul 7, 2014 - 12:31pm PT
I don't know the origin but uncoiling is not flaking. I usually uncoil the rope then flake or stack the rope in a kink free pile that is ready to feed.

Trad climber
portland, or
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 7, 2014 - 12:34pm PT
The way that I coil a rope, the skein coil (thanks Gaston Rebuffat), it uncoils in a non-kinked manner, hence, no need for further "staking" or "flaking". So where did "flaking" come from anyway? I mean, when the rope is properly prepared for climbing, it does not look like a pile of Corn Flakes, or Flaky dandruff!

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Jul 7, 2014 - 12:37pm PT
Now I'm curious too.

I would not be surprised if like much of rope terminology the term comes from sailing. Dunno though.

Trad climber
carsoncity nv
Jul 7, 2014 - 12:40pm PT
Dont blame me !!
Wade Icey

Trad climber
Jul 7, 2014 - 12:42pm PT
i've uncoiled many a rope and stacked it on a convenient flake Though now that I think about it was pre-ropebag.

an aside. belaying the iron monkey and continually short roping him due to a munterized tangle of rope engendered the exclamation;

"godamnit. lap-coil that f*#king rope right now or I will come down there and beat your ass."

i'd never heard the term lap-coil but figured it out right quick.

Trad climber
Jul 7, 2014 - 12:43pm PT
Many of us never coil a rope except to carry it off a multi-pitch climb. I flake my rope onto a tarp then roll that up and put it into the bag. And if I do coil it is a mountaineers coil and really doesn't need to get flaked, just throw it on the bag, grab an end and climb.

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Jul 7, 2014 - 12:44pm PT

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Jul 7, 2014 - 04:40pm PT
Flaking the rope nicely on top of boot will keep it from getting jammed.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Jul 7, 2014 - 08:54pm PT
It is a term that goes back to the days of the tall ships, as does the term belay. The pins lines are tied off on are called belay pins.

Trad climber
Nedsterdam CO
Jul 7, 2014 - 09:57pm PT
I believe the term 'flaking' is incorrect. The original nautical word for laying out a rope is 'faking'. I think. Maybe.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 7, 2014 - 10:07pm PT
Melissa, you accessed the OED via some hole in the paywall...
...I'll have to wait until tomorrow to look at work (assuming we have a subscription...)

in the print version we have at home:

Flake sb.
1626 CAPT. Smith, Accidence 27 Coyle your cables in small flakes [printed slakes]. 1891 H. L. Webb in Electr. in Daily Life, Making a Cable 178 The cable is arranged in flat coils . . each coil is technically known as a 'flake'.

now Google "flaking a cable" and

n. a single turn of a coiled rope or hawser.
1. lay (a rope) in loose coils in order to prevent it tangling: a cable had to be flaked out.
2. lay (a sail) down in folds on either side of the boom.


Cable Laying Methodology - CESU Authentication Screen

Wherever it is not possible to lay of the entire cable drum length, the cable should be
cut and properly sealed and if it is necessary to remove the cable from the drum, it
should be properly flaked. Such cable lengths should be properly stored at site.

lost, far away from Poland
Jul 7, 2014 - 10:27pm PT
Another interesting term, "sending".

an unpleasant or evil thing or creature supposedly sent by someone with paranormal or magical powers to warn, punish, or take revenge on a person.


Trad climber
Nedsterdam CO
Jul 7, 2014 - 10:34pm PT
Ed, no references to 'faking'?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 7, 2014 - 10:42pm PT
yes fake is an alternative for flake used this way
Messages 1 - 15 of total 15 in this topic
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews