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Climbing Ropes

Mammut Tusk 9.8

I like many things to be kinky, but my climbing rope isn’t one of them.

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I like many things to be kinky, but my climbing rope isn’t one of them. The twists, twirls, snags and snafus of a kinky cord are maddening skeins in my ability to give a good belay and not hose my partner when he or she calls for slack.

The Mammut rope factory in Switzerland has invested in a new rope-packaging machine that coils ropes in a butterfly coil, so that climbers need not bother to undo the dreaded—and until now, standard—“manufacturer’s coil.” This new technology may seem like a conciliatory and perhaps superfluous gesture, but in fact it appears to have solved a long-standing problem with most ropes, and one of my biggest gripes (and arguably a safety issue): the kink factor. I’ve seen belayers lose control of ropes while lowering their partners when errant kinks cause their brake hands’ grip to fumble.

We’re supposed to flake the manufacturer’s coil “in a hand-over-hand motion”—a vague instruction at best. For example, I’ve uncoiled some cords in this manner that have been fine and kink-free. Other times, my ropes have remained stubbornly frozen in a state of kinkiness—and in these instances, I’ve never been clear whether I had done something wrong, or the manufacturer had simply produced a bad cord.

I received a 70-meter Mammut Tusk (9.8 mm) in the mail one sunny afternoon, and was so excited that I started humping the box before the eyes of my disgusted co-workers; then I cradled the rope in one arm like a football, and moonwalked out the door, hopped in my car, and got myself to the nearest crag to try my new baby out.

I opened the package, threw the rope down on a tarp, and flaked it out of habit. As I relished the waxy texture of a brand new rope gliding through my hands, I was pleasantly surprised to encounter not a single kink—a welcome attribute that hasn’t changed to this day, months later. In fact, I can safely say that this is the least kinky cord I’ve used.

The Tusk has been a consistent and steady performer. Its 9.8 mm diameter is about as thin as I’m comfortable with for all of my falling and hang-dogging. The rope’s medium rigidity makes it just average at clipping to carabiners; yet also seems to yield a fluffy-soft catch.

  • Lap Coiling rope-packaging machine means no factory kinks in cord.
  • SuperDry treatment: A coating to both sheath and core, this gives a smooth feed and added protection. A bit slippery at first.
  • Comes in two colors: yellow and lime green. The yellow one, which I tested, seems to pick up a lot of dirt and now looks black.
  • 9.8 mm. A good combination of lightness (63 g/m) and durability (6-7 UIAA falls). The speed that the sheath has frayed from normal wear has been just average.
  • Recommended uses: sport climbing, trad climbing, alpine rock climbing.

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