Rope Review: New England Maxim 9.9 70m

This season I guided exclusively using a New England Maxim 9.9 70m bi patterned dry rope. I used this rope for over 40 days of guiding and climbing in the Catskills, the Dacks, and new Hampshire. The rope was primarily used on water ice with a handle of days on alpine snow and a few mixed climbs on top rope. Primarily used on moderate to easy ice I used on alpine snow, ice routes rated WI2-5 with a handful of mix climbs. For context I have used Sterlings: velocity, nano and ion ropes for the past few years both guiding and for personal climbing.

The Maxim was noticeably different from the get go. It’s a sharp looking golden bi patterned rope. A number of people remark how good the rope looked aesthetically and asked me who made it. The weave pattern is distinct but not too loud. I found the rope to be firmer in handling and felt like it was built stronger and more abrasive resistant. On wet days the Maxim did a solid job shedding water. At the end of the day coiling the rope at the end of the day was never a problem. it was damp but not dripping wet.

However when coiling the rope one of its two draw backs is apparant. The Maxim 9.9 is heavy. It is the heaviest rope I have ever used. Though its called a 9.9 it feels more like a Sterling 10.3 or a Mammut 10.5. Its weight is a draw back on approaches and when climbing. You feel the difference. You feel the weight when trying to move fast on a long multi-pitch snow gully and that’s a notable limitation. This rope is better for single pitch cragging than multi pitch climbing. It’s better for those looking for a heavy workhorse not a lead line.

The other draw back is belaying. Belaying on the Maxim 9.9 felt more like a chore. The rope felt weighty and challenging depending on the belay device I was using. Generally I belay with a Gri Gri 2 or a Petzl Reverso 3. My clients are often using a simple BD ATC. While the Gri Gri 2 worked fine I found belaying w. an atc or my r3 more challenging. The rope is simply to fat to work well w. the devices. the BD ATC XP or the ATC guide worked best with this rope. And though you can do a munter hitch on the rope it needs a bigger biner to run smooth.

After a full season of ice guiding I feel like it still has much life left in it for the spring and summer. The rope did get about 10 feet cut off of one end after a client core shot it with his ice axe but other than that there is nothing but minor wear and tear. Less wear and tear than I’ve experienced with other ropes with similar stats.

overall i would highly recommend the new england maxim 9.9 to my clients and fellow outdoor professionals. Its an excellent single pitch ice cragging rope and I think it would work well during rock season too.

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Check out this post by Ryan S. for an excellent review of ropes: http://bigfootmountainguides.com/2013/01/22/some-thoughts-about-rope-diameter-and-durability/

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March 22, 2013. Tags: , , . Uncategorized.

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