Oxford University Cave Club


Rope Testing: the hard way

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In 1987, Steve Roberts, then tacklemaster of OUCC, formed the idea that for short falls, the concept of "fall factor" in rope testing was misguided, as the flexibility of the  harness and caver  would absorb most of the fall energy, reducing the maximum load and loading rate on the rope and other parts of the system.

Being young and fearless, he decided to put his balls on the line.... Accordingly,  a drop test was arranged at the "Rainbow bridge", University parks, Oxford.

SGR recalls: "The rope - old, muddy PMI - was attached directly to a tape-loop harness. No damage was done to the me (apart from burnt hands! – it’s hard to avoid clutching at the rope…), but I do remember the central maillon hitting me on the chin as the harness stretched a lot to soak up the fall energy. "

Photos: Margot Morris, 1987