Dynamic climbing ropes are classified into three categories: Single ropes, twin ropes, and half ropes (also referred to as 'double ropes'). Dynamic ropes used for rock climbing come in a variety of lengths and diameters, with the most common lengths being 50, 60, and 70 meters (approximately 165, 200, and 230 feet, respectively). Lengths will vary depending on rope maintenance and age, and there are even ropes as long as 80 meters for specialized ascents on routes that would normally require a multi-pitch climbing attempt due to being only slightly longer than a standard rope length.
Dynamic Climbing Ropes
Dynamic climbing ropes are classified into three categories: Single ropes, twin ropes, and half ropes (also referred to as 'double ropes').
Single ropes are designed to be used alone, and are by far the most common, and used for top-roping, sport climbing, and trad climbing.
Twin and half ropes are used for lead climbing, and are designed to be used as a pair - they are not strong enough to be safely used on just a single strand, and they are tested to different standards as a single rope.
Twin ropes are used by treating the pair of ropes as a single rope, clipping both ropes through the same carabiner at each piece of protection.
Half ropes are also used as a pair, but only one rope is clipped through each piece of protection- the climber alternates which rope is clipped through each piece. On wandering routes where protection is placed far apart on either side, half ropes can significantly reduce rope drag.
Both twin and half ropes have the advantage of redundancy, as well as allowing a rappel along the full length of the climbing rope (by tying both ropes together), so that climbers can descend from a long multipitch route with fewer rappels than with a single rope. Some ropes are 'triple rated', meeting the standards for all three rope types, so they can be used in each configuration.
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Length and Diameters
Dynamic ropes used for rock climbing come in a variety of lengths and diameters, with the most common lengths being 50, 60, and 70 meters (approximately 165, 200, and 230 feet, respectively). Lengths will vary depending on rope maintenance and age, and there are even ropes as long as 80 meters for specialized ascents on routes that would normally require a multi-pitch climbing attempt due to being only slightly longer than a standard rope length.
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Unlike most climbing equipment, dynamic ropes do not have a rated tensile breaking strength. Instead, the strength of a rope is tested by the number of standard test falls a rope can sustain before breaking. The test falls use an 80 kg weight for single ropes (55 kg for half ropes), and a fall factor of 1.7 (4 meter fall on 2.3 meters of rope). This tests simulates a very hard fall that would rarely occur. When climbing, it is possible to produce a fall factor as high as 2, however, real-world climbing situations include additional shock absorbing elements which are not included in the test standard, such as the body of both the climber and belayer, elasticity of their harnesses and anchor materials, and friction between the rope and the belay device, and any protection pieces.Single ropes must sustain at least 5 such falls before breaking, and a rope that can sustain more than 9 falls is considered a 'multifall' rope.In practice, climbing ropes rarely if ever break due to a fall alone- all documented rope failures involve the rope being cut or damaged, for example by abrasion against a sharp rock edge.Ropes are especially vulnerable to being cut while they are weighted with the body of the climber, and moving over a sharp edge (for example if a following climber is resting his weight on the rope, or using the rope for assistance, while swinging or traversing under a roof, while being belayed from above). In general, thicker ropes will be stronger and more durable, and have a higher fall rating.
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