Ross Hewitt skiing the North Face of Aiguille du Plan – 60 m RAD line body coiled. 

In 2016 Petzl recently released the RAD (Rescue And Descent) line rope which is  a lightweight rope that can be used with other components of their RAD system for glacier travel, crevasse rescue and abseiling down cliffs. While I’d used skinny 5.5 mm spectra or dyneema abseil ropes for many years before that, they had severe limitations as the sheath wasn’t bonded to the core, making them a dubious proposition at best for crevasse rescue scenarios.

The RAD line is a 6mm static rope that is made from high modulus polyethylene (Dyneema), aramid (a heat resistant synthetic fibre) and polypropylene.  The sheath is bonded to the core so it can be clamped and climbed.

RAD Line Specification

  • Material: Dyneema, Aramid, polypropylene
  • Diameter: 6 mm
  • Weight/m: 22g/m versus 37-42g/m for 8mm+/- dynamic half ropes – approx 50%
  • Weight 30m/60m: 660/1320g
  • Type: static (elongation less than 2%)
  • Certification: CE EN 564

Out of the box it is instantly apparent that the RAD lines are supplied without a middle mark, something I quickly rectified with a Petzl rope maker. I use a Reverso combined with a Prussic for abseiling.  The reduced friction of the small diameter rope without a Prussic in the Reverso is notable. I try to avoid Italian hitches at all cost because they wear your ropes sheath and also induce twist in the rope.

Screenshot 2019-05-25 at 20.22.13

Tof Henry rappelling with 60 m RAD line into the Couloir of Col du Plan

One trait the small diameter ropes have is their tendency to get in a tangle and putting them in a rope bag with save you a half hour of frustration every time. By tying the bag to the second end of the rope means the bag can be thrown to get the rope set on the line of an abseil efficiently in seconds, even if the wind is blowing up the line. My 60 m line didn’t come with a bag but I made one from an Exped inflatable mattress stuff sac. I can’t stress how essential these are and how often I see people in Chamonix with a bunch of knitting to sort out.


Getting ready for a big mission with the 30 m RAD line in its bag. Photo: Ross Hewitt

When rappelling or undertaking a rescue, a static line is great as there’s very little stretch to pull out the rope making it much more efficient.  The flip side to this is the force of a fall is not reduced by the stretch which means that the system experiences a high force over a short duration in a fall scenario. Petzl testing indicates that there is a slightly better chance of arresting a crevasse fall with a static rope as the load is more predictable without a second pull, however falls on rock or during a rescue could be bad on a static rope.

The RAD line is a brilliant go to piece of kit that has served me well over the last years with its low weight meaning I often have a 60 m version in my pack. I’ve just bought a BEAL Escaper so it will be interesting to try that out and effectively half the rope required for certain abseils. Understanding it is static and the loading effect on anchors is important and its worth reading up Petzl’s tech tips here.

The complete RAD system comprises:

  • RAD Line (basically a 30m or 60m x 6mm static cord)
  • Micro Traction (a low-friction pulley/rope clamp)
  • Tibloc (lightweight/basic rope clamp)
  • 3 x Attache 3D Carabiners
  • 120cm dyneema sling
  • A rope bag with ice screw sleeve


  1. Hi Ross,
    I am currently using a 30m RAD line as you mention, how have you found it works with the Beal Escaper in the field? Am looking to get one but interested to know how well it works with a 6mm rope.


    1. Hi Sam, it works well – the escaper grabs onto its own tail of rope so works independently of the diameter of rope you are rappelling off.Slemett and myself used the escaper to rap off the diagonal of the Mallory one summer. Be aware the escaper has more chance of getting caught on flakes and cracks…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: