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What sort of rope would be ideal for glacier travel? I have a 10mm 60m rope, but this is quite heavy. Would a 9mm 50m rope be suitable for a team of three, crossing glaciers in the Swiss Alps?

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Based on a comprehensive Mr.Wizard's answer, I'd like to add, that it may still be a good idea to use a single rope (maybe a 9-mm single rope), if you are planning more than crossing glaciers by well-know paths. In case of getting lost or emergency you might need more than a 1/2 rope. –  Steed Feb 21 '13 at 12:28
    
@Steed I don't think I can agree with that advice for the reason described here. The sheath of a skinny single is just too thin, and quoting: "People also need to recognize that even though these are single ropes, and even though the diameter is larger than our Genesis half ropes, under conditions where the main danger is cutting or abrasion the thicker rope might actually be LESS durable and have a lower safety margin." –  Mr.Wizard Feb 21 '13 at 13:09
    
Thank you, @Mr.Wizard, I should really study modern ropes more before giving such advice. –  Steed Mar 2 '13 at 21:00

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Beal Ropes has a guide that covers this. Read the page but two images for quick reference:

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A robust half rope such as the Mammut Genesis is probably a very good choice; such a rope is much lighter than a 10mm Single but still has a thick sheath.

See also: A Comparison of Stretch and Forces Between Low- and High-Stretch Ropes During Simulated Crevasse Falls [PDF]

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Thanks for the article link. Actually, it seems that stretch ability of the rope plays even less role when walking, because the holding person is not fixed to the ground. The thick snow acts as a shock absorber and friction provider pretty well. –  Steed Feb 21 '13 at 12:33

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