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Durability of different types of rope?

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by delenius, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. delenius

    delenius

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    I have searched for information about the relative durability of different kinds of canyoneering ropes, but came up empty. I'm wondering if someone can comment on how the durability of these ropes compare?

    Imlay Fire 8.3mm
    Imlay Canyonero 9.2mm
    Sterling C-IV 9mm

    I already have a Canyonero, but thinking of getting a Sterling or Fire. So, in particular, is the Sterling worth the extra $$ if you were chosing between those two? Any other pros/cons besides durability and cost?
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  2. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    I've had a 200' sterling C-IV that I've used heavily for almost 3 years now. I usually go twice a month from about apr-sept and do 2-3 canyons per trip. I still go during the fall/winter as well but not as often. It's shrunk some, but no core shots yet. Its very supple compared to the Imlay ropes however its got more stretch than they do so bouncing can be a problem. I've also got both types of Imlay ropes and they seem to hold up quite well, however I haven't used them quite as much as my sterling. Obviously the canyonero is more durable than the fire, but if you're careful about how you use your ropes and watch rub points when rappelling then its not going to be a huge deal. I prefer the canyonFire because its lighter cheaper and I like rappelling on skinny rope.
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  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    You will get, as demonstrated, a lot of anecdotal evidence, which tends to show whatever you want. People like to be reassured that their buying choice, especially when buying something expensive like a rope, is correct, so there is a lot of "confirmation bias".

    Some gear has tests (and standards) that can be useful for making decisions. Durability of rope not so much. We chatted about how to quantify the durability of ropes many times, but coming up with a representative test is impossible.

    In canyoneering, ropes usually die when we make a mistake and nail the rope over a sharp edge. More robust ropes will require more sharpness or more nailing, but really, the core-shot tends to be a matter of either difficult situations or moments of inattention. I would say that roughly 50% of rope death is due to this factor alone, assuming your rope is reasonably robust (as opposed to a dynamic climbing rope, for instance).

    That said, you can improve your odds with a more robust rope in places where conditions tend to be difficult. I'm looking at YOU, OURAY!

    The C-IV is a very nice rope, and quite robust. It is bulky, but it is also light.

    Tom
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2016
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  4. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    If you need just one "big gun" rope for those canyons where you expect adverse conditions and want the extra security, get some 10 or 11mm PMI classic with the maxwear sheath. It's heavy, stiff, and tough to use, but it wears like steel cable. The PMI maxwear stuff has been a staple for cavers for over 30 years so it has the track record to back up the claims. I have a 150' piece that I can use for just such an occasion, though it rarely gets used.
  5. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    I own and have used the Canyon Fire, Sterling ropes, 9.2 Canyon DS, Canyon Extreme, couple of others...

    I paid extra to go with the 8mm Canyon Pro. However, not sure if bad luck or coincidence, but it is the only rope I've nicked (twice now) and had to cut for a shorter length. It also seems to be not as smooth. It is my lightest rope though!
  6. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    You get a bunch more mileage out of a rope by employing good edge protection and/or learning how to slip a rope. And taking care not to "rodeo start". Etc.

    Last two ropes I've owned that were shredded in canyon/rappels were a fat BW Static II and a hunk of 9mm+ New England static line. Been ok with my two old BW Canyon Pro's...and...yeah, for backcountry stuff with any distance, they're my work horses. Light and small volume. Heck, not much smaller volume than a Imlay 6mm pull cord.

    Have a couple short lengths of BW Canyon Pro DS as well. Tough stuff.

    Also own the two sizes of Sterlings canyon ropes. So sweet. Good for near-to-the-car gigs with especially groups of folks that don't rappel well. Really like their "hand". Wear like iron.

    I don't have a ton of time in the saddle with Imlay ropes, but, have used several friends models. Seem fairly durable and nice hand after a few uses.

    I'll have to offer, a rope I've seen offerred for sale recently by a US importer is Roca. Maybe we had a bad day, but, I've never seen a rope schred that easily in use. On two occasions. A bit scary. Was a year or more ago, so, maybe that's changed.
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  7. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Had some Roca ropes bitd. Speleo model. Just had to wave them at a sharp edge, and they would core shoot. Koen said the same.

    Tom
  8. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    I imagine it IS rarely used.

    I have had a "fair bit" of experience with the fat static ropes, particularly the 11mm and 10mm PMI pit and max wear rope, also BW, Highline, and Sterling, and a few others. So, this is field research, and to some extent may be classified (as Tom pointed out) as "anecdotal evidence", however, trust me when I say it has been well tested in many environments. But in the canyons with roofs or on very long rappels/climbs – as long as 2650', but not in the canyons.

