Climbing ropes are essential pieces of equipment for most climbers. Even though I like bouldering, my favorite climbing styles are sport climbing, multi-pitch and trad climbing. I want to use my ropes with the certainty that they will keep me safe in all kinds of situations.
The ropes keep us safe and secure as we ascend to great heights, and they need to be in top condition to do their job effectively. A dirty rope will also wear down your belay device a lot faster! One important aspect of maintaining a climbing rope is storing it properly. In this article, we’ll go over some tips on how to store a climbing rope so that it remains in good condition for years to come.
Use it often
A kind of counterintuitive, but a good tip for keeping your rope in good condition is to use it often. Every time you return your rope to storage there will be loops in a little bit of a different spot and this will help with keeping the rope in a good condition. Besides most ropes have a rather short shelf life and they are meant to be used.
Clean it before storing
Keep it dry
Moisture is one of the biggest enemies of a climbing rope. It can weaken the fibers and make the rope less effective at absorbing impact forces. A wet rope can even get mold. Especially after getting caught in the rain or after ice climbing I like to make sure my rope is well dried before storage. You can spread the rope in a dry, well-ventilated area for a few hours to air it out, even if its not completely wet.
Coil the rope
Once your rope is dry, it’s time to coil it. Coiling the rope is important to prevent tangles and kinks from forming. Make sure you coil the rope loosely, using big loops. Avoid tight bends and kinks that can damage the rope fibers. It’s also important to avoid coiling the rope too tightly, especially for storage. As this can cause the rope to lose its natural shape and become difficult to use.
Store in a cool, dry place
When it comes to storing a climbing rope, it’s important to keep it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Sunlight can cause the rope to become brittle and weak, so it’s best to store it in a place where it won’t be exposed to UV rays. A dry and clean closet or gear room is an ideal place to store your climbing rope.
Avoid exposure to harsh chemicals
One of the most common problems with climbing ropes is exposure to a chemical. The most common place for this damage is in the trunk of a car, whether its a leaky container (gas, oil, etc) or a leaky old battery or some other fluid that gets in contact with the rope. Like many climbers I have a van that I use for longer climbing trips and I always try to make sure I have the same level safety in storage for the ropes in the van as they have at home.
Avoid mechanical damage and sharp edges
The last thing you want is for your rope to come into contact with sharp edges or corners that can cause damage. This might be as simple as pushing the rope into a drawer and when you push the drawer shut a part of the rope gets snagged or dragged. Obviously store your climbing ropes away from any other sharp gear. “What I shouldn’t stash my knife collection and my ropes in the same box?!”
Don’t store the rope in a very tight bag
It’s tempting to store your climbing rope in a bag to keep it ready for the next outing. Many rope bags have the ability to tighten the package, which is great for transporting it. However, storing a rope in a bag like this can actually do some harm to it. This can compress the rope and cause kinks and flat spots to form.
Rotate the rope
To prevent flat spots from forming on your rope, it’s a good idea to rotate it periodically. If this doesn’t happen naturally by taking the rope to the gym or the crag you should take some time to do this every once in a while. This means taking the rope down and coiling it in the opposite direction. Doing this every few months will help keep your rope in good condition and prevent it from developing weak spots. My longest rope is only used on longer trips where a long rope is a must and therefore I need to take the time to store it properly in between trips.
In conclusion, storing a climbing rope properly is essential to maintaining its longevity and effectiveness. By keeping your rope dry, coiling it properly, storing it in a cool, dry place, avoiding sharp edges, not storing it in a bag, hanging it up, and rotating it periodically, you can ensure that your rope remains in good condition and is ready to use when you need it. Remember, a well-maintained climbing rope is a safe climbing rope!