Stepping on the Rope OK?

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Kurt Ettinger

Trad climber
Martinez, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - May 10, 2013 - 07:17pm PT
I always thought this was poor etiquette. So last night I was told by an (ahem)experienced climber that "when climbing on multi pitched routes outdoors I have to do it all the time". He then proceeded to tell me of some belay technique he used which involved stepping on the rope. So am I behind the times on this thinking of avoiding rope stepping?
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Soon to be Nipple suckling Liberal
May 10, 2013 - 07:20pm PT
trollin trollin trollin,, keep the doggies rollin RAWHIIIIIIIIDE!


Whppppppaaaaahhh!
labrat

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
May 10, 2013 - 07:23pm PT
No

Maybe sleeping on it is ok........
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 10, 2013 - 07:59pm PT
It is an old wifes tale that stepping on the rope will ruin your rope, work dirt into it and make it so weak that you will die. in real life the rope wears out from the friction of rapelling , lowering and falling. a little bit of dirt has no tangible effect on this process. Long after the rope is retired from climbing duty you can still drag huge oak trees out of the woods with it. Logging really works the dirt into the rope ;)
Fletcher

Trad climber
The great state of advaita
May 10, 2013 - 08:03pm PT
I've slept on my rope before! Not comfortable and no, I was not getting kinky that night... just was a bonehead and somehow forgot my sleeping bag! Doht!

Eric
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
May 10, 2013 - 08:29pm PT
One of the things which I recall from my first day climbing is "never throw a good rope in the dirt, and never step on the rope."

Don't tread on my rope.
Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
May 10, 2013 - 08:30pm PT
AS long as it's YOUR rope you step on, it's ok.
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
May 10, 2013 - 08:35pm PT
just don't do it with crampons on!
10b4me

Ice climber
Soon 2B Arizona
May 10, 2013 - 08:35pm PT
just was a bonehead and somehow forgot my sleeping bag

I would never do anything like that :-)
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 10, 2013 - 08:36pm PT
I have used my rope as a pillow quite a bit over the years.
it is critical to keep the rope away from chemical contamination which makes the parking lot a band place to dump the rope at the end of the day while you look for the car keys. Reguler dirt is not a big deal. it washes off when you get caught in the rain or go ice climbing;) i ty to not step on the rope but out of courtesy but do not have a fit when someone does. I remember a few BINTD cursing and throwing bad vibes out there at the noob who stepped on the rope. Just big fish in small pond puffing out their chests..... In reality it does no real harm to your rope.
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 10, 2013 - 08:38pm PT
actually crampons don't do anything to the rope unless you put it on the pavement and stomped the crap out of it. crampons on snow does absolutly zero damage to a rope.
locker

Social climber
Some Rehab in Bolivia
May 10, 2013 - 08:41pm PT


I don't intentionally jump up and down on it while it's draped across a sharp edge...

But if it's where I am going to step...

I step away...
johntp

Trad climber
socal
May 10, 2013 - 08:45pm PT
Just try not to do it when the leader is making a dyno. Things could get testy.
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
May 10, 2013 - 10:05pm PT
I don't think this is a troll. It's a pretty good example of one of those old practices ('wives tales', if you must) that has been fairly debunked in recent years.

If someone has demonstrated science showing how Rope A, subjected to heinous trampling abuse, consistently failed well before Rope B, treated with princess-like care, I'd love to see it.
jabbas

Trad climber
New River, AZ
May 10, 2013 - 10:26pm PT
I just scream and then remember Kern -Mantle ... no problem. If ropes were that fragile we would all be dead or mangled. I still tippy toe about the snake pit !!
kaholatingtong

Trad climber
Nevada City
May 10, 2013 - 10:43pm PT
stepping on rope, ok. puking on rope, not ok.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
May 10, 2013 - 10:43pm PT
actually crampons don't do anything to the rope unless you put it on the pavement and stomped the crap out of it. crampons on snow does absolutly zero damage to a rope.

