Why don't you guys use double ropes?


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Trad climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 23, 2010 - 07:35am PT
Hi all,

I'm from the UK and have just returned from 2 weeks climbing around California.

I have a question! In the UK we often climb on 2 half ropes (typically about 8.5mm thick)to reduce rope drag, increase protection opportunities, allow for full rope length rappels etc.

However this approach seemed quite novel to most of the climbers we met, many having never seen the concept before, some even suggesting it was madness and very dangerous (not sure how two ropes is less safe than one but there you go).

I did note that many climbers would trail a thinner rope up behind them or a bulk of thick cord attached to their harness. Surely if you are going to do that then it would be no more weight to take 2 half ropes?

I appreciate that on straight up crack climbs this is not an issue but on the more wondering route it would be of benefit.

Not a criticism by any means just genuinely interested why this double rope system don't seem to have caught on in the states (maybe it is used and I just didn't see it) Anybody any thoughts on this.

In case people don't know what I am talking about here is a linkhttp://www.ukclimbing.com/videos/play.php?i=48



Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Come on in boys, the water's fine!
Sep 23, 2010 - 07:48am PT
Eh... we Merkins know about half ropes, lol.

Sure they are all the things you say. I have a set I use for ice and alpine work.

For normal cragging? Twice the cost, twice the hassle, and not really needed.

I think you're addicted to half ropes and really couldn't get by on a single cord, HAH!

I think... maybe you want to BE... a half rope. That's it! You want to be a half rope, admit it!

Auto-X Fil

Mountain climber
Sep 23, 2010 - 07:51am PT
They are very common in the Eastern US, particularly on ice and when climbing with a party of 3.

Sep 23, 2010 - 08:25am PT

Just cruised through this thread; LOTS of half-rope use, in all seasons.
As mentioned above, may be a regional bias? We use 'em frequently.


Ice climber
the ford VT
Sep 23, 2010 - 09:08am PT
Two weeks in Cali might not be enough to judge the climbing trends of the USA. But climbing rock on two 8.5s seems like a really good way to trash a pair of ropes in just a few months. We use doubles and twins and singles and tags. Just depends on the situation, and cragging is rarely a situation which requires doubles...

Trad climber
Morgan Hill, CA (Mo' Hill)
Sep 23, 2010 - 09:09am PT
I have a set and use them when I expect long rappels. I use them as singles for back country and winter if I comfortable with a skinny rope or can double it for a half length.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Sep 23, 2010 - 09:48am PT
Used to do it some, conclusion, too much of a pain in the ass. especially on hanging belays. Life is too short to spend if flaking out twice as many ropes. useful in aproppriate situations, though

Sep 23, 2010 - 10:11am PT
Because 8.5 + 8.5 = 17 and who wants to climb on a 17mm rope if you don't have to? Plus the weight (volume) to diameter ratio goes up even faster as it is to the third power.

I'm guessing this is tongue in cheek, but anyway... the total cross-section of:

two 8.5mm ropes is 113.5 square mm
one 17mm rope is 227 square mm
one 10mm rope is 78.5 square mm

So there is only about 50% extra cross section, and hence weight, carrying two 8.5s, which is about the same as carrying a 10mm and a 6mm.

The weight of a rope is (roughly) proportional to its cross-section, which is pi*r^2, and has nothing to do with the third power (and if weight were proportional to the third power of the radius, two 8.5s would actually be lighter than one 10).

But I can't even keep one rope straight.

Ideeho-dee-do-dah-day boom-chicka-boom-chicka-boom
Sep 23, 2010 - 10:11am PT
We're (mostly) not British in the US. Hence we don't use double ropes.

It's that simple really.

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Sep 23, 2010 - 10:29am PT
I have a set I use for ice and alpine work.

For normal cragging? Twice the cost, twice the hassle, and not really needed.

+1. I tend to climb crack routes that don't wander around much. If I were climbing somewhere with lots of tiers/roofs (Southeast, Gunks), or face routes that wander, I'd probably use them more.

That, and the fact that an 8mm half rope would last about a day in Joshua Tree.

Trad climber
Sep 23, 2010 - 10:36am PT
GC: It's inevitable that we'll all eventually go the two-rope route. You guys started wearing helmets before we did, too. :)

A long way from where I started
Sep 23, 2010 - 10:51am PT
GC: It's inevitable that we'll all eventually go the two-rope route.

Some of us have already gone that route. But as several posters have already pointed out, a lot of climbers here use a single when that is appropriate and doubles when doubles are appropriate. If you spent some time climbing in the back country in the US & Canada, or came over for some ice, you'd see a lot more doubles.

Sep 23, 2010 - 10:55am PT
You fricken Limeys all wander around and climb sideways.

We Americans head straight up into the void.

The direct method.

One rope, one way .........

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Sep 23, 2010 - 11:14am PT
"It's a five ten mantle into heaven, brother."

And toast she be eaten warm and not allowed to cool in racks.
Beer is best served cold!

Social climber
Sep 23, 2010 - 11:46am PT

Ugh. It's so much harder to text if you have to deal with two ropes.

Big Wall climber
Nor Nev
Sep 23, 2010 - 12:44pm PT
Dingus are you referring to this style of Merkin?
photo not found
Missing photo ID#163030


Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Sep 23, 2010 - 12:58pm PT
The last time I used dble ropes was to belay Jim Waugh on a new route (5.12 face) from a fully hanging belay.
"Slack on pink"

"no, that's Red, keep that one close."

"Keep me tight on both spaghetti's Jim!"

i fell anyway.

What a phucking clusterf*#k

Trad climber
Chatham N.H.
Sep 23, 2010 - 01:35pm PT
Without a doubt the most dropped climbers occur from using GriGri's,which don't work with doubles.

If you are stacking twice you are doing it wrong,they should always be stacked or pulled up together so they remain in sync.

I can't imagine roping up for anything serious with someone who can't manage to belay two ropes.Tradchick has had it mastered since day one.

Tag lines, stupid rappel tricks,carrying ropes on your back all seem utterly foolish by comparison,at least to me.

We own one single which comes out about twice a year,and right now have five sets of doubles in various states of wear.

Best for ice,best for multipitch rappels,best for clipping overhead,best for wandering long pitches,best for alpine.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Sep 23, 2010 - 01:38pm PT
dble ropes suck donkey dick, technically speaking.

Trad climber
Chatham N.H.
Sep 23, 2010 - 01:43pm PT
In the East we spell it embrace. Few indeed are the climbers here in the states I've met that could hold a candle to the scarefests I've seen and belayed Brits for lad.
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