Edelrid Skimmer Rope Review

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skimmer

04-CGRstar

The new Skimmer Pro Dry is Edelrid’s radical new narrow rope certified both as a twin and a double and dry treated using their excellent Pro Dry treatment. The headline factors here though are really the weight and diameter: 7.1mm and 36g per metre. To put that in perspective; for climbers of a certain age you could use this rope to thread those old MOACs and when you consider modern tag/rap lines like Edelrid’s own Rap Line II are coming in at 31g per metre this is a super skinny, super light rope!

MOAC

So skinny you can thread a MOAC (ask your dad/grandad!)

At CGR we have been longtime fans of Edelrid’s ropes (and harnesses for that matter) they seem to achieve a great balance between durability, weight and that elusive ‘handling’ that is so difficult to quantify but likewise so vital. Describing the features of a rope is a somewhat thankless task. Our Skimmers are 60m long, 7.1mm in diameter and weigh in at 2.2kg (I know that doesn’t quite equate to the grams per metre calculation but it’s close and the ropes were dirty, I’m weighing them on fishing scales etc, etc.) as opposed to the 7.9mm Apus Pro Dry we reviewed last year that come in at 2.7kg. So that’s 1kg saved for a pair of ropes over an already light rope like the Apus – quite a saving on a big route. This weight saving could mean the ability to carry more food/fuel/water on a big alpine route or a larger rack on a trad route. Likewise it reduces the weight you’re actually dragging up a route and means pulling up rope nearing the end of a 40 plus metre pitch is that much easier. Given that you must bring a rope (you can’t pare it down like your rack or bivi kit) saving weight with a rope is a critical step towards going lighter. However your rope is your lifeline so durability, safety and usability are also critical. Edelrid have beefed up the sheath proportion on the rope to an impressive 40% to enhance durability. The Pro Dry treatment not only ensures the Skimmers absorb virtually no water but also improves the glide capability of the fibres enhancing abrasion resistance. These factors have allowed Edelrid to produce a durable but extremely narrow diameter rope. Like all Edelrid Ropes the Skimmers are produced meeting the Bluesign standard minimising environmental impact.

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Descending from The Grand Floria, the Skimmers give you super lightweight and full length abseils. Photo: Rob Muirhead

In Use
The Skimmers were not available for us to test ice climbing in February which if I’m honest is where I think they would find their ultimate expression and Edelrid bill them as being:

The go-to solution for demanding ice and mixed routes or situations where every gram counts.

Mega light, Pro Dry treated and offering a softer ‘catch’ when you land on the pro – hopefully reducing the chance of a screw ripping if things have gone pear shaped enough to be landing on a screw! So the Skimmers made their debut around an extremely dry Chamonix with little in the way of mixed climbing available so multi pitch rock it was. Straight out of the wrappers it was onto Manhatten on the Grand Floria where they worked faultlessly using them as ‘twins’. They did snag twice when being pulled on abseil which got us wondering if the narrow diameter allowed them to catch in narrower fissures or was it just bad luck? Throughout the next 20 odd days of climbing they didn’t get caught again so I reckon it was bad luck. Something we did notice on abseil was their narrow diameter produced a small EDK knot that could actually be pulled through an abseil ring or large Maillon at times if you pulled the wrong end – not usually an issue but something to be aware of. Talking of abseiling and belaying, to begin with we used Edelrid’s Micro Jul – one of the few devices designed for ropes this thin. Dave reviewed it’s big brother here and all of what he said still stands for the Micro Jul. It takes more practice and is a little more technical to use but does provide some enhancements – but not perhaps the best choice to take into an alpine environment without a bit of pre practice. Rob found he couldn’t get along with his (especially with dropped coils) and reverted to a DMM Pivot which worked well as did a Petzl Reverso – neither of these are designed for 7.1mm ropes but anecdotally we used them without issue both in ‘guide’ mode and as normal belay devices. Control wise the narrower diameter was not an issue but reduced friction on abseil was noticeable so maybe take an extra wrap with your French Prusik.

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Edelrid’s Skimmers proved a good handling well ‘behaved’ rope on alpine rock

Throughout the review period we used them mainly as ‘twins’ clipping both into each piece of protection especially on the multi-pitch bolted routes such as Fin de Babylon and Via Piola. However they worked equally as well as doubles; though if you were climbing as a three bringing two seconds up in parallel, psychologically they looked very thin (in fact on the Blaitiere we opted for thicker ropes for this very reason). Climbing at Barberine an Italian team of three were descending to the belay I’d just reached on Barbourine and in the usual quite and reserved manner of Italians everywhere it became apparent that our Skimmer ropes were of interest. After a quick grab of my rope tails to confirm diameter lead Italian started miming pointing toward his rock shoes. Thinking he was concerned re treading on the skinny ropes I started to re position the coils – cue laughter as he grabs his lace and points back and forward between the Skimmers and his shoe laces! Ahh yes – in his opinion we were clearly climbing on 60m shoe laces!

By the end of the review period the Skimmers were grubby but undamaged with no more wear apparent than a more conventional double rope. Overall although somewhat specialist and unlikely to last as long as a thicker heavier rope the Skimmers proved versatile and not as ‘niche’ a product as first expected. I wouldn’t recommend them as a first purchase or your only ropes but they are a great addition for the ice and mixed climber. The light weight also means you could consider this for use as a rap line with the benefit that if anything happened to your main rope you’d have a perfectly serviceable dynamic rope as a backup.

Pros

  • Super light
  • Versatile as a twin/double
  • Tougher than expected
  • Good handling

Cons

  • Ultimately not as tough as heavier doubles
  • Not suited to all belay devices – more care needed in handling

RRP £165.00 (60M)

Stockists

RiCGR_RichMugchie is the enthusiastic amateur of the team. Enjoying all aspects of climbing but especially alpine, winter and his local grit . Having managed to survive the vagaries of both fluorescent Koflachs and rainbow tights in the 80s he looks forward to an even more stylish future. A shady past in mountain marathons and adventure races, including the Marathon des Sables, means he’s an advocate of fast and light. Though the former is debatable if you’ve seen him on a tricky lead!

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