Short thin “rando” ropes are incredibly useful for ski mountaineering. I’ve carried a 10mm 60 meter rope a few times while skiing, and it sucks. It’s way easier on the muscles to take a nice light 8mm 30 meter. Out here in the PNW, I find myself taking such cord on a lot of trips, given the profusion of glaciers around here.
My old rando rope didn’t really wear out, but it was a few years old, and the dry-treatment was noticeably less effective. Important when you’re dragging it on a glacier for a few hours. Strength also deteriorates over time. Time for a new cord.
Tendon ropes are relatively new on the scene, at least in North America (they are from the Czech Republic). They make a variety of ropes with some cool features.
Tendon’s 7.8 Master rope is their thinnest and lightest. At 7.8 mm, and 38g/m, it is definitely minimalist. It’s also rated as a twin and half rope, meaning it’s versatile. I’m not sure I understand the physics behind a rope that has both ratings. I thought they were mutually exclusive. Anyone care to enlighten me?
The Master’s packed with more features than I thought a rope could have. In addition to the dual rating, it also has two separate dry treatments. The rope has Teflon embedded in the sheath and the core in order to make it harder for dirt and water to stick to the fibers. Another cool feature is that last few centimeters of the rope are woven in a way that makes the end thinner than the rest of the rope.
Beyond all the fancy stuff, still, what I like about the Master is it’s light weight and small size. The fact is, the lighter something is, the more likely I’m going to carry it if I’m trying to decide how light I want to go. Of course, no matter how your rope starts out, if it gets soaked it’s going to weigh a ton. From a limited amount of testing, the Tendon dry treatments seem to work well. Another thing I’m excited about is their marking system, a color-coded strand in the end of the rope that indicates what year it was made. My old rando rope was a hand me down from my Dad, and I never really knew how old it was, and I can’t even remember the year I bought my climbing rope. It will be nice five years from now to know weather I can eek one more year out of my rope or not.
Only gripe I have with the Tendon Master rope I’m using is there’s no middle mark. It’s a time saver to not have to flake a rope to find the middle, whether for rappelling, or tying in during glacier travel. I’ve never seen a 30 meter rope with a middle mark, and my old rando rope didn’t have one. Tendon ostensibly will be making a 30 meter rope with bi-pattern so you can find the middle, but we’ve not seen that model yet.
Of course, various tried-and-trued methods exist for making your own middle mark. The way I did it is to wrap some thread around the sheath, and pass it through a few times with the blunt end of a needle. I’m confident this doesn’t reduce the strength of the rope at all, and it holds up well. A bonus is you can feel it go through your hands, if you have to flake it headlamp-less. The same method used on my climbing rope has held up for over a year, and that rope gets a lot more use than my rando rope ever should.
Not many companies make thin ropes in a 30 meter length, and if your in the market for one, I’d recommend Tendon. Here’s to hoping I never have to “really” test it.
Shop for it? We’re not sure where these guys are available, but suspect we’ll be enlightened soon enough.
Louie Dawson earned his Bachelor Degree in Industrial Design from Western Washington University in 2014. When he’s not skiing Mount Baker or somewhere equally as snowy, he’s thinking about new products to make ski mountaineering more fun and safe.