When to Replace Your Climbing Rope

Last Updated on September 2, 2020

A mountaineer’s rope is a lifesaver, an essential gate that opens the way to many vertical adventures.  It plays a key role at the time of climbing by protecting against falls. But things can go wrong if we use an average quality rope or we don’t check it before starting to climb.

As a result, it becomes a cause for being injured and even death. Hence, it is essential to know when the climbing rope needs to be changed. And this is a question that every climber encounters at some stage of their climbing adventures.

When to Replace Your Climbing Rope

To know the right time for a new rope and to make your life easier, here we come up with some essential facts regarding climbing rope that you must know. In this post, we will walk you through on how to inspect your rope for damage, and when to replace your climbing rope.

Climbing Rope Strength

Before moving onto checking, first, you need to know about the strength of your rope:

All ropes are classified according to the UIAA (International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation) standard. Generally, the single cables are tested by dropping a weight of 80 kg from a height of 7.5 feet.

While stretching the rope, the weight decreases by 16.5 feet. The weight force on the cord is a fall factor of 1.77, which is usually much higher than an average climbing fall.

For a half rope, the test is performed with a weight of 55 kg. When buying half-ropes, you will notice that there are a UIAA number of tests that are shown on the half-ropes to ensure its standard quality. Also, you will find that other tests are done to check its durability and strength.

The UIAA number for each rope indicates the tests that the cable managed to tolerate before breaking. And this is not an indication of how many falls the cable can sustain before breaking, but a sign of the overall strength of the rope. A rope can support a more significant number of falls than the UIAA classification.

A rope is also classified as containing a kilo-newton number. One kN represents about 225 pounds of force; Most single climbing ropes have a load capacity of 9 kN, which corresponds to a load capacity of 2000 pounds.

So, it is essential to check the strength capacity of a rope before buying. And after using a climbing rope for six months or a year, we need to recheck some critical factors regarding cables which are described below:

Cuts in the skin

First, we should examine the sheath along the length of the rope to see if there is any significant damage. The cord is still healthy when some of the seams on the sheath have come loose.

A cut in the sheath is usually worthy if it is so big that you can see the core of the rope. When you find such a cut, you need to understand that it is high time to change the climbing rope.

Core Shots

A hole is also created in the sheath after a rope has been subjected to a large number of catches and wear as well as tear. If you can see the core of your cable through a hole in the sheath, then it is a core shot which is a sure indication that it is time to cut or replace your rope.


Another way the sheath can malfunction is if it is fuzzy. More fuzz usually causes more damage to the sheath and can almost become a core shot. When part of your rope becomes fuzzier, you need to be very careful lest it should break. So, it will be a great decision to replace it when it becomes a core shot.

Sheath Slippage

The sheath can sometimes slide out of the core. So, you need to feel along the rope; if there are spots where you can feel the sheath and find a very little core underneath, you should understand that the sheath has slipped. That means the rope is weak at this stage because the sheath no longer protects the core. Therefore, you need to replace it.

Core Flat Spots

When your rope is worn, flat dots appear, and it represents that the core is weakened. You can search for flat spots by pinching a loop along the length of the rope. If the core is still good, it will hold its loop. And if it is weakened, you can easily pinch it into a sharp bend. That means it is time to change your rope.

Final Words

Every rope doesn’t last forever. Generally, a single climbing rope is suitable for a year of heavy use; sometimes, it only lasts for some weeks. And it depends on the quality of your cable and how you use it as well. If you only use a rope at the weekend and you don’t fall a lot, then your cable may last for two to three years.

However, no matter how high-quality rope you are using, you should inspect it frequently because a safe cable can save your life. So, you need to err on the side of caution. If you have any doubt, you should get a new one.


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