Voluntary Simplicity and the Art of Packing

From the ocean to the mountains in one pair of pants! Kitty Calhoun working a new route in Kauai, Hawaii.

From the ocean to the mountains in one pair of pants! Kitty Calhoun working a new route in Kauai, Hawaii.

“No. No, you don’t need that either.” I said to my son, Grady, as he packed for a multi-day, rock climbing trip.

“You mean you only take one pair of pants, one T-shirt, one long sleeve, a sweater and a rain jacket?” he asked.

“Yep, and a toothbrush.” I said. “Just make sure your clothes are synthetic so they dry faster. Don’t bring more than you need. Your focus should be on your experience, not your excess baggage.”

I learned the tenets of voluntary simplicity from my dad. Now I’m passing them on to my boy.

I look for multi-functionality in most of my clothing. I keep things basic.

The first time I wore my RPS pants, I was on my way to Kauai, Hawaii with Grady and Jay, my husband. It was snowing in SLC when I boarded the plane.

On Kauai, we found some rock and began working a new route. Ordinarily it would’ve been too hot to climb in long pants but I needed protection from the sharp limestone for a crucial knee bar. I wore my RPS pants as I climbed out over the ocean.

The fabric on the RPS pants is light and has a modest stretch, which allowed me to focus on the task at hand.

A couple of weeks ago, true to my dad, I packed ONLY my RPS pants, my Capilene Daily T, my Capilene long-sleeve, my Micro-puff, and my Alpine Houdini jacket to teach a climbing clinic in Bishop, California.

As I drove through the desert, a friend called and asked if I would like to go skiing the next morning.

“That would be fun, but I don’t have any ski gear or clothes,” I said. My mind raced through everything I would need and I quipped, “I mean you have to look good to play good. At least that’s the advice on Friday Night Lights.”

There was silence on the other end of the line.

The next morning, my friend announced that the temps would be in the single digits as he handed me his worn-out ski clothes.

“Thanks, but all I need is your long johns. I’ve got pants.” I held up my RPS pants.

I got boots, skis and a free lift ticket and we were off.

I was looking good and skiing pretty good too. I suggested we ski in the trees so that my friend could get photos of me ripping it up.

He obliged and positioned himself just behind a small sapling.

The problem was that I had to make a tight turn between him and the tree. Despite appearances, I didn’t have the skills. I plowed straight into him with full speed. His iphone, gloves and poles went flying. After picking up our “yard sale,” I brushed the snow off my RPS pants—no harm done except a bruised ego.

I probably won’t tell Grady about the crash;

But, I won’t miss the opportunity to tell him he doesn’t need me to buy him the ski pants he’s been coveting because his RPS rock pants will work just fine.

Everything I needed for my trip to Bishop.

Belay Gloves: From Fashion Faux Pas to Fashion Forward

Belay Gloves

“Save yourself from a lifetime of climbing goo exposure by wearing belay gloves.“ 
Dawn Glanc, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, avid glove-wearer, member of the fashion police.

Be smart, be hip, be cool! Protect your hands by wearing belay gloves

I started climbing in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1996. Back then, “the Hills” were not particularly known as fashion forward. However, we had our standards. For example, if you wore belay gloves, you got the suspicious side-eye.

Work gloves signalled, “rookie.” They meant that the person could not belay. And, this fashion faux pas was considered common knowledge.

Perhaps it was the movie Cliffhanger that made leather, half-finger gloves cool for climbing and rope work.

I’m not sure how it happened. But somewhere, somehow, something changed and a few companies like Black Diamond began making leather gloves with a keeper-loop. This loop, a small hole in the Velcro cuff, allowed climbers to store the gloves on their harness by clipping them on with a carabiner.

This caribiner keeper-loop was a game-changer for the reputation of gloves.

Today, gloves are the sign of a competent and knowledgeable belayer.

I wear gloves when I belay (both indoors and outdoors) because I find that when my hands are protected, I can control the rope more smoothly. I also wear gloves every time I rappel and coil the ropes.

I’m a big fan of Black Diamond’s Transition Gloves, preferring the full finger version to the half-finger one.

  • Full finger gloves protect my hands as well as my fingers.
  • Full finger gloves add warmth on cold days, which further improves the performance of my belay.
  • And, I especially prefer full finger gloves when I’m using a gri gri.

FIT

I fit my belay gloves to be worn over tape gloves. If you never wear tape gloves you can fit them a bit smaller.

