November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Lightweight Rope
Display Avatars Sort By:
douglas ray

Locale: Olympic Peninsula
Lightweight Rope on 04/25/2007 19:08:57 MDT Print View

I'm looking to buy a lightweight rope for less technical alpine climbs in the Cascades and Olympics. I've been thinking of something in the 30-40m range. I can't decide weather to go for a skinny single and optional retrieval line or twin rope system. Any experience or advice would be appriceated.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
LW climbing ropes on 04/25/2007 19:29:33 MDT Print View

Define less technical alpine routes. Up the stratovolcanoes? Standard routes up Mt. Stewart?

The lightest I've generally used are 10mm single ropes and 8mm double ropes. Double ropes are good for efficient climbing of meandering lines and the lighter 8mm ropes are suited for rappels, glacier travel and safety line--using it as a single rope for the latter 2 applications. About the lightest you'll find per meter. For technical rock routes, I've preferred single ropes (unless I was climbing in the Dolomites) mainly because that was was I was taught to use in the USA and for lines with little or no zigzagging, they are lighter and simpler to use than a double rope.

The thinner rope diameters typically have less of a safety "reserve" than their thicker brethern. You'll retire them sooner.

Black Diamond has excellant 8 and 10mm ropes. Check out the Iceline double rope and the Flyer 2 Single.

Dry ropes are nice to have in Alpine situations.

Edited by kdesign on 04/25/2007 19:55:08 MDT.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Doug,lightest half/twin,38g/m on 04/25/2007 22:37:41 MDT Print View

Doug, I recently went through the same analysis as you; I was looking for a one rope solution for mountaineering and occasional lead climbing.
I am a beginner with regards to climbing; and civilian equipment is much different than what I used in the military (triple strand nylon rope, steel biners, and swiss seats, for example). Anyway, I settled on the Beal Ice Line, a half rope in 8.1mm at 42 grams/meter. Like you, I don't need more than 30 meters of it since I can't protect more than that (and don't want to run out much!). So, I bought the Ice Line in 70m, and after a little more thought, I'm going to cut it into two 35m sections; one for me, and one for my climbing partner. This will give each of us a 3.3 lb rope more than strong enough for any mountaineering use. Each one takes up only 2 liters and fits in a small stuff sack. Having each person carry a rope is a safety advantage (see ANMA for details). These ropes can be doubled as a twin for leading (no need for the tag/pull line you mentioned), used singly for following/traversing, or they can be connected with a double-fishermans to make one huge 230 foot rope for rappeling down quickly. (Pass the knot via munter on HMS carabiner). If you asked last week, I would have recommended this Ice Line..

However! just this week I discovered the new Metolius Monster dynamic rope in 7.8mm; rated twin and half, at only 38g/m. If I had the chance to make the purchase again, I would get the lighter Metolius. Just make sure all your hardware and technique is compatible with thinner ropes.
Metolius Monster 7.8

Another choice you are probably aware of is the Beal Rando Trail Line, 8mm in 20m, 30m, and 48m lengths. 37g/m for a dynamic twin. But not suitable for bringing up a second in my opinion.

Edited by Brett1234 on 04/25/2007 22:56:27 MDT.

carlos fernandez rivas
(pitagorin) - MLife

Locale: Galicia -Spain
ligth ropes on 04/30/2007 04:07:41 MDT Print View

one option is one light single rope 9.1 jocker mm beal or mammut 8.9m serenity with a retrieval line (remember that if you use a static cord this must be longer than the rope)

both ropes cam be used as single o double

or a ultralight double rope as

Four options:

beal ice line 8.1 mm 42gr/m

mammut phoenix 8mm 41grm/mt

tendon 7.8 master 7.8mm 38 grms/mt

metolius monster 7.8mm 38grms/mt

Probably tendon and metolius ropes are the same rope.

mammut rope has better sheat than beal.

Edited by pitagorin on 04/30/2007 04:22:29 MDT.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Beal pig on 04/30/2007 07:11:49 MDT Print View

Darn it, my 42g/meter Beal is looking like an iron pig compared to these 38g ropes..
In fact, I'm using a double strand 6mm for traversing this weekend; leaving the 8.1mm at home.

Edited by Brett1234 on 04/30/2007 07:13:36 MDT.

Robert Mohid
(mohid) - F
Thin ropes on 04/30/2007 10:16:33 MDT Print View

I'd maybe consider a single thin line if I'm going over snow and ice only.

