MSRP: $265.95 (70m)
I spent most of late summer hiking long days in the mountains to access seldom-visited peaks in the Sierra. With climbing gear and a weeks’ worth of food, the last thing I needed was a bulky rope adding extra weight on my back. Enter the Sterling Fusion Nano IX. This is a game-changer for those looking for a high-performance and reliable rope for climbing in the alpine or sending their latest proj. At a diameter of 9mm, it can be used as a large-diameter half-rope or as a skinny single rope. It is sleek, handles well, and weighs a mere 52 g/m.
Durability is often a key concern when using a smaller-diameter line, as there is greater risk for the rope to be damaged by sharp edges or falling debris. I was pleasantly surprised with how well the Fusion Nano IX held up to months of abuse while I was climbing granite faces in the Sierra Nevada or rappelling walls in Yosemite Valley. While establishing a route in the Sierra, my partner dislodged a basketball-sized block, which smashed into the rope 15 feet below him. I watched the rock fall into space, bouncing its way against the wall until one final boost landed it with a thump in the snow. Visions of a core-shot rope swirled in my mind. I followed the pitch carefully, certain that if I fell the rope would sever and I would meet the same demise. At the belay, we searched for any sign of the rock’s impact on the rope. A little scuff? Fuzz? Nothing. That rope is tough. Although skinnier ropes tend to wear quicker than their larger counterparts, the Fusion Nano IX still handles and looks almost as good as it did when I took it out of the box two months ago. There is minimal fuzziness on the sheath and little change in the stiffness.
The rope also features a DryXP certification–Sterling is the first US rope manufacturer to exceed the UIAA certification standard of less than 5 percent water absorption. The process involves a DryCore treatment and a DeltaDry treatment, with the latter involving a “nano-particle coating.” Sterling intends to have all its dry ropes certified with the DryXP label by January 2018.
When a rope gets wet, not only does it weigh more, it affects the stretch and recoil properties, and ultimately the longevity of the rope, so this improvement in the dry treatment is a good thing. When I took the Fusion Nano IX on snow and ice this fall, it performed well and didn’t absorb any water. It didn’t ice up or feed differently through my belay device.
The only small issue I had with the rope is that it tended to get tangled more often and thus become a bit more difficult while I was belaying. This may be related to the factory coil and can be mitigated within the first few days of use (common with new ropes). One tip worth trying is pulling the rope back and forth along its full length through a carabiner or anchor point to work the twists out. A video demonstrating this process can be found here.
When climbing in the alpine or on a long route, I need a light, durable, and reliable rope that I can trust. The Sterling Fusion Nano IX was everything that I could have asked for and performed well in all different types of climbing scenarios.
Whitney Clark has been climbing for seven years and has explored the mountains of Patagonia, the Himalaya, Alaska and the Sierra. You can see some of her recent stories for Alpinist.com here, here and here.
Prone to twisting when new out of the factory coil