However, tape gloves are standard issue for crack climbing, especially desert crack climbing.

Sandstone is as abrasive as sandpaper. To get purchase you need to jam the backs of your hands against the rock. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, but it sounds fun, check out one of our Indian Creek clinics.

In the desert, ropes get particularly trashed. There’s coarse dirt, cactus spikes and other prickly things that want stick to it. This is especially true when pulling and coiling the rope.

Wearing gloves protects my hands from the environment and the climbing goo.

If I don’t wear gloves, my hands turn black with a mix of pulverized sand and ground aluminium. I call this black substance climbing goo. When I wear gloves this goo ends up in my gloves instead of my skin.

Over a lifetime of climbing, nasty goo embedded into our hands cannot be good for anyone’s health!

So, be smart, be hip, be cool, and goo-free. Protect your hands by wearing belay gloves!

A Love Letter to Grabber Warmer’s Zim’s Max Freeze

Zim's Max Freeze

Zim’s Max Freeze

Muscle love

It may come as a shock to many, but as a guide, I get very little time to climb.

Yes, I’m outside all day. BUT most of my time is spent standing and belaying so that my guests get maximum climbing time.

This schedule means that when it’s MY TIME to climb or train, I go overboard.

During the busy season, I’m not quite a weekend warrior as I only get one or two days off a month; I’m more of a month-end or once-a-month warrior. As a result, I take on an amplified warrior mentality and pursue objectives that I should have trained for, but did not.

Straight off the belaying-and-standing-around-all-month couch I find the pump sets in and stays for longer periods of time. Then, over-activity on the back of under-activity lingers as desperate muscle soreness.

This is where Zim’s Max Freeze comes in. I’ve been using this topical muscle cream from Grabber as a go-to to support MY CLIMBING TIME this winter.

Thinking about it, Grabber is a particularly intimate partner. All day, Grabber Warmers cosy up in my pockets and keep me warm. All night, Zim’s roll-on soothes my aches and pains and helps prevent muscle cramps after long, hard days.

From freeze to thaw, from night to day, Grabber is there.

Thank you Grabber! For years and years, you’ve helped thousands of women get into ice climbing and over their FOC (Fear of Cold).

Now, when Chicks work really hard on the ice and rock and snow, then suffer from TMF (Too Much Fun), you freeze our muscle pains away. You’re the best!

Big hugs from all of us at Chicks.

A Love Letter to My Osprey Variant

Chicks participant crossing a mountain stream wearing an Osprey Variant backpack

High ho, a climbing we will go. Stream crossing on a Chicks trip to Mount Hood @Karen Bockel

The one pack to rule them all.

Ok, I’ll admit it: I have about ten backpacks. They hang neatly on hooks in the garage. Or, I should say, the gearage!

Some of my packs are highly specific to certain activities. For example my Osprey Kamber 40 ABS airbag is for skiing. My Osprey Mutant 28 is for sport climbing.

BUT, if I had to choose one pack, JUST ONE, for the rest of my life, to travel, to climb, to ski, to mountaineer, even for backpacking, it would be the Osprey Variant.

It’s truly the Queen mother of packs.

The Variant excels in practicality. I love practicality! Well-thought out details are exciting. Extra bells and whistles are a turn off.

The Variant is a technical backpack designed for multi-use. Which is amazing! Since I’m always on a different mountain mission: from weeklong backcountry ski hut trips; to guiding in the Ouray Ice Park; to climbing the Grand Teton.

Variant’s very Cool design features:

  • Removable hip belt and top lid, so I can ditch some weight for long days.
  • Contoured hip belt and gear loops, which works well for climbing, especially scrambling when I might want to clip gear directly to the loops.
  • Easily accessible and durable front pocket to store my sharp crampons.
  • Rope fits under the lid, held securely with a compression strap.
  • Further compression straps make sure all my stuff is safe and snug.
  • State of the art ice tool attachments hold any oddly shaped, modern ice tools like few packs can.
  • Side straps hold skis in a comfortable A-frame carrying system that allows access to the lid’s contents AND ability to stuff extra layers in the front pocket without taking the skis off—These are important features when booting up a long slope for a spring ski descent!
  • All zippers are easy to open with my gloves on.
  • Durable materials make it tough. I’ve crawled up chimneys with it. I’ve wrestled through dense brush with it–Hey! If that’s what you’ve got to do to get to a climb, that’s what you’ve got to do! I’ve hauled it with the 3-point attachment system.

What else can I say, but ‘Thank you, Osprey’!

