A climbing rope is a key piece of equipment when one is climbing high routes and doesn't entirely appreciate the freedom of soloing. They should be treated approximately as carefully as a six month old baby (checked routinely, not left in the damp, near engine oils etc.), and not, as my mother suggested, kept in the shed. When the time came to check over our hardware, we somehow felt under-roped. To be fair, one of our ropes is a fairly knackered 60m of dubious history. The other is 50m and actually in pretty good nick. However, it is important to have a back up rope if you are on a trip, and the brevity of this rope was clearly the factor holding back our sport climbing. So, despite only having the mental and physical endurance to climb up to about 4.5m off the deck, we somehow got it into our heads that a 70m rope would be a worthwhile purchase.
As usual, the internet gave us far more options than we could deal with. Through our indoor bouldering prowess we had accumulated a few Ellis Brigham vouchers and so we toddled off there and put our question to the staff. As luck would have it, they had one rope of 70m, the Edelrid Serpent 9.8. This was a massive positive, as it was a really nice colour, the girl said it was good, and we didn't have to make any decisions. A win for those who cannot choose between a few mm's of thickness, or what specific grade of rain we would like it treated against.
The rope remained in it's shiny coiled glory for at least a few weeks, lovingly wrapped in a jumper to protect it from...things. Finally we got around to using it at Châteauvert. We had made careful study of a youtube video detailing how to uncoil a new rope properly. We scorned the guy at the beginning of the clip who gets his rope hopelessly tangled, but typically were left quite aghast as ours descended into a similarly impenetrable nest. An hour's tetchy, delicate work later and we were once again, ready to use our new rope. We were also aware of a major downside to a longer rope - it requires more 'management' time, from detangling in the morning, to recoiling at the end of the day.
As it turned out Châteauvert was a perfect place to pop the Serpent's cherry. There are single pitch routes up to 40m on the Grand Face, and a lot of routes that we had felt unconfident to try before (we weren't even sure that the 60m rope was 60m, it was just longer than the 50m). The Serpent performed, well, as expected. It didn't break, which is a massive bonus in a sport climbing rope. It isn't too heavy, but it has enough substance that belaying a heavier partner doesn't feel like wrestling with a fishing line. The rope also comes with an in depth care manual - no one wants to waste a rope through carelessness - and eco-friendly assurances through the bluesign® system. The final inclusion, which really excited us, was a template allowing you to turn your old rope into a mat; we haven't tried it yet, it will probably end in tangles and tantrums.
And the colours really are delightful, which as any self-respecting climber knows, is key to any gear purchases.