Over 130 years manufacturing climbing ropes

Leaders in climbing ropes for over a century
Experience that counts: more than a century manufacturing ropes for climbers.

Foundation and development

The history of the climbing rope company Roca, founded by Joan Roca Ballesta in 1891, has always been linked to innovation and commitment to safety in the field of climbing.

Joan Roca Ballesta began with the manufacture of mechanical braids, gaskets, asbestos and cordage. This is how the company’s activity developed during its first 35 years.

Roca’s sons, Jaume, Joan and Antoni, took over the business in 1927. During this period, they manufactured a large part of the Spanish market’s consumption of mechanical braids, destined mainly for naval supply companies and for use in the Spanish Navy. In its eagerness to innovate, Roca pioneered the development of high-pressure linen hoses in 1934.

Climbing was an activity that the Catalan company had not yet considered as a line of business in this early period, though remarkable mountain activities had already been carried out in Spain in previous decades. The beginning of mountaineering in Spain dates to the first climb of Naranjo de Bulnes, made on 4 August 1904, by Pedro Pidal, the Marquise of Villaviciosa, and Gregorio “El Cainejo” Pérez. In Catalonia, Lluís Estasen climbed the north face of Pedraforca for the first time in 1924, establishing a route that has become a timeless classic and that dozens of climbers ascend every year.

Historically, climbing ropes were made from natural materials like hemp and sisal. However, the first nylon ropes were introduced in the 1950s, marking a breakthrough in the industry.

In 1963, Roca once again set the pace in the rope manufacturing sector, launching the first polyamide climbing rope manufactured in Spain. Fifteen years before conquering the first eight-thousander in Spain, José Manuel Anglada had lent his rope to a friend. Unfortunately, the rope deteriorated and his friend couldn’t afford to buy a new one, so he approached another colleague, Joan Roca, and asked him to make an identical rope. This event marked the beginning of the close and lasting relationship between Roca and the world of climbing in Spain.

Two years later, in 1965, the first rope with a change of pattern in the centre would make climbing manoeuvres easier. In 1968, Roca expanded its catalogue with several auxiliary ropes.

One of Roca’s most important milestones as a climbing rope manufacturer was meeting the standards of the Mountain Safety Commission in 1970. In this way, it became the first firm in Spain to get approval from the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA).

In the 1980s, the Catalan company also worked to develop other products, such as the first polyamide webbing, the first waterproof rope on the market and the first aramid rope for use in the mountains as an auxiliary rope.

This is how Roca’s first 100 years passed.

1991, the one-hundred-year anniversary

In 1991, Roca marked its one-hundred-year anniversary since it was founded. The brand was established in both the domestic and international market and hundreds of climbers used its ropes across the world.

To celebrate its first one hundred years, a 10.5-mm commemorative rope was launched in three faded colours. The rope was called Aniversari (“Anniversary”) and was later renamed Rainbow.

The 1990s were very good years for Roca. In 1992, the brand manufactured the first 4-mm aramid rope. That same year, the Tasmania rope was approved as the only rope in the world that could withstand a fall on a sharp edge.

The 21st century

Roca entered the 21st century with more innovative approaches, in line with the development of climbing and especially alongside the explosion of sport climbing around the world, with European schools such as Arco (Italy), Buoux (France) and Siurana (Spain) in the limelight.

In 2002, Roca incorporated a new aramid fibre and achieved a toughness of 2,200 daN with 6 mm in diameter. Three years later, one of the company’s most iconic ropes saw the light of day: a 9.4-mm hyperflexible rope that was well balanced compared to its impact force, number of falls and reduced diameter.

Tech Rock purchases Roca

During the first 112 years of its history, Roca wove over 160,000 kilometres of rope, the equivalent of going around the Earth four times or climbing Everest 18,000 times.

In 2012, as a result of the financial crisis from which many countries were just beginning to recover, Roca filed bankruptcy proceedings. It was at that time that Tech Rock S.L. (now Fixe Climbing S.L.) decided to buy the brand. The purchase saved a brand that had become a benchmark in the climbing rope sector from disappearing and thereby also opened the door to a more global market.

Production resumed at Roca’s headquarters in Santa Perpètua de Mogoda, but over time it ended up being moved to Sant Quirze de Besora, where the ropes are still being produced today (with the same staff, know-how and state-of-the-art machines) under the Fixe brand.

A completely renewed catalogue

Fixe is currently one of the main rope manufacturers in the world. In 2023, the Catalan brand, based in Sant Quirze de Besora, at the gateway to the Pyrenees, has renewed its entire catalogue of dynamic ropes. There are 23 models, with Classic + and Endurance braids; Nature, Dry and Full Dry treatment; and a set of new patented technologies such as Fusion construction and Reflector and 8 m Mark finishes.

A new era is beginning, where technology, innovation and performance take climbers to the next level.