The multi-use Variant backpack takes many abuses and lives multiple long lives.

This pack is technically ready for multi-adventure—a true leader among packs.

A Love Letter to My Patagonia Micro Puff

Kitty Calhoun out testing Patagonia's new Micro Puff Jacket on a recent ski tour in Colorado's San Juan Mountains.

Kitty Calhoun out testing Patagonia’s new Micro Puff Jacket on a recent ski tour in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains.

I never thought when I was learning to ski at age 6 where my skis would take me.

How many memories my gear and clothes would hold?

I remember my Dad helping me into a garage-sale jacket and putting mittens on my tiny, frozen hands.

There’s the short, tailored sweater with yellow and blue stripes that I wore as a teenager—a tool to attract boys.

When I started winter climbing, I gave up fashion for the function of baggy wool: a brown, plaid button-down, army trousers, and Dachstein mitts.

Back then we all wore wool because it kept us insulated from the cold even when it was wet.

Kitty Calhoun skiing the East Face of Teewinot , Grand Teton National Park, 1982, in her fashion backwards Army Surplus wool knickers and sweater.

Kitty Calhoun skiing the East Face of Teewinot , Grand Teton National Park, 1982, in her fashion backwards Army Surplus wool knickers and sweater.

The problem was the smell of sweaty, wet wool is distinctive. And, inevitably, before the end of a long day, an ice storm would blow in and I’d be caked—further insulated with a thick layer of snow and ice!

After college new fabrics became available. To save money, I made my own waterproof anorak but splurged on a Patagonia fleece.

Living out of my Subaru, I didn’t have many clothes. I wore this fleece day and night for eight years. I loved it because it didn’t stink when it got wet. It was also softer, and dried faster than wool.

Kitty Calhoun at 14, 158 feet on the Summit of Mt Sneffles, Co, 1982, wearing her homemade anorak and wool gloves.

Kitty Calhoun at 14, 158 feet on the Summit of Mt Sneffles, Co, 1982, wearing her homemade anorak and wool gloves.

Over the years I have tested many different insulating jackets.

Always, the challenge is to find a material that insulates by trapping heat but also breathes. A material that “breathes” means that it allows moisture vapor to move away from your body and your next-to-skin, wicking, base layer.

REJOICE

For a decade, Patagonia worked to answer the problem that when down gets wet it looses its heat-trapping loft, but synthetics are never as warm and compressible.

The Micro Puff is the answer. It’s a synthetic jacket made with a unique patterning construction that works to prevent down-like filaments from shifting.

The result is the best warmth to weight ration of any jacket Patagonia has ever created. That is saying a lot!

BEWARE

The Micro Puff is not a belay jacket.

The Micro Puff is designed to be part of a layering system, which Patagonia developed in the 1970’s:

  1. Next-to-skin wicking layer
  2. Insulating layer
  3. Wind, water resistant/proof shell

COMPANY BACKGROUND

 We couldn’t be more proud to have Patagonia as the title sponsor for Chicks Climbing and Skiing.

We look forward to new adventures in jackets of higher performing materials partnered with a company whose mission includes “using business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”

Try out Patagonia’s revolutionary layering system at our clinics.

200 Years of Climbing Evolution

Grivel’s Tech Machine and North Machine ice climbing tools

Awesome Sponsor Gear Review

by Angela Hawse, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, IFMGA

 

In 1818, the Grivel family of Blacksmiths began to create technical tools for alpinism. These “technical” climbing tools evolved from agricultural tools like pick axes. Despite widespread skepticism these innovations established Grivel as the leader in equipping alpinists to climb more challenging routes in the Alps—and, later, throughout the world.

For 200 years, Grivel has stayed at the forefront of climbing evolution through innovation and, recently, a commitment to sustainable manufacturing. Today, all Grivel products are produced with power generated from 100% solar energy at their small, family-run plant in Coermayeur, Italy.

For over seven generations, Grivel has taken clean climbing to an entirely new standard with their foresight and regard for cultural responsibility.

In 1986, Grivel’s Super Courmayer system introduced interchangeable picks, hammers and shovels (what we call adzes) which maintained Grivel as the technical, ice-climbing tool leader. In 1996, The Machine further revolutionized the design of ice climbing tools by setting the modern curved-shaft standard. Every other manufacturer soon followed suit.

I climb exclusively on Grivel tools and I can say, as a woman with small hands, that there is no tool on the market that works better for me.

Grivel tools are light, which matters for swing after swing.

