How do you choose a single rope for multi-pitch and alpine climbing? Considerations include weight, dry treatment, durability, and the feel of the rope. Good looking is a bonus too. I’ve enjoyed climbing with the 9.4 mm Golden Dry Beal Stinger rope on alpine rock this summer. This rope had a soft feel right out of the box and has maintained good workability after many days of use. The sheath has proved to be durable; despite abrasion in chimneys and a few pinches and sticks on rappel pulls, there are only a few minor sheath frays. The incredibly soft feel makes clipping a breeze.
Reviewed by Drew Thayer, Senior Contributor
Medium thickness: The optimum rope thickness is partly a matter of personal preference, and I find 9.4 mm to hit the sweet spot for a single rope. It’s thick enough to inspire confidence in edge-cutting resistance (38% sheath percentage), and thin enough to be reasonable to carry on a long approach. The Stinger weighs 59 grams per meter, similar to medium-weight single ropes: 9.4 mm Petzl Fuse and 9.4 mm Sterling Ion, for example. These are all a good bit lighter than burly ropes like the 9.9 mm Maxim Glider (66 g/m) and much heavier than the new triple-rated ropes on the market, which weigh as little as 48 to 52 g/m. A mid-thickness single rope is a sensible compromise between weight and durability.
Length and pattern: The Stinger is available in 60 meters or 70 meters. I usually choose a 70 meter rope for the option of linking pitches and completing 35 meter rappels with one rope, which are becoming increasingly common. I prefer bi-weave ropes for the ease of finding the middle; Beal only makes the Stinger in single colors with a pre-marked middle. The middle mark has faded some over time, as they all do. Much discussion is available on the web concerning DIY rope marking and I won’t get into it here, but it can be done.
Unicore binds sheath to core fibers: Beal has recently introduced a new technology they call “Unicore” which binds the sheath and core fibers together, preventing sheath separation if the sheath gets partially cut. I don’t cut ropes or jump over sharp edges as part of my testing, but this video (from Beal) shows the impressive performance of a Unicore rope: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwtbKe4Vfag.
Dry treatment: Beal makes the Stinger rope available in two options: Dry Cover (sheath treatment) or Golden Dry UIAA-rated treatment, which treats both the sheath and core fibers. [For a description of the UIAA ‘water repellent’ certification, see the review for Beal Opera on the Zine site.]
Since I often encounter wet conditions in the mountains I got the Golden Dry treatment, and I’ve been pleased. While many dry treatments wear off quickly from use on rock, the Stinger has remained water repellent after a couple months of rough use. I recently dragged it through plenty of soggy snow while rappelling off the South Howser Tower in the Bugaboos and the rope remained supple and continued to coil well and avoid major snarls on the rappels. In camp, we barely had to dry it. Having been extremely frustrated by wet ropes snagging and tying perplexing knots, I appreciate a rope that stays dry and supple in alpine conditions.
Stretchy, low impact: The Stinger is quite dynamic for a mid-thickness single rope, in fact it behaves more like a skinny triple-rated rope with 8.2 kN impact force and 37% dynamic elongation (compared to 8.6 kN and 34% for similar ropes). Stretch is great, but there are two sides to that coin: soft catches mean longer falls. In most trad climbing I welcome a stretchy rope as it increases the chances of marginal gear holding, but it’s a trade-off that’s worth considering. If you want a rope with shorter falls, go with something thicker. I really enjoy this rope for sport climbing as all the falls are soft and gentle.
Bottom line: This is a great all-around medium-thickness climbing rope for intermediate and advanced climbers, ideal for alpine climbing with the Golden Dry coating and well suited for sport climbing as well. The soft ‘hand’ offers little resistance while pulling up rope to clip and helps save energy while leading. There are lighter ropes optimized for fast backcountry pushes and heavier ropes for workhorse abuse (wall climbing, gym training, excessive sport whipping), and this rope excels for everything in between. If you only own one rope, a 70 meter 9.4 mm Stinger isn’t a bad way to go.
Plus, the hot pink weave is really sexy.
The Beal Stinger on backcountry.com
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