This might -might- be true of an unweighted rope on unconsolidated snow, however, I would never consider this to be true of a weighted rope on a harder surface, such as ice. A sharp edge, like many crampons are, can cause a weighted rope to separate instantly. It's usually rock edges, but it is the only reason for a good rope to fail in something like 30 years internationally, I remember reading at one of the certification sites.

Get above me, and get a sharp metal edge near my weighted rope, and I'll consider it attempted murder.
kennyt

climber
Woodfords,California
May 10, 2013 - 10:46pm PT
It's better than stepping on yer dick
dave729

Trad climber
Western America
May 10, 2013 - 10:48pm PT
Please step on it again. NSFGFA

http://altusmountainguides.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/D-and-R.jpg
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 10, 2013 - 10:48pm PT
how the heck would you step on a weighted rope? HUH? Never stepped on a weighted rope in 30 + years of climbing.... never seen a weighted rope get stepped on.
Dave Kos

Social climber
Temecula
May 10, 2013 - 10:49pm PT
It's better than stepping on yer dick

And way better than stepping on your dick with crampons on.
kaholatingtong

Trad climber
Nevada City
May 10, 2013 - 10:50pm PT
a weighted rope get stepped on.
would that be like slack lining? but more difficult?
kennyt

climber
Woodfords,California
May 10, 2013 - 10:53pm PT
Actually crampons don't do anything to the dick unless you put it on the pavement and stomped the crap out of it
Dave Kos

Social climber
Temecula
May 10, 2013 - 11:01pm PT
I'm not going to try to visualize that.
limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
May 11, 2013 - 12:30am PT
An engineering kid in one of my stats classes did a project on climbing ropes breaking. Old dirt stomped on ropes weren't significantly weaker than clean ropes, but basically every kind of knot made the ropes WAY weaker.

Climbers should step on ropes, but NEVER USE ANY KNOTS!
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
May 11, 2013 - 12:40am PT
it is critical to keep the rope away from chemical contamination which makes the parking lot a band place to dump the rope

I have always heard the rope should be kept away from oil contamination.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
May 11, 2013 - 01:01am PT
how the heck would you step on a weighted rope? HUH? Never stepped on a weighted rope in 30 + years of climbing.... never seen a weighted rope get stepped on.

You have a group of climbers tied in, hanging, while they fix ropes/anchors on a steep ice/snow route, and then have a second group cross their tie in ropes, above them.

You've never experienced that, because you are a safe and careful climber.
LuckyPink

climber
the last bivy
May 11, 2013 - 01:47am PT
step on the rope if it's on the wall at the time. It's a good cheat sport climbers use. clip your bolt, put your foot on the rope, you have a no hands rest hanging from your draw and your belayer is completely unaware of it. continue your red point.
locker

Social climber
Some Rehab in Bolivia
May 11, 2013 - 03:29am PT


...

Norwegian

Trad climber
the tip of god's middle finger
May 11, 2013 - 08:32am PT
sometimes i swallow an end
and slowly work it thru my stomach,
digestive tract, and eventually
usually on tuesdays i pass it
out the b-side.

im like a bead on a ware,
or a tattoo on god's underdeveloped bicep.

i floss the rope in and out a couple times,
really scouring out my internal
transit system.

i've never pushed the entire 200'
down my gob, i always pull it back
up the hatch.

so one end of my rope is quite featured
with many layers of stomach acids and shite.

this is why i have to self belay,
word got out and now no one will
hold my rope, by which the way,
never yet broke.
stich

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
May 11, 2013 - 09:19am PT
People who get mad at you for stepping on their ropes like to manufacture drama. Period.
Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
May 11, 2013 - 10:12am PT
THIS was caused by some YAYHOO stepping on my rope!
It's not just grit and sand on the ground,
Sharp rocks are on the ground also, people.

YES, I do get pissed when someone steps on my rope.



