Web Extras: Climbing Ropes -- UIAA Sharp Edge Certification

With the introduction, and then withdrawal only a year later, of the UIAA Sharp Edge certification, climbers are now more confused than ever. The test was officially cancelled July 1, 2004 after the labs proved tests were too inconsistent to arrive even at a simple pass/fail rating.
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By Clyde Soles

For the complete story, see GearTrends® Summer Outdoor 2005, p. 66, "Climbing a New Line"

With the introduction, and then withdrawal only a year later, of the UIAA Sharp Edge certification, climbers are now more confused than ever. The test was officially cancelled July 1, 2004 after the labs proved tests were too inconsistent to arrive even at a simple pass/fail rating. However, ropes that were certified sharp-edge resistant can continue to make this claim until the end of 2005.

In reality, the sharp edge standard had more problems than reproducibility. The test was originally developed for marketing the Edelweiss Stratos, the first cut-resistant ropes. The company simply replaced the simulated carabiner at the top of the test tower in the standard UIAA drop with a 90-degree edge. This was never perceived by other rope manufacturers to be a good indicator of how a rope survives in the real world, one where ropes are more likely to pendulum across an edge rather than get cut through.

Representatives from several companies told GearTrends® they do expect to see a new UIAA edge test “someday.” But it's likely many years off and will be significantly different in nature. Until then, climbers will have to rely on the number of falls held and the sheath thickness to get an idea of cut resistance.

Don't miss the full story, "Climbing a New Line," in the GearTrends® Summer Outdoor 2005 issue. To download the full issue, go to www.geartrends.com/magazines.

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