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Sterling Nitro 9.8mm Climbing Rope Review


$199 60m standard; $225 dry 4 stars

“This is a really thin rope,” my friend warned me as he shoed up. “So hang onto it hard if I fall.”

What occurred to me in that moment was: I don’t want to have to tell my belayers to hold on. I don’t even want to think about that when I should be thinking about moves.

I have never felt terribly compelled to use skinny ropes. A hoi-polloi weekender, I figure I fall off for other, more basic reasons than my rope not being quite light enough.

But lately I have found a reassuring compromise. The Nitro is part of Sterling’s Fusion series, a line intended for a hard and painstaking climber, unwilling to carry any extra rope weight. But at 9.8mm (impact force: 9.0 kN; Static Elongation: 10%) the Nitro is considered the workhorse of the line, millimeters wider than the super skinnies.

Beyond that, what makes it good is that same solidarity. The rope is not too soft, not too stiff; clips easily, and runs smoothly over rock and through carabiners. The sheath, re-engineered for a higher denier count than ropes in the Evolution series, but lower than in the truck Marathons, allows for a thin rope that is also durable. After using the rope for five months, I see only one snag, near the end. The rope provides a nice soft catch.

I do wish it had a center mark, though, for further peace of mind. As of press time Sterling said it was working on that addition.

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