ProView – Sterling IonR 9.4mm XEROS
I had the opportunity to test the new Sterling IonR 9.4mm BiColor Yellow at a variety of sport climbing venues across the inland northwest. The rope handled big falls and long pitches extremely well. I was impressed with the rope’s balance of suppleness yet firmness, which allowed for both ease of clipping and great handling while belaying.
Sterling IonR 9.4mm XEROS
Product Name: Sterling IonR 9.4mm XEROS
Product Description: Ion R 9.4 mm offers easy handling and durability in a lightweight, mid-range size. With a firm, tactile feel that is easy to clip, the smooth sheath reduces rope drag and feeds well through gear. The unique sheath construction is durable and compatible with a multitude of gear.
Offer price: MSRP: $139.99 - $349.99
The Sterling IonR 9.4mm BiColor Yellow is a feature filled rope, incorporating Sterling’s new XEROS Dry Technology, which is incorporated directly into the rope’s core and sheath. This is a great all-around rope that can handle some heavy abuse.
- The XEROS dry technology integration allows peace of mind
- Bicolor pattern is easy to see
- Great price point for a BiPattern dry rope.
- Rope had significant twists out of the factory packaging for the first few pitches
The first venue I took the rope was the amphitheater in Riggins, Idaho. This massive cave features 30+ meter, steep pitches, which upon exiting the cave, tackle a massive headwall. The routes here can be sustained and often include heartbreaking sequences right before the anchors where a lightweight, well handling rope can sometimes make the difference between sending or flailing.
On this first trip out with the IonR Xeros 9.4mm, my partner and I took dozens of falls while working on our various projects. The rope provided a soft catch, which provided some peace of mind when trying hard above our bolts. When taking big falls on cave routes, you sometimes end up in space where it is often necessary to use a technique called boinking to get back to the wall. This process involves your belayer applying maximum tension on their end of the rope (often with a jumar), while the climber performs pull-ups on the rope itself.
This can sometimes be hard with a skinnier rope, but the IonR Xeros’ diameter and coating were both easy to handle and resilient to the jumar being applied by the belayer.
I was also able to abuse the IonR Xeros 9.4 mm at my local crag of Deep Creek, Washington. This steep basalt cliff features some sharp edges and wandering routes, which have damaged some of my ropes in the past. The rope handled the typical abuses of sport climbing combined with the unique abuses of this crag quite well. The durability and great handling allow it to act as a rope that is suitable for both working and redpoint burns on your limit projects.
Performance, Features, and Durability
At just under 9 pounds the Sterling IonR 9.4’s weight is comparable to other ropes in its class from other manufacturers. The rope fed well in a grigri2 and features a Dynamic Elongation (%) of 33.1. This elongation was noticeable with repeated falls and provided a confidence-inspiring soft catch.
The lack of traditional dry treatment was noticeable after a month of use. Sometimes these coatings are more prone to pick up dirt from the environment no matter how careful you are. After a month of climbing at areas with sandy staging areas, the rope still retained its vibrant color without any noticeable environmental discoloration.
Finally, at the beginning and end of my testing period, I evaluated the XEROS’s ability to repel water. After one month of heavy use, exposure to dirt, aluminum dust, and the general wear of climbing, the XEROS technology repelled water just as well as on day one, highlighting the resilience of the XEROS process compared to traditional dry coatings.
Friendliness to the Earth
The new XEROS line of ropes is manufactured by the integration of the dry treatment into the yarn fibers prior to being woven into the core and sheathe of the rope. This process is bluesign® approved, which certifies that the propriety process does not involve harmful chemicals that can be leached into the environment. Overall, this new manufacturing process reduces waste, energy use, and labor compared to traditional dry coating methodologies.
The Final Word
If you need a versatile, durable, mid-sized rope, packed with features at a great price point, check out the Sterling IonR 9.4mm BiColor Yellow XEROS. This rope performed well to the abuses of sport climbing. While I did not have the opportunity to test this rope on long multipitch routes, the BiColor pattern and resilient XEROS dry technology are two features, which would provide peace of mind when you are tackling longer objectives.