Date of Graduation

12-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Mechanical Engineering

Advisor

Hamilton, John

Reader

Albers, David G.

Abstract

Humans have been climbing for thousands of years for survival, with the first development of special mechanical tools appearing in the 15th century. Advancement in this field came to a stand still until the mid-19th century when materials and technology advanced enough to become useful. Safety was vastly improved by the transition from natural to synthetic fibers, the increased knowledge of metallurgy, and implementation of standardization for all climbing gear. All standards from the European Committee for Standardization and the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation are based upon research of the human body and subsequent survivable loading magnitudes. Safety system component design requirements are therefore all dependently defined.  Per capita, climbing accidents have drastically decreased due to these advancements. While virtually all standards have existed at least in part since the 1960s, no standards are in place for abrasion resistance in dynamic kernmantle rope. As a central component of climbing safety, the aforementioned component dependency raises concern for totally system reliability. Most climbing accidents have been linked to poor education, fatigue failure, and catastrophic rope abrasion for the better part of a century. Better rope design and abrasion testing standards could greatly reduce the number of incidents. In an effort to understand why no such standards exist and to quantify the possible impact in system design, this paper details the history of technological advancement for all system components and further comments on the shortcomings of current abrasion testing measures. A deeper understanding of this most basic component is required to improve the current system.

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