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Rock Climbing Bolting

Rock Climbing: Bolting

Do any of the experienced climbers have anything that they would like to add or change?

READ FIRST

Installation of fixed anchors implies a strong responsibility; which you should only take if you have suitable experience. The information given here is not to be taken as the be all and end all of bolting facts. This is advice only and the authors and sources are not responsible for inaccuracies, mistakes or accidents caused by using this information. Never assume that the person(s) selling the product (or other climbers) are giving the right advice. Read the product manuals and contact the manufacturer if there are any doubts.

Climbing and bolting is dangerous; there are systems in place to reduce the risks of the associated dangers when climbing and bolting. It is up to you to decide which system is the best to use. As always you climb and bolt AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Before placing bolts in a cliff you should first practice at home or on ground level. Find a piece of stone, a boulder or use your garages cement foundation as a test block. Practice drilling, notching, placing and removing an example of the different types of anchors before deciding on a system that you will use.

Remember – do not trust the guys in the bolt shops to tell you the right information, especially the guys from Speedex, ACE or the other constructions shops selling Chinese made anchors. They have no idea about dynamic loads related to climbing and will recommend equipment that is not suitable.

This guide will steer you towards brands that people have been using successfully for years in around the world. (Hilti, SMC, Petzl..) – it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to read the technical manuals for the product and follow the instructions exactly. Contact Brian Coones at brian.coones@gmail.com or       +971 55 7708629  if you need more information about bolting in the UAE or Oman.

ROUTE BOLTING ETHICS

Lead by example

Make sure to clean up after yourself (make others clean the climbing areas as well). Let’s keep our climbing areas clean.

Follow safe climbing and bolting techniques, practices and procedures.

Before you drill, do a lot of climbing in the area; think hard about whether your potential line will enhance or detract. Don’t bolt something now that you might be embarrassed about later. Decide whether the route follows an aesthetic line. A route should flow together into an obvious set of moves.

If you are establishing a new area ask yourself: How many routes can I put here? Will there be grades for all skill levels? What is the approach like? What direction does the cliff(s) face?

If you have been climbing outside for less than four years, or if you have climbed in fewer than five different areas, you should think about getting some broader experience or at least good mentorship with experienced climbers/bolters, before drilling and bolting new routes.

Routes that contain natural protection (Trad) are usually left as such. Bolted cracks are extremely rare and are very much frowned upon in most areas of the world. If you can place gear than leave the climb in its natural state please do so. You may not be able to climb the line placing gear but other future climbers certainly will. Leave trad challenges for the future.

Consult the local guide book to ensure that new lines will not intersect existing ones or that you are not bolting an existing trad line. Many guidebooks are out dated (especially the UAE Guidebook), try to look for updates online. Make sure new lines are a few meters apart. If they are too close they can interfere with each other.

Do not bolt unless you want crowds to someday arrive. Remember, bolts bring guidebooks which bring crowds who will stomp the place to death and turn it into such a hellhole that you will never want to go back to. If the area is a tranquil backwater than try and leave some of its original charm intact by limiting the effects of bolting.

Climbing is for everyone. If you want to keep a climbing area secret while you are bolting it for safety or until you finish a project it is understandable. If you are bolting a secret crag to only be kept for yourself and your close friends then you need to rethink your ethics and set the ego aside. Climbing is for everyone.

Unfinished routes and projects should be marked with red tape or ribbon on the first bolt to indicate that the line is not yet open by the person working on it. Add your contact info on the tape so those looking for information can contact you. If you come across routes marked red be respectful and stay off of them until they are finished.

ROUTE PREPARATION

  • Keep in mind that climbing gear is designed for climbing, not for window washing or rap-bolting and rap-scrubbing. Fatalities have been caused by a rhythmic brushing motion abrading ropes (pad the edge!). Wear a helmet; especially if you are below – rocks fly right and left on virgin routes.
  • Abseil down route and remove ANY loose rock, sand dirt.. with hammer, crowbar and brush approximately 1 meter to the left and right of the proposed line. This takes time and is very important. Some routes may need a few good cleanings.
  • Bring a rack of natural gear (cams, nuts, hooks…) to keep yourself close to the wall. If the route is overhung use natural placements, including skyhooks, to ‘aid’ down the route. You also might want to buy some removable bolts. If local ethics allow reinforce loose important holds with glue. An adjustable daisy chain with a hook on it is a very useful tool.
  • If possible, top-rope the route to find good clipping stances and holds. Routes are almost always bolted better if you climb it first.
  • Mark approximate location of bolts with an arc of colored chalk making sure the clip is possible for vertically challenge (short) people.
  • The first ten meters is the most dangerous area. If the first bolt is 3m up, and the second is 4.5m up, most people will deck out if they fall clipping the second bolt. Solution? Put the first few bolts closer together. Or put the first bolt a bit higher and people will either climb up to it a bit more cautiously (people rarely fall off death routes) or use a stick clip.
  • Decide whether the route requires a lower off; most routes in the UAE DO! If the end has a loose or vegetated top-out, a bad walk down or the climb is very steep then a lower-off is recommended. If the crag already has routes with lower-offs then it is a good idea to continue the trend. Make sure the lower-of is replaceable (chains, removable rings, mallions…)when parts begin to wear.
  • Choose bolt type depending on route angle, difficulty and rock type.