Credit: Cosmiccragsman
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
May 11, 2013 - 10:34am PT
YES, I do get pissed when someone steps on my rope.


+1
I was taught and taught others to avoid steppin on a rope.

Step on a crack, break yer mothers back!
Step on a rope, don't be a dope!
Step on a dick, yer a prick!


stich

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
May 11, 2013 - 10:39am PT
It obviously wasn't an Eldo Prancer. They step on your rope verrrrry lightly.
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 11, 2013 - 11:40am PT
that is completly impossible with simply stepping on an unweighted rope. You would have to weight the rope over the edge to do that. something else happened to the rope that you missed and you blamed it on the guy stepping on the rope.
Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
May 11, 2013 - 12:02pm PT
no tradman. I always check my rope as I am flaking it.
and there was no cut before the person stepped on it. he just
didn't step on it he was standing on it.


Edit: unless the climbers weight was 0lbs. There is weight on the rope if you step on it. a sharp rock on the ground cut it.
Kurt Ettinger

Trad climber
Martinez, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 11, 2013 - 12:27pm PT
I never thought incidental stepping on the rope did a whole lot of damage. I always thought of it more akin to slapping someone with a glove and challenging them to a duel. Just a rude thing to do.
Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
May 11, 2013 - 12:40pm PT
I've seen a lot of impossible things happen when climbing.
That's why I am anal safety retentive when climbing.
climbrunride

Sport climber
Golf Wall, CO
May 11, 2013 - 12:43pm PT
I climbed with Cosmic once. He was very safe and aware. And fun to hang out with. I believe that he really does check his rope every time.

But someone has to play Devil's Advocate...
climbrunride

Sport climber
Golf Wall, CO
May 11, 2013 - 12:45pm PT
I was taught the rule that, if you get caught stepping on the rope, you owe the person who caught you a beer.
Wade Icey

Trad climber
www.alohashirtrescue.com
May 11, 2013 - 12:45pm PT
it's never okay to step on the rope..but it's okay to sleep on it.
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
May 11, 2013 - 12:48pm PT
That's why I am anal safety retentive when climbing.

Paging Locker,
Insert blue plug pic here.

Seriously tho,
avoid steppin on ropes and dicks, unless of course you are one.
locker

Social climber
Some Rehab in Bolivia
May 11, 2013 - 01:03pm PT


Step on a crack, break yer mothers back!

Step on a rope, don't be a dope!

Step on YOUR OWN dick, = Instant Millionaire in the Porn Industry




EDITED:

I should clarify...

I DON'T step on OTHER PEOPLES ropes...

But I sure as hell WILL step all the fuk over my own so long as there are no SHARP OBJECTS beneath it and it is EASY enough to tell if there are...

You just LOOK...


;-)



snowhazed

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
May 11, 2013 - 02:46pm PT
I was taught that stepping on a rope and working dirt into it arent so bad for the rope, but the dirt in the rope then abraids the biners it runs through, potentially filing them down over time. Not a big deal if you clean your rope and inspect your gear.

Although if you are wearing street shoes you may very well have petrochemicals from the road. Paranoid? perhaps. But it is the one part of the system that isnt redundant....
FRUMY

Trad climber
SHERMAN OAKS,CA
May 11, 2013 - 02:59pm PT
It also depends on how long you want to keep you rope.

Grit gets into everything.

A little grit goes a long way.

It is amazing what grit can cut through.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
May 11, 2013 - 03:11pm PT
I've always considered it bad form, at the least, to step on a rope,
especially when wearing crampons. But I was also too cheap to retire
one after doing so. Besides, climbing is all about worrying, isn't it?
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
May 11, 2013 - 03:59pm PT
hey there all, say, this is an interesting share...


