It’s important to take care of climbing ropes properly in order to preserve their integrity and extend their lifespans. Part of this rope care includes uncoiling the rope when you first purchase it, flaking the rope regularly, and storing it correctly.
So, how do you flake a climbing rope? To flake a climbing rope, you simply run the entire length through your hands and pile it loosely, preferably on a tarp. This serves the dual purpose of untangling the rope and providing a chance to inspect it closely for wear and tear.
However, flaking a rope isn’t the only step necessary for good rope care. In this article, we’ll look at a couple of different processes that will help extend the life of your climbing rope and how to perform them.
What Does It Mean to Flake a Rope?
Flaking a rope simply means running it through your hands and piling it loosely. This is typically done when you first arrive at the crag and you are getting ready to use your rope. However, it can also be done periodically throughout the day if necessary, or before you pack up your rope so it’s easier to fit it in the rope bag and/or so you don’t have to do it when you arrive at the crag the next time.
To flake your rope, take it out of the bag and place it on top of your rope tarp. Tie one end of the rope to one of the loops on your rope tarp. Then start with that end and run the entire length of the rope through your hands, feeling for any damage or inconsistencies as you go. Pile the rope loosely onto itself, and when you reach the other end of the rope, tie that to the other loop on the tarp. Then fold the edges of the tarp over the rope pile and roll the whole thing up burrito-style until it fits into your rope bag.
Or, if you are just getting to the crag, once you reach the second end of your rope, you would tie in and begin climbing.
How Do You Coil and Uncoil a Climbing Rope?
It’s perfectly acceptable to store a flaked rope in a rope bag, but there are some cases where you may need to coil or uncoil your rope in a more structured way. A primary example of this is when you first purchase your climbing rope. Unless the rope is specially marked to indicate that it’s ready to use right away, you’ll need to uncoil it carefully before you begin climbing.
Uncoiling a new rope is easiest with two people. One person will hold the coiled rope by inserting their hands into either end of the coil. The other person will gently pull the loops of rope free and flake it into a loose pile. It’s generally a good idea to flake your new rope a couple of times before you use it to help avoid kinks and twists when you get to the crag.
You may want to coil your rope back up into a neat bundle if you plan to store it without a rope bag. There are several different ways to do this, with the most common being to drape the rope back and forth over the back of your neck in roughly 4-foot sections, then folding the finished product in half and tying it off, so you have an approximately 2-foot bundle of neatly coiled rope. Coiling a rope in this way does allow you to pack it more efficiently into a rope bag for a smaller overall package, although it takes a bit of extra time.
How Do You Roll a Climbing Rope?
Rolling a climbing rope is essentially the same thing as coiling it. Again, there are several ways to do this. You can use the method outlined above, or you can coil it like you would an extension cord, around your hand and elbow. However, this can be difficult if you have small hands and/or a very long rope, as so many passes of the rope will eventually become hard to hold.
How Do You Coil a Climbing Rope Into a Backpack?
Most climbing rope bags have integrated tarps with loops to tie off both ends of your rope, as well as backpack straps so you can easily carry your rope around. However, if you don’t have a climbing rope bag, you can still transport your rope easily by coiling almost the entire length, and then using the final few feet to make ‘straps’ for your rope backpack. This way, the rope is coiled up neatly and you can carry it hands-free, which is infinitely easier than trying to carry a flaked rope in your arms—that can feel like attempting to carry 80 meters worth of spaghetti.