Climbing Ropes: Does Size Matter?

Climbing Ropes: Does Size Matter?

  • Posted by Kaleigh
  • On June 5, 2018
  • Comments

You bet it does. In fact, there is more to consider than just size when buying a rope! Ultimately, the style of climbing you choose to do will help you determine what rope to choose. Before we get into too much detail, make sure to buy a climbing rope (dynamic) instead of a static rope that would be used primarily for canyoneering or rappelling! The most important features you’ll want to pay attention to when purchasing a climbing rope are the diameter, length and special features of the rope.

For most beginner climbers, a rope with a diameter on the thicker side will provide the most bang for your buck. Ropes between 9.8 and 10.2 are best left for the abuse of top roping and sport climbing over the course of a few years. Thicker ropes will tend to last longer, yet be heavier and take up more room in your pack. Once you start multi-pitch climbing or projecting long and hard sport climbs, a rope with a smaller diameter could be helpful as it will be lighter. Always make sure to double check that your belay device will work well with your rope diameter.

Because we live in the beautiful state of Utah, it would be a good idea to do yourself a favor and buy a 70 meter rope. Having a 70 meter will grant you access to several classic climbs that will be a little too tall for a 60 meter rope to reach the ground when lowering (always tie your stopper knots!). A 60m would be a great rope for shorter crags and the gym as the tallest route that a 60m would allow would be 100 feet, where a 70m could do about 120 (including rope stretch). An 80 meter rope would be recommended in areas where the walls are very tall, such as Kolob Canyon in the Zion area.

Once you’ve decided the diameter and length of your dream rope, there are still a couple other specs to consider. If you think you could encounter rain or snow while climbing, it would be a good idea to get a dry treated rope. When non-dry treated ropes become wet, they will stretch more and lose some of their strength! A dry treated rope will not only help your rope maintain its strength in sub-par conditions, it will also keep dirt and sand particles from infiltrating the sheath of your rope and wearing it out faster. Don’t forget to take into consideration how your rope’s middle point will be indicated. Most ropes have one or two black streaks around the diameter of the rope, however these can wear out and become difficult to find over time. Getting a rope with two patterns (bipattern) is a great way to keep track of how much rope is left on your belay or when setting up a rappel.

The price of a rope will vary depending on the specs you want your rope to come with, but a rope that would access most climbs in the country and give you years of sending (if you treat it well) won’t cost more than a nice pair or climbing shoes. Come demo some ropes at the front to get a feel for different sizes and handling preferences. Well, what are you waiting for?! Getting a rope is one of the first steps to climbing outside, take advantage of the nice weather while its here!