When you start climbing one thing that usually crosses your mind is how much weight can a climbing rope hold? This question can sometimes give you a little bit of doubt while climbing your mind races and thinks what if the rope snaps? or can’t hold my weight?
While it might seem like a possibility in your head in reality the chances of a rope not holding your weight are extremely unlikely. Ropes that are available from climbing brands such as Black Diamond or Edelrid have to go under strict testing and be made to standard EN 892 for Europe or UIAA 101 for the rest of the world.
You might be wondering what the different between these standards are?
The EN 892 standard requires a rope to be able to withstand 5 falls weighing at 80 kilograms with a fall factor of 1.75.
The UIAA 101 however is only granted when a rope meets all the requirements of EN892 and A1:2016 along with some additional requirements such as a water repellent test along with a middle marker and rope end marking. There are some other smaller requirements which you can read about here. This means that all UIAA101 ropes are approved with EN892 but not all EN892 ropes will meet the UIAA101 standard.
What is Fall Factor?
Earlier I mentioned that ropes are designed to take 5 falls weighing at 80 kilograms with a fall factor of 1.75, but this might be the first time hearing this term but its fairly simple. The fall factor is decided by a simple equation which is the ratio of fall length to rope length.
Its important to note however this is just theoretical fall factor and does not take account for rope drag. If steps are not taken to avoid any rope drag this can increase your actual fall factor fairly quickly and the fall will be worse for the climber.
A Rope Test In Action
Mammut have made a really good video showing how ropes are drop tested in various conditions to ensure they meet the EN892 or UIAA101 standard.
In the video, you can see the rope is tested in various conditions such as wet or dry. After seeing videos like this it gives me a lot more confidence in the gear and I would like to say a little less scared of falling but we all know that’s always scary.