In the fall of 2014, when Kitty Calhoun and I made our gear list for climbing Tangerine Trip, a big-wall aid route on El Cap in Yosemite, it was I who said “I got the lead rope”. I had been climbing with my 9.8mm Evolution Velocity for a summer and it had proven itself with strength, durability, and handling. Just what you need when you’re about to head up the biggest piece of rock there is in the lower 48!
The exposure and commitment on Tangerine Trip are mind blowing as the route overhangs more than 100’ over its length. A solid rope is what connects you to the rock, and the Evolution delivered. The strength of a rope should be unquestionable, and with Sterling’s track record of having manufactured and tested their ropes in the US for decades, the Evolution series is a top of the line choice.
For long routes, a somewhat thick diameter is desirable for durability, and the size of the Evolution Velocity at 9.8 mm fit the bill. Anything smaller than that, and jugging the line after the leader fixed it becomes nerve racking. Peace of mind is priceless when you’re dangling in free space a couple thousand feet off the deck.
Also of great importance is the handling of a rope. People often refer the stiffness of a rope as a benefit for critical clips, but it also plays into how your lifeline runs through a long aid pitch of tensioned gear placements. On our wall climb, the Evolution Velocity excelled. The slippery flat sheath ran smoothly through the gear and the stiffness was perfect for stacking and re-stacking the rope at every of the 18 belay stations.
Climbing a big-wall is a tremendous amount of work and effort. Having good gear, especially a solid rope, makes all the difference. Thanks to the Evolution Velocity, rope management was not a problem for us on the Trip. Oh, and if you’re not convinced yet, take it from Chris Sharma. I hear this is the rope he sends his projects on…