Shelf Life for Static rope?


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Cardiff by the sea
Topic Author's Original Post - May 14, 2008 - 09:28pm PT
Curious if anyone has factual information regarding how long the shelf life would be or if there is one, for a spool of static rope that has been stored properly in a cool, dry, non U.V. area? I believe Sterling is the manufacture.

May 14, 2008 - 09:32pm PT

Email Jim at Sterling. Email address at the link below.

Cardiff by the sea
Topic Author's Reply - May 14, 2008 - 10:02pm PT
Thanks Werner I will drop Jim an email.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
May 14, 2008 - 10:21pm PT
I'll be the actual story is years and years and years.

Manufacturers like to cover their buts but it's UV, use, and chemicals that wear down ropes. None of those things and you only have to worry that rope technology has improved over the years. (but it's a static line, so you should be well, well, well, within tolerances for any use you have in mind)



Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
May 14, 2008 - 11:56pm PT
Mammut UIAA drop-tested one of their climbing ropes, NOS, that they'd had in storage, in the cool and dark, for something like 20 years.

The rope failed on the first drop.

I got that info from the Mammut website, about four/five years ago.

I think the idea here is that the nylon molecules cross-polymerize over time to the point that the rope loses its original elasticity.

Boulder climber
Back in the mix
May 14, 2008 - 11:59pm PT
Damn, I got two ropes about 10 years old that haven't been used in 9.

I was kinda thinking about starting to clip shiny stuff again.

Wonder if the same holds true for the webbing on my cams?


May 15, 2008 - 01:27am PT
Mammut rope breaks first drop? ... hahaha ... groan ....

Anyways .... some of our static lines at Yosar were 10 years old and we were using them. They've all been replaced recently.

Nobody's dead yet ......

Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
May 15, 2008 - 02:48am PT
No need for speculation. Here is the article from the UIAA Technical Director:

"Ageing due to storage can almost be neglected....."



From: Chris Harmston

Here is some test data from an investigation I conducted last summer. Ropes were provided by a customer who was asking similar questions as you all are.

All ropes were used slightly. I conducted a pull test on a loop of rope with an overhand followthrough knot (used this knot to minimize knot tightening and test machine travel). I did not conduct drop tests because we do not have this capability at this time.

1) 1986 Chouinard 8.8 mm. 3240 lbf @ knot. (this is a half rope)
2) 1986 Chouinard 11 mm. 5944 lbf @ knot.
3) 25 year old 11 mm Edelrid. 5141 lbf @ knot.

Conclusions. Don't know how strong these ropes were when new. Single strand strength of these ropes is conservatively half the loop strength (big assumption on my part). I would say this is pretty good overall. I do not know what the dynamic properties of these ropes were nor do I know how time affects the dynamic properties. My recommendation to the customer was to not take any chances with the ropes in lead climbing. I would use them for top roping without any reservations.

Data from a test I conducted on 12/22/98 (research into Dan Osman's failed rope--to be published later so don't ask questions about this right now please). Loop, knot was a quad followthrough figure 8 (I have a new machine now and can test with longer travel).

All ropes are BD ropes. New condition 1997 ropes.

1) 11 mm. 6643 lbf @ knot.
2) 11 mm. 6803 lbf @ knot.
3) 10 mm. 4596 lbf @ knot.
4) 10 mm. 4765 lbf @ knot.
5) 10 mm. 4952 lbf @ knot.

Conclusions: very strong.

My Conclusions and Recommendations. Rope strength does not appear to decrease with time. I don't trust old ropes because I do not know how the elastic properties change with time.

Chris Harmston (
Quality Assurance Manager,
Black Diamond Equipment Ltd.
2084 East 3900 South, SLC, UT 84124 phone: 801-278-5552

DISCLAIMER: Unless otherwise indicated, this correspondence is personal
opinion and NOT an official statement of Black Diamond Equipment Ltd.


Santa Cruz
May 15, 2008 - 03:18am PT
Last week, Lucho and I hauled to the Alcove on the Salathe on a four year old static line that'd hung outside on the wall. We got a core shot on the Hollow Flake, another on the pitch after, and a third on the pitch after that. Scary stuff. Thought the whole shebang was gonna cut loose and smash down to the base. I grabbed my cellphone from the bags and my dope.

