Sure, climbing gear is an investment - at the get-go and over time as it wears out and needs to be retired - but the end of your equipment’s climbing life doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye forever. Ropes are a great example of gear that can be repurposed. Because nylon, the main ingredient in rope, is an organic material that breaks down over time, climbing ropes need to be replaced every so often. If you don’t know if your rope is still good to whip on, check out this article from Black Diamond.
So you’ve decided your rope isn’t safe anymore? No problem! Your climbing rope can have an afterlife with these recycling tips:
Make a rug or wall piece so all your visitors know you slay
Do you have a Sprinter, Tacoma, or gear room? None are complete without a spiral rope rug to mark your status as a climber. While other pattern instructions exist on the internet, I recommend you start with these instructions which don’t require sewing or weaving skills.
Weave a tree net
Have you always wanted to build a treehouse but never wanted to buy the wood and power tools? You can actually weave some pretty intricate nets with your old rope as the foundation. This may require a paracord purchase if you don’t want a thick weave with your fat rope, but that stuff is much cheaper than wood and the end result is an airy, colorful nest. Imagine a portaledge with a transparent bed. This is a more intensive process than the spiral rug, but Instructables comes in hot with this how to.
Keep a splice in your car as a tow rope
A few years back I attempted to drive a Camry down an offroad track after a rainstorm. Surprise, surprise, I got stuck in a large patch of mud. Thirty minutes of fighting fluid earth got my party of three nowhere. Luckily a slackliner found us in his Subaru and was happy to sacrifice some old webbing to help us out. If you are retiring a rope, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep a good 20 feet or so in your trunk for those overly ambitious moments.
Make top rope anchors
Living in the Rocky Mountains doesn’t only mean we have awesome established climbs just outside our front door, it also means that we have tons of adventurous slabs that haven’t been drilled yet. Sometimes a slab of rock can be a fun challenge without needing the aesthetics it takes for a route to be developed. Try saving 20 or 30 meters of non-core-shot rope for slinging trees and boulders. Just be sure your run the anchor all the way to the cliff face so you don’t wear out your new climbing rope.
A climbing rope is an incredibly useful piece of equipment and if these ideas don’t suit your needs, you can always make a dog leash, throw it over a Christmas tree, build a ladder or try all of the above with proper rationing. Just make sure that you’re only using safe segments for weight bearing purposes.