Rope shelf life

Boomslang

Well-Known Member
Location
NB
I have a 7 year old rope. It was used for a few months about 5 years ago and then a few months last year. Otherwise it's been in rope bag storage. I obviously give it a visual inspection before climbing, but I'm wondering if there's a recommended shelf life on ropes. 100% poly construction if that matters.
 

Brocky

Well-Known Member
Location
Michigan
Manufacturers recommendations are to cover their assets rather than what the life of a rope might be. UV rays and being stored with car batteries would be things that could hurt it. I have a 12 year old htp rope I still use. I‘ll get it out of the way and say, if in doubt, send it to me!
 

Jonny

Well-Known Member
Location
Buffalo
I have some polyester XTC16 Fire that is 15 years old. It’s well used and been sitting unused for a while so I’d inspect first but if it passes, I’d be comfortable climbing on it.
I don’t really need it, and was thinking it’d make a fine tag line, but I don’t need another tag line either, maybe it’ll come in handy sometime. Maybe I’ll weave it into a rug.
 
Like Brocky said, manufacturers will err on the side of caution, and of course so should a climber when trusting their life to anything. That said, here is a very interesting video, rock climbing related, but still about old climbing gear and breaking strength:

Here's a late reply, and thanks for this video reference.
From a knothead, here's my take on what the fellow shows
in it re fig.8 eyeknots. Nice to see some actual-factuals,
though kinda sad in some aspects, as ...

I'm appalled that the test guy asserts that his Fig.8s
are tied as well as he can! (Sad if true, but they're
certainly not tied as well as COULD be done.)
In each of the two cases I see (just 2), there is
an *exterior*-strand-loaded knot on viewer's left,
and *interior* on the right; the breaks are resp.
of order, right/interior, left/exterior :: nb, this is
what *I* suspected would result,
as . . .
in the first case [at 9:40ff] , the exterior strand manages to
gather in an extra diameter by coming out of pure/perfect
formation (something akin to what Dave Merchant recommends),
though --and he even points to this-- the twin (interior) strand
is already (at low load) arcing way out of helping pad the main line,
which if SET well, it would do**;
and in the 2nd case [13:15], it is (both) NOT so AND is SET poorly
--the twin stand tail ought to have been hauled hard to establish
good resistance to the SPart bearing into it. (Note the rather
hard angles of the survivor's interior strand --he fondles the
knot well enough to give a view of this at 14:12, where one
can see how it has pulled away from its (exterior) twin and
into the eye legs' turns around it.)

**He says "People talk about dressing your knots, but what
they don't really mention is that once certain tensions are
achieved, it actually undresses your knots" :: apparently, he
forgot about "dressing AND SETTING" (anglers are all about
setting --the "pull on tag end ..." bit and so on); depending
upon the particular knot, one should be able to see a desired
geometry reach the high loads --YMMV. Here, he's not even
giving it a chance, as he doesn't know to, alas.

Just a couple anecdotals, but ones that do fit into one *theory*
of how/why things behave.

*kN*
 

evo

Well-Known Member
Location
My Island, WA
I *THINK* I’ve heard 8 years from date of manufacture unused. Regardless it likely all comes down to storage, and rope type
 
The Outdoors Knot Book has this capture of some opinion on "old" ropes :
Pitt Schubert, who has worked for more than thirty years for the German Alpine Club and who is chairman for the UIAA Safety Commission [nb : 2004 book text], investigated many old ropes. According to him, "Some of these ropes were 15, 20, 25, and even 30 years old. They were tested by a UIAA test laboratory. The result : All of the ropes held one fall; and no rope broke in the knot."
Now, I don't know what "held one fall" means, exactly; but at the least it means that it didn't break. (But my point is Did it hold the fall in the required range of peak impact forces? --possibly not, I guess). Anyone who's seen one of these high-fall-factor UIAA drops comes away amazed that ropes survive! I'd imagine that the sort of use being considered for the (maybe not too) old arborist ropes is well clear of such questionable forces.

Maybe it's time for someone to test a couple of specimens --some old AND USED, some just old.