DRILLING

  • Work downwards using a Gri-Gri, STOP, RIG, ID etc. and two daisy chains (adjustable daisies are the best) for holding your body in when using sky-hooks and natural gear. A person holding the end of rope on the ground can be very useful to swing the bolter into the rock on overhangs. Learning to aid is handy when bolting steep routes.
  • You can also work up using ascending gear Croll, Jumar Handle etc.
  • When access from above is not possible bolting is possible ground up on lead or aid climbing. Bolting on lead has increased risk will climbing with heavy gear on uncleaned routes. If you take a lead fall while bolting ground up your equipment may swing in to you causing injury or you maybe impaled with a drill bit.
  • If possible work on two static ropes one working line and a second line with a shunt or ropeman for safety.
  • Tap rock with hammer to find solid rock for bolt placement. Do not bolt hollow sounding rock. Place the bolt a minimum of 6in (15cm) from any fault line (i.e. crack in rock or edge).
  • Before drilling a hole place the hanger against the rock to test if proposed placement of the hanger is flush against rock surface. If it is not use the hammer to flatten the surface, the hanger should even, flush and have as much conact as possible
  • Before drilling a hole, hold a quickdraw against the rock to test if proposed bolt placement will force carabiner over sharp edge or open the gate of the carabiner.
  • Use tape on the drill bit to indicate the depth required for the bolt. If placing expansion bolts, be sure to drill deeper than bolt required so that the bolts can be easily hammered in or recessed and patched down the track when your classic is rebolted with chemical anchors.
  • Start drilling slowly paying attention to create a straight hole which is perpendicular to the rock surface. Take care not to fracture the edges around the hole (drill slowly to start).
  • Once hole is running straight increase drill speed to maximum. Drill in a little then pull out to clean out the hole. The excessive dust in the hole can cause added friction and abrasiveness making the hole lager especially in soft rock.
  • For ringbolts you must drill a notch to recess the ring. Drill a 20mm deep hole below and parallel with the first hole. Now drill vertically up and down to remove the rock between the two holes. Test the bolt in the notch to make sure it fits properly.
  • Blow out the dust with a long tube, bike pump or specific blower (these are best). Use a plastic hole brush (test tube brush) to scrub out the excess dust. Keep blowing and brushing until the hole is spotless especially with chemical anchors. Yes, this takes time!
  • Clean up any dust that has spread over the cliff during drilling. These big white stains can be visible for miles and will not wash away under roofs.

BOLTING

Expansion bolts

  • Most expansion bolts require hammering in. Be careful aligning the bolt with the hole. If you end up smashing the bolt hard with full blows of the hammer then something is wrong. If possible extract the bolt and re-drill the hole before it becomes mangled. Or drill a new hole and start over.
  • You should fix mistakes (empty holes) with epoxy putty such as Selly’s Knead-It which applies like Blu-Tac and hardens like rock. Camoflague it with appropriately coloured dirt or sand. Similar products can be found in any hardware store. Buy some and be prepared.
  • If possible use a torque wrench to work out the correct amount of tightening (see manual for torque setings).  If you can’t bring the torque wrench to the crag then practice at home on similar rock to find out what sort of pressure to use. If you tighten too hard you can break the head off the bolt – or more dangerously tighten to a point just before failure. 12mm Ramset Dynabolts require twice as much torque as the 10mm variety so make sure you read the exact brand specifications.
  • If the hole is too short and the bolt does not sit flush then remove it and re-drill. An easy way to remove sleeve bolts is using needle-nose pliers which can grip the sleeve and extract it after the bolt is removed. To remove the loose cone at the base of the hole screw the bolt in without the sleeve and pull it out.
  • Test the bolt by clipping it into a chain of quickdraws or sling and pulling and jumping up and down on it. TEST YOUR WORK! Flick the weight side to side to see if the hanger will slip. On routes with a potential left to right fall the bolt will eventually unscrew itself. It will be plainly obvious when this begins to start occurring. Consider a glue-in ringbolt or U-bolt in this case.

Glue-in capsules (only applicable to machine style bolts or threaded rod)

  • Check to make sure the bolt you are going to place sits flush with the back of the hole before gluing. If the bolt will have no fixed hanger then make sure a removable bolt hanger can be placed easily over the head.
  • Place capsule in hole. If the route is overhung than use a little blue-tac on the end of the capsule to keep it in place. Hilti HVU Capsules will hold themselves in without assistance.
  • Place bolt into hex head socket on end of drill. Make sure drill is in ‘hammer’ mode and drill the bolt slowly through the capsule – breaking it up and mixing it around the shaft.
  • Wipe away any excess glue with a cotton rag.
  • Leave the bolt for the prescribed curing period (usually overnight to be safe). PUT A NOTICE ON THE FIRST BOLT in high traffic areas.
  • Test the bolt before use by loading shear (down) and tension (out) with a quickdraw chain or daisy chain whilst on toprope. Test to see if a hanger will fit over the bolt head.

