There are two main types of climbing ropes, Static and Dynamic. Dynamic climbing ropes will stretch when put under load where as static ropes will not. This is for when a mountain climber falls so the rope absorbs some of the shock and doesn't put as much pressure on the climber and their equipment/anchors. This is why it is essential to use a Dynamic rope if you plan to go lead climbing. A Static rope is more useful for abseiling, caving and for hauling your gear. You should never use it for lead climbing because of the high risk of the rope being subjected to impacts in falls. It will not stretch like a Dynamic rope so a fall will put huge shock on the climber and their equipment. Most Static ropes are pre stretched so you must pre shrink it before use, to do this simply wet the rope before use and allow it to dry.
Single ropes are still the most widely used type of climbing rope today, this is because they are the simplest to use and also the cheapest option available on the market. A single rope is clipped into each piece of the climbers protection and is used on it's own. It is ideal for Indoor Climbing, Low Grade Winter Climbing, Sport Routes, short or straight outdoor routes and even some tough scrambles. However, if the route zigzags this can cause a lot of rope drag (friction) and is not the most suitable rope for large multi-pitch mountain routes. Half Ropes or Double Ropes as they are sometimes called are to be used in pairs. This is so you can clip each rope independently. This has many advantages. Firstly, if you have a route which meanders up the crag then you can use one rope to clip your left hand side protection and the other to clip the right. This means that each rope will run in a straighter line, reducing rope drag (friction). Also two ropes are safer then one so if your route is straight you can clip both the ropes for added protection and you always have double the amount of rope length in case of an emergency. Also tying the two ropes together will give you double the length to abseil on. These advantages make these ropes ideal for use on ice and large mountain routes and where there is a possibility that you might have to abseil. Twin ropes are clipped in pairs and must not be clipped independently like a half rope. There is only one advantage to twin ropes and that is that they are very light to carry and are used mainly in France for this very reason and are rarely used in the UK.
The length of a climbing rope is a very
important consideration to make when choosing one. The most common
length of ropes are 50m, 55m and 60m. The most common rope length used
in the UK is 50m, this is nice and light to carry and is more then ample for
most climbs in the UK. For a trip to the Alps a 60m rope is more
suitable as a lot of the routes require a full 60m length for both the
climbs and the abseils. Obviously with the diameter of a rope, the
thicker it is the more stronger it is and evidently more expensive. A
more thinner rope is used for more technical climbing situations and also
Alpine use. Thicker ropes are generally preferred for the larger big
Below is a typical guide:
Static Line: 9mm to 13mm
Single Ropes: 10mm to 11mm
Twin Ropes: 7mm to 8mm
Half Ropes: 8mm to 9mm
There are two main brands of rope available on the market today, Edelweiss and Beal climbing ropes. Edelweiss Ropes are one of the most technically advanced ropes available on the market today and have one most well respected technical development teams in the World. Beal's commitment to innovation have ensured that they have stayed firmly at the forefront of Dynamic rope manufacture and they have manufactured 8 million metres of climbing rope in the past 40 years.