The domination of triple rated ropes continues: CGR puts the Millet Absolute TRX 9mm rope to the test.
Value for money ****
Who would ever think that a company that started life manufacturing the first shopping bags with shoulder straps would evolve into a major French tour de force in alpine equipment? Well the more I write these reviews and the more history I delve into the more amazed I am!
Many here in the UK might mistake Millet for the retail outlet Millets – that is a confusion we here at Climbing Gear Reviews are more than happy to clarify. Make no mistake there is no connection whatsoever, the pedigree of Millet equipment is well established. They started making backpacks in the 1930’s and then began supplying French expeditions in the 1950’s. They have a long standing association with the Chamonix Guides Company and on any trip to the Alps you will see how extensive the brand is. You can read more on the history of Millet here.
Now that I’ve dispelled the association with that popular UK retailer, we are happy to announce that we have several Millet products on test here at CGR – the first being the Absolute TRX 9mm rope. Kev has recently reviewed another triple rated rope and waxed lyrical on the versatility. I’m also about to add to that, if you are planning to buy a ‘one size fits all’ rope then these styles of rope are ideal and well worth the investment.
I first came across using a single 9mm rope watching Pete Gommersall on his attempts repointing Urgent Action at Kilnsey. This, of course, was well before triple rated ropes and his redpoints were on a 9mm half rope (we didn’t even have 8 or 8.5mm ropes in t’ good old days). He obviously appreciated the lightness of the system but needless to say the rope didn’t last long before the sheath got trashed.
The model tested was the TRX 9 with a hydrophobic dry treatment, the ropes, the range also comes with an anti-friction coating. The manufacturing technology is Millet Triaxiale. This means that the core is made up of three separate, braided cores. This means that if the rope is cut (say through falling onto a sharp edge) there is some redundancy in the system as you may have one or two fully complete cores still in use. Of course, a dry treated rope is a little heavier but is likely to last longer and indispensable for winter and ice climbing (unless you like dragging up to 15% more weight up your route in water).
So how did the Millet Absolute TRX perform for climbing? Firstly the all-important handling, the rope felt thin for single use – I had to buy a new belay device as my old Gri-Gri wasn’t up to the job. The rope is stiff to handle, this is not in any way a disadvantage; Mammut ropes have always been stiff and the Millet rope is similar in feel. The advantage being they last for ages and take a real trashing. I have used the rope in a variety of situations but mostly for redpointing and working out at Malham this season. The rope has performed brilliantly for this use; the 60m length was perfect for those long left hand routes like Yosemite Wall and Space Race. It felt light and pliable enough for those tricky clips. I’ve taken quite a few falls on the rope and it’s showing absolutely no sign of wear at all, especially in the 3-10m area that takes the real beasting in any rope.
I used it straight out of the bag and it had a few kinks, but these soon came out. It hasn’t suffered too much with kinking since and it’s getting better the more I use it – even when used with an italian hitch the kinks soon came out.
Another advantage is that the rope has minimal stretch so when you are working routes and want pull into a quickdraw you don’t ‘sag’ back down another 30cm when your belayer has taken you in: all good for harmonious belay relations. This is especially important on very long routes with lots of rope out. The rope worked very well in a Gri Gri 2 and Petzl Reverso 3 with no slippage when holding falls or working routes.
The rope came with a dyed middle marker and the ends were sealed with marker tips, these came off however and the rope ends were not as well sealed as I would have liked on a high end product such as this. The ends would benefit from being pressure sealed, this would enhance the quality of the rope, but to be honest this is a minor fault and the only one I can find with this rope. The colour was a fantastic bright green and never failed to attract comments every time it came out the ropebag, I loved looking down at it when high on a route, it cut a striking line down the route. For those who may baulk at the bright green, the rope also comes in a more muted red colour
I have used the rope for trad as a half rope, I’ve used in doubled up on grit routes and it has performed very well in all situations. I haven’t used it for winter climbing yet as it arrived during late spring, but I can see it doing very well for a single rope when ice climbing. I probably wouldn’t use it for hard mixed routes as it’s too heavy to carry in to use as a half rope, I’d take an 8mm or 7.5mm for that. But for ice climbing it would be great, it would work well for abbing using a tag rope (which is what I’ll do).
So the Millet Absolute TRX 9 is a great all round rope that will serve you well in all climbing situations, trad, sport and winter so it’s great value if you are an all-rounder and want just one rope, it’s triple rating makes it safe for any situation you are going to use it for. It’s very durable and easy handling ensures that it will last a long time.