*did not know there were old-wives tales, as to ropes, :)
(course old-wives tales find a way to fit in, everywhere) ;)


carry on... as you carry your ropes into the future, to be the 'best that they can be'...

tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 11, 2013 - 04:07pm PT
That is a repetitve wear mark as in rope rubbing ona sharp edge. ever try to cut an unweighted rope with a sharp knife? ever run over a rope with logging chains? i have wrecked enough rope to be highly doubtfull that a casual standing on a rope would do that. 10 min of purposfully grinding the rope against a sharp rock with your foot with the intent of doing the dammage possibly but a casual step on the rope no effin way. If ropes got coreshots that easy i would have to buy a new rope every week...
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 11, 2013 - 04:12pm PT
there is a common sense aspect to this. if the rope is on the sharpest rock you have ever seen find a better place to stack it or do not stand on it. If it's laying in the sand and your buddy steps on it and you yell at him you are just being an ass.
Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
May 11, 2013 - 04:20pm PT
You are right it is a repetitive wear mark from rubbing on a sharp rock.
ON THE GROUND.
As I said trad, I flaked the rope and checked it, and I was then getting my gear ready to lead and I saw him standing on the rope. After I told him to get off the fukking rope I checked it again and found the small hole in the rope, and the sharp rock that made it embedded in the ground.
As for the more frayed look, I still use it as a TR rope on some small crags in the area.
Don't tell me what happened. I was there and you were not!
FRUMY

Trad climber
SHERMAN OAKS,CA
May 11, 2013 - 04:21pm PT
If that was wear from repetitive use there would be wear marks all around the cut, but there are none. On top of that the rope does not look new but I see very little fraying.
I believe Cosmic.
Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
May 11, 2013 - 04:23pm PT
And the person that was standing on my rope was an ASS also.

Go ahead, treat your gear like sh#t but don't treat mine that way and you won't get yelled at.

tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 11, 2013 - 06:43pm PT
Cosmic, My apologys. the photo was aparently taken after the core shot got worn. it did not look like a fresh core shot to me. I have wrecked and broken a ton of retired climbing rope and it has been a great learning experience. (I do know what a fresh and an old core shot look like) I routinely log with retired rope. i know it is not ideal because of the stretch but I always have it on hand and its good for my head to drag a 60t tall 12" diameter oak out of the woods with a rope that I have retired.

I do not treat my in service ropes like sh#t but I am not all uptight about dirt and stepping. My ropes wear out from climbing miles and falls logged long before they have any kind of chance to suffer from dirt. If someone does step on the rope I nicely and calmly tell them that it is not a big deal but it is better if they do not do it. I am hyper aware of car trunks with jumper cables in them, any work gloves that have been under the hood of the truck and that kind of stuff. a bit of dirt however is not an issue. Quite a few times I have seen someone bark at a newb for stepping on the rope and 99% of the time it looks and sounds like chest puffing ego strokeing BS.
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
May 11, 2013 - 06:51pm PT
My gear has lots of sand packed in it....
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
WA, & NC & Idaho
May 11, 2013 - 06:52pm PT
Just don't POOP on yer rope!!!!!

YER



















GUNNA

















DIE!!!!''
Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
May 11, 2013 - 07:03pm PT
Apology accepted, Tradman.

sure one time stepping on a rope, may not be harmfull,
but, if you take the do not step on the rope rule out everyone will be stepping on it and I guarentee your rope will wear out faster.
The rope gets enough wear as it is, when you are climbing.

And, It's just common courtesy to RESPECT other peoples gear.






" Quite a few times I have seen someone bark at a newb for stepping on the rope and 99% of the time it looks and sounds like chest puffing ego strokeing BS."




And sometimes people are so dense that talking to them nicely
goes in one ear and out the other.

:)
Dave Kos

Social climber
Temecula
May 11, 2013 - 07:14pm PT
I first started playing with ropes in the army.

They would yell at you and make you do pushups if you stepped on one.

