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Edelrid Neo 3R: A quality rope made with recycled pre-consumer materials
Posted on: January 31, 2022
MSRP: $239.95 (for 70m)
The Edelrid Neo 3R 9.8mm is among the most technologically sophisticated ropes you'll find at the crag, but no one will notice. Edelrid touts the Neo 3R as the first recycled rope made by repurposing leftover materials from creating other ropes (e.g. off-color thread or leftover shorter sections from spools). According to a video on the company's website, preparing a pre-consumer product to be reused degrades the quality of the material, which meant Edelrid needed to develop a specialized process to recycle the plastic "polyamide" yarns and filaments from the manufacturing of other ropes and to maintain the high safety standard needed for dynamic climbing ropes. Edelrid began their mission to create the Neo 3R six years ago and the company finally found a reliable process to bring the Neo 3R to production in 2020.
The Neo 3R 9.8mm is currently only available in 70-meter lengths because of supply chain issues, according to the rep.
I was initially skeptical of the Neo 3R. Durability was my main concern. I was proven wrong. This rope rivals its highest quality counterparts in the rest of the Edelrid lineup. The Neo 3R handles like butter, welded knots come out quickly, and the "Oasis-Icemint" color is calming and modest. Big falls on the Neo 3R are soft and stress free. My climbing partners were impressed with the Neo 3R even before I mentioned it was made with recycled material, a comment that has always received a disbelieving "What?" It also raised thoughtful conversations about sustainability and about the impacts our lifestyle has on the environment.
Lance Colley leads the Grand Traverse on the West Buttress (VI 5.9 A3) of El Capitan (Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La), Yosemite, with the Edelrid Neo 3R rope. [Photo] Lance Colley collection
After a few days of cragging, I put the Neo 3R to the test in Yosemite Valley on a one-day ascent of Mt. Watkins via the South Face (VI 5.9 C2+). Ropes seem to sustain significantly more wear and tear on these kinds of big pushes because the second is following with toothed ascenders and the rope is frequently pulled tight over edges. After the 14-hour push, I was pleasantly surprised to find almost no significant fuzzy spots on the Neo 3R despite a few big pendulums on the C2+ pitches. Swinging around over rough granite and speed jugging with toothed devices are hard on ropes, and my car is full of otherwise new-looking ropes that have inconvenient damage 20 meters from either end.
My next climb with the Edelrid Neo 3R was at Arch Rock, a Yosemite crag notorious for wide, burly cracks. We groveled up chimneys, whipped around aretes and rappelled down the classic four-pitch route New Dimensions in the dark. We'd climbed another 20 pitches with the Neo 3R, and it continued to hold up without a problem!
Garrett Genereux leads a steep C2 pitch on the West Buttress. [Photo] Lance Colley collection
The Neo 3R, like all Edelrid ropes, is finished with their Thermoshield treatment, a process of heating, shrinking and thermal stabilization, which improves handling and durability, according to Edelrid's website. The handling benefits of this Thermoshield treatment became apparent while I was simul-climbing Royal Arches (III 5.7 A0). The Neo 3R slithered up the low-angled granite and fed nicely through the follower's Petzl GriGri. At 9.8mm, the Neo 3R would never be my first choice for simul-climbing, but my expectations were pleasantly surpassed.
Genereux lowers out while cleaning an A3 pitch on the West Buttress. [Photo] Lance Colley collection
Most recently, I used the Neo 3R on a three-day ascent of the adventurous West Buttress route (VI 5.9 A3) of El Capitan (Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La). The Neo 3R inspired confidence despite burly wide climbing, thin aid, many pendulums, and lower-outs over sharp edges. Can somebody please add possible First Recycled Rope Ascent (FRRA) to the record?
I've logged approximately 250 pitches of Yosemite granite on the Neo 3R, and it has that perfect broken-in feel that inspires more use. The black middle mark is still obvious and shows only minor signs of fading. I plan to crag with the Neo 3R all winter and will certainly use it on as many El Cap missions as possible.
The 9.8mm size is an excellent compromise between weight and durability. It would also make a very capable quiver-of-one rope for both beginning and experienced climbers. Edelrid's decision to create their first recycled rope in this size emphasizes their dedication towards sustainability. Currently the Neo 3R is composed of 50% recycled pre-consumer materials to maintain a sustainable production process, but it seems to be a significant step toward a future where we may all climb on ropes made entirely of recycled post-consumer materials.
Keith Roy rappels on the Edelrid Neo 3R rope to access the steep sport climbing on Yosemite's Killer Pillar. [Photo] Lance Colley collection
Bottom line: The durability, handling and price of the Neo 3R matches many of the other ropes on the market, but the Neo 3R packs technology that could make some of those ropes obsolete. This rope is built for climbers ready to embrace a sustainable future.
Lance Colley has been living in Yosemite Valley since 2018 and working for the National Park Service, most recently with the Yosemite Search and Rescue team. He has ticked 16 different routes on El Capitan and holds three speed records, including an ascent of Sunkist (VI 5.9 A3+) in 15 hours, 57 minutes, with Tyler Karow last May. On that climb, Colley took a 45-foot lead fall on the crux pitch and sustained a broken vertebra, though he didn't realize it until days later. He has since made a full recovery.
Colley coils the Edelrid Neo 3R rope on top of the Killer Pillar. [Photo] Lance Colley collection
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