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Rope advice for Sierra's


Original Post
Ryan Pfleger · · Tahoe, CA · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 15

Hey, looking at getting a skinny line for longish approach routes in the Sierra. Thinking mostly Eastside/Tuolumne stuff like Conness, Matthes, Russell, maybe Snake Dike. I already have both 60m and 70m in fatter (10mm-ish) ropes. Thinking a 60m is the way to go for both weight savings and less rope to deal with at belays. Also, how skinny is too skinny? Beal Opera? This would only get used on long approach stuff. Maybe ice climbing. Advise me. 

amockalypsenow · · San Diego · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 715

I've got a 30m 8.8 dry rope for sale. I'm keeping the other 30m for Sierra missions of my own. 

Nate Doyle · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 10

Following along...

Ryan Pfleger · · Tahoe, CA · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 15
amockalypsenow wrote:

30m 8.8 dry rope 

Sorry to dismiss it out of hand, but seems too short to me. Like Goldilocks, I am looking for just right. Sierra newbie, but even if the descent is a walk off that would add pitches on many routes, and many retreat options I have seen involved 25m (or longer) raps.

20 kN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,348

Well it's a personal choice. I like really light ropes, especially if I am climbing stuff I am not going to be falling on often. No need to drag up a 10.5mm beast just to drag it along 1000' of rock and then pack it away and hike down. I'd look for something in the 9.5mm or smaller range, but honestly my main moderates rope is an 70m 8.9mm PMI Erratic. I use it on all the classic moderates and occasionally on harder stuff that I might fall on anyway. It has a unicore design which gives me a bit more piece of mind using it on less-traveled routes.

Overall I'd look for something with a burly sheath as it will provide the highest sharp edge protection and lifespan compared to a rope with a thinner sheath. However, keep in mind that thinner ropes do have less sharp edge protection than thicker ones generally speaking and most thin ropes also have a thin sheath which is an especially bad combination for sharp rock. There are thin singles with thicker sheaths, but you have to look around a bit harder for them. Choosing a rope with a sheath bonded core will increase your protection a bit as well.

A few ideas that I have used that would probably fit the bill:

Bluewater Dominator 9.4mm
Bluewater Icon 9.1mm
Bluewater Wave 9.3mm
PMI Erratic 8.9mm (my choice)
Black Diamond 9.2mm (havent tried for trad, but it's held up well for single pitch sport)

Honestly, there are a ton of options there. Really it comes down to how thin you want to go and how much you want to spend. Once you know those two things you can narrow stuff down a bit. Dont use the Beal Opera. That rope is very light duty and you'll tear it up with a quickness. I used to own their much larger 9.1mm Joker and the sheath on it was about as tough as a bunny.

Overall the single most burly thin rope I have ever owned was the Bluewater Dominator 9.4mm. That thing was a total tank and it's held up better than some 10mm+ ropes I've owned. It's not made anymore, but the Icon 9.1mm was the replacement for it and Bluewater claims their Wave 9.3mm is even more burly. 



amockalypsenow · · San Diego · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 715

Addendum(my): I don't just take the one 30m.I have another thin 30 for rapping with two ropes. Splits the weight between partners.

I also have 4 other ropes, depending on the objective, but if it's alpine or a traverse, thin and 30m is nice. I don't want to lug 60 - 70 m of rock pro deep in the backcountry for a moderate unless I know it's what I need to do, and then I use different ropes   

Props to 20kn for the rope beta- glad I didn't get that Beal rope I was eyeing. 

Ryan Pfleger · · Tahoe, CA · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 15

Thanks for the info 20kN. I should also have asked more specifically about length... How long is a good choice for most moderate High Sierra routes? I have both a 60 and 70 already, so if a route really lent itself to having a 70m, I could bring that along, although it weighs a fair bit more than what I am looking to carry, ideally.

