Chicks Gear Review: Sterling’s Chain Reactor

Personal Anchor Systems (PAS) replaced Daisy Chains years ago as superior solutions for anchoring yourself while cleaning anchors at the top of sport routes, setting up TR’s, rappelling, canyoneering, partner rescue and transitioning from up to down on multi-pitch climbs. Sterling’s Chain Reactor is the superior product on the market for a number reasons.

Sterling Rope Chain Reactor
The Chain Reactor and Chain Reactor Pro are rated to 12.7 and 14KN respectively. Each loop is full strength and can hold more of an impact than your body could actually withstand. Because it’s constructed of entirely of nylon as opposed to Dyneema, it has dynamic properties that enable it to handle up to 3 factor 2 falls which although highly unlikely, increases my confidence when using it as a sole attachment point.

When used as a rappel extension, both models have attachment points that help prevent a carabiner from rotating and cross loading. These attachments are also the perfect distance from the harness, enabling you to use your gear loop as opposed to your leg loop for a third hand friction hitch back-up.

The Pro version attachment to the harness is doubled, which for heavy use is the the best choice. The classic Chain Reactor is lighter, which for multi-pitch routes is my go to. Sterling Rope products are all made in the U.S.A. and individually hand checked to maintain Sterling’s high quality. The company is founded and run by a woman who has put together an incredible team to produce and insure that all of their products meet international ISO and EN standards.

Sterling is also a long time supporter of women’s climbing and Chicks’ Official Rope Sponsor.

Chicks Tech Tip: Building Climbing Anchors

You’re on the sharp end and you’ve finally reached the top – now it’s anchor time! You scroll through the running list of climbing anchors options you’ve got memorized for what type of anchor is going to work in this scenario.  Do you have your Sterling cordelette?  Consider the quad anchor!  Angela Hawse shows us how to apply this system in a variety of settings.

climbing anchors

Chicks Gear Review: Sterling Evolution Velocity


Karen Bockel lovin' the juggin' on Tangerine Trip, El Cap.

Karen Bockel lovin’ the juggin’ on Tangerine Trip, El Cap.

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…


Chicks Tech Tip: How to Coil Like a Pro!

Chicks co-owner and guide, Angela Hawse, shows us the in’s and out’s of the perfect, well-balanced coil with one of her favorite Sterling Ropes!


Chicks Gear Review: Sterling Hollowblock

Written by: Elaina Arenz, Chicks co-owner & guide

sterling hollowblockAs a full time Certified Rock Guide there are a few pieces of gear on my harness that I can’t imagine living without. At the top of the list is the Sterling Hollowblock, it’s like the swiss army knife, the one tool that does it all. What is this magical piece of gear? It’s a pre-sewn prussic cord that I use for backing up my rappel and lowers, ascending the rope and performing load transfers.

What makes this piece of gear so special you ask? The features and benefits are many, giving it a decisive edge over prussics you can make yourself with 6mm cordage.

-Flat woven construction doesn’t get twisted up like cordage does. This proprietary weaving pattern makes it faster to tie up than cordage does because you’ll spend less time dressing the friction hitch. This thing practically dresses itself when you twist up an Autoblock, Klimheist or Prussic wrap.

-It’s made out of Aramid fibers, which is the same stuff that Kevlar bulletproof vests are made out of. It’s heat resistant up to 900 degrees so it can easily withstand the heat of any friction hitch you throw it’s way. Again cordage falls short in this department. Aramid fibers allow it to slide easily without seizing up and it even works great on icy ropes.

sterling hollowblock-Excellent gripping power on climbing ropes no matter the diameter, but performs especially well on 7mm and bigger. A recent test by the ACMG (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides) showed that the Hollowblock used in a 3 wrap prussic held up to 4.3kn. When it did finally fail (slipped on the rope) the only damage observed was glazing on the rope it was attached to.

-The Hollowblock is available in two lengths, 13.5 and 19 inches, the width is 6.8mm and the retail price starts at around $12.00. So it costs a little bit more than cordage you can purchase by the foot, but the benefits far exceed the cost. I prefer the shorter of the two, because it’s long enough to get 3-4 wraps out of it, but short enough that it won’t creep up too close to my rappel device.

The bottom line is that this baby is burly, durable and has no “break-in time” like cordage. It’s soft and supple enough to do the job from day 1 to 100. I simply don’t leave the ground without this piece of equipment on my harness, and many guides I work with feel the same way.