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Unless you are the infamous free solo climber Alex Honnold, you will be using a rope when you climb. But your warm weather rock climbing rope is not always the best option for your ice climbing adventures. There are a lot of ropes to choose from and tons of things to consider before selecting the right rope for you, but luckily, we here at The Adventure Junkies have made your life easier with a list of the ten best ice climbing ropes, so all you have to focus on is climbing your best on the ice.

Whether you are new to the sport and just looking to top-rope or you’re a seasoned ice climber wanting to get on a more challenging, wandering multi-pitch climb, this list has something for you. And because you will be dealing with constantly wet conditions, we have made sure you can find a rope that’s up for the job on the list below. So sharpen your tools and get ready to send some vertical ice!

For more of our top ice climbing gear recommendations, check out Best Ice Climbing Backpacks.

 

Quick Answer - The Best Ice Climbing Ropes

  1. Mammut Genesis
  2. Sterling Evolution Velocity
  3. Beal Booster
  4. BlueWater Ropes Lightning Pro
  5. Sterling Evolution Helix
  6. Edelrid Skimmer Pro
  7. Black Diamond 9.4mm
  8. Petzl Paso Guide
  9. Sterling Fusion Nano IX
  10. Beal Joker Unicore

 

Comparison Table - Best Ice Climbing Rope

PictureNameWeightDiameterTypePriceRating
Mammut Genesis47 g/m8.5mmDouble (twin/half)$$4.9
Sterling Evolution Velocity62g/m9.8mmSingle$$$4.2
Beal Booster61 g/m9.7 mmSingle$$4.5
BlueWater Ropes Lightning Pro61 g/m9.7 mmSingle and Double (twin/half)$$$4.5
Sterling Evolution Helix59 g/m9.5 mmSingle$$$4.3
Edelrid Skimmer Pro36 g/m7.1 mmDouble (twin/half)$$4.4
Black Diamond 9.4mm58 g/m9.4 mmSingle$$4.5
Petzl Paso Guide40 g/m7.7 mmDouble (twin/half)$$4.3
Sterling Fusion Nano IX52 g/m9 mmSingle, Double (twin/half)$$$4.9
Beal Joker Unicore52 g/m9.1 mmSingle, Double (twin/half)$$$4.8
PictureNameWeightDiameterTypePriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Ropes for Ice Climbing

Mammut Genesis

Specs
  • Diameter: 8.5mm
  • Weight: 47 g/m
  • Type: Double (twin/half)
  • Dry Treatment: Dry
  • Impact Force: 5.6 kN
Features
  • Two Color Options
  • Certified As Half And Twin Rope
  • Available In 60 And 70m Lengths

BEST FOR GLACIER TRAVEL

The Mammut Genesis is a great all around rope for leading ice and snow climbs.  It handles well and stays dry. This is a double (half) rope that can also be used as a twin, meaning you can clip one or both ropes into  protection when leading.

Each rope comes with a middle mark, which makes it easy to find the midpoint of the ropes and note how much rope you have left. The dry treatment keeps water out of these ropes, ensuring the same elasticity through a snowy and icy day.  And no matter what you want to use this rope for, it comes in lengths from 60-70 m.

Sterling Evolution Velocity

Specs
  • Diameter: 9.8mm
  • Weight: 62g/m
  • Type: Single
  • Dry Treatment: DryXP
  • Impact Force: 8.8 kN
Features
  • Available In Solid Or Pattern Color
  • Available In Bi-color For An Easy To See Middle Mark
  • Famous With World Renowned Athletes Like Chris Sharma

BEST FOR VALUE

Sterling presents the Evolution Velocity. Though it is similar to the Sterling Evolution Helix reviewed below, this rope is slightly thicker and heavier, making it better suited for ice climbs with shorter approaches. With the tightly woven sheath and dry treatment, this rope is so smooth, you won’t have to worry about it getting caught up in your belay device.  The smooth finish also means the rope runs easily over rough surfaces without getting caught up on little features.

Because this rope is quite lightweight, very durable, and comes with a surprisingly smooth sheath, it is rather versatile. Because of this, this rope may also be a good choice for multi-pitch climbs that require a longer approach when it’s worth carrying a little extra weight.

