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Review: Will Black Diamond’s Ondra Edition 8.6 Dry Climbing Rope Make You Climb Like Ondra?

Probably not, but it does several other things quite well!

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Basics

Black Diamond has entered the mega-rope fray with their new 80-meter 8.6 Dry Climbing Rope - Ondra Edition, co-designed with Adam Ondra.


Pros

• Light at 50 g/m (8.8 lbs total), with minimal drag up high on long pitches • 2X2 Woven Sheath whips through a Grigri at lightning speed and rarely kinks—no short-roping on limit redpoints • For a dental-floss rope, stretch is reasonable; it’s not a bungee

Cons

• Boinking after a big fall is a bear, but this would be true of any 8.6 mm rope • Despite my best efforts, I did not climb as hard as Adam Ondra while using the rope—what’s up with that, BD?


Our Thoughts

Not your go-to hang dogging cord, but a solid speciality rope to keep in reserve for when you're redpointing at your limit.


Size Reviewed

80 meters

Weight

8.8 pounds

Price

$0

Brand

Black Diamond


Once upon a time, ropes only came in 50-meter lengths. As a result, routes ended at 25 meters, sometimes with dumb, mid-crux anchor clips. I don’t miss those days, and you shouldn’t either—they were a drag. Not a “rope drag” because the pitches were so short. Just a drag, drag. Hallelujah! Dynamic ropes now come in lengths up to 100 meters, letting us string together monster pitches like, say, the 80-meter crux lead of the Dunn-Westbay Direct (V 5.14b) on the Diamond, Colorado.

Black Diamond has entered the mega-rope fray with their new 80-meter 8.6 Dry Climbing Rope – Ondra Edition. It’s co-designed with Adam Ondra, who specializes in über-difficult sport climbs that go on forever, like Silence, his 45-meter 5.15d in Norway.

The rope is comprised of a dry-treated core and 2X2 Woven Sheath, also dry treated, with a Triple Dash midway marker (three dashes—exactly what it sounds like). It works as a single, half, or twin cord, and is rated for five UIAA single-rope falls, 13 half, and 30 twin. The cord weighs 50 grams/meter, for a total weight of 8.8 pounds, and comes in turquoise.

What all this translates to on the rock is wicked-good performance for rope-stretcher pitches. The first place I tested was on a newly bolted wall in the Flatirons, Colorado, with two 45-meter rope lengths that, on their upper third, segued into slab. It’s terrain where rope drag is all but inevitable, say while pulling up slack at bolt 20 while quivering in some smeary dish. But with the Ondra Edition 8.6, the drag was in fact “evitable”—both my friend Brian and I glided up the fussy 5.11 slab on the harder climb with minimal drag, and this included while clipping. The dry-treated sheath ran silky-smooth through the belay device and draws, and over the rock—a lot of thought obviously went into the design.

Often, dental-floss cords can be so thin they’re almost bungees, meaning otherwise short falls turn into long, rope-stretching rides, with a long way to batman or boink back up on a taut shoelace (good luck!). So we took the rope to the gym, land of minimal friction. I jumped off at an anchor, ready to end up miles down, but was pleasantly surprised by the reassuring, not overly springy catch: With only 5.7 percent static elongation and 30 percent dynamic elongation, the Ondra Edition stacks up stat-wise with ropes closer to 9 mm, and it did indeed feel like falling on a 9.1 or 9.3. Later in the session, though, after I took a big ride when I was too pumped to clip, I ended up a ways down, and as I looked up at all that skinny line above me, the thought of boinking up was daunting, so I lowered off. But this is not a problem that affects this rope only—any rope that’s sub-9 mm is not going to be your go-to hang dogging cord. You keep specialty ropes like the Ondra Edition in reserve for redpointing at your limit.