Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Skills

Oh No, Not Another Dangerous Idea: They Used Webbing Instead Of A Rope

Webbing may cost less than climbing rope, but it doesn't stretch and belay devices aren't designed for it. It seems self apparent that you should only climb on an actual climbing rope, but not everyone has gotten the message.

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.

I saw a group of four doing something very stupid at Pilot Mountain State Park. They were toproping an easy 5.6, but they weren’t using a rope. Instead, one genius in the group thought it would be fine to use an 80-foot piece of nylon webbing. He had a belay device and had threaded the webbing through it, thinking it was all the same. I approached and asked if any of them had been climbing outside before. Of course it was their first time. I politely suggested that what they were doing was quite dangerous, but they didn’t seem to care. They did break down their site after we spoke, and I thought they had the good sense to listen to someone who wasn’t at his first rodeo. Nope. They just moved 300 yards north to set up another route.—George Brunner via Climbing.com

LESSON: Webbing is just not a suitable replacement for a true climbing rope. Webbing doesn’t really stretch and belay devices aren’t designed for it, and that’s just for starters. Webbing may be less expensive than real climbing rope, but so is clothesline. It should be self apparent that you should only climb on climbing rope, but not everyone has gotten the message, obviously. For an issue of Climbing, I spoke to IFMGA-certified guide Joey Thompson for a skills article. One thing he said stood out to me, “As a mountain guide, I use the materials based on the manufacturers recommendations, and until I get some drop-testing results…I can’t recommend it.” I’d asked what he thought about clove-hitching a sling to a carabiner in an alpine draw, but the advice applies to, well… everything. Unless that little booklet of do’s and don’ts that came with your webbing says it’s OK to use it like a climbing rope, then don’t do it. Unless that little booklet that came with your belay device says you can use it to belay with webbing, then don’t do it. It’s pretty basic. And in this situation, I can confidently say that neither of them do.

Want more? Check out more installments in our ever-growing hall of dangerous behavior: 

Used Hands for Belay … No Device

Actually used a Grappling Hook for Climbing

Belay Device Somehow Unclipped Itself, And Leader Fell

Lowered Off Gear Loop

They Used Parachute Cord For Slings

No belay Anchor on Multi Pitch, and Leader Falls

Lucky He Didn’t Die. Lowered From a Toy Carabiner

Unfortunate Groundfall, Fortunate Landing

Leader Decks When Experienced Climber Bungles the Belay

Saw Through Someone Else’s Rope

Belayed With Hands Only—No Device!

Smoke Brick Weed and Go Climbing

Belay With a Knife In Your Hand

Don’t Let a Clueless Dad Take a Kid Climbing

She Got Frustrated and Untied—On Lead