Glue-in caulking gun (Receommended – suitable for all glue-in bolt types)

  • Often the glue-in bolts you have purchased will have machine oil on them from the manufacturing process. They need to be clean for the glue to bond to them, so wash them in hot water and detergent before going bolting.
  • No matter how you do it this will be a messy business. Wear old clothes, use old ropes and bring a ‘spoodge’ bag to deposit excess glue and nozzles.
  • Clear gear from underneath the climb so falling glue does not stick together your climbing rack!
  • Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the glue. A face mask is recommended for extended periods of gluing.
  • You should choose the best glue you can. Epoxy based glues are twice as strong as polyester based glues and are therefore recommended. Epoxy also lasts longer. Polyester glues have been found to degrade over time turning to powder and eventually allowing the bolt to be pulled out by hand. This has happened in the Blue Mountains, Queensland, and in Thailand. A very good glue we can recommend is Hilti RE-500. The most extreme and corrosive environment in the world for bolts is Thailand, and this is the glue that has been tested and approved here.
  • Clean all the holes before starting to glue. This is where some people screw up. The holes for glue-ins must be absolutely spotless. It will take about two minutes to clean each hole. Remember, if there is any dust in the hole, the glue will not bond to the rock in that spot. Do it right!
  • The glue in the nozzle will dry quickly and you will only have a few minutes between uses (with polyester glue, significantly longer with epoxy) before it will be too hard to use.
  • Squeeze two trigger fulls of glue into a ziplock bag before starting. The bag can be checked later to see if the glue cured properly. Check visually that two separate colours of glue (components) are going into the nozzle.
  • Work out beforehand how many trigger pulls of glue is required for each bolt (usually 1-2). Apply this amount to hole starting at deepest point and slowly pulling out to fill hole with minimal air pockets.
  • Wipe excess glue off the end of the nozzle and smear the entire shaft of the bolt with this glue. This will help the glue in the hole bond with the bolt shaft.
  • Insert the bolt slowly with a spinning motion. A few turns should remove any air pockets that have built up. Push hard against the back of the hole. Enough glue should flow out from around the bolt that you will need to clean it up with a cotton rag. Make sure the notch on the ringbolt hole is completely filled. Wipe away all ugly excess glue and smooth down the glue around the hole for a nice finish.
  • When placing a ringbolt under roof you will need to hold the ring in position whilst drying. Wedge a little piece of stick into the entrance of the hole between the bolt and rock. This should keep the bolt from creeping from the hole. A U-bolt is much better as its two legs generally press against the sides of their holes and will keep it in place while the glue dries.
  • Leave the bolt for the prescribed curing period (usually overnight to be safe). PUT A NOTICE ON THE FIRST BOLT in high traffic areas.
  • Test the bolt before use by loading shear (down) and tension (out) with a quickdraw chain or daisy chain whilst on toprope. Jab the glue around the hole to ensure it’s rock solid.

    Rap Anchors and Top ChainsRap anchors should be absolutely bomber, unobtrusive and user friendly. Equalise the two or more bolts so that no single anchor is taking all the force. Position anchors in an easy to reach location so climbers don’t have to do anything dangerous and un-roped to reach them. In sensitive wilderness areas try and use one rap point for multiple routes.

    Lower-off and belay anchors need to be replaceable. Repetitive use as top-rope anchors and abseil stations wears out the metal of the anchor and eventually it needs replacement. When installing rap anchors in high use areas it is advised to use stainless steel mallions or shackles on the rings or U’s so they can be unscrewed and replaced in the future. Locktight the mallions closed so thieves cannot steal them easily. Wire the mallion onto the anchor so it cannot spin upside down and be unscrewed with rope pulling.

 

Sources and References:

http://www.safercliffs.org

http://www.safeclimbing.org/education.htm

http://www.petzl.com/us/outdoor/anchors-0

http://www.fixehardware.com/shop/Climbing-Mountaineering

http://www.traks-me.com

http://www.globalclimbing.com

Hilti Anchoring Workshop for Climbers: Results

This past weekend a group of climbers along with the team from Hilti headed to the crag in Dibba for the weekend for some climbing, camping and to learn more about anchoring solutions for equipping climbing routes. It was a very successful and wonderful weekend with many things covered and learned by the attendees as well as the Hilti Team. We will be scheduling another workshop to be held in January.

Below are the things that were covered.

Hilti

Safety First

First we covered basic safety required while using tools and anchors. Hilti’s primary object along with one of my objectives is to promote safety and ensure that the climbs are equipped with the safest anchors.

Understanding the Base Material

The Hilti anchors are tested and guaranteed in concrete. Hilti administrators many tests on their anchors in different types of concrete; however when it comes to rock outdoors there are too many variables to test all the anchors in each type of rock and rock density.  We covered assessing the base material (the rock you are anchoring into) which the assessment of  quality of fixation and rock is the climbers responsibility.

Use of Equipment

Third we covered the use of the different drills, bits, torque drive… We also tested to see how many holes we could get per full battery. The Hilti  small 2a and medium 4a lasted for just over 20 holes, the large 6a lasted for over 30 holes and the larger 7a was around 40 holes. We tested my old Dewalt drill which lasted about 7 holes.  We also discussed the benefits of each drill and the weight of each drill depending on the type of climb being bolted, if it was being bolted top down or ground up and personal preference.