I don't step on ropes anymore.
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 11, 2013 - 07:31pm PT
Army likes to yell a LOT! train harder not smarter... Oh wait, that's the Marines;)
jfs

Trad climber
Upper Leftish
May 11, 2013 - 11:46pm PT
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT

May 10, 2013 - 05:38pm PT
actually crampons don't do anything to the rope unless you put it on the pavement and stomped the crap out of it. crampons on snow does absolutly zero damage to a rope.
Guffaw!!!

wait...I think he's serious...

What I mean to say is...this is erroneous information.
Snowmassguy

Trad climber
Calirado
May 11, 2013 - 11:53pm PT
Never step on your own rope. Never step on your friends rope. Stepping on a rope is a great passive agressive way to kinda piss off your kinda douchbag/ flakey friends rope just because you can. When accused of stepping on said rope, play it off as an accident.
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
May 12, 2013 - 12:18am PT
I don't think this is a troll. It's a pretty good example of one of those old practices ('wives tales', if you must) that has been fairly debunked in recent years.

If someone has demonstrated science showing how Rope A, subjected to heinous trampling abuse, consistently failed well before Rope B, treated with princess-like care, I'd love to see it.

this post should have been the last post. but it isn't.

I'm not saying gratuitously step on your rope and do a John Travolta spin, but it's not worth fetishizing an unstepped-upon rope. Ropes get stepped on, even by crampon-adroned boots. Ain't no thang.

tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 12, 2013 - 07:20am PT
Jfs, Ice climbing there are many,many situations where you have more serious sh#t on your mind than worrying about if you or someone else stepped on the rope. In 30++ years of climbing i have seen only one rope actually dammaged from crampons. It was kicked repetedly by the leader with freshly sharpened horozontal front points. Rope on snow the poons never penetrate, rope on rock if the poons are dull nothing happens, sharp poons as in first 3 weeks out of the box, yes they will penetrate the rope so that should be avoided. It has been tested and usualy the points that penetrate do not cut the fibers, they slide between the fibers. still not a good idea at all.
More P2 madness. <br/>
Photo by Isa Oehry
More P2 madness.
Photo by Isa Oehry
Credit: tradmanclimbs
One or two pitch like this and the poons are usually dull enough it is a non issue;)
Reeotch

Trad climber
4 Corners Area
May 12, 2013 - 08:31am PT
YOU SHOULD ABSOLUTELY NEVER STEP ON YOUR ROPE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, EVER!
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 12, 2013 - 08:37am PT
good luck with that one;)
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
May 12, 2013 - 08:53am PT
It's bad luck to step on a rope.

May or may not be a fact. But it's a "best practice."
jfs

Trad climber
Upper Leftish
May 12, 2013 - 09:40am PT
Tradmanclimbs,

Cool.

And interesting. Just not my experience.

Cheers.
covelocos

Trad climber
Nor Cal
May 12, 2013 - 10:17am PT
Step on my rope and you owe me a beer.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
May 12, 2013 - 10:30am PT
I'd say something to someone who just casually walked across a flaked rope; that's just plain stupid. There could be a sharp rock underneath, and full body weight applied through a portion of a single foot could create enough pressure to nick the sheath.

The fact that it is unlikely that such actions will hurt a rope is the wrong way to think about it. There is a small non-zero probability that the rope will be hurt, as Cosmic's experience proves beyond question. When the simplest precautions can eliminate such possibilities, it is foolish not to take them. I've never seen a situation in which you couldn't nudge the rope aside with a toe and not step on it, so what's the big deal?

The trouble is that what amounts to the most elementary common sense ends up formulated as an inviolable commandment, "Thou shalt not step on thy ropes!" and then the silliness of such an absolute prohibition undermines it's appropriatness.

I often gently step on my ropes when setting up rappels, to eliminate rope weight while I'm threading my device. But of course I do this on a flat area without sharp edges or pebbles, and I don't come anywhere near applying full body weight.
locker

Social climber
Some Rehab in Bolivia
May 12, 2013 - 11:08am PT


"It's bad luck to step on a rope."...


