How to Cut a Climbing Rope

Written by marie mulrooney
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Nylon climbing rope is literally a climber's life line and taking proper care of it is critical. If your rope has become damaged or frayed near one end, you can cut off the questionable section and continue to use the remaining, shorter portion to climb. Once your rope has been retired from active climbing, you can also cut it into pieces that can be used around the yard and elsewhere.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Sharp knife
  • Lighter
  • Small bowl of water

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  1. 1

    Use a sharp blade to slice through the rope at a right angle. If possible, have a friend hold taut the section of rope you are cutting--nylon cuts much easier under pressure. Or you can stand on part of the rope or tie it to something and then pull the other portion taut with one hand while you slice through it. Make sure to cut away from your body.

  2. 2

    Ignite the lighter and quickly pass the cut end of the rope through the flame several times. You will see both the white core of the rope and the coloured sheath on the outside start to blacken. Usually they will just melt--that's the effect you want--and not burn at all. Extinguish the lighter once the sheath has blackened all the way around and the core also has darkened.

  3. 3

    Dip the fingers of one hand into the bowl of water and quickly pinch the melted nylon together so that the rope tapers slightly at the end. Repeat the dip-and-pinch process as necessary so that the melted nylon forms a cap over the end no wider than the rest of the rope. If you want to be especially tidy you can purchase heat-shrink wrap at a hardware store--it's used to coat wiring. Place a cap of this over the end of the rope and then heat it until it shrinks.

Tips and warnings

  • You can also take your rope to a local climbing shop. Many of them will be happy to cut your rope for you using their heated, electric cord/rope cutter, which seals the ends as it cuts through the rope.

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