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).

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