Grivel tools are well suited for both ice and alpine objectives: One stop shopping!

GRIVEL TOOLS

New for 2018, the re-crafted North Machine Carbon and Tech Machine Carbon both feature aerospace composite shafts: thin aluminum inside and carbon fiber outside with the option of hammers or adzes and blade (what we call pick) of choice (see below). The grip remains small and easy to handle with a perfectly balanced swing weight.

North Machine

  • My personal favorite
  • Lightweight technical tool designed for ice climbing and alpinism
  • Excels on high north faces where mixed terrain is common
  • Tech rated, carbon fiber shaft with small grip and spike for alpine ascents and all around climbing.
  • MSRP $289.95

Tech Machine

  • Designed primarily for ice climbing and dry tooling where vertical to overhanging challenges are more characteristic.
  • Radically bent shaft easily clears bulges and cauliflowers with a stable for shape hooking both ice and rock.
  • MSRP $329.95.

GRIVEL PICKS (BLADES)

Grivel makes four different, interchangeable, picks for their Machine tools.

Hot Forged, Chromoly Steel Blades:

Ice

  • This 3mm pick is perfectly suited for all types of ice

Mix

  • This beefy 4.2mm pick is designed for the abuses of mixed climbing.

*New for 2018 Laser Cut Steel Blades:

Cascade Plus

  • Specifically for ice
  • Very narrow shape easily pierces ice, but also cleans easier

Dry Plus

  • Specifically for dry tooling
  • wider and more burly than any other Grivel pick
  • Downturned tip makes it easier to hook rock

Chicks is proud to have Grivel as a Silver Level Sponsor. Chicks clinic participants have the opportunity to experience Grivel’s high quality products during any one of our ice climbing programs.

Patagonia DAS Parka Review

Let me tell you about one of my favorite pieces of outdoor clothing: The DAS parka made by Patagonia. There is no better jacket made for cold winter days! It keeps you warm, whether you’re hanging at the belay on a climb or tagging a summit on a big ski day. I got my first version of this garment when I started guiding on Denali some ten years ago. Before that, I had for years insisted on flimsy down jackets to see me through the Colorado winters, although usually with quite a few shivers and cold hands and feet to go with it. That barely worked, and it wasn’t always comfortable. 

When Alaska called, however, I needed something warm for North America’s highest mountain.  Still, in the days of overstuffed 8,000’ down parkas, which fit the Michelin Man and his wallet a lot better than me, I was looking for more reasonable options that could withstand the rigors of the arctic environment. Enter the DAS Parka.  It was the required piece of equipment on the summit ridge of Denali at 20,000’ and kept me warm on 25 days of expedition life, but the super alpine is not it’s the only playground.  Since my DAS parka was red, it matched my ski patrol uniform, and on extra cold mornings I’d cozy up in it, riding the ski lift to work.  Often, the clear mornings after a snowstorm would reach record low temperatures, and we would be standing on a ridge high above treeline, throwing bombs to make avalanches before the runs would open.  It was so cold that your skis wouldn’t even slide on the snow.  I’d have my DAS parka on and my hood synched tight around my goggles – my only chance to stay warm. 

Nowadays, I have a new version, it’s blue (my favorite color), and I don’t leave home without it, come November.  Call me soft in my old age, but I like being warm! It stays in the car during the day when only the early mornings and late evenings are cold in early winter, but it’s there when I need it.  It travels with me when I cross over Togwotee Pass on the way to climbing ice in Cody – it hasn’t happened to me yet, but what if my car stalled out at the bottom of Togwotee Pass where cool air sinks into the valley and commonly creates Temperatures of -25F. 

Insulation technology is so great these days: this jacket features 120g/m2 Primaloft insulation (think more warmth, less bulk).  For long multi-pitch ice routes, I can easily fit the DAS in my climbing pack to pull out during cold belays, or when descending in icy wind at the end of the day. 

The cut is generous, fitting over a harness full of gear or extra layers.  The pockets are big, allowing for insulated storage of crucial items such as your spare gloves for the next pitch.  I have even stuck my thermos into the inside jacket pocket to keep a hot drink handy.  The hood fits over my helmet and keeps the wind and spindrift off my neck.

The DAS also works great for skiing, fitting over my lighter jackets that I wear on the ascent.  It’s lightweight, water-resistant and windproof nylon shell keeps the elements out. I have used the DAS on the ski area as well as in the backcountry.  I pull it out of my pack when taking a break and revel in its coziness.  It has me covered getting off the Jackson Hole tram in blizzard conditions.  Don’t think that it’s only appropriate for epic days, though – it works great for walking to the post office, too.  And all the mail fits in its pockets.

