Don’t Lead on a Boat Rope Because Your Pappy Did

Crazy what some people will use for climbing gear.

Photo: Getty Images

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I saw a guy tying in with an old shipyard rope. We told him how unsafe that was. He said that his dad used the rope throughout the 1980s, so it should be fine. As we were walking away, he asked his buddy, “You want to risk it?”–David Cook via

LESSON: If you have to ask if you should risk it, then it’s probably not a risk worth taking. Your dad’s old shipyard rope fails just about every requirement of a climbing rope. Climbing ropes are dynamic, which means they’re designed to stretch. That stretch absorbs some of the force generated in a fall. A static rope, which a shipyard rope presumably is, provides no such stretch. Even a very short fall on a static rope can generate a significant amount of force on your anchor and your body. Even if your anchor survives, you might not enjoy what happens to your bones and guts. Furthermore, even an unused rope should be retired after only a few years of regular use, and an untouched rope only lasts 10 years, according to manufacturers. Don’t put your life in the hands of a 25-year-old rope. If you need something to do with your old shipyard rope that badly, go buy a boat.

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