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Sterling WorkPro: A static rope that is supple with a high strength-to-weight ratio
Posted on: January 3, 2018
MSRP: $185.95 (60m)
Static ropes freak me out a little bit because a climbers need to be careful how they use them. A static line is ideal for hauling loads, rigging, rappelling and ascending because it doesn't elongate under weight or falls in the same way as dynamic ropes, which are designed to stretch and absorb the energy of a falling climber, similar to a bungee cord. Thus, a static rope saves you from wasting energy when every inch of progress counts. But a static rope's lack of shock-absorbing qualities also requires prudence. Even a very short lead fall onto a static rope has the potential to cause injury or worse, so you don't want to forget which rope is your lead line and which is your haul line when you're tired and rigging anchors and haul systems! When using a static rope, I'm constantly reminding myself of its limitations so that I don't risk a dynamic fall onto the wrong cord.
Why bother with such a thing if it poses these risks? Well, even beginner climbers have probably taken at least one fall on toprope where there was almost no slack in the system but the dynamic rope-stretch resulted in them hanging in their harness several feet lower from where they fell (the more rope there is between the belayer and climber, the more elongation you will have). Now, imagine that you need to haul a significant load or an injured person up a climb—no matter how fancy your pulley system is, if you're using a dynamic rope, a great deal of energy will be applied to pulling the stretch out of the rope before the load budges an inch: not an efficient way to do the job. A static rope is intended for this work, and it offers better durability as well.
Hauling the "pig" with the Sterling WorkPro static rope on Prodigal Sun, Zion National Park. [Photo] Derek Franz
I recently used Sterling's WorkPro 10mm static rope (60m) for a solo trip to Zion where I spent two nights climbing Prodigal Sun (V 5.7 C2, 900'). It was my first solo big wall, so of course I packed way too much food, metal and extra clothes (only ate/used half of it), so I ended up hauling a bag that was about 100 pounds: not crazy heavy but not light, either. The WorkPro handled well and only showed minimal signs of wear when I topped out. By then, not only had I been rappelling, hauling and jumaring on the rope for the better part of three days, with the line running over various edges along the route and then through some dirt and around a tree at the top, but I'd already used it for several pitches of practice climbing before the trip. After all that, there are only a few minor fuzzy spots on the sheath and no kinks in the core.
One of the aspects of the WorkPro I particularly like is how supple it is compared to other static ropes I've used. Static ropes tend to be stiff, which makes it harder to flake them into a neat coil that won't fall apart as one end is pulled from the top of the stack. The WorkPro handled neatly for a static line and not once did the coil fall apart while I was climbing far above, when it would have been annoying to have the full weight of the extra rope suddenly snap down on the back of my harness where I had it clipped. The suppleness also made the WorkPro friendlier to grip with bare hands.
One of the reasons the WorkPro handles so well probably has to do with its "balanced elongation"—the core and sheath are woven in such a way that they stretch together, in tandem, adding strength to the rope.
In terms of specs, the 10mm WorkPro is nearly as light (4.5 pounds per 100 feet) as Sterling's 9.5mm SuperStatic2 (4.2 pounds per 100 feet) and is rated to a higher safe working load (SWL)—651 pounds compared to 517. The WorkPro also has slightly less elongation (is more static) than the Superstatic2, with an elongation of 3.5 percent under a 300-pound load compared to 3.6 percent. The price is nearly identical as well. Sterling also offers another model of static rope that I wasn't aware of until the company's 2018 catalogue came out—the HTP, which is available in a variety of diameters, from 9mm to 16mm, has far less elongation (1.4 percent) and is advertised to be more resistant to water, chemicals, UV rays and abrasion, though the 10mm version is heavier (6.5 pounds per 100 feet) and has a lower safe working load than the WorkPro (597 pounds). The HTP is also slightly more expensive. A chart on page 12 in the Sterling catalogue indicates the HTP, the WorkPro and the SuperStatic2 are all very good options for climbers in need of a static rope.
I'm happy with the performance, strength and durability of the WorkPro and I anticipate using it for the long haul on several trips to come.
Alpinist Digital Editor Derek Franz climbed his first overnight big wall in 2004—Ten Days After (VI 5.8 C3, 1,100') on Yosemite's Washington Column. He took a 100-foot pendulum swing near the top when a stuck haulbag popped loose and knocked him off balance. He will never forget the twang of the rope snapping along a toothy, granite edge high above him as he swung through space, and he subsequently became a fan of using thicker, burlier ropes for multiday climbs.
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