I received a 60-meter Sterling Rope Evolution Helix 9.5 Bicolor this summer in a fuchsia and green color. I have used this rope for about 20 days on the sharp granite mix of Independence Pass, sandstone of the Skillet and limestone of Rifle, for both single- and multipitch climbing and guiding with one client.
This rope is great for more difficult single-pitch guiding or multipitch guiding with one or more clients. It is slated as a durable, skinny rope, which I can confirm from my field testing. The 9.5 mm diameter combines lightweight performance with durability at only 59 g/m with 7 UIAA falls. One of the challenges most guides have is using smaller, more user-friendly ropes, with the need to maintain adequate safety margins with edge-cutting and elongation. I feel a bit more warm and fuzzy with a client doing a difficult traverse with some swing potential on a 9.5 instead of a 9.2 or thinner rope. The Evolution Helix BiColor is very useful for guiding a single client when rappelling, as it has a very clear change in pattern.
The Helix 9.5 pulls through most plaquette devices well, although some of the smaller-slot devices like the Camp Piu 2 or Petzl Reverso 3 were more difficult to pull. The Helix 9.5 is usable with all of the assisted-braking belay devices I tried it with. It fed well and caught well with the device when loaded quickly, belaying both leaders and followers.
With a relatively low impact force of 8.9 kN and dynamic elongation of 31.9 percent, a guide needs to be careful when her clients are close to the ground or ledge. This would make this rope not my first choice for longer pitches with difficult starts.
Overall, I found guiding with the Helix 9.5 very enjoyable. It is good looking, handles well, and inspires confidence when my guests are trying hard at the end of the rope. The 60-meter length is perfect for most guiding applications. It will be a go-to rope in my guide’s quiver.
Diameter: 9.5 mm
UIAA falls: 7
Weight: 59 g/m
Dynamic elongation: 31.9 %
Static elongation: 7.2 %
Impact force: 8.9 kN
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