Edelrid is celebrating 150 years of producing climbing gear this year. Since 1863, the German company has been producing innovative products like the first kernmantle rope in 1953, a product that revolutionized climbing. Eleven years later, improvements to their own technology produced a dynamic rope capable of withstanding multiple leader falls, a crucial step in the progression of difficult climbing. In the 70's they produced the first commercially available stitched quickdraw and developed twin rope techniques that are still used today. In keeping with the tradition of one and a half centuries of progressing the sport, Edelrid has launched some really interesting and innovative products in 2013. You'll find a few of them below but you can check out their website for more info on the history of the company or to see their full line up of products.
Anniversary Rope and Caddy 'Lite' Rope Bag
In celebration of 150 years of rope-making experience, Edelrid is offering the Anniversary Rope in combination with a fully-functioning rope bag. The Anniversary Rope is a 9.7 mm diameter, bi-pattern, dry-treated cord that finds the middle ground between heavy-weight ropes and ultra-light single lines.
I've been using this rope for about a month and have put it through an inordinate amount of abuse during that time. In addition to the standard wear received from sport and trad climbing, and the standard lead falls associated, I've also been jugging on it and rapping over plenty of edges to see if the sheath can take a beating. So far, I'm giving this rope an A rating, surprisingly for the fact that it's completely average.
There are so many extremes in the world of ropes. Ideally, for a day out at the crag, I'd have a 9.8 mm rope for dogging my project or trad climbing, a 9.1 mm rope for ultra-mega #extreme redpoint ascents, and a static line for rapping and jugging a potential new route or snapping some photos of my bros getting radical. But unless you're climbing next to your car in Rifle, you're going to end up at the crag with just one rope.
The Anniversary Rope stands out for its all-around ability and while it doesn't excel or standout in any one aspect, it's acceptable at all. The hand is supple but not flimsy, making knot-tying and rope management a breeze without being so soft that knots get welded after a fall. The diameter and weight are middle of the road, offering lightweight and easy clips while still maintaining the durability of something a little beefier. For the 9.7mm diameter, the durability is above average. I've noticed a minimal amount of sheath wear despite the abuse. The impact force and elongation are average which makes for soft catches without feeling like you're climbing on a rubber band.
Being able to find the middle of the rope is helpful so I've really enjoyed having a bi-pattern rope. Improvement could come in making the pattern transition easier to find. The change at the middle mark is very subtle and hard to see. When the two sides are stacked next to each other, it's very visible, but when it's sliding through your hand it's pretty tough to catch on the fly.
My impression is that the Anniversary Rope is a suitable celebration of 150 years of rope-making experience. I would definitely recommend it to others and l look forward to enjoying the remaining life span of this cord. When I throw it in my pack before climbing I never have to worry about what I'll be getting into. This rope does it all.
Caddy Rope Bag
I've been dreaming of a rope bag like the Caddy for years. This is a truly innovative product that breaks away from the standard 'roll-it-up/tuck-it-in/cinch-it-down' style rope bag that most other manufacturers adhere to. It's far and away the best rope bag design I've ever used and the real kicker is that it comes free with the Anniversary rope.
Before I get into how awesome this rope bag is, it has to be clarified that there are two versions of the Caddy rope bag. There's the Caddy, which is the one you'd get if you were to order/buy the bag by itself (shown above), and there's the Caddy 'Lite', which is the version that comes free with the Anniversary Rope. The 'Lite' version is the version we received for testing as it came with the Anniversary Rope, but I've also had the opportunity to use the regular Caddy and can address the differences.
The design of the bag is simple but ingenious. It's a large, square tarp with a recessed rope bucket in the middle. In the bottom of the recess is a loop to tie the bottom end of your rope to. Then you can stack the rope out on the tarp and tie the top end to any of the big loops in the four corners. Simply grab the four corners, pick them up and the rope drops into the bucket. Smash the tarp in on top, cinch the surrounding cord, and secure it with a single strap and buckle.