Selecting the Right Anchor

We discussed which anchors would be best. All of the Hilti anchors are very strong; much stronger than other anchors on the market. The Strongest of which is the Hilti HST. We will be using the Hilti HST, HSA, HTV and Chemical Anchors. Also covered was contact corrosion between the different types of metals that the anchors and hangers are made of.

Correct Anchor Setting

We covered how to place and set the different types of mechanical, chemical anchors as well as fixation of the hanger onto the bolt, tightening and testing.

Anchor Testing in Rock

Finally we hooked up the Hilti hydraulic pull testing equipment to the anchors to administer axial pull test. Generally the axial  pull test is the harder of the tests on a bolt and is how most anchors are normally tested even though most dynamic climbing  falls on an anchor are shear force not axial force unless you are climbing something over very over hanging. Anchoring testing falls under EN959 and the UIAA require all bolt to achieve over 25kN (2.5TONS!)  in all directions and so test axially the one usually done.

Hilti 10mmx90mm HST did not break. It started to pull out at 4 – 4.5 tons with anchor failure at 4.5 tons when the sleeve pulled over the cone.

Hilti 10mmx90mm HSA started slipping between 3.5 and 4 tons with the anchoring breaking at the base of the sleeve at 4-4.5 tons

We also tested some of the other bolts that can be found being used over the past several years in the UAE and Oman including the Fixe/Index bolts and “Chinese Special” bolts some of the other climbers have been buying from constructions companies and hardware store. These bolts did not break but they did slip and were pulled out at 1-1.5 tons. Many routes have been equipped with these bolts by various climbers over the years. These bolts are substandard compared to the Hilti bolts.  But if you manage to generate 1 ton of impact force on a dynamic climbing fall then anchor failure is the least of your problems; as 1 ton of force in your harness would likely break your back or rupture your internal organs. I have yet to hear of a bolt in the UAE breaking when a climber took a fall on it as well.  Needless to say it can be difficult to tell which type of bolt is in a climb so Hilti is working one providing enough anchors to re-equip all the routes in the UAE with Hilti anchors and we will be working to ensure that any climber in the UAE and Oman equipping routes are using Hilti anchors and not the ChinaMart Specials.

Through out Friday we also climbed then ended the day with friends and families around the fire sharing stories, laughing and having a great time and spent Saturday climbing more. A certificate of accomplishment was also issued by Hilti to each attendee.  A very big thank you to the Hilti Team for organizing this for us and to those that took the time to come and learn more about anchoring. I highly suggest that if you are bolting routes that you attend the next workshop.

Hilti is sponsoring me with lots of anchors to be distributed to other bolters, so if you are planning on requesting anchors from the UAE Bolting Fund then attending this workshop is required by Hilti and by me regardless of experience. It is at my discretion to distribute bolts to those who are experienced bolters without having this workshop; some bolts will be (and already have been) distributed to experienced bolters prior to this and the next workshop, after which a cut off date will be set for all bolters regardless of experience to attend a workshop for any further bolts to be given from The UAE Bolting Fund.  I hope to see many of the other experienced climbers/bolters as well as beginners on the next course.

Lets work together with our common love of climbing and the goal and making climbing better through out the Middle East starting with the UAE and Oman. I hope you have an outstanding week.

Petzl Belaying Course

Over the last few months several people have asked me when there will be another Petzl Belaying Course. So by popular demand here it is. Find us on Facebook or Meetup

Petzl-GriGri-2-Belay-Device

INTRODUCTION

Thank you for your interest in training with Traks Pro and Petzl. This informational packet will help you to finalize your training plans. It contains:

• Course Information, Logistics, Enrollment, Payment, and Cancellation details – p. 2-3

• Map and directions to the Traks Pro Training Center – p. 4-5

• A preview of the waiver to be signed prior to attending training with Traks Pro p. 6

Please let us know if we can answer questions about the training. You can reach us via email at training@traks-me.com.com or by phone at +971 4 8859980 or Brian Coones at brian.coones@gmail.com, phone: +971 55 770 8629

Best Regards,

The Traks Pro Team

Belaying a Climber: Responsibility and Techniques
January 29th 2014, 1 day

Do you know who is on the other end of your rope? Belaying is a critical part of the climbing system that makes the difference between a successful and unsuccessful day of climbing.

We all want to improve our skills as a climber and proper belaying is an important skill to improve upon. Come and join us at Traks Pro for an evening of belaying improvement.

Aim:

To provide climbers in the UAE/Oman with awareness of the skills and responsibilities required to effectively belay a climber on a single pitch sport or top rope climbing route.

