It was a sad day when I finally decided to retire my much loved Beal Top Gun sports climbing rope. It had served me well for almost five years and to be completely honest, had held far more than its fair share of whippers. It had been dropped in the sea, used to top-rope routes on abrasive gritstone, and served me well on countless redpoint attempts. I was sorry to see it go, but I didn’t have much choice- the sheath was showing in one place and a ten-meter section had gone strangely thin. It was more than time for a new rope.
I intended to buy the latest Sterling redpoint rope or another Beal, somewhere around 9.8mm and at least 60m in length, but somehow I managed to walk out of the shop with a 50m 10mm Mammut Passion. A cheaper rope at the best of times, it happened to be on special at a knockdown price, so I thought, why not? I can always use it indoors and get something better for the good stuff outdoors if it turns out to be a bad rope.
Flaking it out for the first time, the Passion is noticeably stiffer to handle than most Beal, Sterling, or Edelrid ropes. Most Mammut ropes tend to feel firmer and less soft than the equivalents in other brands and the Passion is no different. I wasn’t sure I liked it, and in truth I still don’t, but after a few months of fairly hard use the sheath is holding up well so maybe there is something to be said for Mammut’s construction. There are only a few signs of fluffing or wear, far less than I would have expected from a budget rope. The local sandstone around here has sharp edges.
The stiffness does make it a little harder to push a loop through into a belay device. The rope is only 10mm in diameter so it’s not a problem now, but it might become a problem as the rope ages. The jury is still out on that one.
The Passion has far less stretch than my old Top Gun, which, while it means less comfort on long falls, is probably better for bolted climbs. Less stretch means less chance of hitting a ledge or the ground from an early fall. It would also mean greater stress on gear placements, but most bolts are pretty solid so I’m not too worried about this. When climbing ice or on traditional gear, it’s unlikely that a single 10m rope will be the best choice and it’s more likely I’ll take twin ropes.
The Passion seems to be a decent, tough rope that delivers good value for money (especially if you get lucky and find it on sale). On shorter single pitch bolted routes it does a fine job, and it works well indoors. It would make a good choice for beginner climbers who spend most of their time on plastic or on bolts and well protected, straight up and down trad climbs. Overall, it has exceeded my expectations.
Jess Spate is a travel and outdoor writer currently living and climbing in Wales, UK. She writes for a company that offers Wyndham timeshare for sale; and for a number of UK and American outdoor companies -when not hanging off a cliff face in Pembrokeshire or the Peak District, that is.