The potential risk for damage from abrasion or cutting must be evaluated and eliminated anytime softgear makes contact with something. This is particularly true anytime softgear runs over an edge or rubs on itself since the components of softgear, nylon and polyester, are not very resistant to abrasion or heat. Remember – rope and webbing are extremely strong when pulled under load but can cut quickly when subjected to lateral abrasion while under tension.
Always make sure to protect your rope and other softgear from sharp or abrasive edges. Evaluate all points of potential contact and assess whether or not some kind of protective barrier or space must be made. Building anchors high or directing ropes away from edges can eliminate the chance of abrasive damage all together.
A heavy canvas tarp folded over itself or rubber car/floor mat work well as edge protection. Commercial rollers, gutters, and other forms of edge protection are also available. Tie these back or secure in some fashion to keep in place and prevent from falling. Avoid using synthetic materials in cases where friction from moving lines can generate enough heat to melt both the rope and intended protection.
Rope sleeves are another common and useful form of rope protection that can be secured directly to the rope and held in place with the use of a tie back or prusik. Buy these or save some money by making your own. Canvas and old banners can be cut and sewn together for great rope protection. Rope sleeves like these are easy to carry and great for protecting against edges while on rappel (sometimes referred to as over-the-side hot spots) since they are simple to move and secure with a prusik.
Note: Don’t just protect your rope – protect what you climb on. Use edge and rope protection to reduce damage to anchor points or areas subjected to tensioned lines. Be smart and place where necessary to prevent damage to property when working in industrial or urban areas. Use canvas wraps to prevent girdling trees and damage to the natural environment.