Can You Lead On a Static Rope?

Can you lead on a static rope if you place protection close together, thus reducing the potential distance you’d fall?

—Adrian, via


Closely spacing protection can shorten falls, but leading on a static rope is as ill-conceived as the time you drank a quart of Wild Turkey and thought it would be cool to BASE jump with your tent fly. Outside the imaginative concepts found in the bottom of a bottle, I can’t dream of a situation where you’d be tempted to lead on a static. Static ropes are only for jugging, rappelling and occasionally toproping as long as you keep the rope snug to prevent a crippling shock load. Static ropes don’t stretch and aren’t meant to catch lead falls. Even a two-foot fall on a static rope can break carabiners and churn your insides into pudding. The danger of mixing up a static and dynamic rope is so great that rope makers all color their static ropes with one solid color, and give dynamic ropes multi-colored, patterned sheaths. Beware. Gear Guy has spoken!


This article appeared in Rock and Ice issue 193 (April 2011).

Got a question? Email



Also Read


Gear Guy: Is a Flat Rope Safe?


Gear Guy: Static Noise


Gear Guy: Money for Dry Rope?

  • Anchoring a Lighter Belayer

    I was taught to belay dynamically, and jump up when the leader falls, to soften the catch. Now, however, I climb with my wife, who weighs half as much as I do. I’m told that … Continue reading “Anchoring a Lighter Belayer”

  • More, on the EDK

    With all the stories out there about the EDK failing and the unfortunate results, why don’t people use an alternative? Would a figure eight backed up by double fisherman’s, work? —Gavin Woodward, via   … Continue reading “More, on the EDK”