(-;
 

agent_smith

Active Member
Location
Townsville
per knudeNoggin:

I'm appalled that the test guy asserts that his Fig.8s
are tied as well as he can!
I'm not appalled even in the slightest.
To the contrary - it is within normal bounds to see such testing as produced in this video.
In the first instance, to be "appalled" suggests that the tester is an expert - and he has not conducted the test in an expert manner (eg sloppily tied knot).
But is the tester an expert? And what exactly is an 'expert'?
If we take the view that the tester isn't an expert - that relieves him of certain expectations.
knudeNoggin - I am confident that you have seen and/or reviewed numerous knot tests - and it is reasonable to assume that the majority fall short of perfection in some way.
My own experience indicates that it is rare for a knot tester to actually show detailed high quality front and rear images of the knot test specimen (ie showing the precise geometry for the test).
In fact, it is normal for a tester to not show the precise geometry - it is usually simply assumed that their chosen geometry is nominal for that knot species.
As you are aware, many assumed 'truths' about knots are parroted endlessly - indeed, most knot book authors are guilty of parroting false information (eg your 'favorite' book https://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Knots-Fancy-Rope-Work/dp/0870330217 - authored by Hensel and Graumont - and its full of errors!).

Now, I don't know what "held one fall" means, exactly
Well you should!...The specification of a 'fall' is given by EN892 (we have discussed this in the past).
The EN standards overrule the UIAA standards.
Manufacturers of life critical human rated climbing ropes ensure that their products conform to EN892.
One of the conditions of obtaining a 'CE' mark is conformance to the relevant EN standard.
The enabling Regulation is at this link: https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regexpert/index.cfm?do=groupDetail.groupDetailDoc&id=39204&no=1
And EN892 is here: https://standards.globalspec.com/std/10042610/EN 892 (sorry - the standard isn't free. I have a copy but cannot share it due to copyright laws).

I think the fundamental message the tester in the video is attempting to convey is that age is not a reliable criterion for withdrawal of PPE. Walter Seibert has also produced similar videos - and he strongly suggests that age is a poor criterion for withdrawing PPE from service.
Link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq62mVrEfBsGgk-oswsUhpQ/feed
Some commentators will ring the usual legal alarm bells - eg if manufacturers say 'X' number of years till life expiry - then you must comply or else! ....blah blah blah and so on.
Obviously, since the experience of Chouinard, manufacturers now have a team of legal advisors writing their legal warnings and ensuring adequate public liability insurance coverage.
The legal reality is somewhat different.... as most Western Nations have enacted Competition and Consumer Legislation which basically advances the concept of 'fitness for intended purpose'.

EDIT NOTE: You can try to google EN 892... as it turns out, there is a previous version pdf that can be downloaded (but, its likely a copyright breach that the 'CEN' aren't interesting in shutting down. However, it is impossible to download the latest version of EN 892 without paying. In an ideal world, standards ought to be free... but, they aren't... they are very expensive and likely out of the reach of the ordinary Joe climber.
 
Last edited:
per knudeNoggin:
I'm not appalled even in the slightest.
To the contrary - it is within normal bounds to see such testing as produced in this video.
In the first instance, to be "appalled" suggests that the tester is an expert - and he has not conducted the test in an expert manner (eg sloppily tied knot).
No, this guy's ineptness reaches new nadirs of not knotting nicely --a near 5kN load--, esp. for even his even calling attention to this and then opining about dressing! This is Prize performance.
most knot book authors are guilty of parroting false information (eg your 'favorite' book https://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Knots-Fancy-Rope-Work/dp/0870330217 - authored by Hensel and Graumont - and its full of errors!).
Beyond errors, way into Make Believe, hence the re-naming "Hensel & Gretel"!
But the book's survived from 1939 into 4 editions, no less --egadz.

The specification of a 'fall' is given by EN892 (we have discussed this in the past).
I understand "fall"; but I'm less sure about "held one fall", which as I clearly wrote, could mean just "not breaking (the rope)" vs. meeting passing criteria of the UIAA.

*kN*
 

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