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What happened to double ropes?
4:06:36 PM
I started in the dark ages and most things at Araps were done on double ropes. The extra safety appealed to those of us with a fear of dying. The last time I was at Araps I saw just one other party using doubles.

My private theory is that a single running through poor wires will rip them out one at a time (higher impact force on a single rope, and loading one at a time) while doubles will offer lower impact force (and slip a bit more easily thru the belay) AND be spread over 2 wires.

Once I'm on ironstone cutty death in the Blue Mountains I almost always use doubles, sometimes 10 mm x 2, and have horrendous weight and drag

4:12:19 PM
>What happened to double ropes?
Singles got longer and stronger!

Btw, for the most part Iíve always preferred double rope technique myself, and still do.

Re spreading the force over two bits of pro, my guess is that itís more likely spread over one and a half pieces (as a normal arrangement), obviously depending on how the pro has been arranged.
This is because in a fall the load often comes onto pieces placed sequentially and goes taught on the highest piece slightly ahead of the lower (second rope) clipped piece.

6:20:17 PM
I wanted to lead Serpentine with double ropes, as it was bolted to be climbed... Yet to climb it (only been on it once); but won't be using doubles only because getting your belayer to spend time taking and holding falls is a PITA with doubles, when compared to a single with a grigri or similar. I love climbing on doubles at Araps... but it's getting rarer, usually saved for more 'out-there' or wandering climbs.
6:54:21 PM
I still climb mostly on doubles though I've climbed a lot more on a single since I got my nice Edelrid 70mm (the no-specific pattern version that has been on special at AMS for a good while and seems much thinner and lighter than it should be for the alleged diameter (9.8)).

Was climbing on doubles today.even though a single would have worked OK.

Doubles are considerably heavier on the long pitches but make managing trad protection much easier. It's nice not to have to slings on lots of pieces. And when there's a hard bit with two OK runners about two metres apart horizontally they come into their own.

A problem is that a lot of climbers these days aren't used to climbing on doubles and that's something I have to consider if I'm climbing with a new partner.

7:12:55 PM
On 26-Jun-2018 mikllaw wrote:
>...and have horrendous weight and drag

Are you referring to your physical condition and dress sense, Mikl ? :-)

E. Wells
7:22:04 PM
With the advent of alpine smarts and megajuls its easier than ever.
7:54:14 PM
Back in the real climbing dark ages, climbing on a single rope was fine because "the leader must not fall"!


As an aside, in 46 years of climbing I have NEVER (voluntarily) lead on double ropes!
Mr Poopypants
2:34:17 AM
On 26-Jun-2018 tnd wrote:
>On 26-Jun-2018 mikllaw wrote:
>>...and have horrendous weight and drag
>Are you referring to your physical condition and dress sense, Mikl ? :-)

Admit it, you'd love to see his horrendous weight in drag ... :-)

Cowards like me like doubles for planning unplanned epic (& cowardly) retreats.

5:40:56 AM
We usually take doubles to Arapiles, and I prefer them for multipitch or longer single pitch trad in general. They're great for a party of three as well. Last Araps trip I saw more than a few in use.
7:14:50 AM
I must admit I've gotten out of the habit of climbing on doubles.

Singles just seems easier and we both try not to fall off anyways.
Dr Nick
11:58:25 AM
I'd also throw in the rise of sport climbing where a single is standard. Doubles kind of went out of fashion about when I started climbing, but I also got the impression it was fairly common for both parties to bring a half rope, and share the cost that way. That was about the time some red-headed bloke started smacking steel in at Shipley, the Glen, etc.
I've only recently bought myself a half rope, and that's for Blueys multipitch where the ironstone flakes scare me, and I'll use it to back up the ridiculously light single (compared to the 11s I started on, and the 10.5s I've mostly used).

3:39:33 PM
Like most of the people I climb with, I almost always climb with double ropes double ropes. I'm to scared to climb with one rope and too uncoordinated to belay with three.

