Sweet Gear: A General Rope Review

22 01 2009

Back in 2001 I bought my first rope a Mammut Tusk at 10mm 50 meter. I had been climbing on partners ropes for the previous year or so and it was time for my own rope. It’s main purpose was short sport climbing so I didn’t mind the 50m length. This rope has aged well and I still use it for occasional top roping or anchor duty. It is a bit fuzzy after almost 8 years of use but I have managed not to get any core shots. Since pitches keep getting longer I doubt I would ever buy a 50 meter rope again.


Practicing the Portuguese Bowline on Sickle Ledge on The Nose with the Mammut Tusk

My next rope was a Maxim Whippet bought the first year of college at REI. It was the only 70m rope they were selling at the time and it was on sale!! This rope made its way to Australia where I sold it to fund a bouldering trip to New Zealand. During its two years of use it was my main rope, lighter than the Tusk and a joy to use.  It was my first skinny rope, 9.5 mm, even though it was supposedly a bit heavier than average. It wore well and I would have kept it except I was able to sell it for close to what I payed for it and didn’t have to carry it home to the US.


Lizzy having fun during our short stay on El Capitan

Upon my return I purchased a 60m Mammut Infinity 9.5mm . This rope has been awesome and quite durable. While it is marketed as 9.5 it feels fairly thick and definitely fuzzed up a bit over the years, so it doesn’t feed super fast in a Gri-Gri. Regardless, I enjoy the clipping action and even though we had to cut the ends off, making it only about 155 feet,  I still like using it.  So far this is my favorite rope and at some point I will likely get a new one of the 70 meter variety. It is light enough for a hard redpoint but still durable to last on day of projecting.


The end of a fun day in Squamish with the Infinity.

Around the same time I got the Infinity I picked up a pair of Beal Verdon II double ropes. At 9mm and 60 meters they were perfect for taking multiple followers on trips to the Gunks. These are a bit heavy for doubles but have worked well during their limited use. Lizzy and I used only one of these ropes as a superlight way to simul Royal Arches and Cathedral Peak. The use as a fast and light single as well as a lighter rap line adds value to these two ropes. I would not purchase such a thick set of doubles again but would consier the Beal Ice Line 8.1 mm orthe Petzl Dragonfly 8.2 mm.  I have used my friend Hartley’s Ice Lines and they are quite thin and light, though not as durable as our current doubles.

n3802675_31410505_8253Coiling the doubles on Solar Slab in Red Rocks.

Also in 2006 I got a Beal 8mm by 60m static trail line that I use for rappeling.  Initially purchased for aid climbing I worried about its long term durability. This rope was super light (40 g per meter) and went up many multipitches before it got stuck on Cloud Tower (Red Rocks)  in October of 2008. It was the perfect small rope for stashing in the pack for when one needed to do double rope rappels.

yosemite-june-07-252Lizzy is ready with the Beal Verdon II after a fun trip up Cathedral Peak.

Also in college I got another Mammut Tusk this time in a 60m length. We found this rope at the RRG and after multiple postings at Miguels it came home with me. Wary of a used rope this has been relegated to TR and Aid climbing duty.  It has seen use and spends most of its life in our rope box.


Enjoying the 70m Petzl Fuse at Suicide Rock.

After graduating college I was anxious to get a 70meter rope again and bought the 9.4 mm Petzl Fuse. This rope was excellent until it got a core shot in the middle while descending the Incredible Hulk. We got super lucky because while we were unable to retrieve the cord, we ran into another party who hiked it down and I was able to pick it up at the Bridgeport ranger station. Fortunately I was able to salvage the pieces of the Petzl rope and kept the two parts since the rope was  still fairly new. I use the shorter section for a lead rope at the gym and the ~35 meter piece is perfect for short sport climbs such as our recent trip the Gallery in Red Rocks.

