Earlier this year, my trusty pair of 8mm Half Ropes met their ultimate demise after sustained abuse at Red Rock Canyon. As a matter of fact, many pieces of equipment returned to Australia in noticeably worse shape than they’d left, victims of the ubiquitous desert grit, but nothing fared quite as badly as the ropes.
Those ropes had a stellar career and they were granted an Honourable Discharge, but it was time to move on. I decided that I’d like something a little thicker this time, as I was chasing greater durability. A large portion of my climbing is done on half ropes, and if I can avoid replacing a pair of ropes every year, I will.
I had two choices in the 8.5mm range. I’m quite fond of Beal ropes, but the Opera was going to set me back a cool $330…. each. Holy Mother of God, I whispered, while breaking out into a flop sweat. Much has been made about this rope being the first sub 50g/m single rope, but that feels like a bit of a gimmick to me. If I wanted to buy a single rope that would last about 15 minutes, I’d just go buy a Mammut rope and save myself some money in the process.
The alternative was the Tendon Master. Upon hearing that it retailed at the more reasonable price of $225 per rope, I committed to the purchase as my blood pressure slowly receded.
How would the Tendon ropes stack up? Was this false economy? Only time would tell.
As it turns out, the Master is actually marginally lighter than the Opera at 46g/m. The obvious trade-off here is that the Master cannot be used as a single rope, but that is not the purpose for which I bought them. As half ropes go, I would say this is very much on par.
At 10 UIAA falls, the strength of the Master exceeds many in its category. Roughly speaking, 5-6 falls would be seen as standard. Although there are many other factors which could affect durability, this rating gave me some confidence that the ropes were fit for the purpose for which I had purchased them.
The Master handled well straight off the bat, flowing through my hands like shit through a goose. Both ropes uncoiled very easily and have good feel and flexibility. Like any thin ropes, they have a tendency to become tangled more easily than a fat single, but I found the Master to be much more manageable than my previous set of halves. Whether I can owe this to the extra 0.5mm diameter or to the handling of the Master itself is unclear and I wouldn’t make this assumption without further testing.
Owing to the amount of mileage these ropes are likely to see, this was definitely my primary concern. I’ve already dragged these ropes through hell and back. They’ve covered several hundred metres of rock and no small amount of bushwhacking.
So far, they’ve resisted wear and tear far more admirably than I suspected they might. The sheath is still in fantastic condition with negligible wear or fuzz, and obviously no slippage or core damage to be found either. So far, so good!
I’ve only been able to identify one negative aspect of the Tendon Master, and that is that the rope is manufactured without a middle marker. This can be a real pain in the arse when rigging single rope rappels.
Sure, I could mark my own middle… but I don’t want to. We pay big money for ropes and the least they can do is have a middle mark. Ok… maybe the least they could do is save our life in the event of a fall, but a middle mark might be nice as well. The problem with marking my own is that the blue rope is so dark that it would be difficult to see anyway. A minor concern, but worth noting.
Having never owned a Tendon product before this purchase, I took a punt on a lower priced, lesser known brand. I’m glad that I did, and my wallet is too. I’m pretty chuffed with performance of the Tendon Master 8.5 so far, and as soon as I get the middle marked, I’ll be as happy as a clam.
Ryan Siacci, Esq.