Preventing Climbing Rope Wear

DHave you noticed how your rope only gets worn on one side? The fraying is uneven because the rope always seems to orient itself so that...

By Rock and Ice | February 2nd, 2010

Have you noticed how your rope only gets worn on one side? The fraying is uneven because the rope always seems to orient itself so that only one side wears. I’ve tried twisting it and tying my knot differently, but still the rope always ends up running with the worn side against the draws. Why is that? Answer me now, bitch! —Andrew Beechslap,  via rockandice.com

Let’s get one thing straight. I am the master!

I, too, have noticed how ropes tend to wear in specific spots, but, for lack of available scientific data, have to wing it here and say that I believe this is simply due to our perception. Ever notice how when you get one of those nearly invisible but excruciating cactus thorns in your finger, you seem to grab stuff with that part of the finger all the time? It seems like you touch that spot on your finger more than usual, but the reality is you just notice it because it hurts. Same thing with your rope. Likely, it doesn’t always run with a wear point against a carabiner, but it seems to because you only notice when it runs that way. But, of course, it isn’t as simple as that. Once a rope frays or abrades, wear at that point accelerates because there are fewer rope fibers to resist abrasion.

Then again, maybe your rope, due to the butterfly effect in chaos theory, does always run with the fray against the biners. While this action might like the weather appear to be random, it is, due to pre-existing deterministic conditions beyond your control, the only way your rope can run. Even when you tie your rope differently, or switch ends, or take the kinks out, you can’t change what must be. No one knows why. Next!

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