On Ropes and Climbing EquipmentLeave a response April 29, 2007 / Posted in Equipment, rock climbing
I always thought it was time to retire a rope if you have had it for more than five years or if you have a factor two fall on it. Since some friends told me they wanted to buy my gear, I thought I had better double check my facts and make sure my equipment is in working order before I release it to them.
Taking into consideration the rope’s time of storage before first use and the time in use, a Beal climbing rope can sustain:
- intensive daily use for up to 1 year.
- intensive weekly use for up to 2 years.
- daily in-season use of average intensity for up to 3 years
- weekly in-season use of average intensity for up to 5 years
- several uses during the year of average intensity for up to 7 years
- very occasional light use for up to 10 years
The properties of a rope can also be affected by abrasion, UV exposure, humidity, therefore it is important to store the rope properly and to inspect the rope from time to time. Over time, with use, a rope thickens and loses up to 10% of its length. We always used to joke that our ropes got “fat with age” but this is an important point to take note of when climbing those longer routes because you want to be sure you can get back down.
A rope that has never been used may be stored for up to 5 years (if kept in good condition) without affecting its future lifetime duration in use. A rope in use must never exceed 10 years, therefore the total maximum lifetime (storage before use and lifetime in use) for any rope is limited to 15 years.
The following are some reasons why a rope must be retired earlier:
- if it has held a major fall approaching fall factor 2
- if inspection revelas or even indicates damage to the core
- if the sheath is very worn
- if it has been in contact with active or dangerous chemicals
- if there is any doubt about its security
What about your harness?
For normal duration of use, you can maintain your harness for 5 years. For occasional use, you can main your harness for 10 years. Like a rope, a harness may be kept for 5 years prior to its first use without affecting its future lifetime duration in use, and a harness in use must never been kept for more than 10 years, therefore the maximum shelf life of a harness is 15 years.
The lifespan of a harness can be reduced by mechanical loads, rubbing, UV and wetness so it should also be inspected from time to time to ensure it is still in good working condition. A harness must be scrapped:
- if it has sustained a heavy fall even if no damage is apparent
- if the webbing has been damaged by abrasion, cutting chemical agents or any other means
- if the stitching has been damaged
- if the buckles are not working well
- if it has been in contact with any active or dangerous chemicals
- if there is any other doubt as to its security
Thanks to Beal for this information.