Just thiking of having to jug up a thin single line over a rock edge makes my skin crawl. If a rope MIGHT be needed, it will most likely be on the descent, and when rapping you're always prepared to go back up the rope when murphy's law hits.

I'd also take the time to test all my belay/descent gear with a new thin rope. Finding out your rap device doesn't slow you down sufficiently or that your prussic cord won't bite is best done indoors.

If you're going over granite or sharp quartzite, a sturdy single might be the only sane option.

Peter King
(pking) - MLife

Locale: N. Nevada
Re: Doug,lightest half/twin,38g/m on 05/02/2007 12:52:23 MDT Print View

Thanks, Brett, for the thought about cutting the rope in half for each person. One of the benefits is that when soloing you can easily take a smaller, lighter rope just for backup.

Robert Mohid
(mohid) - F
Cutting rope on 05/03/2007 11:11:56 MDT Print View

If you're going to cut climbing rope, make sure it looks/feels nothing like your regular climbing rope.

If you get benighted, you don't want to start using a 30m rope instead of your 60 by mistake when you're feeling around in the dark.

Also, if the rope is permanently marked, cutting it means you and anyone else who handles the rope needs to be reminded NEVER to trust the markings.

As an alternative, you can consider getting the thinnest double line you can find, bringing ony one and tying in the leader in the middle of the rope with a fig-8 on a bight.

Joseph Aulwes
(eispickel) - F
Re: Cutting rope on 05/04/2007 06:52:27 MDT Print View


Edited by eispickel on 05/04/2007 07:00:33 MDT.

Eric Parsons
(EricP) - F

Locale: Alaska
ice line on 05/15/2007 15:43:20 MDT Print View

I'm on my second 8.1mm Beal ice line. Its a great rope and really light, packs small. I use it on glacier trips and snow routes where falls are more likely to be sliding than actual leader falls. That being said I have lead some moderate ice with just it. For A real single rope there are ropes in the 9mm range now that are single certified but are expensive for sure.

If you go much smaller than 8mm it can be hard to get prussiks to work for glacier travel. Also many belay devices will not create enough friction for belaying and rapping. There is a noticible difference when using the 8mm vs using a fatter 10 or 11 mm when practicing prussiking.

just my 2 cents

Paul Tree
(Paul_Tree) - F

Locale: Wowwww
how about one of these on 09/23/2007 10:18:14 MDT Print View

REI carries two short 8 mm ropes at about 30 m:

I'd hate to belay anyone on a single 8, maybe for rapping short sections, lowering on ice, glacier travel... emergency use not technical

Al Shaver
(Al_T.Tude) - F - M

Locale: High Sierra and CA Central Coast
Retrieval Cord on 03/02/2008 18:20:46 MST Print View

If you want light weight but are concerned about rapping on a thin line, I recommend single strand rapping off a light single rope - Beal Joker (available from Black Diamond) 9.1mm, 53g/M or the pricier Mammut Serenity 8.9mm, 52g/M and retrieving your rap cord with a 3mm retrieval cord (15oz at 65 Meters).

See my comments under "Curiosity Kills The Cat" thread for specifics.

Kai Larson
(KaiPL) - F

Locale: Colorado
Single Rope on 05/08/2008 16:09:16 MDT Print View

I'm not sure what you mean by "less technical." Maybe your definition is not the same as mine, but I typically don't think of rapelling on less technical routes, in which case I can't see you needing to bring a double rope system or a retrieval line.

For routes like the regular routes on Hood, Rainier, etc., I'd bring a lightweight single rope such as the Mammut Serenity. You probably won't need a full 60 meters for a group of 2, so if you're just going to climb with 2 people, you could cut it down to 45m to save weight if you wanted to.

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
thin ropes on 05/08/2008 23:26:21 MDT Print View

We do a lot of jugging and rapping while tree climbing using 8 mm Dyneema (=Spectra?) rope. It's a super stiff rope, and I watched one of the best tree climbers I know fall maybe 15 m when a branch broke. He not only survived but went right back up it.

