What’s the life of a TENDON smart rope… not very long apparently

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 rope 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.

 Quick update.

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.

11 thoughts on “What’s the life of a TENDON smart rope… not very long apparently

  • Hi. Sadly I must totally agree with you about tendon ropes. I bought a 9.8mm tendon ambition a couple of weeks ago and already I’ve had to cut 3m from one end, and the other end is almost stuffed as well! This is only after the grand total of 3 outdoor sessions!! On my first session last monday I took a total of 7 short falls whilst projecting my new route (falling 1.5 m with 7 m of rope out and a dynamic belay given.) When I lowered to rest and wap ends of the rope I noticed a very limp section where it EASILY folded dead in half without an eye whatsoever! Very annoyed! On my second outing I took 3 practice falls on the undamaged end whilst warming up (1.2 m with 7.5 m of rope out and a dynamic belay given) and sure enough, where the rope was loaded over the draw its now buggered also!! Flat with no eye when folded! My third day (with my now 54m rope!!!) was only replacement short with no falls taken. I’m extremely annoyed with what seems to be s#!t quality and I highly doubt I’ll ever use another tendon rope unless they sort the problem and send me a new, improved replacement for FREE to replace the piece of garbage I currently own!!!

    • Hey Ben,

      Sorry to hear you had a similar experience but it’s also good to actually hear a similar report in so much that it confirms my suspicions! TENDON just aren’t up to the standard of other manufacturers.

      I still have to package my rope up and send it back to the retailer to send onto TENDON for analysis, I’ve been super busy so haven’t had a chance to do it. Sense I wrote this post I haven’t climbed on the rope, I don’t trust it, I don’t want it getting any worse and TENDON saying it’s had too many falls and all that c**p.

      Hopefully you get that free replacement. I think it’s the only decent thing this company can do when it’s ropes seem to be so sub par.

      Thanks for your comment, hopefully it helps anyone else thinking about TENDON.


  • hi guys

    I’m the proud and happy owner of a 30m Tendon Smart “workhorse” rope for gym bashing. I’ve had it for about 2 years now and its had plenty of use & falls, getting what I consider to be proper climbing gym treatment. It still runs smoothly, feels great and no issues what so ever with sponginess or the sheath.

    Actually about to buy another one for a mate for a joke wedding present – climbing rope that doubles as a leash!

    Sorry to hear you’ve had problems with them, but I’m a big fan of the Smart rope for indoors.


  • Hey Ben and Richard,
    Thanks for this post! I googled the ropes for some reviews… I just saw some Tendon ropes on the clymb for a good price but it seems as if it is not worth it. Does not seem worth it! Hope you guys have resolved issues with Tendon.

    Best Regards,

  • Hi guys
    I’m sorry to hear you have such bad experiences with tendon. I have mine 10mm smart for 3 years now (i think it was a 2009-2010 production), and after repeated short-medium falls (pretty sure over a 100 now, ff ~0.2-0.5, not a single hard fall), while using the rope only indoors (and one 2day rock trip), 2-3 times a week i can say it is visibly beat up, stiffing up a bit and kinking a lot, it is however still usable. I’ve inspected it just now and apart from medium sheath degradation (friction) and stiffing in the middle section caused by sheath slippage (started happening about 2 months ago) i failed to find “spondgy” areas, and the core seems to be intact. I still trust it and use it on the gym.
    I bought mine in Poland, perhaps the drop in quality might be caused by improped shipping/storage? Where did You buy yours?

  • A friend of mine had sheet and core separation on a mammut 10, went to the shop, got a replacement (same), happened to the New one too, replaced it, and for some reason the third rope works nicely.?!!

  • Bizzaar, I have a 40m tendon 10mm smart rope, 2 years its been going strong, bar some fraying on the sheath. I just got a 60m the other day, outer sheath seems a little stiffer but otherwise its a lovely rope to handle, it is a concern that perhaps the manufacturing of them might not be consistant though, but if you are thinking of buying , keep in mind that generally people are more likely to be negative when commenting, you’ll probably find dozens of happy peeps to every bad experience, the real question is how good are tendon at sorting out problem ropes…..

  • I have a Tendon Master 10.5, 30m rope that I have been using in the gym for the last 5 years, climbing 3-4 hours twice a week. This was never a standout rope: it’s rather too thick for sport climbing and pretty stiff to the touch, although I can’t complain about its dynamic properties, having taken multiple falls while leading. But the amazing thing is how it has held up. After so much heavy use there is hardly any wear! The core feels solid throughout, there is no ovalling, the sheath hasn’t detached, and there is only a little fraying.

    I’ve been thinking of replacing my gym rope not because of any noticeable wear, but because it’s just been in use for way too long. So my first thought was of getting another Tendon. A store here doesn’t have a Master, but has a Smart, so that’s how I found this review. Now I’m in doubt…

    • Hi Dmitry,

      Bear in mind that my experience was only of one rope, judging by that ropes performance I wouldn’t get another one. However it’s more than just the rope that put me off Tendon. Their response and unwillingness to accept that their rope could be dodgy was completely unacceptable to me when I raised the problem with them. Certainly some people have commented and said they haven’t had a problem so you may be lucky and get a ‘good’ one. Just bear in mind if you get a ‘bad’ one then don’t count on Tendon to do much about it!

      Good to hear your experience.


  • Hi Rich,

    Im glad I found your review. Im in the midst of getting my 1st rope for sport climbing and 9.8 Tendon Ambition is on my list along with Beal Diablo Unicore 10.2. I dint know the rope has a bad rep considering its endorse by Ondra. Not sure if they have made improvement since, but I guess it safe to take a precaution and scratch that off my list.

    Now this would be off topic, but I hope you could give your take on this. I would like to get my 1st rope. Its gonna be my workhorse rope I guess, for both indoor and outdoor climbing. Currently Im having a hard time choosing a dry treated or just the ‘classic’. I would like to know how does a dry treated (semi or full) fare against a ‘classic’ rope in term of performance and durability for sport climbing. My concern is for outdoor usage, as it there could be wet condition sometimes at the crag. My fellow climbers advised me to get at least a semi dry treated rope as it can give protection against dust and dirt which would conserve the life of the rope. Whats your take on that? Can a classic rope take the beat from the dirts, soil, and humid/wet? Thanks in advance.

    • Thanks for comment Fadhlie. Tendon may very well have improved their ropes (and their customer service) though unfortunately for me they are permanently scratched off my list.

      With regards to the question of dry treated or not for a workhorse rope. Honestly my view is pretty practical on these matters. Can you afford a dry treated rope? If so then yes I’d highly recommend getting one as when one is outside one can never tell what the weather will do. Plus you never want to be in the position of worry too much about where your rope is outside as that can distract from your climbing/belaying. However if you don’t have the money to get a dry treated rope then the world will not collapse!!

      Simply get the best rope you can for your budget and go climb and have fun on it. That’s why we climb isn’t it, fun and the occasional fear of hitting the ground hard :)

      Hope you get at least a few years of enjoyment from whatever rope you do end up choosing!

      Many thanks,


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