Although I shy away from buying skinny ropes, I’m always happy to climb on someone else’s. For me and most other dirtbag climbers I know who live out of their cars , it’s all about value. Naturally I was intrigued when Trango marketed their 9.0mm Catalyst as the rope that Ethan Pringle used to project Jumbo Love, a 200-foot 5.15b at the top of “Mount Clarkain.” Is it possible to have durability and performance in one package? I was skeptical that Trango’s marketing claims would hold up to my own real-world use and abuse.

Pringle

But, after a few weeks of use, I can confirm that this slick, slim 9.0mm has shown me that not all sub-9.5mm ropes quickly deteriorate.

After de-kinking the unruly factory coil, I brought the Catalyst straight to the Wasteland in Rifle, where half of Boulder’s population was in line for The Beast (5.13a). I let offered up my rope to the horders, and let them fall, winch and wank their ways up Rifle’s most polished 5.13a. After a few days of abuse, the Catalyst was still looking as sleek and turquoise as ever. Pretty cool.

The Catalyst sports something Trango is calling a Unicore construction, which is a technology that literally bonds the core with the sheath with an adhesive layer. Indeed, the Cataylst feels different than other ropes; it’s almost squishy. As the rope runs over/through metal (belay devices or quickdraws, etc.), the adhesive layer expands. Supposedly, this technology is what gives the Catalyst the durability of much thicker, burlier ropes.

ONECOL

The Catalyst also features a Duo Dry treatment. Both the core and sheath are dry treated independently. Although I don’t typically alpine climb, or even leave the house if its raining, I appreciate the extra protection against dirt and grime the dry treatment provides.

The stat that blew me away, however, is that Catalyst actually clocked in a UIAA fall rating of 7, higher than, for example, the 6 fall rating of the Sterling Velocity 9.8mm. The Catalyst is also just 55 grams per meter, which means that rope drag  is never a problem, and that this rope is stronger and lighter than many other ropes on the market. I appreciated the light weight on the 15-second approach from my car to the Wasteland, saving me much-needed micro-calories of energy for my redpoint burn.

A few grievances: Even though Ethan Pringle used this rope to project Jumbo Love, I think that I would still prefer to project on a much fatter cord. The problem is that this rope is very stretchy, which makes it harder to winch yourself up after a fall, harder to boink up, and harder to top-rope. Also, the rope is super thin, so your belayer needs to be really on point with his/her belay device (ideally, a Petzl Grigri 2 or an Edelrid Mega Jul) in order to inspire much confidence.

Still, the Catalyst is my new go-to redpoint cord. Maybe one day I’ll use it to project the 5.12d intro pitch of Jumbo Love, too.

  • Weight: 55 g/m
  • Impact Force: 8.2kN
  • UIAA Falls: 7
  • Finish: Duo Dry
  • UIAA Certified for Single, Double and Twin use

–Luke Bucciarelli

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