The Life of a Climbing Rope

Victoria Rea

What Use is a Rope?

Climbing ropes are manufactured to last anywhere from five to ten years, however they often get replaced long before that. In climbing, rope is essentially one’s life line; the more often the rope gets used, the more prone it is to getting nicks, dents, tears, and dead spots. Any deformities in the rope can result in serious injury and sometimes even death. For this reason climbers regularly check the condition of their rope, and replace it as often as necessary. Ropes that receive a tremendous amount of use (i.e. ropes used in climbing gyms) can wear out so quickly that they get checked biweekly.

Can Ropes be recycled?

Companies that produce ropes such as STERLING offer recycling programs for dead ropes. Any climber can turn in their rope to participating retailers (such as REI, Rock/Creek, Moosejaw, etc.) in exchange for a 20% off coupon to be used in purchasing their next climbing rope. STERLING then takes the dead ropes collected and ships them to their “recycling partner” who then repellitizes the ropes into nylon pellets. These freshly made nylon pellets go into making goods such as coat hangers, and everyday household items. Sometimes climbers save their ropes and convert them into items such as dog leashes, doormats, and bracelets.