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Double Ropes - what for?

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 12:02 pm
by Mark
Morning, what is the deal with double ropes, from what I have seen they are used on trad climbing, I guess it gives you more protection if one is cut over a sharp edge. That said I have seen they are clipped to alternating draws - why not clip both ropes to every draw?

Re: Double Ropes - what for?

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 12:54 pm
by proze
You can't always place pro in a nice straight line, so if you use a single rope and take a lob, the rope tension on pro not inline with the other pieces may pull it sideways, out of its placement. With two ropes, you can place pro to either side of your line more safely by using a rope for each "line" of pro. That's how I understand it anyway.

Re: Double Ropes - what for?

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:07 pm
by robertbreyer
Mark, you are probably referring to half (trad) ropes. then there are twin ropes, used in ice climbing.

advantages of two half ropes on trad are:
+ easier on wandering routes. less rope drag.
+ redundancy, one fails, you got another one.
+ many abseil stations 50-60m apart. so you need two ropes to get to the next stance/ledge below. so if you carry a 2nd rope, you might as well use it.
+ clipping/placing pro: safer as you can do pay out rope on on 1 rope while being safely protected on the other rope. so if you fall while clipping you arent going to take nearly as long a fall.
disadvantage of two half ropes:
- rope management trickier.
- two half ropes heavier than one single rope.
- more expensive.

there's no right and wrong. the Brits pioneered half ropes, the Yanks use singles. since we used to be part of the British Empire we somehow got stuck with the two half rope system.

twin ropes are used in ice where you typically clip both. this is mostly for redundancy as ice means crampons, etc and sharp edges that are more likely to cut ropes.

FYI, this is part of my upcoming article in SA Mountain Magazine. buy the Sep-Nov issue to read the full article. or check out ... ystems.asp

Re: Double Ropes - what for?

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:10 pm
by nosmo
Hi Mark,

When clipping a climbing rope/ropes into protection, the idea is mostly to have the rope travel in a more or less straight line between protection points. This minimizes rope drag, a real pain in the ass when you're above your last piece/clip, trying to pull up rope to make the next one and it feels like there is a bag of cement on the other end.

When climbing sport routes, you usually only use one rope because the bolts on a well bolted climb will be placed so that your rope runs straight (you'll see special notes for particular routes, something like "a long draw on the third bolt prevents death", "pre-clip the second bolt to prevent rope drag").

When climbing trad this is often not possible, unless you're climbing at Indian Creek. To counteract your rope running in continuous ZZZZs up after you, you use a half (sometimes called double?) rope system, where each rope is thinner (8 - 9mm) than a normal single rope. You tie into both and when a piece of pro is out left, you clip rope A, similarly, when a piece of pro is out right, you clip rope B. The advantage is that you are clipped into all the gear you've placed while having less struggles with rope drag.

Another system where 2 ropes are used is the twin rope system, where you use two ropes but clip both into all pieces of pro. This is not very often used, but is useful when there are chances of a rope being cut due to rockfall, for instance. This doesn't help with rope drag, but adds safety.

Important thing to note:
With a single rope, you can abseil max half of your rope length. With either of the double rope systems, you tie the two ropes together and can abseil the full length of the ropes. Saves time by halving the amount of abseils to get down off a multipitch. Just make sure you don't abseil past anchors and then don't have enough rope to get to the next set. Get yourself a pair of prussiks, or a shunt or at least one ascender.

Tie knots in the end of both ropes.

Definitely check out ... ystems.asp

Re: Double Ropes - what for?