Objectives:

 

  • Review the roles and responsibilities of a belayer
  • Provide the tools to demonstrate and transmit proper belaying techniques
  • Provide a structured, modular practical awareness program
  • To improve belaying skills
  • Minimize the risks of climbing related incidents through proper belaying
  • Understand the benefits of proper belaying and the consequences of bad belaying
  • Meet new potential climbing partners and friends

Audience:

 

  • Climbers and mountaineers
  • Climbing instructors and mountain guides
  • Climbing wall supervisors
  • Recreational climbing product Salesforce

Prerequisites:

 

  • Basic Climbing Experience, Lead Climbing Experience Preferred

 

Training materials and certificate:

  • Technical documents
  • Certificate of Training

*Bring Two Passport Size Photos on the Day of the course*

LOGISTICS

Traks Pro Training Center (see map and directions on p. 4-5)

Dubai Investment Park 1
Askeral Properties

Warehouse 10

Provisions
Traks Pro will provide basic equipment, including helmets, belay ropes, hardware and fall arrest systems.

 

Attire

Participants should wear training-appropriate clothing, including durable footwear and long pants.

When

January 2014 TBD 6pm to 10pm

Cost

 Cost to be determined.

List price of the Petzl Belaying course in Europe and US is200usd (750aed) Price directed by the Petzl Technical Institute http://www.petzl.com/us/pro/PTI_courses

25% of the course cost is being donated to the UAE Bolting Fund. Space is limited to 16 participants. 50% Deposit is required to secure booking.

Registration

Email your contact information (name, company, email address, phone number, mailing address, passport and visa copy) to training@traks-me.com or brian.coones@gmail.com or call Traks Pro +971 4 8859980 or Brian Coones at +971 55 770 8629 for instructions.

Payment

Enrollment is not complete until payment is arranged by contacting Traks Pro or Brian Coones

Payment can be made by check, cash or account transfer.

Cancellation Policy

Traks Pro will announce any cancellations prior to the course’s start date and will refund all fees. If you cancel your participation in a class 14 or more days prior to its start you will not receive a refund but will receive credit towards a future Traks Pro Course (good for 6 months and transferable to other persons within your organization or business).

Contact Traks Pro Training at training@traks-me.com, phone: +971 4 8859980, or Brian Coones  at brian.coones@gmail.com, phone: +971 55 770 8629 if you have any questions about the training, logistics, or equipment.

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Dubai STOLEN BIKE

Dubai STOLEN BIKE

STOLEN BIKE>>> PLEASE SPREAD AROUND> My Gold Trek Bike was recently STOLEN. It was Locked up at a friends house in Mirabela 5 in Jumeirah Village Triangle. The police are not much help. If you see it please TAKE IT and call me at 0557708629 Thanks

Which Rope to Hang Yourself With!?!?

One of the things I often get asked by climbers is, “what rope should I buy”. Over the years I have used many different ropes from different companies: Beal, Petzl, Sterling, BlueWater, Edelwiess, Mammut, Metolius, Tendon, Maxim, Edelrid, Millet, Singing Rock…to name a few… Not all ropes are made equal though. When it comes to climbing gear you pay for what you get; cheaper ropes are cheap for a reason. A good climbing rope (and good gear period) is an investment towards LIFE. Ropes I currently own are; Single Rope: Beal Diablo 9.8, Beal Flier 10.2, Metolius Monster 9.8, Singing Rock Duran 10.4 Half Ropes: Mammut Pheonix 8.0 and Tendon  Ambition 7.9. My favorite brands are Petzl, Sterling, BlueWater, Beal, Mammut and Metolius.  Below are my personal thoughts and review of a few the ropes I own as well as a guide on selecting rope.

When it comes to ropes in the UAE we are limited on selection. My opinion is that you can get three of the best brands at Barracuda Fishing at the best price: Petzl, Beal and Sterling. BlueWater, Mammut and Metolius Ropes are not available here; so I wouldn’t bother getting rope anywhere else, unless your buying outside the UAE. The next rope I plan to get is a Sterling; still deciding which one though as they are all awesome.

The newest rope I have is the 70m Petzl Contact 9.8; this rope is not yet on the market and will be released in 2014, you also will not find information online about this rope yet (except here 🙂 YAAAY! I’m the first lol). The Contact is one of three new single ropes designed by Petzl to be released 2014; which I received courtesy of TraksPro to test out along with the new Bolsa Rope Bag. Thank you TRAKS! 🙂 I love the new rope. Since receiving it I have used it two weekends in the UAE and for FIVE days straight in Jordan recently. I also had many of the other climbers in the UAE and Jordan use the rope and got much positive feedback. Everyone that has used it so far has loved it compared to my other ropes and their ropes. We even tested it against the Beal Diablo.

Compared to all the ropes I currently have and have used in the past the Petzl Contact 9.8 and Sterling Evolution Velocity 9.8 are my top two favorite.

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Petzl Contact 9.8– Petzl has an outstanding history for developing superior quality and innovative products; their new line of ropes hold to the same Petzl standards of innovation, safety and quality. The bright blue color is very aesthetic and stands out well. The Contact immediately caught my interest out of the bag; it’s manufactured “ready for action” with ClimbReady Coil, which requires no irritating uncoiling or restacking. Combined with the new Bolsa Bag it make transporting and from route to route easy and efficient.  UltraSonic Finish binds the core and sheath at the end; making the ends more durable to avoid fraying and the annoying sheath sliding over the end as you find on some other ropes.

