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Fixed rope

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Examples of fixed rope climbing

In climbing and mountaineering, a fixed-rope (or fixed-line) is the practice of securing in-situ anchored static climbing ropes to assist any following climbers (and porters) to ascend more rapidly—and with less effort—by using mechanical aid devices called ascenders.[1][2] Fixed ropes also allow climbers (and porters) to descend rapidly using mechanical devices called descenders.[1][2] Fixed ropes also help to identify the climbing route in periods of low visibility (e.g. a storm or white-out).[1][2] The act of ascending a fixed rope is also called jumaring, which is the name of a type of ascender device,[3] or jugging in the US.[4]

Fixed ropes are put in place by the lead climbers, and may or may not be removed as they descend after completing the route.[5][6] For popular Himalayan climbing routes, fixed ropes may be put in place to last the season (e.g. the Khumbu Ice Fall).[7][8] While storms can strip a mountain of fixed ropes that have been left behind, the existence of old—and often unreliable and dangerous—fixed ropes along popular climbing routes, is a concern in climbing.[5][9] On popular European, and latterly American, climbing routes, the fixed rope can be replaced by permanent metal cables, which are called 'via ferrata' routes.[10]

Fixed ropes are not used in 'alpine style' mountaineering as they are considered akin to a form of aid climbing.[1][2][6] Fixed ropes are commonly used on big wall climbing routes where it is common for the non-lead climber(s) to jumar up on fixed ropes to save time and conserve effort;[4] the re-belay technique is often used on big walls to reduce wear on fixed ropes.[11] Guided climbing expeditions to Himalayan peaks such as the easier eight-thousanders, often set up extensive networks of fixed ropes on steep or icy sections of the climbing route to help their less experienced clients, and to allow their porters and sherpas move quickly along the route.[12][13] For example, on the Hillary Step of Everest, networks of fixed ropes improve client safety but then cause bottlenecks at a location that is in the death zone.[12][13] The ethics on the use of extensive fixed rope networks by commercial adventure companies to facilitate weaker climbers access dangerous eight-thousander summits is a source of debtate in mountaineering.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Soles, Clyde; Powers, Phil (June 2003). "A Matter of Style: Expedition, Capsule, Alpine, Extreme Alpine, and Combined". Climbing: Expedition Planning. Mountaineers Books. pp. 25–31. ISBN 978-0898867701. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  2. ^ a b c d The Mountaineers (2018). "Chapter 21: Expedition Climbing". Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (9th ed.). Quiller Publishing. pp. 456–469. ISBN 978-1846892622.
  3. ^ Ellison, Julie (6 May 2016). "Learn This: How to Jumar a Rope". Climbing. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  4. ^ a b Synott, Mark (23 February 2022). "Everything You Need to Know for Your First Big Wall". Climbing. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  5. ^ a b Prasain, Sangam (3 December 2022). "Ropes on climbing routes litter Mount Everest". The Kathmandu Post. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  6. ^ a b Synott, Mark (9 April 2015). "Elite Climbers to Blaze New Route up Everest: Climbing without bottled oxygen or Sherpa support, team tackles unclimbed line on Northeast Face". National Geographic Magazine. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  7. ^ "Everest Season Begins as Icefall Doctors Fix Ropes". Gripped Magazine. 3 March 2021. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  8. ^ "Progress on Everest Halts with Rope-Fixing Confusion". Gripped Magazine. 5 May 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  9. ^ Lambert, Katie (16 October 2019). "Out on a Ledge: Tangled. Confronting the knotty issue of fixed ropes". Climbing. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  10. ^ Parks, Shoshi (28 February 2024). "Via Ferratas Are Finally Catching On in the United States". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  11. ^ Chelton, Neil (2024). "How To Climb a Big Wall – Fixing Pitches". VDiff Climbing. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  12. ^ a b c Wilkinsom, Freddie (29 May 2019). "Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest". National Geographic Magazine. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  13. ^ a b c Synott, Mark (21 April 2015). "The Everest Moral Dilemma". National Geographic Magazine. Retrieved 10 May 2024.

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