One of my ropes came to me by chance when I won a Sterling Marathon Pro 10.2 Bi-Color 60meter rope. This is the thickest rope I own and it shows. It however has been a great workhorse and accompanied me on my first 12c redpoint. Lizzy doesn’t like this rope at all and with a dry coating it is quite dirty but it has worn well despite constant use as a TR rope. It feeds ok through the Gri-Gri, mainly due to its slick dry coated sheath which is slowly becoming fuzzy. I wouldn’t buy such a thick rope but it impressed me enough with Sterling to buy one of their thinner ropes.


The already fuzzy BlueWater static line with the frog we found on El Capitan.

After chopping the Petzl rope in half I was again in need of a 70m rope. I purchased a Sterling Ion at 9.5 mm and have only used it a few times. The main disappointment was the lacking middle mark. However it runs smoothly and clips well. It is quite small and feeds fast through the Gri-Gri. You have to be a bit careful lowering which is similar to the Petzl Fuze. Once this rope gets a few more pitches I will report back on it’s durability.

We also own a Bluewater static haul line that I bought for a trip to Yosemite. During the short time on the Nose, we bailed from Sickle, it showed alarming wear. As well the rope was super stiff and did not handle well. This along with some experiences with Bucknell Climbing Club ropes in college, makes me stay away from Blue Water.


Lizzy and Rebecca and a pretty pink Beal rope at Rumney

Lizzy has a pink 60m  Beal Flyer II which is 10.2 but feels really skinny, more like a 9.8.  Lizzy loves it for its soft catch, even though I think it is too stretchy. It handles well but kinks easily due to it’s supple nature. She has had it for many years and I am anxious to turn it into a RUG…


The well loved Edelrid LiveWire

Lizzy also has an  Edelrid Livewire. 70 meter 9.8. This rope has been our long route work horse and has taken a lot of abuse since Lizzy bought it back in 2006. Despite being fairly cheap at REI this rope has held out really well and cleaned up nicely after we washed it. It is still the go to rope for the 100+ foot pitches at the Riverside Quarry. Between this rope and a 10mm Edelrid of Leah’s (I think its a Hawk) that I used I have respect for the durability and handling of the brand. Even though it is getting old I hope that we won’t have to retire it any time soon.

Overall I think my ranking is as follows:  (Top being the best, in my opinion)

Mammut – Clips well and last a long time.
Petzl – A bit on the stiff side but handles and wears well.
Sterling –  Soft and a bit kinky but durable.
Edelrid – Feeds and clips well and stands up to abuse.
Maxim – Heavier than average but clips well.
Beal – Too stretchy and seems to fuzz easily.
PMI – A bit slippery but clips well.
BlueWater – Heavy and not very durable.





15 responses

26 01 2009
Dream In Vertical Rope Review | Climbing Narcissist

[…] In Vertical has an excellent post recapping the pros and cons of several ropes they have used over the past several […]

26 01 2009

But if you want my opinion, too:

Our Petzl rope was awesome and by far my favorite rope we’ve had – handled well and didn’t kink due to its stiffness. My Edelrid rope is amazing. It has undergone perhaps the most abuse and still works great. Its only drawback was the lack of a middle mark. And my Beal rope is awesome. It’s pink, it has the softest catch ever. Some ropes are just too good to be used for toproping…

I am not at all fond of the Mammut or the Sterling (the 10.2 one is mostly the culprit here) because they have a ridiculous tendency to kink up even when you’ve just flaked them nicely. We’ve had ropes that don’t do this and it’s really just unacceptable for me. It’s something about the rope completely out of my control that makes it difficult for me to give the best belay. It doesn’t seem to bother Luke, but it bugs the crap out of me and if you’re the same I would recommend going with the stiffer Petzl.


30 01 2009
News & Notes – 1/30/2009 | Climbing Narcissist

[…] In Vertical has an excellent post recapping the pros and cons of several ropes they have used over the past several […]

30 01 2009

Funny, I’ve had the exact opposite experience from Lizzy. I had a 9.4 Fuse that I bought in 2007 and it was hands down the worst rope I’ve ever owned. Taking sport falls on that thing was like falling on a steel cable (I heard a similar complaint from a girl who tests gear for MEC in Vancouver), and after maybe 10 days of normal sport climbing use (really, I promise) it had core shots on each end about 5 meters from the end of the rope. I returned it to Petzl and exchanged for their 9.8, which was a vast improvement.