Gear Review: Osprey Transporter and Snowkit Organizational Duffels

Osprey TransporterNew in Osprey’s line up this year are the Transporter and Gearkit Duffel Series, with a bomb-proof bunch of options.  I had the chance to test two of them out on a circuitous trip to the Andes last month and I’m stoked on these duffels.  I managed to get my rock climbing kit for two weeks of climbing in New Hampshire and ski gear for a week of heli-skiing in Chile inside two of these bags which both weathered a lot of travel well.

 

I used the Transporter 95 for the brunt of my stuff in a checked bag which seemed to have endless room for everything I needed.  Features I appreciated that make this a go-to bag include:  incredibly durable and highly water-resistant construction, wide grab handles in all the right places, a burly U-zipper and opening flap that is unique and different than most duffels making packing easier and attached shoulder straps that stow out of the way inside the U-flap and are easy to deploy.  Little extras like a window for your business card and flaps to protect the few Fastex buckles from luggage conveyers, mules or whatever your means of schlepping may be are also well designed.  Although this duffel will stow far more than I like to carry on my back, it actually carries well as a backpack which is an added bonus for short hauls.  I chose the Sub Lime color which stood out in airport baggage claims and was a bright and cheery part of my kit.  I received lots of complements on it wherever I went.  MSRP: $160

 

Osprey DuffelThe other bag, which I used for carry-on was Osprey’s new Snowkit Organizational Duffel.  This little beauty is a 45L well thought out bag with creative organizing pockets that are uber practical.  It doubles as a backpack and carries comfortably making it super versatile.  I was skeptical of bells and whistles but everything had a purpose with a clean design and super stealth profile.  I wanted to check the Snowkit out specifically for a ski boot bag, plus some.

 

Now granted, I wear a size 23.5 ski boot which isn’t large, there was ample extra room and they stowed easily (with a lot of socks, transceiver, Delorme device, etc shoved in them).  This boot compartment is accessed on the end with a large burly zipper opening and a sleeve of light material isolating it from the main compartment.  This part of the kit is also ventilated so when you put your steamy boots back in at the end of the day they won’t get everything else wet.  There was plenty of room around the boots to stuff clothing and other to fill up the space for flights.  Amazingly there was ample space left in the main compartment to stow even more.

 

The Snowkit has all the features I like on the Transporter Duffel and then some.  The main flap is heavily padded which makes it comfortable to carry as a backpack and it protects the contents inside.  It has a well padded, scratch proof goggle and sunglasses compartment that easily accommodates both with some room to spare.  The side pocket fits a water bottle which if the zip is left open is easily accessible while boot packing.  There are also webbing straps on the same side stowed in the pocket that you could strap a pair of skis on.  There’s a low profile tuck away helmet carry and a padded side handle that makes it easy to tote around in airports or just huck in the back of a truck.  This is a great duffel and will be my go to boot bag, carry on luggage for many an adventure.  Check out the features on Osprey’s video here. MSRP:  $130

Petzl Sirocco Helmet

petzl sirocco helmetThe Petzl Sirocco Helmet has been updated and is better than ever. It features top, side and rear impact zone protection which makes it the go to helmet for rock, alpine and general mountaineering.

It covers more of your head, has a lower profile than it’s predecessor and weighs 170 grams, which is slightly more than the weight of your smartphone. In fact it’s so light you may forget that you are wearing a helmet at all.

Read more about why this is going to be your new go to helmet for all your mountain adventures.

 

Sterling Rope Helix Review

sterling rope helix review

Sterling Evolution Series – Helix 9.5mm Rope 

When you and your partner are up two pitches on the crux of a multi-pitch climb the last thing you want to worry about is your rope. If you’ve done your homework and selected the right cord for the job it’ll give you the confidence you need to focus on the climb, not the rope. You have to trust it just like you trust your partner belaying you.

When I pick ropes for our multi-pitch climbs at Chicks, I put a lot of thought into it and make sure we have a small quiver to choose from. The top qualities I seek out for a multi-pitch rock climbing rope are durability, lightweight and a good hand (not too stiff or too soft). I prefer bi-color ropes but any rope with a good middle mark will work for descents when only one rope is needed.

