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Glacier Rope diameter #4456
Back To Discussion List Written: 2015.09.10 by: Dean Richards

I'm gearing up for glacier travel, having finally taken a course, but I'm unable to decide about the diameter of rope. It'd be for a dedicated glacier rope. Possibly would see occasionally use scrambling Class 4 terrain, but for all intents and purposes just glacier travel, as I don't get into 5th Class stuff. I haven't decided on a length of rope yet, but that's a secondary consideration.

So the range I'm looking at is 8-9mm. There's probably enough variance between models of rope that it just comes down to certain models vs other models, as opposed to deciding on a perfect diameter ahead of time.

Factors: -this would be primarily for summer travel on glaciers in the Columbia and Rocky Mountains. -mostly day trips, but occasionally for multi-day to a hut or even camping, so weights up to 225lbs -many routes wouldn't have significant beta, so chance of a fall isn't particularly low -since this wouldn't be used so much on rock, I assume slicing the rope is less of a risk -rope wouldn't see very many falls and wouldn't be same force as rock climbing

Beal has a 8mm glacier rope, but that seems cutting it pretty close. 9mm seems a bit overkill. Somewhere in between? Anyone have any opinions? I know the technology changes and most people don't have dedicated glacier ropes, so it's been tough finding educated opinions...


#1809 - 2015.09.10 Scott Nelson - 8mm half rope
For a variety of reasons, glacier and snow climbing falls tend to have lower fall factors than on rock, and as you already observed there are not a lot of sharp edges around. I typically use 8mm ropes for glacier travel. If you get into rock terrain you can fold the rope in half and use it as a double rope system. One caveat with smaller diameter ropes is that you need smaller diameter prussik cords to grip them properly.