On the other hand, we’ve owned 4 or 5 Sterling ropes and have had great experiences with them- durable, good catches, easy handling, no kinking, last forever. When I first started climbing I used a Mammut Tusk and liked that rope as well.

30 01 2009

I also had the Edelrid 70 m from REI and it was turning out to be a good rope, until Casey core shot it near her knot on the squeeze chimney last pitch of Lightning Bolt Cracks, and then it was stolen out of my car. Unlucky.

2 02 2009

We didn’t take the Petzl Fuze sport climbing too often. I agree that it may not be best for repeated falls and projecting. On long routes in Red Rocks or the Sierra it ran smooth and was nice and lightweight. A few of my friends have the Petzl Nomad, the 9.8, and seem to like it. When I used a practically new one it sure handled nicely.

2 02 2009

I bought a Blue Water Lightning Pro 70m as my redpoint rope. I am SUPER impressed. Perfect handling first time out and ever since. Great durability. I like it so much I just bought another in 60m length that lives in a special rope bag for those very special sends.

Bought a bargain Mammut for standard duty projecting use. Was supposed to be 10.2. I swear it’s 11mm. I regret not sending it back. Thick, gets filthy dirty, poor handling. I know others with the same experience. I hate it and will never again purchase a Mammut rope.

3 02 2009

Ok, I guess I shouldn’t have said normal sport climbing use. It was the first really skinny rope I’d ever purchased and I wasn’t sure how sturdy it would be, so when I brought it out for our trip to China, I stipulated that it only be used for onsight or redpoint attempts – no projecting. Even with this limited use, it still fell apart by the end of the trip. We wondered if maybe the extreme humidity/heat combination had something to do with it, but really, that doesn’t seem plausible. Maybe we just go a dud? The 9.8 was a much better rope, though.

3 02 2009

Thanks for the comments. The more information the better!

3 02 2009

That’s pretty crazy about the Fuse! Maybe we abused ours less since it was a dry climate and we were mostly using it on multipitches with limited falling and grating over edges. I guess it just goes to show that not all ropes work well for all activities.

I also should reiterate what Luke said about the Sterling Ion – it is a bit sketchy using it with a GriGri (definitely worse than the Fuse). When the rope is weighted and “locked” in the GriGri, you can see it oozing (slowly, but still moving) through the belay device. Definitely one of those ropes where you absolutely need to be responsible with your GriGri technique (see the Being a Better Belayer post) because the device needs a little help from a brake hand to get it to lock.

4 02 2009
All Climbing

Roundup of Recent Climbing Gear Reviews…

Months ago, I wrote how I thought it would be beneficial for the entire climbing community to read more gear reviews on the web. I’ve started to see many more since then and it’s a great trend. In the spirit of encouraging even more gear re…

26 02 2009

Luke, have you tried any of the Metolius Ropes? I was just looking at their new 9.2……. and I was having mixed feelings, cause I love the Sterling Version of the 9.2…… But I don’t have the $ to test out new ropes…. Any thoughts?

27 02 2009

I have seen one Metolius rope in person but never climbed with or belayed on one so I can’t really comment on performance. If one of my partners buys one or I have a chance to climb on one I will post up.

Realize that durability will be the main issue with any 9.2 or smaller rope. It sure is nice to cut weight but you will not be able to project or top rope on a rope that skinny without shortening it’s life.

Thanks for the comment!

14 09 2009
Sweet Gear: New Reviews Coming Soon! « Dream in Vertical

[…] A General Rope Review by Luke […]

2 11 2009
paul frank

thanks for all the reviews this site was very helpful as I am buying my first rope after some climbing this summer…

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