New England Ropes/Maxim Airliner 9.1 $240–$285; neropes.com
Easy clipping and complete smoothness out of the gate made this Maxim rope an absolute favorite for the serious sport climbers in our test squad. Knots were easy to tie and untie, and initial kinks were kept to a minimum. The 9.1mm diameter is absolutely perfect for redpointing—thick enough to stand some abrasion and big whips, but thin enough (61 g/m, or less than 9.5 lbs for a 70m rope) to feel like there’s practically nothing there. (Beginners would be better off with a thicker rope, specifically if they’re toproping or doing easier routes that tend to have more ledges and rope drag.) New England’s Endura Dry 2x treatment covers both the core and sheath for alpine climbing or glacier crossings. Available in 60m, 70m, and 80m lengths.
EDITORS' CHOICE Mammut Transformer
Byproducts are an inevitable part of manufacturing, and the rope-making process is no different. When the machine used to dye yarn for a rope sheath is switched from one color to another, about three-quarters of a mile of “transfer yarn” is left over. Transfer yarn is typically thrown away because it’s inconsistent in color and appearance; unfortunately, it has no place in our aesthetics-driven society. (Yes, even our ropes have to be pretty.) Mammut has taken this once-wasted byproduct and put it to use in the Transformer 9.8mm rope. Given its scrappy origins, each rope has a unique color and design, but they’re all about as “green” as a rope can get. Each also has high safety ratings (8 to 9 UIAA falls), excellent handling, and Mammut’s SuperDRY waterproof treatment. It clips and feeds out smoothly with minimal kinkage, and is burly enough for toproping. Available in 60m and 70m lengths.
Tendon Master 8.9 $245–$325; mytendon.com
Another company has taken the plunge by making an 8.9mm single rope. Now the question is, will you take the plunge? In tests, our hard-core redpointers gleefully shouted praise of the Tendon 8.9. It’s a featherweight at 52g/m (that means a 70-meter rope only weighs eight pounds), clips like butter, and feeds smoothly through a variety of belay devices. The real beauty of this fine piece of dental floss, though, is its flexibility—it can be used as a half and twin rope in addition to a single cord. It boasts fall ratings of 5 falls as a single, 16 as a half rope, and 29 falls as a twin. And with a Teflon dry coating, it also handles smoothly on wet snow and ice. If you’re a sport climber with alpine dreams or an alpinist with hard redpointing fantasies, this rope will fill the void in your gear closet.