Chicks partners with Sterling Rope because we believe they are the best in the industry.  Their R&D process is robust, dedicated to excellence and has produced what I am confident to say are the best ropes you can buy.  In addition to choosing which Sterling ropes we use at Chicks, I test Sterling Ropes as a member of their Team, which I’ve done for many seasons and used most of Sterling’s ropes extensively.  I know first hand, which rope is the best for the job.

In my opinion, the best multi-pitch rope out there is Sterling’s 9.5mm Evolution Helix. The Helix, and it’s smaller sister the 9.2mm Aero both have some unique qualities that set them apart from anything else on the market and make them our go-to ropes for multi-pitch adventures. I’ll break them down into the qualities I mentioned above; durability, light weight and hand.  I’ll also refer back to classifications I laid out in our Tech Tip on How to Choose a Rope

DURABILITY:
No matter what the rock type, friction and sharp edges are factors unless your route is entirely overhanging. The friction of the rope running through carabiners and over rock adds to your drag. Sharp edges are common and present one of the most problematic concerns for climbing ropes. Even in a perfect world of glaciated granite slabs, ropes wear over time with use.  If you’ve ever used a “Skinny Bitch” (referring to 8.9 to 9.2mm ropes discussed in the link above) for repetitive multi-pitch ascents you’ve probably had a core shot or extensive fuzzy bits on the sheath that aren’t very confidence inspiring.  If you’ve used your “Workhorse” for longer routes you’ve experienced strain on your elbows with belaying and the weight on your back from carrying it to and from the route. Although these ropes will both get the job done, they don’t compare to the middle of the road, “All-Around” ropes typically from 9.4 to 9.7mm for multi-pitch use. The “All-Arounder” is going to stand up to more abuse, but still handle like a skinny rope while taking up less space in your pack and wear on your back. This is the Helix at 9.5mm. What makes the Helix stand out when it comes to durability is an incredible 41% sheath to mass ratio. The durability of a rope depends on it’s sheath.  With 41% of the Helix (and Aero) being sheath, this translates to unrivaled abrasion resistance.  If you go with Sterling’s new DryXP treatment, you lower the friction and water resistance even more, further increasing it’s awesomeness.

WEIGHT:
Regardless of how many pitches or how long the approach, we just don’t want to carry more than we have to. Whether on your back or tied in leading a long pitch, a heavy rope is a drag. This is why we usually leave the “Workhorses” on the ground for top roping and take the “All Around” or “Skinny Bitches” up longer climbs. The “All-Around” Helix is our top choice for a rope balanced with lightweight and durability.  Weighing in at 59 grams per meter (g/m), a 60 meter Helix is only 7 lbs. and 12 oz. Thats’ completely reasonable for all it’s other great attributes.

HANDLING:
Sterling has produced a super tight weave with a unique pattern on the Helix that gives this rope a solid hand out of the bag.  “Hand” is a term rope manufacturers refer to for the feel of the rope when coiled, knotted or working a belay. Many ropes when new can be stiff and don’t hold a knot well or they’re soft and feel almost lifeless. On the contrary some ropes are supple out of the bag but when they get dirty tend to stiffen up.  The Helix is instantly easy to work with, holds the knot as you tied it and pays through belay devices like butter.  The tight sheath resists twists, dirt and it plays through carabiners with remarkably low friction. The hand doesn’t change over time, which leaves this rope remarkably consistent and easy to work with.

What’s really quite remarkable about the 9.5 Helix is it’s UIAA rated to withstand one more fall than it’s bigger sister the 9.8 Evolution Velocity (Helix = 7 UIAA Falls as compared to the Velocity’s 6). The Helix’s lighter yet more robust core construction is the difference, also boasting greater water resistance. Also unique to Sterling; you can purchase the Helix and most of their ropes in whatever length suits your adventure… 40, 50, 60, 70 or 80 meters.

PRICE:
This is the last determining factor which some will place first when purchasing a new rope.  Your rope is your lifeline out there in the vertical realm.  My opinion is that price should be the least of your deciding factors, but sometimes that just isn’t practical.

MSRP:  A 60m non-dry Helix will run you $212.95 with the BiColor option bumping that up to $276.85.  Add the new DryXP treatment and a 60m goes for $238.95, with the BiColor DryXP option bumping that up to $309.95

Sterling marks all of their non-BiColor ropes with a durable middle mark, so you can’t go wrong.  Spend the money and focus on the climb, not your rope. Read the many other Helix reviews on the web and decide yourself.  We’re sticking with Sterling Rope.