Petzl Arial 9.5mm | $230 (60m) $260 (70m) | petzl.com
My first fall on Petzl's new rope, and what I now consider the aptly named Arial, was looooong. I had tied in to the supple cord for a burn on my project and in the thick of the upper, runout business, I wilted and went flying … and flying. After finally coming to a stop, I met eyes with my belayer. "Well, now I'm halfway down the route," I said slightly aggravated. "Just lower me."
After my annoyance faded, however, I realized I hadn't felt the slightest jolt. The fall was thrilling, but the impact was very soft and dynamic.
As I continued to test the Arial, I grew accustomed to the bungee-like catch. I also fell in love with the rope's remarkable handling. Compared to Petzl's older ropes such as the discontinued Fuse with its stiff, cable-like hand, the Arial was soft and flowed through my GriGri like a garden snake slithering through a knothole.
I was slightly startled by how fast the rope zipped through a GriGri 2 when I was lowering the leader. This was probably due in part to the rope's Duratec dry treatment, which created a slick sheen on the new sheath. After a few weeks of climbing, however, the Arial provided a nice, controlled lower.
Perhaps the biggest downside to this excellent rope is its price. At $230 for the 60-meter, the Arial is one of the more expensive climbing ropes. But if there were ever a piece of gear to splurge on, I'd say the Petzl Arial is a worthy addition to your sport-climbing quiver.
About the Rating: I gave the Arial 9.5 mm rope four stars because the rope is one of the best sport climbing cords I’ve used. The diameter fit squarely in the Goldilocks realm—not too fat, not too skinny. Plus, handling the rope is a treat. From the factory coil, the Arial is slinky and soft. The only downside is the cost.
Weight: 58 grams per meter
Impact Force: 8.8 kN
Dynamic Elongation: 32 percent
Static Elongation: 7.6 percent