Accessory cords are true all-rounders and are used in a wide variety of situations on the mountain. We will show you what you can use accessory cords for and which diameters are suitable for which purpose.

A contribution by Fabian Reichle - Bächli Bergsport

The rope is an elementary part of an alpine tour. Be it for crossing glaciers or on steep terrain: under certain circumstances, your own life literally depends on it. But that's not all, because as a kind of little sibling of the touring rope, accessory cords are also part of the standard equipment for every alpine venture. But what is an accessory cord and what can it be used for?

Same structure as the climbing rope

In short: an accessory cord is a rope with a small diameter of 4 to 8 millimeters. The structure corresponds to that of a climbing rope, i.e. a core is surrounded by a jacket - the big difference, however, is the material ratio of these two elements. The rope sheath not only serves to protect the core of the cord, but also contributes to the breaking strength. This makes the thin ropes extremely solid for static loads, but they are not suitable for dynamic falls.

Even if the cords may look simple, there is a lot of high-tech in them. They are made from extremely robust synthetic fibers. Here, for example, nylon, kevlar or Dyneema for use. The different base materials all have slightly different properties in terms of tear resistance, surface properties or UV resistance.

Either way, accessory cords are strictly standardized and must meet safety standards. Specifically, these are the EU standard EN 564 and the safety standard UIAA-102. The breaking load is fixed depending on the rope diameter.

What can accessory cords be used for?

  • Stand construction
  • Prusik noose
  • Self-protection when abseiling
  • Step loop when rescuing crevasses
  • Pulley

The accessory cord is a real all-rounder. Be it for the construction of a stand, Prusik slings for the ascent, for self-protection during abseiling, as a step sling for rescuing crevasses, as a pulley system or quite simply as a clothesline at the base camp: the accessory cord is a practical companion for almost everything that should or must be statically loaded .

However, it is not that simple, because depending on the application, length and especially diameter play an important role. The following guidelines should be observed:

  • 5 to 6 millimeters in diameter: additional and intermediate securing devices such as Prusik slings, pulleys or hourglasses
  • 8 mm diameter: stand construction

Cords less than 5 millimeters should only be used for transporting material.

Opinions are divided as to the length and number of accessory cords at full speed. With two 4-meter cords with a diameter of 6 millimeters you are well on the way. If a 1,5 meter long, slightly thinner cord has additional space in the backpack, all the better. Bächli Bergsport can quickly and easily cut the length you want.

About Bächli mountain sports

Bächli mountain sports is the leading Swiss specialist shop for climbing, mountaineering, expeditions, hiking, ski touring and snowshoeing. At currently 13 locations in Switzerland, Bächli Bergsport offers its customers expert advice and high-quality service. Published on LACRUX Bächli mountain sports periodically exciting contributions to the topics climbing, bouldering and mountaineering.

+ + +
Credits: Text Fabian Reichle from Bächli mountain sports, Picture Mammoth