Frozen rope

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Frozen rope

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jan 8, 2014 4:37 pm

Can rope be permanently damaged by moisture and freezing temps? I left my rope hanging in the yard after practicing, and forgot to take it down before rain, snow, and a huge freeze. So, is my rope still ok after being soaked and hanging in the wind and -10 temperature for two nights?
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Re: Frozen rope

Postby Scott McCrea » Jan 8, 2014 5:02 pm

What kind of rope?
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Re: Frozen rope

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jan 8, 2014 5:24 pm

11mm PMI Pit
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Re: Frozen rope

Postby Scott McCrea » Jan 8, 2014 6:38 pm

It's probably fine. Take it down and inspect it. Look for soft or fuzzy spots or anything out of the ordinary. I leave my rope in my tree year round. it's been there for almost 10 years.
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Re: Frozen rope

Postby tncaver » Jan 9, 2014 8:49 am

Scott McCrea wrote:It's probably fine. Take it down and inspect it. Look for soft or fuzzy spots or anything out of the ordinary. I leave my rope in my tree year round. it's been there for almost 10 years.


Scott, sunlight is known for making nylon and plastics brittle. I suggest you take your rope down and conduct some kind of test pull on a section of it to insure it still maintains
sufficient strength for climbing. I can think of no worse way to test it than have it break on a climb, up in a high tree. 10 years is also past the recommended usable "life"
for most climbing ropes.
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Re: Frozen rope

Postby LukeM » Jan 9, 2014 1:32 pm

Sorry to range off topic, but has anyone conducted tests on rope that's been exposed to lots of UV radiation? I've read conflicting information on the subject ranging from "always store ropes out of sunlight or you'll die" to "modern climbing ropes utilize UV-stabilized nylon and UV is nothing to worry about".
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Re: Frozen rope

Postby tncaver » Jan 9, 2014 3:37 pm

LukeM wrote:Sorry to range off topic, but has anyone conducted tests on rope that's been exposed to lots of UV radiation? I've read conflicting information on the subject ranging from "always store ropes out of sunlight or you'll die" to "modern climbing ropes utilize UV-stabilized nylon and UV is nothing to worry about".


How modern must the rope be? Scott mentioned that his rope in the tree is 10 years old. Is that considered a modern enough rope to be UV stabilized? I actually have some rope that is closer to 20 years old that has never been used. It is basically a new 20 year old rope. But would it be considered UV stabilized? Another question is, how much sunlight will a UV stabilized rope resist? 10 years continuous outdoor exposure is a lot for not only rope but also for paint, wood, plastics and of course human skin.
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Re: Frozen rope

Postby LukeM » Jan 9, 2014 4:00 pm

According to the President of the UIAA Safety Commision all nylon has been UV stabilized since the early 60's. He says that aging through UV and storage can "almost be neglected" when compared to aging caused by use.
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Re: Frozen rope

Postby tncaver » Jan 9, 2014 5:06 pm

Interesting. But I'm somewhat skeptical that it can be neglected due to age in outside conditions. I would call that totally neglecting a rope. Scott certainly
tossed this thread into an interesting conversation.
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Re: Frozen rope

Postby NZcaver » Jan 10, 2014 6:30 am

LukeM wrote:Sorry to range off topic, but has anyone conducted tests on rope that's been exposed to lots of UV radiation?

Yes - with one of my personal ropes. Non-scientific testing, but still relevant. I can't share the video of the destruction testing right now because of Facebook privacy settings, but this should give you the gist of what you need to know:

My old 10mm Donaghy's static abseiling/caving rope was manufactured in the late 1980's, used in caves and mines for over 10 years, and then left rigged in direct sunlight as a backyard zipline for another 10 years. This was in New Zealand where the UV light is particularly harsh because of the depleted ozone layer.

The original manufacturer-stated MBS was 22kN. When slow pull tested, the rope broke around 14kN and with a figure 8 bight it broke around 13kN. The rope was stiff and crusty and looked/smelled pretty bad, but with no obvious cuts/abrasion damage. When cut open, the strands of the core were clean white. There was only enough rope for single pulls in each configuration, and all results are non-scientific.


In addition to this, somewhere I have a copy of official pull test results of an even older abused rope which belonged to a TAG caver gentleman. As I recall it was used for caving, roofing, and as a boat dock rope. The results showed it retained a very impressive MBS.
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Re: Frozen rope

Postby tncaver » Jan 10, 2014 9:44 am

That is great news NZcaver. The 20 year old "new" rope I have, was given to me by a dying friend (caver). I've been hesitant to use it due to it's age,
but the rope was properly stored and looks brand new. Now I will be willing to use it and maybe I can name some virgin cave for my friend some day.
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Re: Frozen rope

Postby NZcaver » Jan 10, 2014 3:47 pm

From what I have heard and read, aside from physical cut/abrasion damage the most critical factor in rope degradation is chemical exposure - specifically acids. If the rope is exposed to a tiny amount of acid and left stored, you will likely have serious issues. If you store/use it carefully and avoid exposure to such things, there should be no issue. If in doubt, inspect thoroughly and send a piece away for destruction testing if you are really concerned. Check out this old post about substances coming into contact with nylon ropes.
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Re: Frozen rope

Postby trogman » Jan 11, 2014 8:35 am

NZ- thanks for the ref to the old post; some good reading. I agree with the last post on that page about walking on rope. The study that was done was NOT done in classic cave conditions, that is, with gritty mud and sharp rocks possibly under the rope.