Petzl has distinctively Middle Marked the rope to indicate the middle of the rope to facilitate maneuvers.

My favorite feature of the rope is the handling. The contact has EverFlex Treatment, a special thermal treatment that stabilizes the core strands, improves consistency, and provides excellent grip and handling over time. The feel and handling of the rope are excellent; it is nice and supple, not stiff. The clipping action of the rope is smooth and on longer routes over rock there is not much rope drag compared to other rope. Belaying with this rope is also smooth and delicate, making the belaying action feel better. The Contact easily slides through the GriGri and Reverso. When using the GriGri the Contact does not easily “pinch/grab” causing the cam to engage and locking of the GriGri while belaying. If the GriGri is locked off the smoothness of the rope allows the GriGri to release VERY easily. So if you are one of those climbers that think the GriGri is a hands free device (which I often see) while belaying please think again (read the GriGri product guide). The Contact is very smooth and doesn’t lock off easily or quickly, this allows it to slide very efficiently. So if you do go improperly go hands free this rope WILL unlock and slide. So be safe and keep your hand on the rope.

Another feature of the rope that I love is that it barely twists while belaying. It’s very irritating when belaying and the rope twists and bunches up (more common on the GriGri). Then you have to run the rope to get the twists out. Many other ropes have this issue (especially the Beal Diablo), not the Contact 🙂 . The design of the rope ensures minimal twisting.

I took a two nice lead falls with the Contact on routes I was working as well; which provided me with a very soft catch. On thing that can be frustrating is untying a figure eight that is tight after falling on it. The Contact come undone with minimal effort even when tight.

The Sheath construction is very durable as well giving it has good edge resistance. This is very important; especially when climbing in the UAE with all the sharp rock. Usually most new ropes get the “fuzz” on the sheath after a few days of climbing in the UAE or can snag on the small sharp edges. I have not experienced this yet, as I have with other ropes, even with the recent heavy use.

Pros: High quality; durable sheath; soft catches; middle and ends well-marked; versatile for all skill levels, top roping and leading; light weight.

Cons: None….yet.

If you are purchasing a rope I highly recommend this rope be the next one you purchase. The next top two ropes I recommend are the Beal Diablo 9.8 for more experienced climber and the 10.2 if you are new or the Sterling Evolution 9.8 for all skill level or Ion 9.4 for advanced (definitely not for beginner belayers)

The Beal Diablo comes with the Unicore feature. To my knowledge it is the only dynamic rope currently being produced by any company; where the sheath and core are bound together as one for the full length of the rope. This feature means the sheath will never slide over the core; even if you cut around the sheath. It is very durable. It has very smooth and excellent handling like the Petzl Contact. Two cons of this rope are: 1. It TWISTS A LOT! 2. The sheath gets the “fuzz” rather quickly; especially when using a Reverso.

The Sterling Evolution and Ion are very versatile and durable. They can be purchased with a few options BiColor, Dry and SuperDry treatment which prolongs life. These ropes are not as supple as the Diablo or Contact. They are specifically designed to be more rigid and hold their stiffness over long use; whereas most ropes soften over time. If you are looking for a stiff rope then one of these ropes is the best choice. Cons of these ropes: $$$ they cost a bit more then other ropes you pay for what you get.

So which one one do we hang ourselves with? and how do we choose a rope with so many options?

I have my choices and know what to look for when it comes to rope, what about you? Lets take a look at the different options when choosing a rope. REI has a great guide when looking at rope seletion which I have reposted from REI below. My Comments are in RED.

Diameter
(mm)
Weight
(g/m)
UIAA Fall Rating
Workhorse Single Ropes 10.1-11mm (65-77 g/m) 10-17 UIAA falls
All-Around Single Ropes 9.5-10mm (60-64 g/m) 7-9 UIAA falls
Skinny Single Ropes 8.9-9.4mm (52-59 g/m) 5-6 UIAA falls
Half Ropes 8-9mm (41-53 g/m) 6-16 UIAA falls
Twin Ropes 7-8mm (37-42 g/m) 12-19 UIAA falls
Static Ropes 9-13mm (commonly 7/16″ and 1/2″ diameter)*

*Static ropes are not intended to be used for lead climbing and are not approved for that use by the UIAA. These ropes are designed for abseiling, caving, rope access work, and are not for climbing. They are not designed for and will not take a dynamic load. If you use one for climbing and take a whippeeer on one kiss your ass goodbye.

Workhorse Singles

A workhorse rope is one that will hold up to lots of use and abuse. It is good for routes with rough rock and edges. In conjunction with a thicker sheath, a fat rope will give you the most sharp-edge protection. Its larger diameter makes it easier to hold onto and less likely for a belayer to drop the climber; though it’s less smooth with some belay devices.

  • Ideal uses: Big walls, top roping, working sport routes, extreme use. Great for *Beginners* especially ones learning to lead and taking MANY FALLS.
  • Shortcomings: Heavy and big in your pack. Can be a pain in the ass when belaying; especially “light” people.

All-Around Singles

These are the meat-and-potatoes ropes. They are the ones most people will buy, because they are of average diameter, weight and fall ratings. Not too light, nor too heavy. They are the do-everything, go-to ropes.