Trad climber
Durango, CO
May 15, 2008 - 03:37am PT
"Wonder if the same holds true for the webbing on my cams?"

The webbing on your cams, your harness, your runners and your rope are all made out of nylon. Would you trust a runner in that condition? Would you trust a rope in that condition?

Climbers frequently worry about a rope which has held a few falls and gotten a little frayed, and feel the need to replace it. But for some reason, they will climb on an old, frayed, tattered harness. They figure, "It hasn't broken yet, so I can still trust it." That hasn't always worked out so well.

(The following does not necessarily apply to the OP)
When one really thinks that such an important piece of equipment is no longer trustworthy, why do they so frequently go looking for someone to tell them that it is OK and to ignore their instincts? Are they seeking to put the responsibility for their bad decision on someone else? Crazy.

Not here
May 15, 2008 - 03:55am PT
Cam webbing goes bad too...
I would contact the cam manufacture and see if they would replace the webbing...
Heard that most of them will do that for a small fee.


Boulder climber
Back in the mix
May 15, 2008 - 11:59am PT
Cool, thanks for the info.

New ropes, new cam slings, new, I guess I'll stick to bouldering.

Ed Bannister

Mountain climber
Riverside, CA
May 15, 2008 - 01:26pm PT
Dynamic load and pull tests are two very different tests, and normally have very different results.

Bernt Prause and Claus Benk at Edelrid
tested an Edelrid classic 11mm with a five fall rating after 15 years of storage in a cool dry dark place.

The first UIAA fall test broke the rope, 80kg on roughly 10' of cord with a fall factor of 2.
Bernt, the chemist cited ozone's effect on nylon fiber.
This is not hearsay, he told me this at the Edelrid factory and test facility in Isny, Germany.

I don't recall the numbers for the static test of "rope strength, but I think it was in the neighborhood of 2000kg.

ok then think on this,
I was appalled to see the rope I was jugging on might be the old Goldline Roger and I had climbed on 15 years before, it was so worn and thrashed that the twisted rope was nearly smooth.
Since I was in lost soldier cave, I jugged gingerly.
After getting out of there I tested the cord myself. That old thrasher cord, still tested at over 4,000 pounds!! impossible! it looked like crap!
I know if I had done a drop test, it would have failed.
I never climbed or caved with Roger again.

Nylon fibers retain strength as tested under static load, and over time the numers don't change much.
Over time Nylon fibers lose the capacity to elongate and sustain dynamic loads.

I used to help develop rope, Imported and sold a ton, had a store, plenty of old cord, some friends want to go slab padding at Big Rock six months ago, I went to rei and bought a new cord.

OK you say it is static, but just when you didn't plan it, you fly ten feet, too late tie into the good one, haul your pig with it, or tie up boats.

Social climber
Prescott, AZ
May 15, 2008 - 01:35pm PT
"Nobody's dead yet ......"

Glad to see YOSAR is still cutting edge...


Ken M Thanks for the links

Trad climber
May 15, 2008 - 02:37pm PT
anyone know about a brand new dynamic sterling stored well for 4 years? i assumed that it would still be bomber and then got freaked out reading this thread. anyone?

Santa Cruz
May 15, 2008 - 02:55pm PT
It's probably junk but may have a little life in it. Drop it off in Camp 4 and I'll test it for you.

Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
May 15, 2008 - 05:09pm PT
I'm climbing on ~15 y/o dynamics that have seen much careful storage and little actual use. I'm figuring since I don't climb doggie style they should be good to go.

Cardiff by the sea
Topic Author's Reply - May 15, 2008 - 07:18pm PT
Thanks for all the constructive input people. I believe and feel comfortable that what I have is bomber and will be put to good use here soon.

Best Regards

Chalkless climber
the Gunks end of the country
May 15, 2008 - 09:58pm PT
tolman - for about $150 - $200 you wouldn't have to "figure".

What is your life worth? Of course, if you are only using the rope for rappelling, and not falling on it...

Trad climber
May 15, 2008 - 11:20pm PT
i have a couple of spools of bluewater static i keep stored at the hancock and get out once a year for the inspection. been there i think 6 years? arrrg... this thread makes me want to replace them now...
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