MM may be best known for hardware, but when it comes to ropes their range of eight different products is pretty comprehensive, covering a wide variety of uses. As they're a good diameter for an all-rounder workhorse, I was excited to try out a pair of 8.5mm Pitch half ropes. Two lengths are available, 50m and 60m; I went for the latter.
The Pitch is boldly marketed as the 'ultimate half rope for four season use in all weather conditions'. So is it?
Well, having broken my back mid-testing (!), the first thing I can say is that this review took ages to finish. But having got back on the horse and put the Pitch to heavy use all summer, I've had plenty of time to rate it for handling and durability.
From sport climbing to ice climbing, single and multi pitch trad, mixed routes to scrambles, I am the epitome of an all-rounder. Really I just like climbing, and much of the time it's in the Alps. As a result the weight of my kit is always a big consideration, and it's the first thing I thought of here. I have got used to my lightweight but admittedly not-so-durable Ice Lines from Beal, so the Pitch felt heavy in comparison. Putting the Icelines aside - being narrower in diameter they are not comparable - it begged the question 'is the Pitch heavy?'
"They are a little on the heavy side for really specialist 'fast and light' alpine routes, but if you want a pair of versatile ropes that you know you can hammer relentlessly, wherever you are going, whatever the season, then these are for you"
Comparable dry-treated ropes
- Petzl Serenity 8.7mm 51g/m
- Beal Cobra II 8.6mm 48g/m
- DMM Pitch 8.5mm 49g/m
- Edelrid Kestrel 8.5mm 48g/m
- Petzl Tango 8.5mm 47g/m
- Mammut Genesis 8.5mm 47g/m
You can see the Pitch are at the heavier end of the table, but on a 50m rope we are talking a difference of 50 to 100g additional weight - the equivalent of two chocolate bars. For the vast majority of climbers this is not going to be a clincher. Even in the Alps, the addition of two chocolate bars is generally not going to significantly affect things. Conclusion: No, by the standards of a solid all-rounder they are not unduly heavy!
These ropes have run smoothly throughout, and boy do they feel reassuring to climb on. Compared to a super-lightweight skinny shoe lace of a rope, the Pitch has a nice weight and thickness, so when you're looking down to your distant gear you're not plagued by irrational doubt: you know it's good and strong!
For a pair of ropes aimed primarily at trad gear they give a nice soft catch and their impact force of 6.5kn compares well with others (no one wants to impact their gear more than necessary!).
From the start this felt a compact rope, as opposed to the Beal Joker single rope for example, which is almost spongy in comparison. Abrasion is part and parcel of climbing outside but so far this pair is showing little sign of 'fluffing up'. The 'thermo control' treatment means minimal sheath/core slippage too, which helps with longevity.
Despite its toughness, the Pitch feels supple in use; it is by no means a stiff cable.
I did find on longer, meandering pitches nearing 60m that they could be hard work to pull through a Reverso. Ditto for pulling them through when abseiling, but you can always expect to put in some force against 60m of friction.
The Pitch is aimed at trad, winter and alpine climbers, and their dry treatment is now the norm for such a pair of ropes. So far the dry treatment has been standing up well on snowier routes and I've had no problems with soaked or frozen ropes - I will need to report back in the comments section below after next winter to see how they are holding up!
The two colour-ways are clear, distinct from one another and easily distinguishable against rock, as are the middle markers of which I am personally a big fan. I can see them getting murky once dirty, which will be a good reminder to wash them!
DMM are offering the Pitch in 50m or 60m, meaning you can pick the most suitable length for your climbing habits. I have the 60m pair which is ideal for the mix of multi-pitch and alpine which I usually participate in. UK-based summer-only climbers might prefer to save a bit of weight by opting for the shorter version.
It's a bit of a minefield establishing price for ropes with an ever changing series of sales on rotation, but the Pitch does seem to be at the higher end of the price range at first glance. However with this rope aiming to be a year round and, as I am finding, a durable rope, the value will be in its longevity.
The Pitch is tough and it handles well. It is well able to cope with abrasive granite, grit or the wear and tear of long routes in varied conditions. They are a little on the heavy side for very dedicated 'fast and light' alpine routes, but if you want a pair of versatile ropes that you know you can hammer relentlessly, wherever you are going, whatever the season, then these are for you.
The Pitch is designed to be used in summer or winter on crags and mountains the world over. They are light, durable, and supple when exposed to Mother Nature even at her worst the UIAA Dry Treatment repels water brilliantly, making them ideal for all-round use; from snowy gullies and damp sea cliffs to alpine faces and even Himalayan peaks.
The ultimate half rope for four season use in all weather conditions.
- Weight: 49g/m
- Falls: 13
- Impact force: 6.5
- % sheath: 49
- For trad, winter and alpine climbing.
- For summer and winter use in all conditions, the world over.
- Dry treated (to prevent the absorption of water, freezing of the ropes, improves durability and reduces friction).
- Durable for the diameter whilst still being supple
- ThermoControl treatment (for improved suppleness, durability, handling, minimised core to sheath slippage and to stop the rope going stiff).
- Core balances low impact forces with minimal stretch
- Two colours
- Price: 50m - 140; 60m - 160
For more info see dmmclimbing.com