Friday, 11 March 2011

rope colours

This trip has been the first major outing for my new double ropes after my old ones got rather badly damaged in an ice climbing incident back in December. 60m, 8.5mm diameter, dry-treated Edelrid Kestrels. My old ropes were the ‘standard’ Mammut Genesis that everyone seems to use, and they were of a conventional colour scheme that just worked – blue and red.

Blue and red, great! Easy to tell them apart, easy to remember which one goes on which side (always red on the left, after all red is the port colour), no worries. So what do you think crossed my mind when the Kestrels arrived?

“Oh dear god…”

‘Night’ and ‘Sahara’ are apparently the colours of these ropes according to Edelrid…

Not to worry though, my friends out here soon came to the rescue by renaming the rope colours for me:

‘Poo’ and ‘Puke’.

At first I railed against this. I do not have a ‘poo’ coloured rope for crying out loud. How could you ever shout down to your belayer “slack on poo”? I mean really…

SDC12578 The offending items in use with a Petzl Reverso 3

For a good few days I fought to maintain that the darker rope was in fact a purple colour, but then one day, stood in the bottom of the Lower Gorge, I glanced across at the pile of ropes and finally had to admit that the dark rope does indeed appear to be a sort of browny colour in certain lights. I was gutted. There really is no denying that these ropes are a gross colour combo, but really, do they have to forever be known by such vulgar names? The answer, of course, is yes.

So, now we have one brown rope, forever to be known as ‘poo’.

The orange rope is another matter altogether, it started out life simply as ‘orange’, but soon aquired the tag of ‘baby sick’ (again, thanks Dave), and has now settled down to being simply ‘puke’.

I’ve given up despairing, there is nothing I can do other than embrace the embarrassment of it all.

There is an advantage to this colour combination - it is incredibly easy to remember two simple elements: which one goes on the left when gearing up, and which one you rig to pull as standard on full length abseils:

Left and right: The lighter coloured rope, resembling either puke or pee, depending on which way you look at it, is of course rope ‘Number One’ and therefore always goes on the left.

The darker coloured rope, now widely regarded as the ‘poo’ rope, of course has to be rope ‘Number Two’, the reasoning being self-evident. It will go on the right.

Abseiling: When rigging a full length abseil, you have to tie both ropes together, and upon reaching the bottom the laborious task of pulling the ropes down becomes the next challenge. In order to make life ever-so-slightly easier, I’ve decided to standardise the way I’ll thread the ropes, ensuring that the ‘puke’ rope is the one to be pulled (knot on the ‘puke’ side of the anchor), so we will always be “pulling a sickie”…I know, I know…


On a genuine note, I’m seriously impressed with these ropes. They handle beautifully, the dry-treatment is great and they do everything a double rope should do. It’ll be interesting to see how well they hold up to the rigours of the summer rock season, but if they are as good as my old Edelrid Falcon single rope, I’m sure I’ll be more than happy.


  1. Daft question, but what is that a photo of? Is that a car crash barrier/stansion? I can't imagine doing that in the uk, as most belay stakes i've seen are rusting pieces of crap!

  2. It's actually just a load of tat round a tree, but there are places where crash barriers can be used!