Ancent · · Reno, NV · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 42

I use a 9.5 mm 60 m for what you've described in the eastern Sierras. I wouldn't carry a 70 m uphill unless I knew there was a clear advantage. That is not just because of weight, but (1) general clutter and (2) we're usually not pitching out rope stretchers or your simuling if it's easy 4th class. 70 m is too much for either, unless it's not and that's good you have a backup 70m.

I also have a 30 m 9.8 mm  I sometimes use if there's minimal roped climbing and/or less chance of rap bailing.

C Brooks · · Fresno, CA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 546

I love the Sterling Fusion Nano IX -- 9mm, 60 meters

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483
C Brooks wrote:

I love the Sterling Fusion Nano IX -- 9mm, 60 meters

I've been very unimpressed with the life of the sheath on mine. It might make it through part of a second summer of moderate alpine use. Maybe. 

My 8mm mammut half rope has seen more use and is holding up better.

C Brooks · · Fresno, CA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 546
C Brooks wrote:

I love the Sterling Fusion Nano IX -- 9mm, 60 meters

I've had mine for 3 seasons. I've climbed about 500 pitches with it, still good. 

Zachary Winters · · Mazama, Washington · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 187

My next rope for weight conscience alpine granite will be the Sterling Evolution Aero 9.2

High % sheath is the name of the game. You won't be whipping a ton, but you'll be dragging it across miles of granite.

I don't climb in the Sierra much, but in general I find going shorter than 60 is limiting, and longer than 60 is, more often than not, just extra rope to carry, pull, and coil. I go with a 60 unless I know I need a 70.

20 kN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,348
amockalypsenow wrote:

Addendum(my): I don't just take the one 30m.I have another thin 30 for rapping with two ropes. Splits the weight between partners.

I also have 4 other ropes, depending on the objective, but if it's alpine or a traverse, thin and 30m is nice. I don't want to lug 60 - 70 m of rock pro deep in the backcountry for a moderate unless I know it's what I need to do, and then I use different ropes   

Props to 20kn for the rope beta- glad I didn't get that Beal rope I was eyeing. 

Yea, that Beal is really made for redpointing single pitch sport climbs and that's mostly it. Same story with the Beal Joker and many other ultra-skinny ropes out there. In order for manufacturers to get in the required five UIAA drops w/ 80kg they have to pack in a ton of core material which means less room for sheath for a given diameter. It does have Unicore though which is a big plus. Also keep in mind that sheath percentage is a measurement of the sheath by weight, not surface area or diameter. As such, a rope with 35% sheath that weighs 55g/m is going to have less actual sheath material than one that is 32% but weighs 63 g/m.

Also know that Beal ropes typically stretch metric shit tons. Like, literately tons and tons. My Joker stretched so much that I once fell with the piece at my foot and I ended up falling 25' total. Ridiculous. Beal is all about low impact forces but that comes with extremely high elongation values which can be quite dangerous on ledgy or slabby routes where there can be a lot to hit, especially if you're linking pitches and climbing with 200'+ of rope out.

JaredG · · Tucson, AZ · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0

I always figure my slightly sub-optimal gear is never the limiting factor in my climbing.  If I really wanted to cut weight I could lose 10 lbs for free.  Based on that line of thinking, I'd recommend you do some Sierra climbing with the gear you already have, then make a decision based on a better idea of what your style and goals will be.  Also, you'll have read more route descriptions and get an idea of how often you can link pitches or make long raps with a 70 vs 60, etc.  But I'm cheap.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483
C Brooks wrote:

I've had mine for 3 seasons. I've climbed about 500 pitches with it, still good. 

You're having MUCH better luck. I've used mind for maybe a dozen alpine routes, some wandery slab routes, and a few routes at red rocks. No terrible knicks, but it's frayed more than my workhorse 9.8 that's been drug all over hell and back and lots of falls. 

On the flip side, a partner has a bluewater wave that we have used much more frequently and that sheath looks brand spanking new still. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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