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:11 pm
by shorti
They are primarily for looking cool - you know when 'my rope is longer than yours' don't cut it anymore. The only thing prettier than a blue rope and a red rope is a shiny pink one next to a bright yellow one. They are not really for extra protection since they are perfectly strong enough on their own. On trad routes you often climb round corners or zig-zag and you don't have bolts so you get placements left and right of your route. If you use one rope you might end up in a situation where the rope zig-zags a lot (more friction / rope drag). You might have looked at that news article about the dude that climbed the cobra crack, that one you will climb with one rope because it is straight up and all your pro is in the crack. The alternate clipping thing is not really all that important and it would be stupid if you create a tangle just to clip them alternately. You basically have to think about safety as well as rope management - i.e. try to not make a tangle and try to reduce the friction on the rope over rocks ans also from going zig-zag through your pro. Sometimes you'll climb a long way on only one rope - for example, if the route goes to one side and arch back you can only clip the one rope until you are back above your last placement on the other rope. This might not always be a good idea though, it happened to me over the weekend that the rope less clipped got blown around the corner of the mountain and got stuck behind ... well whatever it was it got stuck on. This caused a problem for me who was seconding when it pulled me off the line I wanted to climb. Then there is also a obvious situation that warrants the extra rope - when there are three of you climbing. In this situation the leader might also want to take in consideration that if he traverses and only clip on rope, he might not be to popular with the bloke who climbs on the rope that's not fixed to any pro. He might take a swing and in many places find himself hanging in empty space and have a few difficulties getting back on the route. And yes sometimes you do clip both ropes. In case you wondered, yes I am a little bored :mrgreen:

Re: Double Ropes - what for?

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:12 pm
by shorti
mmm... lookes like I'm not the only bored one around, so if I said something someone else already said while I was typing away, just forgive me please :cyclops:

Re: Double Ropes - what for?

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:12 pm
by Gustav
Only one logic reason:
More rope to coil over you for warmth when you get stuck on the 8th pitch in the dark on an epic big wall adventure...

Oops, there is more:
It also solves the "who will carry the rope/rack/food etc?" debates. Half rope each, half rack each, split food & water... everybody is happy :cyclops:

Re: Double Ropes - what for?

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 4:43 pm
by Magnus
In the US, everyone seems to climb trad with a single rope using 60cm runners. This usually takes care of any potential rope-drag and seems to out way the few benefits of using two ropes.

Re: Double Ropes - what for?

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:27 pm
by Marshall1
The point that was missed in this thread, or maybe just by me:

Half ropes have more stretch & thus absorb more energy & shock load the placements less. So up on a route, cliping one rope to the last marginal placment, when you fall you fall further(more stretch), past the piece below & the 2nd rope, clipped to the placement below begins to absorb energy...spreading the energy to two pieces. Useful on high risk routes.

Not the best explanation.

That said: I'm using my half ropes for tat. A single is way sweeter.

Re: Double Ropes - what for?

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:35 pm
by Mark
:D Awesome - thanks everyone - now I know ... I think .. its simple, clip left clip right, unless its long then clip clip unless my shoes are sharp then clip both, or if .... :wink:

Re: Double Ropes - what for?

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 8:29 pm
by shorti
haha - before you try it yourself, go climb with someone who can show you the ropes first man, you'll see it ain't that 'ard. ok of to bed (hic). Good one Gustave

Re: Double Ropes - what for?

Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:48 am
by MarkM
One more thing, if you are climbing with half ropes don't think that clipping both ropes into the same biner is safer. As Marshall1 said, the skinnier ropes are designed to stretch a lot more than single ropes and thus reduce the load you place on your last piece of pro. So, by clipping both ropes, you reduce the amount the ropes will stretch and thus place more load on your last piece, which could be the difference between it popping or keeping your butt off the ground.

A lot of trad lines (at least what I've seen in all the vids :wink: ) in the States tend to follow pretty direct crack lines (I'm generalising, I know) so the pro tends to lie in a relatively straight line and also since they are often pure cracks the pro is (in general) bomber cams, which allows for single ropes to be used more often.

Re: Double Ropes - what for?

Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:54 am
by lelikegogga
Also remember: If you started by clipping both, keep clipping both for at least that pitch. If you alternate (first clipping one, then the other) and then want to clip both to a single piece... clip each rope to a separate biner.

Re: Double Ropes - what for?

Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:25 pm
by Gustav
That is why it is nice to have a Beal Joker(9.1mm) & Cobra (8.6mm) combo for trad so that you can just clip the Joker (being a single rope as well as a half rope!) first off and then keep them split without any stress...

Re: Double Ropes - what for?

Posted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 4:49 am
by BAbycoat

Re the Joker/Cobra combo: Do you experience any problems threading different diameter ropes through the same belay device?

Re: Double Ropes - what for?

Posted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:09 am
by Gustav
0.5mm difference? Nah, just hold onto the dead rope like in the old days!