In the 1980s and 90s we did a lot of glacier travel with 5 mm Kevlar (no doubt many of you are cringing). We never fell on it and rapping was a bummer. It pretty much ruined the carabiners we used to make the brake. Using a dulfersitz was better, but still not great. We tied in so that a length of rope could be tossed to the person in the crack to give them a second end and help them out. But it sure was light! (we carried only one harness for the leader, or no harness, no pully, a couple slings each and Ti-screws)

Edited by romandial on 05/08/2008 23:28:07 MDT.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
What does a 1,000 pound strength rope mean? on 05/08/2008 23:43:49 MDT Print View

The lightest rope I could find was deep sea fishing rope of spectra, "1,000 test, 50 yards" (7.9 oz including the plastic wheel it wraps around). Description: "Jerry Brown Industries, Line One, Hollow Spliceable Gel Spun Braided Spectra, Gold HIll, OR 541-855-7127.

Question, if the worse case you wanted rope for was to stretch across a high-water running stream, to string your gear across so that when you cross, you don't need to have your pack on, I would think one could pull this rope tight as one would want and it would do just fine. The rope could also be used for bear bag hanging, and for clothes line.

Actually for the above purpose, the 500 test pound weight works fine too and it's a little lighter. Typically I only bring along 50 feet of rope weighted at the 500 lb level (weighs a little over an ounce).

A URL for ordering this at the 500 lb strength is here:

But I'm curious, in an emergency, what is the weight-strength of ropes that a human being could depend upon? How many multiples of the human body weight does one desire?

You can also order from Western Marine, the same Spectra rope used by Ursack in their tie-strings for their bear bags, which has 2300 pound strength but that weighs considerably more (but considerably less than ordinary mountain climbing rope). Tom Cohen of Ursack gave me the supplier info if anyone desires it, I got some to enable me to tie my Ursack bag (when it was legal to use) around a boulder.

Edited by marti124 on 05/08/2008 23:48:20 MDT.

Graham Williams
(crackers) - F
Re: What does a 1,000 pound strength rope mean? on 05/20/2008 11:45:58 MDT Print View

...deep sea fishing rope of spectra...

You want to live, you want to use climbing gear like harnesses, belay devices and other stuff use climbing rope not fishing line.

Fishing line is monofilament or bonded. Climbing rope is not. The fishing line will probably melt. It's probably also less than 1/64" in diameter. Dynamic and static loads are totally different.

The mean breaking strength of the thinnest nylon cord that I or my friends would use to rappell with, and we'd only use it once, and buy a new one for every trip or once a season, is about 2,000 pounds.

Do your friends and family a favor, and buy something designed for what you're doing...

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Lightweight Rope on 05/20/2008 18:57:10 MDT Print View

A simple bodyweight bounce against water flow can yeild a force of 1,500 lbs - and possibly cause trauma to the person if it was tied around them - or cut through most soft goods like a knife due to the tiny turning radius.

Also keep in mind that knots can reduce line strength by 50%.

I do want to post a correction to the post above. Spectra fishing line is braided spectra / dyneema. It is not standard monofilement fishing line.

That said, 1,000 lb tensile test spectra is dangerously unsuitable for life critical application or any form of rope work in such a manner. I work with the stuff everyday through my job, I'm an avid climber, rigging instructor and a gear designer. It just isn't what should be used.

100% spectra in that form is completely unsuitable for belaying on (extremely slick, unable to stop it without causing melting), unsuitable for anything with abrasion, and is extremely hard to hang onto due to the tiny diameter even for bear bagging. It takes getting up to 3/16" stuff to be easier on the hands and that is 5,400 lbs tensile (amsteel blue), but is still way too small diameter for things like a bowline on a bight to not cut into you on a dangerous level. Yes you can use it for lightweight bearbagging or by using a stick as a pull handle, but going too thin will cut into bark. This site has stuff that is a good compromise to be honest.

100% spectra is available in webbing form as well which is ridiculously strong for bear bagging but still unsuitable for much other than a hand line when push comes to shove because it just isn't built for live critical applications as it's still too fragile around abrasion and too small to pull on.

I'm sure others will disagree saying they've used it fine, but if you had to actually use such a system in the field beyond just a hand guid it's limitations would become very apparent in a dangerous manner.

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Lightweight Rope on 05/20/2008 18:59:06 MDT Print View

To the OP:

In the last 2 years the overall weight of a single skinny is rapidly coming closer to the weight of a single twin. If you aren't likely to get into a situation that calls for twins or doubles for safety then a single and a retrieval line is the lightest system as well as usually the cheapest.

Also, for rappel only a single ice line has been done before many times. Not that I can recommend that route, but it is an option.

