The Sterling Ion2 9.4mm Rope is the ultimate, higher-end, all-around climbing rope. At 9.4mm, it is not a “workhorse” rope that I would allow brand-new climbers to take a million top-rope whips and hangdogs on, but I use it for just about everything else. Right out of the box, my super sexy, 60-meter, dry-treated, red and orange bi-colored rope was soft, supple, and relatively kink-free. Since then, I have used it on alpine ice routes, granite slabs of New Hampshire, the sandy, dirty, pigeon crap infested chimneys in Garden of the Gods, and everything in between.
However, like most things outdoorsy, this rope is not cheap. At $205.95 for a standard, 60-meter, dry-treated rope, the Ion2 might be out of quite a few people’s price ranges. Despite this, just the other day I saw this rope on Backcountry.com for the same price as I paid using my climbing guide pro deals. So if you’re a vigilant discount-gear stalker like me, I’m sure, with perseverance, you can find a reasonable price for this rope.
The Ion2 comes in a variety of options, from dry-treated to bi-colored to 50-, 60-, 70-, and 80-meter-long ropes, allowing you, the climber, to really customize this rope to fit your individual needs. Due to the UIAA fall test rating at 5 falls [in comparison to 6 or 7 falls with similar diameter ropes from different companies], I tend to reserve this rope for more intermediate leaders, multi-pitch climbs, and alpine routes. In other words, it’s not my go-to rope for hefty beginners, taking falls on top rope. Its lightweight, supple feel and smooth handling has made it dream to climb with for the past few months.
Despite its small diameter, it handles well in a variety of belay devices. So far I have used it in the Petzl GriGri 1 and 2, the Black Diamond ATC guide, Petzl Reverso, and the Black Diamond Super Eight. Overall, the Ion2 preformed best using the ATC, “tube-style” belay devices, although it did hold its own using other more complicated devices. The Ion and the GriGri1 performed as expected (decently) because the Petzl does not recommend using the GriGri1 with ropes skinnier than 9.7mm. Lead belaying with this rope was fine, and I found I belayed with this rope like any other diameter rope. However, I found that lowering with the GriGri1 required a little practice. By the end of a few climbs, I was easily able to lower people and maintain full control. Using the GriGri2 was a whole other story. Although the rope is on the lower end of their recommended diameter, it still handled smoothly while feeding, belayed wonderfully, and lowered easily, with little issue or anxiety.
All in all, I love this rope. The color is unique; it is thin and light, but not too thin for a budding climber looking for a lightweight, high-quality piece of gear. It works with a variety of belay devices, and perhaps most importantly, the Ion comes in really great colors.