Beal Booster

Specs
  • Diameter: 9.7 mm
  • Weight: 61 g/m
  • Type: Single
  • Dry Treatment: Dry Sheath
  • Impact Force: 7.3 kN
Features
  • Available In 60 And 70m Lengths
  • Bi-color Pattern In 70m Length For Easy To See Middle Mark
  • Single Colors Have Black Middle Mark

BEST FOR LONG ROUTES

The Beal Booster has been around for years and in this updated version, the III, it is better than ever. A single rope that is still a thinner diameter of 9.7mm, this rope has a dry sheath, making it a good choice on ice where conditions are wetter and you need to keep your rope dry. Available in 60 and 70m lengths, they are both well marked in the middle so you never have to guess how much rope you have left in your climb.

A low impact force of 7.3 kN means this rope gives a soft catch, however, that is not something you want to do on ice! But rather, this means there is some stretch to it, making it a better choice for multi-pitch ice climbing rather than top roping.

BlueWater Ropes Lightning Pro

Specs
  • Diameter: 9.7 mm
  • Weight: 61 g/m
  • Type: Single and Double (twin/half)
  • Dry Treatment: Standard and Dry
  • Impact Force: 7.8 kN
Features
  • Available In 60 And 70m Lengths
  • Available In Standard Single Or Doubles
  • Doubles Available In Bi-color Pattern For Easy To See Middle Mark

BEST FOR EXTREME ALPINE

Family owned and operated, BlueWater Ropes brings to you the Lightning Pro. Available as a single or double rope, this rope is designed for whatever climbing adventure you choose. However, the dry treatment is available in the doubles, ideal for ice and alpine, where this rope is meant to excel. Still lightweight enough with a diameter of just 9.7mm and a low weight of 61 g/m, carrying two ropes won’t be an issue.

Available in a plethora of colors, the doubles have the option of a bi-color pattern as well, to eliminate the guesswork when your partner yells, “How much rope left?” With a high fall rating, this rope will not fail if you do slip off, but remember that you typically don’t want to be falling on ice if you can avoid it!

Sterling Evolution Helix

Specs
  • Diameter: 9.5 mm
  • Weight: 59 g/m
  • Type: Single
  • Dry Treatment: DryXP
  • Impact Force: 8.9 kN
Features
  • Available With Black Middle Mark Or Bi-color Pattern So You Know When You’ve Reached Halfway
  • Available In 60-80m Lengths
  • Long-lasting Dry Treatment For Smooth Handling

BEST FOR DURABILITY

Sterling has made quite a name in the climbing rope world, and brings us another great, but skinnier option with the Evolution Helix. The thinner diameter also makes this a lightweight rope ideal for longer approaches. This rope can be purchased in varying lengths, so no matter the height of your climb, it will work for you.

Not only is this rope dry treated to prevent breakdown in foul weather, but its overall durability will keep it protected against dirt and all the abuse of being used outside. And even after several months of usage, the rope still remains smooth, so that dry coating really ensures it runs smoothly through the belay device and will not freeze in it.

Edelrid Skimmer Pro

Specs
  • Diameter: 7.1 mm
  • Weight: 36 g/m
  • Type: Double (twin/half)
  • Dry Treatment: Pro Dry
  • Impact Force: 6.1 kN (twin), 10 kN (half)
Features
  • Available In 60 And 70m Lengths
  • Ultralight
  • Heat Treatment Of Core And Sheath Prevents Shrinking

BEST FOR MULTI-PITCH ICE

If you are looking for a lightweight, skinny rope for your next ice climbing trip, look no further than the Edelrid Skimmer. The thin diameter allows this rope to be used as either a twin or half rope on longer, multi-pitch climbs. And since this rope is offered in both 60 and 70 m lengths, there are no limits to wear you can go.

Both the core and sheath are dry treated, so they will not absorb any water, which is exactly what you want for ice. And both are heat treated separately, so you never have to worry about the ropes shrinking, giving you every inch you need on a climb!

Black Diamond 9.4mm

Specs
  • Diameter: 9.4 mm
  • Weight: 58 g/m
  • Type: Single
  • Dry Treatment: Dry Performance
  • Impact Force: 8 kN
Features
  • vailable In 60 And 70m Lengths
  • Full Core And Sheath Dry Treatment Keeps The Rope Dry When Wet
  • Skinny Diameter Allow Smooth Feeding Through Belay Device

BEST FOR SINGLE PITCH ICE

Black Diamond is new to the scene when it comes to climbing ropes and brings us the new Full Dry climbing rope. Available in both 60 and 70m lengths, this 9.4 mm rope is a good choice for single pitch ice. Because it is lighter weight, you can throw it in your pack and find a nice secluded place to ice climb without worrying about getting exhausted on a long approach from carrying a heavy rope. 

