Ideas by Chris, words by Anne
Climbers use two kinds of rope: static or low-stretch, and dynamic. Static ropes are great for rigging top ropes and for abseiling, as they do not give much and they tend to be very hard wearing. However, when lead climbing you want a dynamic rope which will absorb some of the load if you fall off.
Dynamic climbing ropes are classified by the UIAA – the Union Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme, now known as the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation. This is from the UIAA website:
Using equipment tested to the UIAA standards is recommended by the UIAA for all climbers and mountaineers worldwide. Material which successfully meets UIAA standards is attributed a UIAA safety label. This iconic symbol on a piece of mountaineering or climbing equipment attests it to be of the highest international standards for safety.
There are three classifications of dynamic rope: single, half and twin.
With advances in technology, rope manufacturers are now producing ropes which fulfil all three categories, eg Beal Joker – a 9.1mm rope that has passed the tests for single ropes.
Want to know more? The BMC have produced Ropes: A New Guide For Climbers & Mountaineers – it is packed full of useful and interesting information, covering the types of rope, what to use them for, and how to look after them. There's advice on maintenance and when to retire a rope, and background info on standards and fall factors.