Updated – See end of post.
At the beginning of December last year (2011) the point at which I could no longer eek out any more climbing from my Mammut 30m indoor rope finally arrived. It was frayed and spongy in places and it had already been cut to keep it alive and usable. Still it had served me well for a full year of indoor climbing with the majority of that year spent lead climbing on average twice a week for 3-4 hours per night. In that time the rope took some nice falls on it, however that’s what an indoor rope is for, training. as a side note remember your projects at the indoor wall shouldn’t be what you strive for but merely the method by which you push your grade and potential experiences of climbing on real rock.
Still having said that most climbers spend the majority of their time training on an indoor wall. And when you spend a lot of time training indoors for your real rock projects you don’t want to be doing it on your lovely expensive 60m or 70m dry treated rope. Besides the point of it being ridiculous that you would trash such a rope indoors there is the issue of pumping yourself out by having to haul 70 meters of rope back and forth between every lead! Also the people waiting to get on that route may not appreciate you taking so long on it either :)
If one doesn’t want to use their ‘good’ climbing rope then you need to get a workhorse rope. What myself and fellow climbers think of as a workhorse rope I’d say is one that measures 30m so you don’t have to pull unneeded rope through, can take a good number of falls, doesn’t have any fancy dry treatment etc that isn’t needed and finally is relatively cheap. That’s what my Mummut rope was for the past year and that’s what was in my mind as I started searching for my next workhorse rope.
Now when I’m choosing an outdoor rope I tend to be pretty conservative and pick up one from a manufacturer that loads of my climbing mates recommend or to choose one that has a stellar reputation in the sport. However when it comes to indoor ropes I’m far more willing to test out manufacturers that I’ve had no experience with as long as people aren’t slamming it all over the place.
Essentially this was my thinking when I came across the TENDON smart 10mm. It had a few good comments floating around about it and despite it having some external treatments it came in at a quite respectable price. The only thought I had was that I had no experience of TENDON ropes and not one of my climbing partners had ever had one. Despite this I bought it, as I said it’s a good chance to see what a manufacturers ropes are like.
I’m starting to think that I made a mistake :(
When it first arrived I thought it was an excellent choice and my image of TENDON trended on the up. It ran really smooth when belaying and had a really clear half way mark which is useful when your coiling it at the end of the night. The only bad mark I could put against it was that where the half way mark was the rope was quite stiff but that’s nothing major and I thought it might just need a bit of time to loosen up a bit.
Well I’ve had the rope from the start of December 2011 until today, which is currently the 12th of February. In this time I haven’t even used the rope as much as I had my old Mammut rope. I have been leading with it once or twice a week. Included in this time however was Christmas when I travelled home and had no climbing for about two weeks. On reflection I’d say I averaged once a week.
How’s the TENDON holding up then? Not good. The sheath is fuzzing up in places already and far more importantly for me places in the rope have become quite spongy. A friend suggested It could be a splice point but it’s unlikely if it’s happening in more than one place. To be completely honest I shocked at how much it has deteriorated in the time span with the level of climbing it’s seen. I mean I’ve taken it quite easy considering it’s supposed to be a workhorse rope.
In case you can’t picture what I mean. Maybe you’ve been very lucky with your ropes, here’s an image of what I mean. See how the right hand side bit of pinched rope is far more closed compared to what it should be one the left. There are bits of the rope that spongy at various points.
I thought I’d put up a post to try and help any other climbers considering a TENDON rope. Let me stress I only have experience of this one TENDON rope and you may have a different experience from me.
Let me say this however, when I come to having to upgrade my 70m beal outdoor rope It isn’t very likely that I will replace it with a comparable TENDON rope… unless they give it to me for free, and even then maybe not.
I have put a message into TENDON to ask them if this is normal for their ropes and I’ll update this post with their response when they come back to me.
Happy and safe climbing everyone.
After putting the evidence to TENDON they insisted I must send the rope back to them to test at my own cost and they were pretty blasé about the whole thing. Now I could have sent it back and waited god knows how long but I chose to call it quits and buy a rope from a company I had dealt with before and respect, Mammut. Obviously this was my personal choice and I can’t say that if i had sent it back that TENDON wouldn’t have replaced the rope, I just wasn’t going to waste more money on it! Also dealing with the company over this issue hasn’t really filled me with confidence that they are good when it comes to customer service.
Darren in the comments below makes a good point! You will always hear more bad reviews of something than good so take this post with that in mind. However personally I have never had that happen on any of my other ropes in the 5 years I’ve been climbing and so I will still be steering clear of TENDON.
If you do have experience of TENDON – good or bad – let us all know in the comments and maybe we can build up a more complete picture.