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Doing multipitch routes with double ropes is great, but (at least for me) inevitably results in messy tangles, twists, and crosses of the two ropes.

What are some strategies to prevent the ropes from tangling?

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Are you getting your ropes tangled on lead or when you belay the leader/bring up the second? –  DudeOnRock Nov 9 '13 at 16:15
    
Hey, I was going to page you :) Personally, I tend to find a mess when the second arrives at my belay (I do most of the leading). However, I think it would also be helpful to have general strategies for all to use. –  Felix Nov 9 '13 at 16:33
    
Note, avoid using ropes of unequal length. If it happens, for whatsoever might the reason be, it's going to be really messy... ! –  Nikos Alexandris Nov 21 '13 at 22:44
    
Just a short comment not worth an answer: it becomes much better with practice. When I was younger, I could easily mess up just 2 ropes when rappeling: a rappeling rope and a belay rope. Now it improved much. And I've once seen a team of pros do a very complex operation during rescue competition and all their 6 ropes were perfectly fine. –  Steed Nov 29 '13 at 10:15
    
I had to laugh! I have spent some time on a face with the sun setting, untangling double ropes. –  xpda Dec 4 '13 at 21:48

2 Answers 2

Definiely do not attempt to keep them separate on the route. Uncoil and stack them separately at the start, but thereafter handle them as one.

Make sure that leader and second both tie the same rope on the same side so that they are not crossed over.

I've never used a rope basket, but it doesn't seem like a bad idea if you don't mind the weight. Otherwise the belayer should normally lay the rope(s) back and forth in front of him across his tether to the anchor. (People talk here about all kinds of increasing-decreasing size loops and stuff. In reality, "reasonably tidy" is achievable). The exception is a large, flat, comfy ledge: here laying them on the floor is ok.

I nearly always climb with partners with whom I alternate leads, so the need to rearrrange the ends if the same climber is leading everything doesn't arise. If this is not your situation, the couple of minutes it takes to pull them through might well be preferable to the clusterf*ck that can result from a botched attempt to "flip the stack".

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Obviously you didn't read the description of of Kai K.'s rope basket answer, because it is exactly what you describe as "lay the rope(s) back and forth in front of him across his tether to the anchor". No extra gear (and weight) needed ;-) –  Benedikt Bauer Dec 4 '13 at 16:05
    
Oops, mea culpa –  AlanL Dec 5 '13 at 8:55
    
@AlanL may be you should edit your answer to take credit on mine ;-) –  Kai K. Dec 11 '13 at 9:40

From this site:

The Rope Basket

This system works well on stances where you are standing comfortably on a ledge, but you don't have enough space to flake the rope. It is also much easier if you are swinging leads. Your personal anchor system or tie-in is connected to your anchor, making a straight line to the rock. As your second climbs upward, you will drape the rope over your tie-in in neat, equal length coils. The coils shouldn't touch the ground; we have found that they tend to get tangled and twisted if they do. Your coils should start at your harness and move one by one toward your anchor. If you run out of space, place the next coil at your harness and repeat. This will keep them neat and less likely to tangle. The more care you take in making the coils neat, the same length and in the correct order, the less likely you are to have a tangle.

When your second reaches the belay, keep your stance as much as possible to keep your rope orderly. Once you have finished the transition, you can belay normally, giving rope from your rope basket as necessary. It also keeps the rope close at hand, so if there are tangles you can fix them easily.

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