Why Is Climbing Rope So Expensive?
A pink and yellow rock climbing rope.

Wait, did you mean: why is rope climbing an expensive sport? Because, you know, it isn’t… Nah. There ain’t no mistake in that title, we’ll be talking about rope folks use to climb rocks and mountains and basically everything that’s ascendable by using a rope.

There are certain unanswered questions concerning the amazing sport of rock climbing. One of them, of course, goes a bit like this: why is climbing rope so expensive? At least that’s the impression you’d get by spending some quality time on the everything-that’s-related-to-climbing type of internet forums. Anyway, you’ll find the answer to that question in the text below!

Climbing ropes are expensive because they’re made out of special materials. Also, they’re designed to be durable, yet lightweight, stretchable, yet strong. They’re not cheap to make in the first place, hence their price. Lastly, here are the factors that greatly contribute to the price: type, length, diameter, and dry treatment.

Think that’s all there’s to know about the subject? Think again! In other words: feel free to check the rest of the article.

Climbing rope 101

First things first, let’s answer some of the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) that surround this piece of regular climbing equipment. Let’s begin!

What is the lifespan of a climbing rope?

As one might assume, it all depends on how frequently you use your climbing rope. Although most climbing rope manufacturing companies will suggest on the packaging that you retire your rope after 3-5 years, it might be better to stick to the tips we’ll share with you below.

So, let’s see that chart. On your left, you’ll see the usage frequency, and on the right, you’ll find the expected age of retirement:

  • The rope you’ve never used – 10 years. In other words: a rope can stay inside your storage for a whole decade before “going bad”.
  • The rope you use twice a year – 7 years. If you’re a so-called infrequent climber, rest assured your climbing rope will stay functional and safe to use for about 7 years.
  • The rope you use once a month – 5 years. Unless, of course, it gets damaged by an outside source.
  • The rope you use a couple of times a month – 3 years. You can go climbing every second weekend and still deal with a functional rope for about 3 years.
  • The rope you use once a week – 1 year. If you’re a more frequent climber, as in the I-climb-each-week type of climber, it’s best you replace your climbing rope once every year. Just so you guarantee your climbing rope’s safe and functional.

That’s about it on the average lifespan of a climbing rope. Let’s see what else’s in store! Oh, and if you’re interested in learning how one gets tree sap out of rope, you might as well pay a visit to this page.

Do climbing ropes ever break?

You’ll want to know that the whole oh-look-the-rope-just-broke kind of scenario is something that’s rarely seen inside the climbing world. Anyway, if it happens – it’s mostly because it has gone over a sharp edge at the moment of the fall. However, it’s better we say the rope’s cut, not broken. Still, the consequences are identically unpleasant so there’s not a thing we’d recommend more than for you to keep your eyes wide open for such unfortunate edges.

Also, if you’re wondering exactly how often (or rare) do climbing ropes break, feel free to check out one of our most recent articles.

What is the strongest type of rope?

If you’re curious about the strongest type of rope en général, you’ll be lucky to know that it’s nylon rope. However, that’s now exactly what we’re here to discuss. Experts say that single 10mm and above (here’s a suggestion)  are the absolute best for gym climbing, top-roping, big-wall climbing, etc. The thicker the rope, the better, since the aforementioned styles are known to wear out your climbing rope before you even notice it!

What to do with your old climbing rope?

If you’ve noticed your trusty climbing rope isn’t usable anymore, it might be best not to throw it away. It won’t be kind to it after years of good service, and also, you might even make some cool household items with it. For instance, you can make a fantastic rope rug, or make a jumping rope out of your outdated piece of climbing equipment. Or, maybe, you could make your little four-legged buddy a new toy.

Whatever it is – it’s way better than simply throwing your climbing rope away. For more suggestions on what to do with your old climbing rope, check out this article on our blog page.

Okay, so now that we’ve gone through the so-called FAQs, it might be time to delve deeper into our main subject for today! That is: why, in God’s name, is climbing rope so darn expensive?

