ropes for climbing photography

New Topic
This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
 J Piotrowski 17 Feb 2024


I want to start in climbing photography, however I do not know what type of rope to choose. I have been made aware that a static rope would be best, however, I do not know much about static ropes. Would it be possible for you to point out the features I should be looking out for (thickness, length, any other features there may be)?

Thanks for any help

 Alex Riley 17 Feb 2024
In reply to J Piotrowski:

10mm is probably as thin as I would go for bouncing around on taking photos. 

Moving up and down a rope requires a few skills to be learnt, make sure you are happy you know how to look after yourself.

In reply to J Piotrowski:

What styles of climbing are you intending photographing? 

 Gary Latter 18 Feb 2024
In reply to J Piotrowski:

Worth considering the Edelrid Interstatic Protect 11mm. Considerably more expensive than a standard static rope, but has a cut resistant Aramid sheath, which saves having to worry about edge protection (multiple rope protectors). Available in 50m, 100m & 200m lengths - really depends on length of routes you’re intending to abseil down.

You could do everything (ascend/descend) using a Petzl Grigri & a handled ascender (jumar) such as the Petzl Ascension, together with a small pulley - either a DMM Revolver carabiner, or Petzl  Oscillante pulley attached to the jumar with a separate carabiner. If you’re intending to ascend long distances on the rope, a second toothed ascender will make life much easier - such as a Petzl Basic/Croll/Nano Traxion.

If you’re going to be hanging around on the rope, a belay seat will make all the difference.

 Will Rupp 18 Feb 2024
In reply to J Piotrowski:

Feel like 11mm would be mega chunky to carry in and to use a gri gri on. 10mm or even a tad less works well. Length depends on cliff length... and how much you need to rig the anchor.

 bpmclimb 18 Feb 2024
In reply to Gary Latter:

> Worth considering the Edelrid Interstatic Protect 11mm. Considerably more expensive than a standard static rope, but has a cut resistant Aramid sheath, which saves having to worry about edge protection (multiple rope protectors). 

I got a 65m one of these from V12 about a year ago. They were happy to sell me a non-standard length from a reel - although it did take them a long time to get through it with the rope cutter!

Anyway, my reason for posting ...... having splashed out on a relatively expensive semi-static, I'm definitely using rope protection if it runs over any significant edges, despite the enhanced cut-resistance

In reply to J Piotrowski:

I’m fairly certain I used an Edeldrid 11mm static line (it’s in the cupboard under the stairs and I’m not going ‘burrowing’ for it now!) It was white with black flecks in it - I think standard to distinguish it from ordinary climbing ropes. I also had an ordinary 9mm perlon climbing rope as a safety rope, useful spare line alongside - also useful to stop you spinning round under overhangs.

I had a chest and sit harness, plus wooden sit seat (essential for hanging in space for any length of time at all) - superb when you had it set up right. You could sit up there all day, like sitting on a garden bench in space. Croll ascendeur and Petzl descendeur. (Practise changing from one to the other - there’s lots to go wrong … practise somewhere close to the ground!) Jumar on left in diagram I think was on the same static line above everything else. Extra ascendeur strapped to boot. I developed this system over many months, with lots of advice from Richard McHardy (single rope access expert). 

Below is a very rough sketch of the set up I made at the time, and a shot of me (c.30 years ago!) wearing the kit at the Roaches. Static line just visible in bottom L corner.

The camera, btw, was a very expensive 6x9 roll film camera (120 roll film) which took 9 frames at a time, IIRC. Or maybe only 8 (god, my memory is hazy). Very tough in those days when you had to wait to the next day to see the results, or if anything had gone wrong technically with the shots.

I’ve looked up the technical details of the camera now: Horseman Super Wide 612 with a 6 x 9 roll film back. (I had five roll film cameras in all: 1 Hasselblad, 2 Fuji 6x9 roll film rangefinder cameras, one Fuji GA645 autofocus camera and the Horseman).

Post edited at 21:41

 CantClimbTom 18 Feb 2024
In reply to J Piotrowski:

Do a training course for IRATA level 1

You'll learn a huge amount about work positioning on ropes, going up and down, basic rigging and a perspective on working at height and work legislation which is very different to recreational rock climbing 

It will be very industrial based and not specific to photographers, but the majority will be useful. Plus it gets you a work certification to be qualified to be a dope-on-a-rope

 Luke01 19 Feb 2024
In reply to CantClimbTom:

Not a bad way to learn the basics. Although I might add that unless the OP is starting from a very basic level, an IRATA L1 is a very expensive (£700 ish) way to learn to go up and down a rope if you don't need the ticket. For most climbers, level 1 is super basic and you'd be fairly bored doing it for a whole week. 

