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Field Tested: Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry CT 9.3 mm

Despite the price, it’s a worthy investment for those who frequently tie into the sharp end. 

Basics

Edelrid’s newest masterpiece is an eco-friendly cord ideal for big walling and sport routes.


Pros

Very durable // Supple with just the right amount of rigidity // Bi-pattern weave creates a clear and permanent halfway mark

Cons

Kinky! Even after months of use, I’ve yet to banish the twists // Pricey


Our Thoughts

Edelrid’s VP said this rope is the “culmination of decades of R&D.” I’d believe it: it’s lightweight yet tough. And the bi-color pattern is just plain cool. Despite the price, it’s a worthy investment for those who frequently tie into the sharp end. 


Size Reviewed

80 meter

Weight

57 g/m

Price

$390

Brand

Edelrid


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Ropes are like cars. You want them to be dependable, economical, and long-lasting. They should handle well on all types of terrain. They should be sleek and sexy. Edelrid’s newest cord, the Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry CT 9.3 mm, is all that, a best-in-class convertible Mercedes, the type your friend’s cool mom drives.

Although I’m not the type, I like feeling like I could weave through traffic should I need to. Likewise, the TC Eco Dry practically slides through gates by itself. It is soft and supple but with just enough rigidity for optimal maneuverability. I have a project in the Wicked Cave in Rifle, Colorado. The cave is steep and long, and the route I’ve been trying comes right out of its guts. Part of what makes the first crux, which looms approximately 40 feet off the deck, difficult is getting a draw clipped. You can’t skip it, or, at least I can’t, since I skip the next one and have to climb a little past the one after. So to make the clip, I use the cave’s steepness to my advantage—I pull out a yard of slack while resting on a lower jug and let the excess hang there, ready and pre-pulled for when I move to the draw. The TC Eco Dry is soft and silky, like I said, but it’s also just firm enough to not slide back down when I move; it stays put when I need it to.

One of the first things you notice about this rope is its dual colors: pink and blue, like wild berry-flavored Poptarts. Using ColorTec technology, the rope switches from one color to the other at its midpoint, creating a permanent and clearly noticeable center mark. The bobbins that wove the rope switched from weaving the outside to weaving the inside at the midpoint, creating the color change. For most other bi-pattern ropes on the market, the weaving process is stopped and oftentimes the bobbins are cut so that new colorways can be spliced in. In this case, however, the bobbins are never stopped and thus the tension on the strands remains constant throughout the weave, creating a smoother and more aesthetic rope. 

I must say, the color change is a sweet feature. I found it helpful not just for climbing on long routes, but also for reminding me to switch which side I’m using. Another awesome feature: there is a slight texture where the rope changes colors. If the visual cue isn’t enough, the haptic feedback tells the belayer where the middle mark is.

I’ve been using the rope a few times per week for a good chunk of the year now, and have only had to snip ends three times. I haven’t been kind to it; from bearing the brunt of big whips (and a few wobblers) on sharp limestone, to being dragged through sand and snaggly bushes, it has held up nicely. In fact, based on durability alone, it’s proven to be one of the better ropes I’ve tested the last few years. 

A very well-loved, dirty rope.

Having been woven with 48 bobbins, the sheath structure is incredibly fine. For reference, most dynamic ropes are constructed with just 40 bobbins. With its tight, smooth weave it has held up against dirt well, remaining supple where other ropes start to get a layer of dust-infused crunch. It runs smoothly through the Grigri, mitigating the chance of short-roping. And because it’s so light, just 57 grams per meter, it hardly drags on long, meandering pitches. 

The TC Eco Dry is coated with a PFC-free Eco Dry coating, free of chemicals harmful to people or the environment. Edelrid tasked itself with creating an eco-friendly dry treatment back in 2016—ultimately releasing a coating made from paraffin wax in 2018. Today, four of their ropes are available with it, with the long-term goal being to eliminate all PFC’s from their rope line by 2026. Per UIAA standards, the treated TC rope absorbs less than two percent of water when fresh out of the box. I have noticed, however, that the rope gets stiff in the humidity and handles noticeably less well, but it returns to normal when things dry out. 

In addition to being eco-friendly, one percent of all sales go to Protect Our Winters, a nonprofit climate advocacy group.

If I had to name a con, it’s this: this rope is as kinky as a pornstar. Perhaps it was my fault in the way that I uncoiled it, but even after a spring and summer of use, I’ve yet to banish all the twists. 

I tested an 80-meter cord, but the TC Eco Dry is also available in 60- and 70-meter lengths. Like a Mercedes, a luxury cord means a luxury price, but this rope is tough and it will last you longer than cheaper varieties. 

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