A piece of new orange climbing rope next to rock wall.

Why is climbing rope so expensive?

Okay, so let’s answer this one once and for all. Firstly, you’ll want to know that climbing ropes are made using special materials. Additionally, the ropes are scientifically engineered to handle all the possible mishaps and non-mishaps that might occur on the climb. We know, it doesn’t really look like much, and that, among other things, is why some folks wonder why climbing rope is so expensive. It’s one heck of an invention, for all we care.

Also, professional climbers require durable, yet lightweight, stretchable, yet strong climbing rope in order to practice their favorite activity or sport or whatever you wanna call it. There’s no need to emphasize the fact that a rope that has all of the mentioned attributes is not so cheap to make. Hence its costliness.

Let’s elaborate a bit more on the subject and see exactly what affects the cost of climbing ropes. We can say that a price of a rope is determined by its:

  • type.
  • length.
  • diameter.
  • dry treatment.

There’s nothing else to do than to explain ’em all, each at a time. We’ll start with the most obvious of the four factors.

The types of climbing ropes

Well, of course! The type of an individual climbing rope will directly impact its price; it’s a no-brainer, really. Okay, so you’ll want to know that there are four main types of climbing ropes:

  • Single ropes. They’re specially designed to be used alone, but they could also be utilized in half and twin rope systems.
  • Half ropes. This type of two rope system is the best for wandering routes.
  • Twin ropes. Also a two rope system that is great for non-wandering routes.
  • Static ropes. Not to be used for top-rope or lead climbing. It’s usually only utilized for rescue/hauling loads.

So, which type’s the most expensive one? Sporting either a half or twin rope system instead of a single one will require you to purchase two ropes. As we’ve implied earlier in this article, single ropes are the less expensive, most widely used, type of rope. They’re fantastic for many climbing styles including trad, top-rope, gym, and, of course, big-wall climbing.

The length of claiming ropes

Generally speaking, the price of an individual climbing rope increases together with its length (if other factors stay the same, of course). It goes without saying that this is a result of the more length equals more material used in the production of the rope logic.

You’ll want to know that a 60-70m rope will probably be sufficient for most climbs. Also, always keep in mind that you’ll need approximately two times longer than the pitch height climbing rope to get down without risking any safety issues. For instance, if you’re doing a 28m-high route, you’ll nothing less than a 56m rope in order to climb to the top and get down in the safest of manners.

Lastly, know that these numbers differ a little when it comes to climbing gym walls. Gym ropes are usually shorter. Here’s something of a rule: a 40-50m rope will most probably be good enough for gym climbing.

The diameter of the climbing rope

The bigger its diameter, the higher the cost of an individual climbing rope. Here are the most common ranges you’ll find on the market:

  • 9.4mm or lower. These climbing ropes are thin (as if you couldn’t guess that one yourself). They’re good for multi-pitch climbs.
  • 9.5 – 9.8mm. Something you’d call a standard, all-around climbing rope.
  • 9.9mm or higher. A thick climbing rope design for projecting and gym climbing.

Thicker types of ropes are usually more durable than their slim buddies, and will probably last longer. However, slimmer climbing ropes are lightweight and easy to handle. Lastly, if you’re curious about whether or not webbing’s stronger than rope, click right here, folks.

Dry treatment

Last but certainly not least, we’ve got dry treatment. Here’s the catch: non-dry ropes will absorb water. As a consequence, they’ll lose their effectiveness and most probably become a safety risk for your climb. You can assume that dry-treated ropes are the most expensive kind because they make the above scenario something you shouldn’t worry about at all.

Parting thoughts

Okay, so that’s about it about the reasons why climbing ropes are so dreadfully expensive! Now you’re equipped with the knowledge that’ll serve ya well! For more interesting tips and tricks and other info about rock climbing and everything that’s related to it, don’t hesitate to follow this link.

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