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Gear Review: Rope Survey

Compiled by Rick Booth December, 2001

This was posted to on August 5, 2000 and is the results
of a survey I ran on that list.  I have edited the original somewhat.

This is the result of the rope survey.  As one can see the responses are
pretty varied.  Most ropes did well with the exception of Maxim.  Thanks
to Mark A. Connell, Jim Curl, Edward Walker, Arun Mahajan, Pat Callery,
Jay Tanzman, and Christopher Stone.  I received more responses than I
expected.  One interesting thread is the number of ropes owned/used by
each person.  We tend to use a lot of different ropes, usually tuning the
rope to the application.  Beginners take note!  There is no "optimum" rope
for all applications.

The following is the list of responses I received from the survey.

From Rick Booth:

  1. Mammut -
    Two "old style" (20 years ago), 50 Meter Non Dry, 11 mm ropes.  Handled well, went "flat" over carabiners when loaded, probably due to the funny weave of three cords inside the sheath.
    One new style, 60 Meter Non Dry, 10.5 mm rope.  Round weave.  Handles poorly since it curls up and makes little loops when the leader gets further out.
    One new style, 60 Meter Dry, 10.2 mm rope.  Same comments as 10.5 mm rope.  Sucks.

  2. PMI -
    One, 50 Meter Dry, 11 mm rope.  Round weave.  Stiff as a freaking board.  Handles poorly.  Works well for jumaring, though.
    Two, 50 Meter Non Dry, 9 mm ropes.  Round weave.  Also totally stiff.  Handles poorly.
  3. Edelrid -
    One, 50 Meter Non Dry, 11 mm rope.  Round weave.  Handles superbly.  No goofy loops, runs smoothly.
    One, 50 Meter Dry, 11 mm rope.  Round weave.  Same comments as Non Dry.
    Comment: Edelrids are my favorite.  Expensive, hard to find.
  4. Sterling -
    One, 50 Meter Dry, 11 mm rope.  Round weave.  Handles very well.  Minimal goofy looping and runs smoothly.  This rope is used mostly for ice climbing.
  5. Chounard/Black Diamond -
    One "old style" (20 years old), 50 Meter Non Dry, 11 mm rope.  Round weave.  Stiff as a freaking board.  Poor handling.
    One "new style" (probably a Beale), 50 Meter Non Dry, 10.5 mm.  Round weave.  Handled superbly.  Another favorite.
  6. Rivory Joanny Virus -
    (what does that mean?) 60Meter, 10.4mm, Dry.  New but already handles better than the accursed Mammuts.  French made, bought from Sierra Trading Post.  Heavy (10 pounds).  This another favorite rope.

From Mark A. Connell:

  1. I have an Edelweiss Stratos 10.5x50.  It's heavy so I don't use it in the backcountry.  Starts out pretty stiff but softens up nicely after a few uses.  Handles very nicely.  My favorite rope to date.

  2. Edelweiss 9.9x60 Ultralight -
    I will have to let you know.  This is a new rope that I'm taking to the N. Pal area after work today.

  3. For hauling around, I used a BD (I think) Ice Floss 8x37m two weeks ago on Gardiner and Clarence King.  Weight is right (about 3 lbs) but I wouldn't want to take a long leader fall on it.  Nice rope to carry 'just in case' for easier climbs.  It's also pretty short for some routes.  Felt nice but tended to get twisted a lot when rapelling on an ATC.  This may get better as it gets broken in more.

From Edward Walker:

  1. Maxim 60m non-dry.  Kinks like crazy.  I have had it for 6 months now and it still kinks when I coil it.  If I just flake it in my rope bag its fine.

  2. Beal 60m non-dry.  One of my partners has this.  Good handling.  Doesn't seem to kink too much.  I would highly recommend it.

From Arun Mahajan:

    I have the 50M, 10.5mm, dry, Edelweiss rope.  Has handled very well so far.  I took it on the cuoloir on North Peak last fall on one of Ron's ice jaunts and was in the wet all day.

From Jim Curl:

  1. Black Diamond 11.0 x 50 dry (1989) - handled great, no complaints except that it was a big heavy rope.  Used for TR only.

  2. Blue Water 10.0 x 50 dry (1993) - a bit too stiff, but not terrible.

  3. Mammut 8.5 x 50 (1994, 1995) - Great ropes, no complaints.  The dry treatment was reasonably effective on the snow and they worked fine together when used in twin technique.  I'd buy another set... in fact I have!

  4. Mammut 10.5 x 55 (1994) - Bought this (on sale) in Yosemite when David Ress forgot to pack the rope!  But it turned out to be one of my favorite climbing ropes.  Who needs dry treatment to rock climb?  It handled perfectly and the extra 5 meters was great to have.  It's hard to locate 55m ropes nowadays...

  5. Maxim 10.5 x 55 (1997) - Handled nicely, but it was kinda soft and squishy, really too light (g/m) for a 10.5.  And the sheath started to slip (6-10 inches) at each end.  I won't buy another Maxim for a while.

  6. Rivory Joanny 10.5 x 60 (1998?) - Dot's rope, but I wish it had been mine.  Another rope from across the water that handled great.

  7. Edelweiss Stratos 10.5 x 60 (1998) - Fear of soloing Zodiac sucked me into buying the marketing B.S. about cutproofness of these ropes.  I paid about two and a quarter for what turned out to be two hundred feet of steel cable.  Yeah, it didn't cut on me, and I could use it as a cheater stick since it was so stiff, but I'll never buy another.  A friend of mine had one that created some doubt even about how tough the ropes are: The sheath on his parted a good twelve inches while using it to haul.  That rope is probably still lying somewhere on the shoulder of El Cap.

  8. Beal 10.2 x 50 (2000) - Haven't used this much, but it handles like silk and is quite light and thin, almost frighteningly so.  A great rope for those extreme redpoint burns that I never do.  Also a nice rope for long hikes or alpine routes that don't require doubles.  Or for that matter, it's nice to be able to hike 100 yards with such a light compact lead rope!

  9. Mammut 8.5 x 50 (2000) - Loved 'em so much, I got two more.  One of these is a bit kinky, but that may be 'cause it's still so new.

From Pat Callery:

  1. Maxim 10.5mm 50m dry.  Handles fair, retained some "flat" spots and stiffened up after heavy use.

  2. Beal 9.7mm 60m dry.  Handles great, low kink factor.  A superb rope.

From Jay Tanzman:

  1. Old Maxim non-dry 11 m.  Kinked like mad.  I have heard that Maxim has corrected this problem.

  2. Mammut Flash 60 m x 10.5 mm Super-Dry.  I've owned two.  Handles well and is durable.

  3. Sterling V-Dry 60 m x 10.2 mm.  Sheath shredded after 10 days of use on technical rock.  Worst rope I've ever seen.  Sterling agreed to take it back.

From Christopher Stone:

    Since I hate to see a good product trashed . . . I have owned essentially nothing but Sterlings for the last 5 years.  They have held up wonderfully, one of them having been seen a number of lead falls on trad and sport routes (including a couple of monsters), having been jumared on for aid and used as a haul line on a wall and also beat up on top rope anchors.  I don't recommend either of the latter uses for obvious reasons, there is too much flex in a dynamic rope, but it worked and held up well nonetheless.
    The sterlings I've had (11.0, 10.2, 10.5 and 10.0) all have excellent shock absorbance and decent handling.  They tend to kink a bit, but not as bad as PMIs I've used.  They also tend to be cheaper, I've bought them through Spiral Climbing Company, they are a wholesaler out in NJ.  For example, I believe I paid $120 for my 11.0 55m.