100% BULLSH!T!!!...

as in 100% BULL SH#T!!!...

There is no GOOD LUCK/BAD LUCK involved...

That's HOKUS POKUS BULL SH#T...

;-)

Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
May 12, 2013 - 11:17am PT
rgold, the voice of reason and common sense.
FRUMY

Trad climber
SHERMAN OAKS,CA
May 12, 2013 - 11:20am PT
Oh come on Locker.

Next you're going to be saying there is no one living on the back side of the Moon.

If it wasn't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all.
locker

Social climber
Some Rehab in Bolivia
May 12, 2013 - 11:23am PT


"Next you're going to be saying there is no one living on the back side of the Moon.
"
...


Wouldn't that be, just your luck...

;-)

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Potemkin Village
May 12, 2013 - 11:27am PT
I often gently step on my ropes when setting up rappels

nor would I hesitate to step on a rope running through an anchor to a surprise out of control falling climber if this were the last resort, as sometimes only a couple pounds are needed to arrest slippage.

;)
locker

Social climber
Some Rehab in Bolivia
May 12, 2013 - 11:29am PT

Question = "Stepping on the Rope OK?"

One Answer = "I often gently step on my ropes when setting up rappels"


So your answer ALSO is, "YES"...(EDITED: With explanation)



rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
May 12, 2013 - 09:46pm PT
Question = "Stepping on the Rope OK?"

One Answer = "I often gently step on my ropes when setting up rappels"


So your answer ALSO is, "YES"...(EDITED: With explanation)

Well, at least you added the "with explanation" proviso. But if you are going to quote out of context, you could just have well quoted the part where I said stepping on the rope is "stupid."
locker

Social climber
Some Rehab in Bolivia
May 12, 2013 - 09:47pm PT


"But if you are going to quote out of context, you could just have well quoted the part where I said stepping on the rope is "stupid."..."...



True...

I could have...

;-)
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
May 12, 2013 - 09:54pm PT
Rope on snow the poons never penetrate

Uh, I guess you've knott done that experiment on neve. And just how could
it not do some damage? It may not do major damage but it can't
be good for it and it most certainly could do major damage cumulatively.
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 12, 2013 - 10:19pm PT
Neve is neve, snow is snow. Not a great idea either way but not worth blowing your top at someone when you have a serious climb to deal with. keep it calm, keep it informative but do not treat it like a cardinal sin, a black and white rule that has been broken and now deserves serious repremanding. That approach will only ruin the vibe of the climb.

The rope I am useing today, a 10.2 Sterling Marathon. the very first day I used it was a GU FA of an 11a trad climb. I blew a bird beak drilling a bolt, took a 20 footer with the power drill, bolt kit, hammer, pins, FA rack etc. Well over 200lbs. Both Ed and I then took multiple falls in the same spot trying to free the climb. I have since then rapped many virgin rough cliffs cleaning and trundeling. Jumared quite a few pitches, bunch of solo gri gri TR time, lots of lowering and had a few additional falls on this rope. It will be retired soon not because of dirt but because of heavy use. BTW lowering causes more wear on your rope than just about any other climbing activity.

Today I had this rope stacked on a grassy dirt belay ledge. I kept my feet on the rope to keep my shoes dry after last nights rain. It was safer leading with dry shoes. I rarely use a rope bag/tarp as it is just one more gimick to carry around. YMMV
Rudder

Trad climber
Costa Mesa, CA
May 13, 2013 - 03:50am PT
"""Observed faults and failures
The Technical Committee (*1 UIAA comment, see end of paragraph) has received 20 reports of failures and/or serious damage to ropes (both dynamic and static) over the last 15 years. Two failures were caused by contamination of the rope by corrosive substances, one (dynamic) rope was damaged but did not fail as a result of excessive jumaring (*2 UIAA comment, see end of paragraph) and the remainder were due to serious abrasion over rough or sharp rock edges. In a small number of cases, abrasion to the rope resulted in its failure during a fall with serious consequences, including one fatality.
UIAA Comments on this part
1) The BMC Technical Committee
2) use of a rope clamp