 Sharp 19 Feb 2024
In reply to J Piotrowski:

I personally wouldn't go less than 11mm for a rope I was intending to use for that purpose, however if you're asking about what rope to use and you're not a bot then you probably want to take a step back and look at the other skills involved, as your rope choice is relatively unimportant. Nothing wrong with using a 10mm rope at all but personally I find the ascenders and descenders that I use work much nicer on 11mm rope - choose your rope once you're happy with the system and equipment you're using. 

Common sense suggests a thicker rope will be more robust and last longer and both are probably true, but the data on cut resistance are poor and it's notoriously difficult to study scientifically. Treat any 11mm rope the same as you would a 10mm rope (i.e. lots of edge protection and appropriate rebelaying). Particularly at high loads, the benefit of extra thickness is potentially minimal (and that chat up line is mine so hands off, bah-doom)

Many cut rope accidents involve some level of dynamism, i.e. the rope doesn't wear on an edge it's already running over (which you would hopefully have protected), rather the load and rope move horizontally and the rope then comes unexpectedly into contact with a sharp edge it wasn't in contact with before. This takes quite a bit of forethought about the loading dynamics further down the intended route to mitigate and an extra bit of sheath won't protect you from that kind of error. Also worth noting that ropes wear on non-sharp surfaces when a knot comes into contact with a flat abrasive surface. It has been known to catch people out before (well it's caught me out anyway!)

An IRATA course would be an excellent introduction for the reasons above, however it arguably misses out the hard parts of what you're looking to do and is very much an entry level workplace course. It's also 6 days and expensive. If you can learn the basics (how to ab, belay, place gear, ascend etc.) then you might get better value hiring an MIA/MIC that works with film crews and get them to do some 1:1 training with you. What you're looking to do (walking to the top of a crag and identifying route lines from the top, selecting or constructing a suitable natural anchors and safely rigging a line which rebelays you away from hazards and positions you exactly in the locations that give you good shots without showering everyone in rubble and taking all day) is quite a difficult and specific set of skills and unlikely to be covered on a beginners course. Either way, the rope you use is probably one of the least relevant considerations. 

Post edited at 10:45
 bpmclimb 23 Feb 2024
In reply to J Piotrowski:

Not sure if it's been mentioned yet, but more often than not, be prepared to rebelay to an additional anchor just below the top (and possibly a few more points down the cliff). On trad you'll need to carry a few nuts and a couple of cams for the purpose. This will save abrasion to your rope, perhaps put you in a better position for taking your shots, and significantly enhance your safety (rope much less likely to lever out loose rocks at the top as you move around).

Edit .... noticed that this was already mentioned in the previous post. Sorry for the repetition!

Post edited at 14:07
 Paul Evans 23 Feb 2024
In reply to J Piotrowski:

Agree with all of the above, some excellent advice there. I would recommend starting out on the shorter gritstone crags, where it is much easier to be sure your rope is in the position you want before you go over the edge. 

Getting yourself to the right position for abbing in on big complex multitpitch cliffs, particularly ones with vegetated tops (I'm looking at you, Plum Buttress) is non-trivial, and your intended subjects should be warned that significant faffing may well ensue before you finally appear. 

Can be well worthwhile to go to your intended crag solo for a good look round before you go back with climbers. As somebody once said, "time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted"

Another skill you will have to develop is to visualise what a shot of route X from position Y is going to look like before you go to the trouble of getting yourself and your subjects there. It does take time (well it did for me anyway). Which way is the climber likely to be facing on the section you want to photograph? You need to be on the side they are facing. 

And finally don't forget that you don't always have to shoot from a rope. Particularly on single pitch, shooting from high ground or tops of adjacent buttresses can work well and is far more flexible. 

Whatever you do, stay safe and have fun. 


 Dan Arkle 23 Feb 2024
In reply to J Piotrowski:

I'm amazed that nobody has called troll/bot yet. 

Anyway, some really interesting things to think about in this thread. I've learnt a bit. 

New Topic
This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Loading Notifications...