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.


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.


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