How to prevent failure in use
The key to preventing failure during use is to minimise abrasion, or at least recognise serious abrasion to a rope before you use it through regular physical inspection of the entire length of the rope. This is probably most easily done whilst coiling the rope after a climbing session, and should be practised without fail. Assuming that there is no visible damage to the rope when you begin using it, the overriding priority whilst in use is to avoid allowing the rope to drag over sharp edges and rough rock as in Figure 10.3. This necessitates constant attention to where the rope might run during a climb, and also to how and where it will be loaded over the rock in the event of a fall. This in turn requires some skill and knowledge on the part of the climbers whilst placing runners (look out for sharp edges and protrusions near your runner placements) and setting up top-rope or belay anchors (often the use of a rope protector or padding material is appropriate).

Figure 10.3 Serious damage to a rope in use Photo: BMC Collection
In addition:
Do not throw the rope down onto gritty or sandy ground if at all possible small particles of dirt or grit can adhere to the nylon and then be ground into the sheath or core during normal use. Potentially this could cut some of the ropes fibres and cause it to fail with no visible evidence that it had been weakened.
Avoid standing on your rope for the very same reason. It goes without saying that you should exercise extreme caution whilst using your rope with ice tools and crampons.
It is advisable to avoid speedy abseils, which allow the abseil device to heat up very rapidly and can cause melting of the rope if the descender remains in contact with it at the end of the abseil nylon has a low melting point!"""

For years I've been annoyed with snarky comments about stepping on ropes. I've always told my gang to try to avoid it but it was really not worth getting excited about. Certainly scolding someone about stepping on a rope was silly. But, recently I've read the UIAA and other reports that say my viewpoint is not correct. Chemicals, sharp edges, and dirt and grit are the main reasons ropes break.

The following link is making the same point, "don't step on the rope" may not be an old wives tale after all:

http://www.climbing.com/skill/dirty-little-secrets/
Dr.Sprock

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
May 13, 2013 - 05:36am PT
what about sleeping on the rope, and danger from nocturnal emissions?
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 13, 2013 - 06:18am PT
The UIAA thing seems to be totally unscientific. they say that all the rope failures were caused by weighting over sharp edges and then go off about stepping on the rope with no connection to any actual tests or failures. I read tests years ago that said rapelling and lowering were the biggest culprits and a new rope with something like 10 lowering cycles had lost 40% of it's strength.
kaholatingtong

Trad climber
Nevada City
May 13, 2013 - 08:36am PT
that would depend what emissions you are talking about sprock. to my understanding most are safe.
Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
May 13, 2013 - 09:01am PT
The UIAA still thinks climbers are using nailed boots at the crags.
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Jun 4, 2013 - 08:34pm PT

you know, the boys at REI and the other shops would laugh to see this thread. almost certainly those precious "cords o'life" are drop-kicked from the semi trailer to the warehouse pallet; and probably worse -- probably hung from the window (to show that it's an authentic "Climbing Shoppe") on a rusty nail, getting pounded by California UV day after day after day after day.

Until you -- he, who does not step on ropes -- buys it off the floor.



shady

Trad climber
hasbeen
Jun 4, 2013 - 09:07pm PT
I make it a point to never disrespect anyone or anything my life depends on.
QITNL

climber
Jun 4, 2013 - 09:16pm PT
When I was a kid you'd get yelled at for stepping on the rope. We were climbing on goldline, which had no sheath, so you were stepping right on the core. It would also get kinda ratty after a while. I still don't step on the rope myself, just an old habit. Maybe "don't step on the rope!" is a legacy thing, might not be such an issue with kernmantle.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Jun 4, 2013 - 09:18pm PT
lol

rc strikes again.