Half ropes pretty much dissapeared from the gear shops but seem to be making a come back.
7:48:06 AM
Good discussion Mikl. A friend of mine just got back from the UK and she said that double ropes are still in common usage there (as well as belaying the second directly from your harness).

I think you are probably spot on with your comments about single ropes putting greater loads on protection. I reckon doubles might also minimise the chance of wires being flicked out due to being pulled at severe angles in a fall. I recall how it was common years ago to use two linked karabiners to clip to a wire (as opposed to using a quickdraw). That idea seems very unappealing now, but I don't recall too many wires being yanked out during leader falls. I suspect because double ropes had some effect on things.

I'm certainly a fan of doubles when chossaneering on some big cliff somewhere.
8:26:18 AM
Perhaps another factor in their demise is the advent of skinnier ropes.
I was perfectly happy in the 80's climbing on 2x9mm but then half ropes started to go on a diet, just as single ropes have.

Climbing on 2x7.7mm floss just looks too scary.

Mostly when climbing doubles these days I'm actually climbing on 2x single ropes. Which, technically from a fall force perspective, ought to raise the impact force on the harness even though it reduces force on one piece of gear. (So what, you say).

Meaning my usual double-rope setup is 1x9.7mm and 1x9.2mm. Which is nearly back where we started. The 8.1mm only comes out when I'm really climbing on a single rope but need >30m rappels.

One Day Hero
10:56:03 AM
I go back an forth on this a couple of times a decade. Currently in a bit of a single rope phase.

Doubles work best when you have the routes wired and can preplan to achieve glorious tram tracks. Most of the time when I'm onsighting I end up cursing and crossing the ropes, because that horizontal up right turned out to be shit and I clipped the last 3 pieces with my left rope, so I'm too chicken to keep clipping left and too pumped to downclimb and fix it.

12:34:43 PM
Good opportunity to tell one of my favourite stories about climbing with JDB.

I did the first pitch of Barbed, 17, Arapiles, on a single rope, and quickly set up a belay using 3 cams in horizontals. It's a big ledge to belay from, so I offer to try to rearrange the belay to free up one or two of the cams for John to take up the second pitch with him. "Don't worry about it, she'll be right".
It wasn't far up the pitch before he was cursing the lack of cams on his harness. He wandered right and left to find horizontal nut placements getting more and more scared about their ability to hold him. As he got higher, the rope drag from the zig-zagging placements was giving him grief and increasing his concern about pulling them out. But he got to the top without falling and hence without dying and we both breathed a sigh a of relief.
I followed and immediately had problems getting out the second piece that was actually a small horizontal cam, but had been twisted by the rope drag. I told John I was going to sit on the rope so I could use two hands on it. As I settled onto the rope, it stretched, and then I suddenly went into free-fall. My first thoughts were of the rocky sloping gully a pitch below, but I didn't have time to think of anything else before I came to halt, probably only 3-4 metres below my starting position. I looked up towards John to say WTF and promptly got hit in the face with raining gear that was sliding down the rope. My weight on the rope had pulled out all the horizontal nuts above me, releasing 3-4 metres of rope from the zig-zags. John mumbled something about desserts or deserved or something like that.

Double ropes would have fixed that.
2:34:29 PM
love my double ropes, especially on long wandering pitches, routes like "Goblin Mischief " would be almost impossible with a single rope , let alone the fact you need doubles to rap off.

salty crag
4:18:22 PM
Good thread, time to look for a new rope and I've been tossing up between a 70m single or 50m doubles. Reading all the comments with interest. Never climbed on doubles but keen on the idea.

5:39:59 PM
You can always fold a long single and use both ends. a bicolour rope makes the communication easier.
One Day Hero
6:04:42 PM
Yep, a thin single folded in half is a good option, especially at araps where there are barely any pitches longer than 30m.

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