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My rope appears damaged, but is it a “core shot”?

A friend recently noted that my rope has "soft spots" near the end of the rope which by implication means the integrity of the core may be affected.

Happy Friday!

Just for the hell of it, perhaps this can set someone else’s mind at ease….

A friend recently noted that my rope has “soft spots” near the end of the rope which by implication means the integrity of the core may be affected. Another friend has in the past retired his ropes due to “core shots”…this all sounded very dramatic so I proceeded to check my rope thoroughly.

The only spot I could find where there was any deviation in the feel of the rope when bending it was on a spot where the rope fairly obviously took a bit of a knock (pictured below). It was close to one end of the rope and I’m pretty it just got pinched between the rock and a draw on a route we were trying.

To be fair I should mention that it was hard to repeatedly find the same spot based on the bending alone, I think the abrasion was what really gave it away.

The sheath was still intact which in my mind means that the core would be too, but to be sure I cut off that end and then to satisfy my curiosity about the core I cut it on the spot where it was damaged – everything still looked fine…

In my opinion clearly nothing to worry about….


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6 years ago

If you look at my ropes there is lots of finger tape that I apply the minute I see an abrasion.

Ropes are hugely strong and will not break if there is no damage to the core and even if there is it must be pretty substantial with visibly cut threads of at least one bundle.

Also ontrad I climb with two ropes on lead. So it only matters for the person on second if you climb on three up.

A rope will break only if over a sharp edge. Otherwise the impact will have to be so big that your harness will cut you in two even if the rope is only half strength i.e. a 1 ton force.

6 years ago

I think a common misconception, especially with newer climbers, is that their climbing rope is similarly made to the general rope you might find at a hardware store. So any sign of fuzz or fraying is assumed to have compromised the strength of the rope.

The sheath isn’t what keeps you among the living when you whip.

Justin Lawson
6 years ago

I agree with the two comments above.
And also say ‘nothing to worry about’. The bottom image shows the the two core to be in perfect condition.
The sheath is there to protect the core – a climbing rope’s core provides most of the strength. Many climbers have cut there sheath leaving only the core of the rope to hold the fall (you fall a bit further though!).

6 years ago

Am i right in saying that either the core or the sheath alone will be able to take a lead fall? I think so…

6 years ago
Reply to  Jacques

Hey Jacques, i don’t think the sheath alone is worth much in terms if strength and should not be used in that way.

I do remember however Hector coming up with a clever solution to a puzzle posted on this site where he proposed using the sheath to retrieve a rope after an abseil, which sounded reasonable.

Warren Gans
Warren Gans
6 years ago

If you ever want to scare yourself cut an old fluffy rope longways and see what the core really looks like: there is a reason it gets thicker

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

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