The bag has a single shoulder strap for carrying the bag independently over to the next route where you can drop the bag, open it up, spread the tarp, tie in and go. The rope feeds out of the bucket flawlessly since it's already stacked inside.
The design receives a solid A++ and, again, is the best rope bag system I've ever used. Since the 'lite' version comes free with the rope, it's hard to complain but I will note that the use of lighter weight materials have an effect on the durability. Sadly, I've already noticed some small rips in the parachute thickness nylon used in a small portion of the 'lite' version. These rips occurred during some above average abuse when using the rope and bag as a makeshift crash pad beneath the bouldery start of a difficult trad route to even out a rocky landing. A few ground falls onto the rope bag caused the damage but I imagine you'd get more life out of this material if it was treated with more care.
Another difference in the 'lite' version is that it has a simple webbing shoulder strap instead of the thicker and more comfortable one that comes on the regular version. They also used a plastic buckle instead of the metal one that comes on the regular version.
Both versions of the Caddy rope bag are great, but the standard version will last a lot longer. The design makes it especially easy to use and the Edelrid team put a lot of attention into the details like adding large finger loops on the pull straps and ample tie-in points for the rope.
The Orion Harness is described by Edelrid as "a very comfortable all-round harness with 3D-Vent Technology and adjustable leg loops." As I'm mostly a sport climber drawn to minimalist designs and light weight, this was the most plush and beefy harness I'd tried on in years. As advertised, the harness is extremely comfortable with wide, semi-stiff leg loops and waist belt. Both utilize 3D-Vent technology that allows air to pass through holes in the belt and leg loops while still offering the stiffness essential for support and comfort.
The four gear loops are positioned perfectly and offer a flat bottom and stiff shape for racking gear and draws without everything sinking to the low point of floppier materials. It also has two attachment points for ice screw clips (sold separately). The triple-thickness, bar-tacked belay loop is very durable and the lower tie in point is protected from wear by a plastic piece that will greatly extend the life of the belay loop and the tie in point.
The waist belt is securely fastened with a slide block "speed buckle" for ease of entry and no possibility of forgetting to double back the old-style buckles commonly found on other harnesses. There are also slide block buckles on the leg loops that make it easy to pull on over crampons, easy adjustment over layered clothing...or adjusting for weight fluctuations.
In use, the benefits were striking. I could hang comfortably for hours in this harness, whether it's on a multi-pitch route, bolting a line with a ton of heavy equipment hanging off of it, or taking pictures and video. I especially enjoyed trad climbing in this harness since the stiff waist belt evenly distributed the weight of my rack.
The comfort does come at a sacrifice however. The Orion does not pack up into a small package when cramming it into a pack. The weight and bulk were slightly noticeable when committing to extreme high-steps or stemming into awkward corners. I would not recommend this harness to dedicated sport climbers but for anyone planning to spend some time hanging around, it comes highly recommended.
HMS Strike Slider Carabiner
At a weight of 62 grams, the HMS Strike Slider is one of the lightest locking HMS carabiners on the market. Due to the innovative Strike Slider locking mechanism, it's also likely the most low profile, as well as one of the easiest opening lockers I've seen. It boasts a keylock design for snag-free clipping or unclipping from belay loops or master points at belays.
The locking mechanism is extremely easy to use. Simply pull the tab toward the narrower side of the 'biner while pressing on the gate and the slider disengages from the nose. After just a moment of playing with the easy opening, I began to question the design of the 'biner. There's a fine balance to strike between a locker that is bombproof but a pain in the ass to get open, and one that opens too easily. Ideally, you want a locker that stays closed when you want it to, yet is simple to open when the time is right. What you don't want is a locker that can open when you don't want it to.
So, playing the devil's advocate, I quickly devised a plan for tricking the Strike Slider into opening when it wasn't supposed to and tested it out. It was pretty simple to create a situation where the rope passes over the gate, engages the tab, and opens the gate of the carabiner. Granted, it would take a fairly unlikely scenario for a rope to come unclipped from the locked carabiner but I think it's essential to understand the limits of your gear before you use it. Knowing what 'might' go wrong is the best way to prevent it from happening.