  • Ideal uses: Sport, trad, alpine (rock, ice and snow). Ok for beginners, better for intermediate to advanced depending on the rope specifications.
  • Shortcomings: Not much, unless you are specializing in fast and light or thrashing up a big wall.

Skinny Singles

These ropes are flashy, trendy and skinny. Their light weight can make a big difference. Think long routes where you are turning over many belays, pulling in slack belay after belay; or in an alpine setting where you are coiling most of the rope over your shoulder to move together and switching techniques back and forth. Hard sport routes are also a great place to use this kind of rope. A word of warning, however: Be sure you can catch a fall with your skinny rope. Use a complementary belay device designed for skinny rope (preferably with a friction groove) and PRACTICE catching falls in the gym.

  • Ideal uses: Fast and light for onsights and redpoints at your limit. NOT for beginner climbers or belayers. Make sure you have a really good belayer. Okay for intermediate climbers, I recommend that experienced climbers use thees ropes only.
  • Shortcomings: More risk of rope cutting over an edge. More difficulty in catching a fall—make sure you have a belay device that offers maximum friction and is rated for the diameter of your rope.

Half Ropes

These are a great option for long, wandering routes. Whether on rock, ice or mixed, half ropes offer many advantages. By alternating clips, you can limit rope drag. You can also limit the fall potential during a clip by pulling slack in the rope that is not running from the closest piece of pro. When it comes time to rappel, you can go twice as far by tying the 2 ropes together. And lastly, 2 strands of rope reduce the odds of your lifeline being severed either from a leader fall over an edge or from rockfall.

  • Ideal uses: Wandering multi-pitch rock or alpine routes that you will need to rappel or might have to retreat part-way through.
  • Shortcomings: More time and energy consuming to use due to the extra bulk and weight of 2 strands and while managing belay transitions. If you clip both strands to 1 piece of protection, the impact force goes up on the pro and on you (this is not recommended, especially on weaker gear).

Twin Ropes

Another great 2-rope that is lighter and less bulky than half ropes. You can still rappel twice as far, like with half ropes.

  • Ideal uses: Ice climbs and non-wandering rock climbs where rappelling is in the cards.
  • Shortcomings: You have to clip both strands ALWAYS through each piece of protection, so there will be more rope drag than with half ropes.

Static Ropes

These excel in situations where you don’t want the rope to stretch. The first time I climbed El Cap, I was so worried that the dynamic rope we brought for jugging (rope ascension) was going to be cut while rubbing over an edge that I wouldn’t budge. Finally, I was reassured by my partner that the rope was running cleanly and padded if it was running over an edge. Only then did I cut loose from the belay station and swing into the void to begin vertiginous process of climbing the free hanging rope.

  • Ideal uses: Rappelling, rescue and big-wall ascending—any time you are lowering, ascending or pulling a load up with the rope.
  • Shortcomings: Not to be used for climbing as these ropes are not designed, tested nor certified for those types of loads. (See related Rope FAQ below.)

Shop REI’s selection of static and rescue ropes.

Rope Construction Glossary

Climbing Rope

Here are terms that describe parts of a rope:

  • Sheath: The protective braided cover of the rope. It keeps the core from getting dirty, abraided or cut, and it adds some strength and shock absorption as well. Sheaths comprise between 30-40% of a rope’s mass. The thicker the sheath, the more it resists cutting and abrasion, especially over an edge.
  • Core: The inner twisted core strands of the rope. It provides the majority of the strength and shock absorption.
  • Sheath and Core are made from different materiel depending on manufacturer and type of rope: Nylon, Kevlar, Dynema/Spectra…
  • Kernmantle: A combination of a pair of German words, kern meaning core and mantle meaning sheath. This type of construction is used as opposed to old climbing ropes that were just 3 to 4 strands twisted together and with no protective sheath.
  • Sheath weave patterns: These different patterns create nuances in handling and durability.
  • Filament: The thinnest thread from which a rope is woven. Usually it’s “Nylon 6” and is purchased on spools by the rope companies.
  • Yarns: Twisted groups of 4 to 6 filaments that make up braids.
  • Braids: Yarns bundled together to make the core. Half the braids twist one way, half the other. The sheath is then woven around this bundle.

Rope Characteristics and Qualities Glossary

You should know these terms about rope selection and usage:

