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Everyone recognizes that ropes are an integral part of a climber's equipment, however, not everyone realises that not every rope is suitable for every facet of climbing.

On top of this the use of rope is not restricted to just climbing. Ropes are often of equal importance to walkers and even more so to cavers and roped access and rescue workers. Indeed, our selection of static ropes can be found within the Vertical Rope Access and Rescue section of the catalogue, even though they are equally relavant to certain aspects of climbing.

So what are these different types of rope?

As static ropes are in Vertical Rope Access and Rescue, they and their uses are described there.

What you'll find here are dynamic ropes. These have a degree of elasticity which reduces the shock to a falling body and also onto the anchors that are connecting the rope to the load bearing point-s, ie the protection or the anchor.

Modern mountaineering ropes are constructed of nylon and are composed of two parts, the kern (core) and the mantel (sheath). The core is what gives modern ropes their incredible strength, whilst the sheath protects it. The core can be made to different specifications by varying the core structure and thickness. The sheath construction can also be varied to give the required balance between abraision resistance and suppleness for different uses.

The first thing to evaluate when selecting a rope is the purpose for which it is intended. There are three main groups of ropes available:

  1. dynamic climbing and mountaineering ropes, for arresting falls,
  2. low-stretch rope - static ropes, for rigging, ascending and abseiling
  3. accessory cord, for use as running belays when used in conjunction with a dynamic mountaineering rope for arresting falls (also see cords and tapes).

It's worth noting that a UIAA fall is much bigger and harder than anything most climbers will ever take, so you certainly won't need to throw your rope away after half a dozen normal falls.

Different Types of Climbing Rope

The first step in deciding which rope to use is to begin by choosing whether a single, two half or a pair of twin ropes are the best option before looking at the properties of each option.

  1. Single ropes range from 9.1 to 11mm in diameter. They will hold at least 5 (massive!) UIAA falls without breaking when using an 80kg mass. These ropes are ideally suited to routes that follow a relatively direct line, and where no multi-pitch abseil escape or descent is required. If you're just starting out, this is definitely what you'll want, and many climbers will never need anything else.
  2. Half ropes are designed to be used in pairs. Their diameters range from 8.0 to 9.5mm and each rope can hold at least 5 UIAA falls without breaking when using a 55kg mass. This lower mass is acceptable as the other rope of the pair is expected to reduce the impact force on the one rope. They can be clipped, alternately which means that when one rope is pulled for clipping the climber remains as tight to the previous protection as possible. These pairs of ropes are ideally suited to routes which take wandering and intricate lines and may involve traverses, or where large amounts of abseiling is involved.
  3. Twin ropes are again designed to be used as pairs, or alternatively they can come in 90m lengths which can be doubled up. They are 8mm in diameter or less and when paired must hold at least 12 UIAA falls using an 80kg mass. It is important, however, that both ropes are always clipped into every piece of protection. These ropes are ideal for use on bolted multi-pitch climbs where an abseil descent is required. We do not currently stock twin ropes as their use in the UK is almost non-existant, but we can get hold of them if you ask!
  4. Triple-Rated ropes are ropes rated to be used as any of the above categories. If considering one of these, bear in mind the most frequent use for your rope, and get the most suitable for that; thicker for a single, and thinner for half or twin, because in the long run it will make your life easier! Also bear in mind the recommended rope thickness for the belay plate, because while an 8.5mm may be triple-rated, and fit as a half for a belay device, it might not be rated in the same device as a single.

Dry Treatment

Our recommendation is always to buy a dry treated rope, if your budget allows. For winter climbing it is almost essential, to prevent water getting into your rope and freezing it. For outdoor trad climbing a dry treatment will prevent dirt and grit from the ground ingressing into the rope and causing damage as it is used, as well as protecting it from the weather. Any rope will be weaker (and heavier) when wet, and will also wear much quicker if dirt gets into it. A dry treatment will help prevent this, and drastically extend the use you will safely get from the rope.

Most ropes that we stock have a standard surface dry treatment, but others such as Beal's Golden Dry, Edelrid's Hyperdry and Mammut's Superdry have a dry treatment that runs throughout the rope and is therefore more durable and effective.

Different Uses of Climbing Ropes

To choose between the above types of rope we first need to a look at what they will be used for. The different specific uses encountered by climbers and mountaineers are:

  1. top - bottom roped rock climbing,
  2. indoor wall climbing,
  3. single rope rock leading,
  4. half rope rock leading,
  5. twin rope rock leading,
  6. alpine mountaineering,
  7. glacier travel,
  8. winter climbing,
  9. scrambling, and
  10. walking.

The properties of dynamic ropes that should be taken into account when evaluating a rope for a specific use are: diameter, mass per metre length, elongation, impact force, number of drops, knotability ratio, sheath slippage, static strength, dry treatment, abraision resistance, surface friction and handling.

Top-Bottom Roped Climbing

Top - bottom roped climbing, where no leading will happen, does not produce high impact forces, nor does it involve large amounts of drag between running belays, and a single rope is definitely best. This method of climbing produces much wear on ropes and therefore a broader, poorer handling, but abraision resistant rope is ideal. For groups and outdoor centres, suitable examples are Beal Wallmaster or a length of Edelrid Python. Most individuals will want a rope that's also suitable for indoor climbing and basic leading (see below).