"Boot test:
A 90° angel iron was used as the edge and a multifall rope (minimum number of nine falls) draped over the edge. A person weighing 80 kg stepped on the rope and rolled three time back and forth with full body weight. This process was repeated 13 times at a spacing of 1.5 cm. The rope then underwent the UIAA drop test. The damaged area was placed at the orifice, the carabiner edge of the test apparatus. In another test the damaged area was placed in the free length of the rope. In both instances the number of falls held was still nine.
While one cannot say that stepping on the rope did not cause damage, one can say that it is negligible."


It stands to reason that persons walking on a rope with muddy boots while the rope is on top of sharp rocks could cause some damage. I'd rather play it safe in that regard.

If I may, I think the answer to the original question about frozen ropes is that it doesn't hurt a thing. The main issue is the retention of water in the rope, since a wet rope is weaker than a dry rope, but that weakness is not permanent, and the rope regains its' full strength when dried.

I've always heard that UV damage was a major concern, so it was interesting to read a study that indicated otherwise. I have always stored my ropes indoors in a place away from sunlight. It looks like the main enemy is and will probably always be acid. Avoid contact at all costs with acids! I always transport my rope in the back seat of my vehicle, rather than in the trunk, just in case. This case documented by Black Diamond was a real eye-opener about acid damage: http://blackdiamondequipment.com/en/qc-lab-acid-harness.html

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Re: Frozen rope

Postby PatB » Jan 24, 2014 8:06 pm

I have a PMI 7/16 that I purchased around 1995, and used it for 5 or 6 years. Then I kind of lost interest in caving and stored all my caving stuff in a metal clothes closet at my parents house. I'd look at the stuff every few years and wonder if I'd ever get back into that gear again. Then my buddies and I had a resurgence last fall and I went to grab my gear. Here my Pop had taken a container of "Liquid Fire" and stored it in the bottom of this closet (accidentally of course, I figure to keep it away from little ones). A little had leaked out on my Lost Creek rope bag, and basically "melted" part of the shoulder strap. I found that a CMI harness had started to become very brittle to the touch, and completely came apart at the seams when placed in water. Anyway, I don't trust any of the nylon based equipment that was in the closet anymore. 370 foot of rope that I plan on using to keep hay bales on the wagon next summer. Luckily, another old caving friend of mine didn't want his stuff anymore so he sold it to me cheap. I plan on having my old ropewalkers resewn with new webbing. I'm assuming this drain cleaner wouldn't have effected the metal structure of the Gibbs and Petzl ascenders, right?
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Re: Frozen rope

Postby trogman » Jan 26, 2014 10:46 am

PatB wrote:I have a PMI 7/16 that I purchased around 1995, and used it for 5 or 6 years. Then I kind of lost interest in caving and stored all my caving stuff in a metal clothes closet at my parents house. I'd look at the stuff every few years and wonder if I'd ever get back into that gear again. Then my buddies and I had a resurgence last fall and I went to grab my gear. Here my Pop had taken a container of "Liquid Fire" and stored it in the bottom of this closet (accidentally of course, I figure to keep it away from little ones). A little had leaked out on my Lost Creek rope bag, and basically "melted" part of the shoulder strap. I found that a CMI harness had started to become very brittle to the touch, and completely came apart at the seams when placed in water. Anyway, I don't trust any of the nylon based equipment that was in the closet anymore. 370 foot of rope that I plan on using to keep hay bales on the wagon next summer. Luckily, another old caving friend of mine didn't want his stuff anymore so he sold it to me cheap. I plan on having my old ropewalkers resewn with new webbing. I'm assuming this drain cleaner wouldn't have effected the metal structure of the Gibbs and Petzl ascenders, right?


Here is the MSDS for that Liquid Fire Drain Cleaner: http://catalog2.handyhardware.com/WebSiteModule/MSDS/250002.pdf
One of the things that jumped out at me was the ingredient sulfuric acid. That is one of the worst things you can expose your nylon gear to, and it'll almost certainly cause it to fail under tension. Glad to read that you ditched the nylon-based gear from the closet. As far as the ascenders, sulfuric acid will dissolve most metals, so they should be examined very closely for signs of damage prior to using. Also make sure you clean them well in soapy water before using them, just in case there are traces of the drain cleaner left on them. Maybe some of our more knowledgeable and more educated forum members will comment on this as well.

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