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I was reading this question and the first thing that popped into my head is what do you use to mark the middle of the rope?

I was taught not to use any kind of marker on the rope (because there's no sure way to know it wont be abrasive). Are there safe ways to mark a rope?

Related: Safe Way to Mark a Carabiner.

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

You can buy specialist markers.

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They're designed to not impact the rope strength. Always use a specially designed rope marker as there is a comprehensive list of things to keep away from your rope and marker pen is one of them. The solvents can break down the nylon rope fibres making your rope potentially unsafe.

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Specialist markers are not always good: be careful. – Gudgip Aug 6 '15 at 8:35

No matter what, try not to use the spray-paints at all. Considering that fact that most of the spraypaint and allied products contain solvents/chemicals like CCl4, Acetone, Methyl ethyl ketone, Ethylbenzene, Butoxyethanol and Xylene, etc. If I were you, I would not use it on my ropes for that matter.

  1. Dedicated Rope Markers : Spend some bucks and get a rope marker which is specifically engineered for this purpose.

  2. Worst case you might use the dental floss by simply stitching it into the sheath. All you have to do is get a sewing needle with dental floss. Thread/Sew/Work the dental floss around the middle of the rope, making sure that its through the rope's sheath and not through the core. Repeat the same till you find the mark large enough to spot. But this is advised only if you know how to do it, else you will end up killing the strength of the rope by tampering it's core. Guidance highly recommended.

  3. Marking the rope with a tape: I have seen some climbers, typically beginners that they use a Duct-tape or electrical tape and wrap it around the point where you want mark it. This works fine for an event/session or so, but as after a few passes through descenders and carabiners and other equipment, the tape goes. But this works for a day or two. And, I personally that it should to be removed when you are done for the day as you never know how does the adhesive in the electrical or duct-tape react over longer times. Having said the above, one should also consider that the tape can come loose over the time and use and obviously shift its position.

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I'm not 100% convinced by the dental floss idea. This seems dangerous. It would be easy to compromise the integrity of the sheath, this accounts for a significant amount of the strength of the rope so be careful with this. – Liam Aug 26 '14 at 14:34
@liam: I somewhat agree. But I have seen that process done by a veteran Sherpa when I had been to Nepal once. All He said was: "If you haven't done it, do not just try and kill your rope. Learn it on a rope which is no longer usable for climbing. Once you learn, its safe!" – WedaPashi Aug 26 '14 at 14:56
Is the glue on electrical tape (or duct-tape) safe for the rope? – Roflo Aug 26 '14 at 17:56
@Roflo depends upon what sort of a tape we are referring to and how prolonged its used. The answer suggests that one should get rid of the tape after the day's work – WedaPashi Aug 26 '14 at 18:04

I used fishermans thread, the sort used to bind the guide loops to the rod, as a whipping around the approriate point.

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I use a figure-eight loop. Fairly easy to remove when you need to. Also gives the possibility to descend on one or two ends of the rope if the middle is brought to your anchor.

Edit1: Of course not to permanently damage your core, it is advised to regularly (eg after each trip) take out the knot. This way the core gets a chance to recover.

Edit2: I strongly advise against marking the middle of your rope with a permanent marker. This for the simple reason that when you have to cut your rope, the "middle"-marking will still be there. When you have multiple middle-markings it will be hard to know which one really marks the middle when you need it.

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How about food coloring? It's very benign since it's for human consumption, no solvents, etc.

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This answer would be improved if it did not start with a question, and if it had references supporting the assertions. Do you really want to gamble a life on how benign the interaction between food coloring and your rope are? – James Jenkins Aug 3 '15 at 18:47

Markers are never a good way to 'mark' your rope. Buy a rope that's already marked with another color. It's in any case better to do it old fashioned and find it using some rope techniques.

We use electrical tape on all our equipment. But I cannot guarantee its safety.

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Please, if you vote down, comment why you think it's not a good answer :-) – Gudgip Aug 6 '15 at 8:33
Rope Markers are THE way to mark a rope. Its a trusted method, and globally used. Electrical Tapes? No way!!! – WedaPashi Aug 9 '15 at 8:12
I still recommend to buy a rope that is already marked by the manufacturer :-) I use electrical tape on my climbing gear. It comes loose after some time though. I know of some tests were the strength of the rope decreases with rope markers that are not produced by the rope manufacter. Yet, the strength is still bigger than a figure 8. So I guess you could state it's safe if you use the right rope marker. – Gudgip Aug 10 '15 at 10:09
-1. Show me one equipment manufacturer that expects electrical tape to be ran through their equipment. It sounds like a real risk of causing interference with a belay device or rope clamp--not to mention the adhesive will be working its way into the core, introducing the same risk of unknown chemicals that you're trying to avoid. I really wish I could give this an extra downvote or ten. – STW Jun 29 at 0:21
@STW .. you have no idea what you are talking about, do you? – Gudgip Jun 30 at 7:31

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