Ropes are ropes, aren't they? I mean, you wear LaSportiva, Scarpa or a FiveTen rock boots, and most people swear by their chosen brand. Not many people swear by their chosen rope (other than sponsored climbers). But not many of us put as much thought to their ropes as they do to their other climbing gear. I had some positive experiences with some past ropes (Edelrid, Tendon, Simond and Edelweis), but also had some fairly negative ones with (Beal, Mammutt and Sterling). So this post is about a rope that did work for me. Not only because I got it for free to test (ha!) but more importantly because I do truly believe it is a great rope.
Back in October the chaps at Alpkit gave me a FixeRoca rope to test. They had started to import the Spanish brand into the UK together with some other awesome climbing gear (Alien Evo's yeah!!!!). Roca goes a long way back in making ropes, over a 100 years and funnily enough my first ever rope was a Roca too. It just happens that like most Spanish brands don't have the budgets to break into UK markets like some other Euro brands do. So the rope in case for this test was a FixeRoca Siurana model, a 9.6mm going at 64grm per meter, with a Full Dry treatment. I wanted a rope that I could do everything, onsight, redpoint, ice climbing, drytooling, mixed climbing and even straight cracks on trad.
So since last October I've been putting this baby to the test. And I mean to a real battering of all sorts. Muddy and dusty tooling crags, jummaring, bolting, taking lots of falls... It's been my main rope for 8 months except wen I used my doubles for trad. Just last weekend I had to cut the ends, so I thought it was time to write a little review. The rope has faired really well, so well that it the longest a rope as lasted me on intense use. The handling when is brand new is very sleek, which some people don't like, but it part of the design and I think is what makes this rope special.
The make it resilient but keep it dexterous (so it doesn't go like a cable) FixeRoca uses a very compact threading of the sheath called "Endurance". This, according to their tests, makes it last an extra 60% longer compared to conventional-construction ropes. This tight webbing together with the "Full Dry" treatment, make it very resisitent to water, dust and dirt, but also makes it run a lot smoother through biners and over sharp edges. And from my experience, it really delivers. I think it's a great contender for being one of the best all-rounders ropes in the market. And it come in pretty colours too!
As usual, I let the pictures do the talking.
I started the season training for Helmken Falls. Once of my training routing was lapping the huge roof of Marginal Gains at Masson Lees. Rope drag is such an issue that the first ascent had to be done with two belayers swapping ropes at a mid-route. The Siurana ran very smooth over the many manky fixed draws and rock edges a that I didn't need to have the two-rope system. In fairness, the rope was brand new and it was indeed very sleek.
When then took it to Canada as the main rope for the team. The poor thing saw all sort of abuse, and we didn't have a rope bag either. We used in ice and snow all the time and never got wet or frozen once. Again, it was still fairly new so the Full Dry treatment was still in good condition. On this particular in the picture day we were bolting a new route in the Icefields Parkway and we left the rope hanging over the icefall overnight. I was expecting having to jumar a frozen cable the morning after, but the rope was just as dry as we left it. Pretty impressive.
Here Pete is bolting on lead with the FixeRoca as the main line. Sharp crampons and bolting dust all over the rope.
We kept using the rope every day for climbing sport mixed in the Rockies. It still wasn't getting wet and running over ice very smoothly.
Again, the three of us, Simon, Pete and I used the rope constantly to redpoint Mushashi (M12) and Steel Koan (M13+) repeatedly, without countless falls taken by all of us.
Then came spring and as to means to carry on the test we used the rope every weekend. Here the poor thing had to endure minging sea scum at Deborah's Zawn. Whoever's been there will understand what I mean. The rope didn't get wet.
More usage through the spring on sea cliffs saw the colour starting to fade and the sheath to start to loose its sleekness. Still performing well, despite perhaps having clocked a good 50 falls by now.
We took it to Ireland for trad as well as there's a lot of crack climbs where we used a single. A smooth running over gear is important on trad. Here Dave is going for the ascent of Very Big Springs E7 at Burren.
All over the summer the rope has been performing really well. But on our 5 day holidays over teh bank holiday it started to show sign of serious wear. Three intense days at The Diamond with lots of falls, sea salt (stashing the rope overnight on a sea cliff is perhaps not a good idea) and two days of mud at Devils' Gorge finally saw this excellent rope show the end of its peak performance.
So to summarise, The FixeRoca Siurana has exceeded my expectations and I wouldn't hesitate recommending it to anyone looking for a good all-round sports rope. You can buy it from the guys at Alpkit