BEAL ROPES - CLIMBING ROPE - ALPINISM ROPE - How to Choose a Climbing Rope
What are the types of static rope ?

Types of ropes
There are two types of ropes.

Type A : Rope for use in rescue, or as a  working or security line for work at height.  In the latter case it is used for access to  the place of work in combination with other  items of equipment, or to undertake work  under tension or in suspension on the rope.

Type B : Rope of lesser diameter and strength than Type A, demanding greater precautions  and attention to security during use.





What are the types of dynamic rope ?

Single rope  

This rope is used as a single strand.
It is best adapted to difficult routes which are fairly straight-line, to easy routes without change-over belays, and where descent is not by abseil. It is in particular the rope for sport climbing.


Half rope  

A ‘rope’ formed of 2 strands which the leader is tied into but, unlike twin ropes, two seconds may each be tied into just one of the strands. The leader clips only one strand into each runner so as to reduce drag. Half rope is recommended for mountaineering and long ascents where abseil descent is necessary. It is equally preferable whenever belays are less than perfect, notably when ice climbing, because with just one strand clipped, you reduce the shock load in case of a fall. In addition they offer better protection against stonefall or falling on an arete; to limit the drag, and thus the fall factor, you can clip the the strands separately.

Twin rope   

This rope is always used with the two strands together, remaining parallel: each climber ties into both strands, and these are always clipped together. Its advantage over single rope is that it allows for abseils as long as the rope. It is lighter than half rope but does not allow for separate strand clipping.


Walker’s rope: This is not strictly a fourth type of rope. The rope called ‘walkers’ has to be, at the minimum, one strand of twin rope. Note that in Germany it is required that users have at least one strand of half rope.





How are these ropes tested, and why ?

All the dynamic ropes have to be tested for conformity to the Standard EN 892 in a test tower at a fall factor 1.77..

1. Single and twin ropes are tested with a mass of 80-kg, on one strand for single rope, which must resist at least 5 successive falls, and 2 strands for twin rope, which must resist at least 12 successive falls. For both these rope types the impact force during the first fall arrest must be less than 12-kN (1200 daN)

Why 80 - kg ?
80 kg is the average weight of a man and gear.

Why 12 kN ?
12 kN equates to the maximum braking force which can be accepted by the human body (Maximum force adopted for the opening of parachutes!)

2. Half ropes are tested with a 55-kg mass on one strand. It must resist 5 successive falls and the impact force during arrest of the first fall must be less than 8-kN (800daN).

Why 55 kg ?
Because ropes which hold 5 falls with 55-kg in practice hold 2 falls with 80-kg, which has been allowed as sufficient security for a half rope which is not used to hold repeated falls on one strand.

Why 8 kN ?
Because there has been an error in the establishment of the Standard! In effect to be in line and to limit to 12-kN the impact force of 2 strands of rope used in twin fashion, when tested with 55-kg on one strand, the impact force should be limited to 7-kN!
A half rope at 8-kN gives an impact force of 13.5-kN tested as a twin rope, rather more than the resistance of the human body!

How to use a half rope ?  Should you clip one strand or both ?
If you climb on uncertain runners (Pitons, nuts, cams, ice screws. . .) You must separate the strands to reduce the impact load. In effect the impact load is considerably reduced on one strand as opposed to 2. In addition, separating the strands reduces drag, and allows all the rope’s length to help to absorb a fall’s energy, thus reducing the impact force. This recommendation is valid even for
the first runner above the belay.

What happens if you clip both ropes together ?
The impact force increases by 20 to 25% on the clipped point.

And if you climb on bomb-proof runners? (Bolts, screws…) is it still necessary to separate the strands ?
Most often it is unnecessary, runners are in general in line (Preferable, if necessary, to lengthen with extenders to bring them in line with the rope).
As these points are not unpredictable, and they don’t risk failing because of a too-high impact force, it will be preferable to clip the strands of rope together in order to help to resist the repeated falls which characterise routes safeguarded by bomb-proof anchor points.

What will the impact force be on half rope if it is tested with 80kg on one strand?
It will be around 25% more than the test result at 55-kg.

Which rope to choose for which use ?

Because of the extreme diversity of terrain involved, the answers we give canot cover every specific case, everyone must take their own responsibility to adapt their practice to the circumstances, their competence and the terrain.
MULTI-PITCH CLIMBS (Classic routes, mountain, icefalls)

A – With a single second on the rope:
Single rope :
Each climber is tied in to one end of the rope. Rope drag is minimised by adjusting the length of runner slings.
Half rope :
Each climber is tied to one end of both strands of the rope (or at the mid-point for the leader on a bicolour rope). On solid anchor points (bolts, embedded anchors etc) avoid drag by using extenders, on uncertain anchors (ice screws, pitons, cams etc…) clip just one strand alternately to lower the impact force.
Twin rope :
Tie into the ends of both strands (Or with the leader tied in the middle for a bicolour rope). Avoid rope drag by use of extenders on runners. Systematically clip both strands together.
B - With 2 seconds on the rope :
Single rope :
Only do this on easy routes, the second and the third being tied in ‘in line’ at some metres from each other.
Half rope :
The leader ties onto one end of both strands, (or in the middle in the case of a bicolour) and the 2 seconds each tie into one of the other ends. In France this climbing technique is called ‘en fleche’, or ‘in arrow’.
Twin rope :
Twin ropes are not designed for climbing ‘en fleche’ (That’s to say with seconds tied into just one strand each).
Easy snow routes, glacier walking and ski-touring.


A route on snow is designated as easy if there are no technical difficulties, such as passing a bergshrund, necessitating a belay.

It will be possible to progress with any type of dynamic rope:
- one strand of single rope
- one strand of half rope
- one strand of twin rope

Roping-up in file is normal practice.


Progression on rock ridges.

A – With a single second on the rope :
Both tie in to the single rope.
Both tie in to the 2 strands of the half rope (Tying in to one strand of half rope is not appropriate for this type of route). Both tie in to the 2 strands of twin rope.  
B – With two seconds on the rope :
  The leader ties in to 2 strands of rope – the seconds onto one strand each. This little known practice necessitates clipping only one strand to limit the impact force. If the ridge climb is easy (progression without belaying each pitch) in-file roping is possible. The leader ties in to 2 strands of rope, the seconds in to one strand each. This roping is adopted if the general configuration of the route (Moving between belays) lends itself to climbing ‘en fleche’ on the half rope. It is essential to be extra vigilant on arete passages, each second will be at equal level of risk to that of the leader tied into just one strand of half rope. Twin ropes are not designed for climbing ‘en fleche’ (that’s to say with each of the seconds tied into just one strand).  
 Single pitch sport climbs
The general rules are the same as for multi-pitch routes. However a top-roped climber may be protected with one strand of single rope or one strand of half rope (Take care with the belaying device). In-situ equipment on a via ferrata may give a false impression of ease.
General practice is for each of the climbers to be safeguarded by energy absorbing lanyards. However in addition to these lanyards only the use of a rope will guarantee the security of the team.
It is desirable for inexperienced people to be roped with a competent leader, who will use a single rope or one strand of half rope to safeguard them. In this case they do not have to use an energy absorber.
BEAL advice

In climbing, with repeated falls producing increasing impact forces, a rope which begins its life with a low impact force remains below the acceptable limit for much longer.

In adventure climbing and in ice climbing, where belays are of uncertain strength, security will be greatly increased by the use of a rope with low impact force. This will impose a much lower load on the top runner in the event of a fall.

To allow all the rope to play its part in absorbing energy it is important to reduce friction by avoiding sharp angles between runners.

>> Non-exhaustive information, technical training essential.