Edited by slacklinejoe on 05/20/2008 19:04:32 MDT.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Lightweight Rope on 05/20/2008 20:00:50 MDT Print View

Joe, very very interesting. If a simple bodyweight bounce against water flow can yeild a force of 1,500 lbs and if knots can reduce line strength by 50%, one needs minimally 3,000 pound strength, but what about a more difficult bounce or fall? Does one need 4,000 pound strength rope, 5,000 pound strength rope then?

How does one guage the abrasianness of rope? And also, you state that 3/16" is way too small diameter, what diameter do you recommend minimally?

In any event, I never anticipate needing rope for human use, but in my scenario it was for like a clothesline between two trees across a stream where one would want to slide gear across the line, but swim or whatnot across the water. For gear use only (each gear piece only weighing max of 35 pounds if wet), would not 500 lb spectra fishing line be strong enough to stay tight, taught to hold the gear up as it goes across?

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Lightweight Rope on 05/20/2008 20:38:09 MDT Print View

(After re-reading, the following is more for bodyweight on the line... the last bit is for gear only)

Keep in mind, that number is close to that of 6 feet of slack with a sudden "bounce" (shockload) as if the person was swept away hard while the system had slack in it, not a single hand over hand in gentle to moderate current which would be closer to 400-500 lbs. I'd have to get out my dynamometer and simulate it to get accurate numbers but frankly I dislike whiplash and the snowmelt right now is downright arctic.

The 50% number depends on your knot, but is otherwise a fair approximation for knots like the bowline and 8 on a bight. Either way it'll be in the neighborhood of 45%-65% for many common knots and I've heard as high as 80% for some less ideal knots.

If you can narrow down exactly what you are doing water wise and what you expect the system to hold, I can probably work you up a lightweight system that would still have the necessary strength and redundancy of a life saving system. It won't be rescue strength but I don't think that's what you are shooting for.

One guages abrasion resistance of a rope using a textile standardized test. The military has lots of different tests they have standardized on, rope companies have similar tests as well. Ropes sever very easily due to abrasion when they are pulled tight. Spectra exceptionally so.

On my diameter cutting soft goods comment, I've seen the situation where an 8mm mammut sling using a girth hitch has cut completely through a 1" nylon sling. Both were fully life saving rated and the load was only a moderate drop by climbing standards. Thankfully no one was hurt. Imagine how easily 1/16 to 1/8" would cut into your hand if caught hard with a bounce.

Diameter depends on your need and other equipment you are bringing. The needs for a throw bag where there is something else to hang onto are quite a bit different than that of a system for canyoneering or alpine rappels or something truly strong enough for emergency life critical crossings. If you have a harness in place, then you are looking at the minimum diameter that your belay device can effectively stop - usually something in the 7mm range or larger. If you are without, you have to figure out if you are tied in via another manner such as a impropmtu swiss seat , bowline on a bight or simply wrapping it around your hands a few times and praying you don't slip calls for testing to what your intended pain tolerance is for things biting into your skin really hard.

Also, keep in mind that physics are against you in a scenario where the line is pulled tight (say between two trees) and you are placing the load in the middle. I've worked extensively on this exact scenario with slackline rigging (think tight rope but bouncy). I have an online calculator that will give you a force estimate of what simple gravity would call for at: Slackline Load Calculator
Keep in mind that calculator is as if you were doing it suspended in air and crawling across the rope. In the water, you don't have gravity but instead you have the wate current increasing your effective body weight on the system by several times (depends on current of course).

For the gear up to 35lbs, the water conditions are more of a factor that you'd expect. That 35lbs could turn into 350 in high currents. For something you'd be brave enough to swim across probably just fine, it's the amount of pull it puts on your body that I'd worry about. In your comparisons, keep in mind what would happen if your bag went off into the water and left you stranded sans gear. My issue with the scenario is how exactly you plan on having access to tie the rope on both edges of the river to tie it up.

If it's not so swift as to allow you to tie the rope up to a tree and swim across with it in your hand and not run out of rope, you probably could have made it with the pack just fine regardless. If however you want to stay in your scenario you could probably get by with 1000 lb tensile test to float gear only, but if your bodyweight nailed it during a slip, it wouldn't take a lot to snap the system as you would only have effective 500lb tensile strength due to the knots.

Perhaps I'm simply envisioning far rougher conditions than the question calls for as I currently live where high water conditions can call for Class 4's and 5's.

Edited by slacklinejoe on 05/21/2008 15:21:38 MDT.