    If you want steel-belted, 11mm PMI pit rope is #1 in my book, followed closely behind by max wear and some of the other mfgs products. But, it has little or no purpose in the canyons … unless of course your 4x4 needs towing out of the muck. It is a great tool that I use regularly, just not in the canyons – the proverbial elephant gun for a rabbit hunt scenario. PMI pit rope is the most common used rope, in my caving circles, I would never use it canyoneering.

    The same argument can be made for 10mm, however it could be acceptable under some very narrow conditions. Where it suffers as well, IMO, is that most rap devices for canyoneering are just too constrictive for 10mm static rope and ultimately causes bad side effect issues, i.e. heavy glazing, sheath bunching and fray, core twist bunching, etc. Believe me, we used this stuff solely on our first couple of trips…just didn't trust the skinny rope then, but have since learned there are far better solutions out there.

    Don't get me wrong, I use PMI 11 and 10 more than any other manufactured or sized rope, just not in the canyons (seeing a common thread).

    I own some Canyonero rope, I like it. It performs well, even with caver rapping hardware; much better with the canyon rap hardware. We have even ascended on it – many times – great performance, which for a caver means no tracking issues. Haven't drunk the cool-aid on the smaller stuff yet, i.e. < 9mm, but I know lots of people use it with confidence.

    Just a little OT FYI. There are lots of cavers moving to 10mm rope, which is a huge move when you consider their history. But for Mexico mega pits and El Cap like drops, still 11mm.
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  9. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    Like I said, it RARELY gets used. I've never even used it in a sandstone canyon. I've had the rope forever and certainly didn't buy it for that purpose. It was on clearance somewhere when I was getting interested in caving. A hobby that never really panned out.

    I figured you'd have some good input on the subject, being a hardcore caver. Thanks for the clarification.
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  10. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    What are "tracking issues"?

    Tom
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  11. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Mainly, for rope-walker systems, it means - no misfires; i.e. take a step and and the ascender doesn't grab. Froggers aren't affected by it as much, but it still happens.
  12. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Big exception to this would be the typical European Class C canyon, where single rope rappelling, contingency anchors, fat static ropes, and those wide open Pirana/ATS type devices really shine. Common to see 9+ to 10+ mm ropes used over there. Very rare to see anything under 9mm, unless of course, an American canyoneer brings it...(and even then it raises eyebrows).
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  13. John Styrnol

    John Styrnol

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    My first time thru Birch Hollow we used a 7mm, pretty quick on a couple of raps. LOL
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  14. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    If you're ever east of the Mississippi, south of the Mason Dixon line, and have a few hours to burn - give me a shout. Bring your rope and we'll try to breathe some life into that interest!
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  15. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    Thanks for the offer. I'll certainly take you up on it if I'm ever back that way.

    We have some really good pits here in Utah as well. Up north in the Bear River limestone.

    It's more a matter of time than anything. Just one more thing I have to buy more gear for;)
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  16. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Interesting new rope technology being introduced by PMI, called Unicore®. Currently only offered in 11mm static, don't know if there are plans to mfg smaller mm.

    The video is impressive.

  17. hobo_climber

    hobo_climber

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    Bonded sheath/core ropes have been available for quite some time. Kordas (http://www.sacidkordas.com/en/rope-types) in spain make a few different canyon-spesific & Caving versions.
  18. Taylor

    Taylor

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    Unicore was developed by Beal a few years ago. They make a caving rope at 8.5 or 9.5 mms. Seems ideal for canyoneering at 6.4 lbs for 200m of the 8.5mm version. Perhaps I'll buy one and give it a try. Unfortunately they only sell it in an uglyish white color. Fwiw re Unicore, SLCOSAR has been buying new 11mm rescue ropes with Unicore.
  19. Cristina

    Cristina Cristina AmatDiSanFilippo

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    I am starting noticing when rappelling light fluffy fibers on my device. ...making my outer sheet probably thinner. saw happening with tom' s and with my extreme ,now I am getting concern. I just soaked some of them in a dry treatment from nickwax hoping will make them more protected ( and faster for heavy people) but is there is a way to prevent it or is the fact both my biner and device are stainless steel?

    Sent from my Venue 7 3730 using Tapatalk
  20. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Couple of thoughts:
    Fiber deposits are usually the results of a harsh rope path caused by the device's angles, grooves; combined with the ropes' age/condition and possibly weight of the user (no, this is not an inference). Further analysis would only be speculation on my part, without knowing more of the details.

    Canyons, with their harsh environments and even harsher rope pulls, and dry treated ropes Return-On-Investment are marginal at best for life extending purposes. Unless you're doing a lot of wet or Class C canyons, you'll probably get more life-extended expectancy out of basic rope care, than you will from any dry treatment. (my opinion, of course) So, is this your fuzz problem...unlikely, unless the fuzz is treatment residue (dust) and not fibers.
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