Indoor Wall Climbing

Indoor wall climbing requires the abrasion resistance of a top - bottom rope, but it also needs to have a higher fall rating to cope with repeated short leader falls. A good option is the recycled-sheath Edelrid Parrot (one of our most popular all-round ropes).

Single Rope Leading

Single rope leading requires good handling, abraision resistance (although not to quite the same degree as for top-roping) and low impact forces. As we are operating outdoors, the weight of the rope becomes more important and therefore it might be nice to reduce the weight by stepping down from 10.5mm rope. The thinner you go, the more appropriate to higher standard climbing the rope becomes, but remember the less durable the rope will become, and also less easy for beginners to handle. Dry treatment should also be of interest, especially to those who operate regularly at sea-cliff venues. Ropes to look at are the Mammut 9.5mm Crag Dry or the Beal 9.4mm Stinger III. Going lighter than this, the triple-rated Beal 9.1mm Joker might be worth consideration.

Half Rope Leading

Half rope leading has the same requirements as single rope leading, but of course the ropes can be narrower. A good example is the Beal 8.3mm Legend. Alternatively, for versatility, you could go for the Beal 8.5mm Opera, a triple-rated rope. Another specialist option is Beal Ice Line 8.1mm, which is stretchier than the other options and so as well as being light weight becomes ideal for winter climbs where protection is less reliable (the impact on the gear is less with this rope).

Alpine Mountaineering

Alpine mountaineering generally falls into the same brackets as single, half and twin rock climbing ropes, however, greater emphasis must be placed on light weight. Longer lengths are also useful so that you can climb routes in less pitches, for speed and safety. Due to the all-day - multi-day nature of such routes and the presence of snow and extreme temperatures, good dry-treatment is a must. Recommendations include: Edelrid Merlin and Falcon, Mammut Revelation and Beal Cobra, Ice Line, Stinger, and Booster ranges in dry versions.

Glacier Travel

Glacier travel can be carried out using any rope (preferably dry-treated), however, to save weight for carrying in and out from the glacier and keeping bulk low many people use one half rope, eg Beal Cobra and Iceline or Mammut Genesis 8.5mm. Half ropes also mean extra stretch in the rope, which reduces shock loading on marginal ice and snow runners. Far better, however, is to use a single rope such as Mammut Revelation as it can be used for full lead use on rock steps as a single rope, thus making you fast and safe.

Winter Climbing

Winter climbing follows Alpine mountaineering somewhat, however, thinner ropes once again provide extra safety margins, this time due to the fact that they reduce the shock on dubious running belays (a fact of winter climbing). One important feature is that of extra length to enable rare rock belays to be reached. For the more extreme operations Beal Iceline is the one one to go for, but most people will prefer the greater lifespan of a Cobra or Genesis.


Scrambling has the same basic requirements as rock climbing for fall arrest. However, light weight is of increased importance as the rope may be carried all day without even coming out of the bag. At the same time, when in use the rope will invariably be run around a number of pinnacles and therefore will need to be fairly abraision resistant. The length of scrambling pitches are invariably short, so shorter lengths can be used to keep weight down. Check out the Ferrata and Edlinger from Beal.


Walking ropes are generally used as confidence ropes on tricky steps or when the weather makes easy passages treacherous. As with scrambling ropes, they need to be light. A rope specifically designed for this purpose is Beal Rando, a 30m 8mm walking rope.

For further information contact the BMC and ask about their "Ropes" information package.

Rope Colours

Note that rope manufacturers change the colours of their ropes fairly regularly, and so the colours depicted in our images may not represent what we actually have in stock. If the colour if your rope is important, let us know ( and we can inform you of what colours are available before you place your order. If you order two half ropes, we'll make sure you get two different colours.

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Beal Antidote 10.2mm

From £86.90 inc. VAT

Beal Combi Rope Mat / Rucksack

From £31.12 inc. VAT

Beal Folio Rope Bag / Mat

From £24.53 inc. VAT

Beal Joker 9.1mm Unicore

From £130.48 inc. VAT

Beal Opera 8.5mm Unicore

From £130.48 inc. VAT

Beal Rando 8mm Walkers Rope

From £52.36 inc. VAT

Beal Stinger III 9.4mm Unicore

From £121.84 inc. VAT

Beal Top Gun II 10.5mm Unicore

From £137.32 inc. VAT

Beal Verdon 9mm Dry Cover

From £2.23 inc. VAT

Black Diamond 8.6 Rope - Dry - Ondra Edition


Built for Adam Ondra, the Black Diamond 8.6 Ondra Edition is designed for use on his and your hardest redpoints. This 8.6mm single rope is dry treated throughout for extra durability and weather resistance. The middle marker is easy to spot while the 80-meter length is ideal for the pumpfest enduro routes that test your limits.

£260.00 inc. VAT £233.45 inc. VAT

Black Diamond 9.4 Rope - Dry - Honnold Edition


When Alex Honnold ropes up, it’s with the Black Diamond 9.4 Dry Honnold Edition. With high-end specs and a durable construction it handle's day in and day out use freely. A percentage of each sale goes to the Honnold Foundation for solar energy for a more equitable world.

£210.00 inc. VAT £188.56 inc. VAT

DMM Classic Rope Bag

From £44.28 inc. VAT

DMM Statement

From £106.27 inc. VAT

DMM Super Big Jim 10.5

From £61.98 inc. VAT

Edelrid Confidence 8.0mm

From £30.67 inc. VAT