It would be extremely unlikely for a rope to pass over the gate if it was used as a belay 'biner with a grigri or even with a tube-style belay device. Less likely would be a situation where the locker was used as a master point in a toprope setup. One situation in which I would recommend extra caution would be if this 'biner was used for a top belay with a Munter hitch. It seems possible that a carelessly attended brake strand could engage the gate and come unclipped.
Overall, the HMS Slide Locker is an excellent carabiner. It's an innovative design that provides an easy opening gate on a fully locking carabiner. The ease of opening has plenty of benefits, like speeding up your time spent building belays instead of constantly fiddling with traditional barrel-lock carabiners. The low profile gate is a bonus too. You could seamlessly stack two of these in opposition for a bombproof toprope master point, for example. Being able to open it one-handed is a plus as well. You might choose to clip one of these to your last piece of bomber gear before the big runout on your E11 headpoint project. But the ease of opening does sacrifice a bit of security for the extremely safety conscious. In any situation where ropes are twisting or carabiners are shifting, I might reach for a more traditional locker that is a bit harder to open the gate.
Mega Jul Belay Device
Another innovative product for 2013 is the Mega Jul Belay Device. My first impression was that it was so small that they must have accidently sent me the Micro Jul which is the same device designed for smaller diameter ropes. It's an extremely small, simple, and lightweight device that can do a lot more than a traditional tube-style belay device like an ATC.
They kept the size small by using stainless steel for the body of the device instead of aluminum. This will also extend the life span of the device. It can be used with either single or double ropes from 7.8mm to 10.5 mm.
In its standard belay mode (belaying the leader from the ground) the device works much like a traditional tube-style device except with the addition of a thumb loop that helps with smooth feeding of slack. It also acts as a 'lock-assist' device when belaying. Much like a Grigri, in the event of a leader fall, the device will lock on its own though it's essential to use standard belay practices and never take your brake hand off the rope.
For top belays, it's possible to belay one or two climbers directly off the anchor in auto-block mode. An auto-block release eyelet accepts a narrow-nosed carabiner that acts as a handle to lever the device and lower the climber.
In rappel mode, the device can be used in two orientations. One orientation allows for a regular rappel descent while turning the device around so the thumb loop is facing away from you, allows for rappelling in 'locked mode.' In locked mode, the device acts as its own backup. If you were to take your brake hand off (not recommended), the device is locked and you won't fall to your death. A carabiner through the eyelet acts as a handle for levering the device and controlling the speed of your descent.
The descriptions of what this device is capable of are in no way intended to be instructional. This is a very simple design and device that with proper instruction and knowledge can do some amazing things. Because it can be used in so many different orientations with different results, this is not the simplest device for a new climber which may be its biggest drawback. For experienced and knowledgeable climbers this device opens up worlds of opportunity and flexibility in a very small, lightweight package.
Nineteen G Carabiner
The name says it all: Nineteen G's...as in grams. That's right, this full strength carabiner weighs just 19 grams which is about half the weight of "normal" carabiners like a Petzl Spirit or Black Diamond Hotwire. Edelrid is boasting that it's currently the lightest full strength carabiner on the market!
Of course, the tiny size makes them impractical for use in everyday sport climbing situations but that's not what they were designed for. You can carry twice as many for the same size and weight of traditional carabiners. Going for an easy fifth class jaunt in the Sierras or the Tetons? Throw a handful of these in a bullet pack and blitz to the summit and back. They take up half the space and weigh half as much so you could take 30 instead of 15. Since I'm not going mountain climbing any time soon, I used these to rack my cams individually and the difference was notable. Not only is the whole setup lighter by a lot but they are so narrow that it seemed to open up plenty of room for fiddling through gear on my gear loop.
For such a tiny size they are pretty easy to clip as well. With a little practice, I was slinging the rope into them with not much more effort than a regular sized 'biner. Sometimes going light is more important than easy handling and you can't get lighter than 19 G's.