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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

First impressions on a lwt twin rope comparison?

As new gear shows up it is interesting to make some quick observations and comparisons.  Of course all this is unimportant if the newest gear doesn't suffice in field trials.  You in actual climbing?

I am still uneasy about going to a even thinner rope than my Beal Ice Twin @ 7.7mm and a actual weight of 5# 4.5 oz for a 60 rope.  I've been using the Beal Ice Twins for a few years now.   3 pairs in 6 years iirc.  A new pair every 2 years on average seems about right for wear and tear used 95% of the time on pure ice.  Not a long life span even there.  Add some nasty Canadian limestone and I would expect much less. A season at best I suspect.  But then I never got much more than a season out of a 11mm single in Canada anyway.  So some perspective is good.

My thought is none of these "skinny" ropes are a begiiner's tool.  They are difficult to manage, and uncoil.  Instant rat's nest more like it.  Another acquired taste?   Fragile?  May be.  Just the kind of stuff you really don't want to be worried about amid a hard lead. But well worth the extra effort once on route has always been my thought.

I have several new twin ropes to test and compare to my well know Beal products.

The first is the Edelrid Flycatcher, @ 6.9mm.  4# 14oz for a 60m rope.

You need two ropes so the Flycatcher reduces the weight by 6.5oz per rope times 2 or 13oz for the pair.  13 oz. is getting close to a full pound or an actual 368g savings for the pair.

I have always liked how the Beal handled.  One of the reasons I have continued to use them season after season.   But I'll admit that I generally prefer a stiffer rope in hand.  The Edelrid Flycatcher is indeed a stiffer handling rope.  I can't offer an opinion either way how that will reflect on the rope as of yet.  But it looks promising.  Either way it is going to be a change that I suspect I'll notice quickly one way or the other.

A brand new Flycatcher has a "stiff hand"

A lightly used (2 easy days on ice)  Beal  Ice Twin with a rather "soft hand"

I have no doubt the Beal Ice Twin ( any skinny rope?) deserves a better belay device.  I found the BD versions woefully lacking on steep rappels.  The Petzl just marginally better and more usable.  But enough to change belay devices with the Beal 7.7 and use the Petzl.  The Flycatcher comes packaged with its own belay device specifically designed for the 6.9mm diameter.  Again, more to come after I and my partners have used the rope and the belay plate.  Nice to know soemone else has been thinking about this stuff as a "full rope system".

At the moment a 13oz drop in weight for a pair of twins seems to be a good improvement.  I am as interested as anyone to see if I continue to think that way.

A heads up?
I wouldn't use any of these ropes as a single.  The CT cover photo at the moment is on the Eiger.  We used a single strand of 9mm double rope in that picture. Seemed just fine at the time.  It felt much like a Joker 9.1 does today.  Although that 9mm was no where near as nice a rope as the current Joker.   My thought is the ropes I am talking about here...under 8mm.....are not a light weight alpinist's "single" rope.  That topic deserves a totally different discussion.

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