  • Dynamic: A stretchy rope for rock climbing that absorbs force during a fall.
  • Static: A rope for rappelling, rescue and rope ascension that stretches very little.
  • Single: A rope that is made to use singly.
  • Half: Also known as a double rope; you climb with 2 half ropes of the same brand and model, alternating clips.
  • Twin: Unlike half ropes, you climb on 2 twin ropes always clipping both strands.
  • Length: Ropes are between 30 and 80 meters long, the most common length being 60m.
  • Bicolor: A change in weave pattern that clearly differentiates the 2 halves of the rope and easily identifies the midpoint.
  • Middle mark: The use of black dye or thread to easily identify the middle of the rope.
  • End warning marks: A dye or threads showing that you are coming to the end of the rope.
  • Suppleness: A supple rope handles more easily, but tends to wear more quickly. Pick a supple rope for glacier and alpine travel when you will often be traveling with coils tied off over your shoulder.
  • Rope diameter and weight: This refers to the weight of the rope and how it responds in your belay device. See above for a look at the different diameter/weight categories and pros and cons of each. Rope weight is usually listed as grams/meter; diameter in millimeters.
  • Dry treatments: Water-resistant coatings are often applied to the sheath and to the core fibers as well. This makes a rope more water-resistant, stronger and last longer. When the fibers absorb moisture, the rope loses its rebound characteristics and weakens. Furthermore, ropes slide better when treated.
  • Different manufacturers also have different type of treatments and construction: Ultrasonic Ends, Unicore, Coil Ready, Abrasion Resistant…
  • Fall Factor Please follow the link for more information http://bealplanet.com/sport/anglais/facteurdechute.php

UIAA Criteria and Testing (Petzl and Beal test their equipment to a  higher personal company standard)

The UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme) is the international mountaineering and climbing federation that creates safety standards to which all climbing ropes must adhere. Independent labs are responsible for carrying out the tests. All ropes carried by REI pass the UIAA tests. See The UIAA Web site for testing details. The main UIAA criteria:

Number of falls: This indicates how many UIAA falls the rope can hold before failing. The lab falls create much greater force than a real climbing fall; therefore it is mostly a comparative value. A rope rated for 5 falls will probably not break after 5 falls unless it is old and very worn out. (See our discussion of rope care.) Always closely inspect your rope after a severe fall and consider retirement if any damage is detected.

Impact force: The amount of force, measured in kiloNewtons, that the first UIAA fall puts on the falling object. The idea is to make a rope that has the least amount of impact force without going above the UIAA’s required maximum elongation figures. Less impact force will put less force on you, your belayer and your protection during a fall, decreasing the chance of injury, belay failure or protection failure.

Static elongation: Sometimes called “working elongation,” this is the amount of stretch in the rope with a 176-lb. weight hanging from it. Linked to dynamic elongation and impact force, this figure is most important in top roping or hauling.

Dynamic elongation: The amount of stretch in the rope after the first lab fall. This is linked to static elongation and impact force. The more a rope stretches, the less impact force there is when a falling climber is caught. The UIAA caps the maximum dynamic elongation to 40% of the amount of rope that is out. If you fell on a bungee cord, there would be even less impact force, but much more risk of hitting a rock ledge.

Edge fall: While no longer a UIAA–tested characteristic, this spec is worth considering for big-wall climbs. You want your rope to resist being cut when it is waited over a sharp edge of rock. Basically, the thicker a rope and the thicker its sheath, the better it will do in the event of an edge fall.

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:) Happy Birthday MOMs!!!

I would like to to take a moment to say happy birthday to two wonderful woman; whom have inspired my life.

gggg

These are my two favorite moms.

1st is my most favorite and important (actual mom) Kathy Turner born Nov 1, 1955 (damn dinosaur hehe). I love you and I miss you. I am sorry that I am unable to be there for your irthday tomorrow (I will be in spirit) as I live across the word and will be doing the thing I love most. CLIMBBING!!! 😛 It is because of you I climb. You taught me to aspire to the top of all my mountains, to never give up; even when I fall many times, to live a passionate life full of love and gratitude, to inspire others as you have inspired me. Tomorrow while I am climbing I will bolt, climb and name a super hard badazz route in your honor (that will likely humble me and whoop my ass aas you have many times) so that anyone who climbs it will think of you and know the hard lessons and values you beat into me; that you raised a gentleman, cowboy/caveman.

I know I was a, hard-headed, back talking, trouble making teen (still am). Thank you for carrying me, caring for and raising me. Thank you for all the lessons and love. Thank you for the support when I needed it and letting me fall when I needed it. I hope that you are proud of who, of the man I have become.

Many of you do not know this but my Mom was recently diagnosed with nonHodgkin lymphomas – cancer. Thank the Almighty Super Power it is mild, has not spread much and is treatable. She starts Chemo next week. Please send your thoughts, prayers and birthday wishes her way. I am planning, working and trying to get to Georgia for Christmas. with Aislyn. Have a Very Wonderful Birthday and may your wishes come true. Love your son.

The other lucky lady I want to wish a happy birthday is Kelly Trevino born Oct. 31 (shit I don’t know the year, I know your ooollld too hehe and still the hottest mom out of all my friends) (Kelly is the mother of my best childhood friend Anthony Trevino). You and your Family were also an important part of my childhood. You and Vic taught Tony and I many valuable lessons and values. I remember all the times the two of you sat us down to talk to us about the things teenage boys should and shouldn’t do. I remember all the parties in the famous garage when you let us drink and get high, act silly, make mistakes, learn lessons be stupid teens. Many parents would not approve of what you let us do but we were teenagers and we were going to be thick-headed, hardassed and do it regardless. You let it do these things there because you cared. You know we were going to do it and that if we were at home and not on the street we we safer. It is also because of you I am who I am today.

I miss all of you and wish I could be there for your Birthday. Thank you and Vic for everything. Give everyone my love and have a Wonderful Birthday Too.