we had this conversation on rc years ago. tradman was there and talking about how he used the flaked rope to clean his feet at the start of climbs. then he got into how crampons wouldn't hurt the rope.

then curt stepped in, with his foot-belay photo. that was ironic, of course, but it seems that the grommie the op met took it way too literally.

rgold's sensible commentary is as out of place here as it ever was on rc.

heh
Crazy Bat

Sport climber
Birmingham, AL & Sweanee, TN
Jun 4, 2013 - 09:37pm PT
I was lucky enough to hang out at PMI when Alan Padgett was doing research for his book, ON ROPE. He was doing destructive testing of caving ropes with various levels of sheath damage created by rubbing the rope over the edge of a carborendum stone. It was amazing how a little sheath damage could reduce the breaking stregth. Read the book if you want the actual numbers. Cavers are very careful with their ropes and they have a sheath that is designed to withstand as much abrasion as possible.

Dont step on my rope if you can avoid it.

I have some freinds who performed a more visceral test. They filled five gallon buckets with concrete and hung it from a rope. Then they took a knife to the rope. Do that a few times and you wont step on any ropes you can avoid. Just a little damage to the core is like a zipper effect when its under weight.
i'm gumby dammit

Sport climber
da ow
Jun 6, 2013 - 02:53am PT
this happened today dammit. DON"T STEP ON MY ROPE!!!
Credit: i'm gumby dammit























when i'm clearing loose boulders off the top of a route. it's not a safe place to be apparently
Credit: i'm gumby dammit



Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Apr 8, 2014 - 01:04am PT
Expert footwork.
Expert footwork.
Credit: Spider Savage
mark miller

Social climber
Reno
Apr 8, 2014 - 02:31am PT
Modern ropes are incredibly well built , but why beat up your tools?
Take care of it and it will take care of you by being able to do it's job when necessary.
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Apr 8, 2014 - 08:57am PT
My current single rope 10.2 marathon pro. it will be retired this spring after two seasons. The very first day out I took a 20 footer when a beak popped. Full ascent rack, pins cams nuts, hammer bolt kit, wire brush and the Bosch hanging off my ass. Tipping the scales well over 200lbs. Since then there have been many more falls as well as countless pitches jugged, lots of rapelling and trundeling and the biggest culprit of all sport lowering. if you are going to throw a hissy every time someone steps on your rope you better NEVER sport lower. A single sport lower does more damage to your rope than a years worth of standing on the rope. I generaly avoide stepping on the rope but i will not throw a hissy lets yell at the noob fit if someone does step on it. I do not use a tarp/rope bag when climbing as it is just one more thing to carry arround. My ropes wear out from abuse on the rock long before a little dirt at the base of the cliff has a chance to be a factor.
I am anal about not letting the rope hit the pavement in the parkinglot or letting the rope come into contact with any battery related contamination. I keep the jumper cables in a plastic garbage bag and never near the rope. etc.

Recognize the real threat and do not worry about those things that do not pose a real threat. Don't sweat the small stuff or you will end up like Ron drawing down on the oh so scary biscuit dough with a $2,000 Kimber pro ;)

PS. If I expected a rope to last me 5 to 10 years I would be much more anal about the stepping on the rope thing. I climb enough that the rope wears out from climbing and dirt is a non factor.
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Apr 8, 2014 - 10:46am PT
I think it's more about ettiquette than actual safety/wear concerns.

You are stepping on someone's lifeline. It's rude, ropes are expensive. You wouldn't stand on the hood of some stranger's car (unless you wanted a round of fisticuffs or a free ride from the Po-po).

But you'll end up stepping on your own, or your partners' ropes, plenty. I know I move around quite a bit when belaying...maybe to spot at the beginning, or get out of a fall/swing zone, then back directly under the first bolt to not get dragged around in a fall, etc.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Apr 8, 2014 - 10:58am PT
You can step on my rope any time. It just costs you one beer per.

That was lesson one in basic Rock Craft.
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