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Tech Tip: Question "Standard" Rope Lengths?

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by Tricam, Aug 25, 2020.

  1. Tricam

    Tricam

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    Is there a "standard" selection of rope lengths that would be recommended to efficiently do most trade routes?

    From what I have been able to find, it seems that 300' is generally the max rappel height encountered, so you would need one 300' cut at a minimum, plus some combination of rope+pull cord for the other side. Is it common to get a single 300' pull cord, or do most join a couple smaller strands for the occasional long rappel?

    Are there other lengths that are particularly beneficial for a large number of routes?
  2. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    Two 120's and/or two 200's seem to be the most common rope lengths, but it depends on what canyons you are doing.
  3. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    The perfect quiver IMHO is the following:

    300' rope
    300' pull cord
    200' rope
    120' rope
    Three 80' ropes

    Some combination of those will get you through most canyons. If you need more than that combination (and it's usually another 120 and several more 80s), you'll likely have plenty of people to carry them. But I've been in a group with 6 or 8 ropes being used at once as the crew works 2 or 3 pothole obstacles at a time. A pothole can suck up a lot of rope.

    One rope to rap in with. One rope to pull the anchor. Two or three ropes to throw potshots. You're up to 4 or 5 on just one problem. If you move on to the next pothole, you're leaving at least three behind (rap rope, pull rope, and a rope to 2:1 people out of the pot. So you're up to 7-8 to work two problems at once. Now go to three problems....."Rope forward!, Potshots forward! We'll need another sandtrap up here! Who's got an etrier?" Good times. I love those dense canyons. Three hours to go 100 yards.
    Yellow Dart, ratagonia and Tricam like this.
  4. Tricam

    Tricam

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    Nice! That sounds pretty close to what I would have hoped. The pothole escapes sound awesome (although probably frustrating) - I hope I get to try that this year :)
  5. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    There are only a few canyons that have raps longer than 200 feet. So buying a rope longer than 200 tends to be something someone does 'down the line'.

    In a canyon with a 300' rappel, you are not likely to only have a 300' rope and a pull cord. In a canyon with a 300' rappel, you are likely to ONLY use that 300'er for that one rappel, or perhaps for one other long rappel (looking at you, Heaps). Bunging up your 300'er on 'ordinary rappels' would have serious consequences re: completing the canyon; but also, financial consequences as you have an investment in keeping that rope long enough for the specific rappels you intend it for.

    In Heaps, for example, there are something like 25 rappels. #1 is 65 feet. #2 is 210 feet. #3 is 60 feet... then a bunch of rappels no longer than 60 feet, #23 is 60 feet, #24 is 145 feet, #25 is 290 feet. My preferred setup for this is 1 rope x 300 feet plus 2 or 3 ropes by 150 feet. Oh, and a young strong individual to carry the 300'er in a drybag through the canyon. (If small team and just 2 x 150' ropes, I would bring a super pull cord x 200 feet or 300 feet, in case one of my 150'ers got stuck.) This selection allows me to do the 2 long rappels, at the beginning and at the end, using the 300 footer, and the penultimate rappel (including pulling it), and have enough 'real rope' to pull the 300' rappel.

    Yes, each canyon is different. Each canyon area is different. Each canyon strategist is different. For Zion and Utah, the ropes that get used the most are the 120s. I see little advantage in carrying shorter ropes, since 120's manage fairly well out of a bag, though many people like having shorter ropes. Depends upon the canyon, but having a variety of rope lengths tends to require using the ropes in the correct order, so when you get to the 100 foot rappel, the rope in your hand is a 100 footer, rather than the 80 footer...

    One of my friends is like: Ok, for the first rappel, we need a 38 foot rope. for the second, a 52 footer; for the third, a 145er; for the fourth, a 46-1/2er; for the etc. etc... so we have 8 different ropes each carried by a different person, each a different length and they must be deployed in the correct order or the whole parade grinds to a halt waiting for the correct rope to get to the front... perhaps I exaggerate. Just a bit.

    Tom
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  6. PutUpYourDux

    PutUpYourDux

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    I find the 120' and 200' lengths extremely versatile in general, but as others have mentioned it definitely depends.
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  7. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Lay out an 80 footer, a 120 footer, and a 200 footer on the ground at the trailhead and see which one gets picked up and put in a pack first.

    That's why "versatile" 200 footers aren't used when they don't have to be. They're heavy.
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  8. PutUpYourDux

    PutUpYourDux

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    I agree with not carrying the 200 footer when it isn't required. Didn't mean to imply that when saying "versatile." As I said, it depends. A #2 Camalot is also very versatile, but I wouldn't rack it on a tips-only climb at the Creek.
  9. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    I recommend picking up one of Atwood's 1/4 mile spools of Grand.

    That 1200' line is helpful for those peakbagging days when you want to skip the whole go-back-down-the-way-you-came-up part.
    Bootboy and Tricam like this.
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