A guy I'm talking to about buying some rock climbing gear is getting rid of his stuff cause he hasn't used it in five to eight years. He said it wasn't used a lot, maybe 5 to 6 times, and he said no major falls have happened on it. Does it matter where the rope has been stored like inside a garage storage box that is not climate controlled? I wanna make sure that I don't get the gear when I can't use the rope.


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In general climbing ropes are quite robust in terms of storage. The Safety Research Group ("Sicherheitskreis") of the German Alpine Club (DAV) has done a lot of research about this in the 90ies and their general result was: as long as they aren't exposed to sunlight or aggressive chemicals or have been strained over a sharp edge during a fall their performance doesn't change substantially. There are two articles in the bergundsteigen journal (more comprehensive but unfortunately only in German) and another one from the UIAA page that summarize the influencing factors on the strength of climbing ropes:

In your case I would be cautious for another reason when buying used safety equipment: your life depends on that gear and a failure might cost your health or even your life. As you don't know the history of that equipment, you cannot judge whether it is safe or not and how it has been treated. Even if this guy tells you that it hasn't been used much you cannot tell if he's only telling so to make you buy it. Also your questions sounds as if you don't have much climbing experience yet, so you even might not be able to tell about the general quality of the gear.

Therefore my general advice would be not to buy any second hand safety equipment. The only exception I could imagine was gear from one of your climbing partners where you have at least a clue about how they treat their stuff.

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    Could he also consider getting it checked by an expert? Some countries require safety equipment to be checked periodically so this shouldn't be hard to get done...
    – HTDutchy
    Feb 3, 2014 at 15:32
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    @HTDutchy For some easy optical inspection, refer to outdoors.stackexchange.com/q/312/2410. For a more technical answer and some real load tests, I set up an own question and answer here as this would have gone beyond the scope of my answer above. Feb 3, 2014 at 21:38
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    Checking normal climbing equipment would be way too expensive. If you just buy a used rope and some draws the price for any professional check is way higher than buying new equipment. And moreover, visual inspection does not guarantee much, the only way to test a rope properly is fall testing which would break the ropes usability by inducing a hard fall
    – Manziel
    Feb 1, 2019 at 22:45
  • @Manziel See outdoors.stackexchange.com/q/5253/2410, which is also linked in my comment above. Feb 2, 2019 at 20:15

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