Both the core and sheath are dry treated, allowing the rope to be fully hydrophobic and repel water. And with the dry treatment, you get a really smooth rope that is easy to knot and will run smoothly through any belay device without worrying about it kinking up.

Petzl Paso Guide

Specs
  • Diameter: 7.7 mm
  • Weight: 40 g/m
  • Type: Double (twin/half)
  • Dry Treatment: Dry
  • Impact Force: 6 kN (twin), 10 kN (half)
Features
  • Clearly Defined Middle Mark So You Know When You’ve Reached Halfway
  • Available In 60m Length
  • Very Lightweight

BEST FOR MIXED ICE AND ROCK

The Petzl Paso Guide is a solid choice for your ice climbing season where you may want to get in some mixed climbing or are dealing with some snow. Since both the core and sheath are dry treated, this rope will remain dry in all the mixed conditions you might run into. This dry treatment prevents that crispy layer of ice from forming on the outside of your rope, which would make it hard to belay and could require hours (or even days) to dry fully if the rope were not dry treated. 

Currently available only in a 60m length, this rope is designed to be used as a double rope, either as twins or half. And with the lightweight nature of it, carrying two ropes will not add a ton of extra weight.

Sterling Fusion Nano IX

Specs
  • Diameter: 9 mm
  • Weight: 52 g/m
  • Type: Single, Double (twin/half)
  • Dry Treatment: DryXP
  • Impact Force: 8.5 k/N (Single), 6.6 kN (half), 10.4 (twin)
Features
  • Available In 60 - 80m Lengths
  • Bi-color And Middle Marked Color Options So You Always Know When You’ve Reached Halfway
  • Skinny And Lightweight

BEST FOR EXPERIENCED CLIMBERS

The Sterling Fusion Nano IX is a great rope for ice climbing, but especially for experienced ice climbers. Because of the thin diameter, it is suited for multi-pitch climbing, and is not your best top rope option. It can be used as either a single or double rope and is available up to 80m in length for those long climbs you have been eyeing.

With a supple and lightweight feel, you can use this rope with any type of belay device knowing it will feed through with ease. And the DryXP treatment ensures that your ropes repel water and maintain their lightweight features.

Beal Joker Unicore

Specs
  • Diameter: 9.1 mm
  • Weight: 52 g/m
  • Type: Single, Double (twin/half)
  • Dry Treatment: Dry Cover
  • Impact Force: 8.2 kN (single), 6 kN (half), 9.5 kN (twin)
Features
  • Well Defined Middle Mark Is Easy To See
  • Unicore Design Binds Core And Sheath Together So No Separating
  • Available In 60 And 70m Lengths

BEST FOR VERSATILITY

Beal makes a second appearance on this list with the Joker. Designed to be a versatile rope, it ticks all three boxes as being able to be used as a single, twin, or half rope. And the Unicore design binds the core and sheath together, so they won’t separate from each other should the sheath get damaged or cut. As an integrated rope (“Unicore”), they are then all dry coated to repel water.

Made with more experienced climbers in mind due to its skinny diameter, the Joker can be a little harder to manage and handle than a thicker rope. But this rope is better suited for the alpine weather anyway, so skinny and light is right in those conditions.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING CLIMBING ROPES

COST

Climbing ropes can easily cause sticker shock. But it is important to remember, cutting costs when it comes to your safety can be a huge disadvantage. Ropes are what keep you safe while climbing, so it is worth making an investment. Plus, if you take care of your rope, keep it clean, and store it properly, you will have it for several years, provided there are no huge whippers taken on it. And after you’ve been using the rope for a few seasons, make sure you heed the advice on when and how to retire a rope.

 

DIAMETER

The diameter of a rope is a good indicator for what type of climbing the rope is best suited for. Ropes that are 9.8 mm and above are best used for beginners and top roping. Ropes at this diameter are easy to hold and will not slip through the belay device. Ropes that are 9.5 – 9.8 mm in diameter are a good choice for sport and trad climbing, since they are lighter, and overall, easier to manage. Less than 9.4 mm are very light ropes that are often good for alpine or long multi-pitch routes that are best used as double ropes.

 

LENGTH

Ropes will come in varying sizes from 50m up to 80m in length. Shorter ropes can be ideal for light and fast excursions or short sport climbing routes. Standard rope size is 60m, with 70m or longer ropes more ideal for longer trad climbs.

It is important to consider what you are using the rope for and always remember what length rope you have when rappelling, to make sure you don’t accidentally rappel off the end of your rope because it is too short to reach the bottom (and always remember to tie knots in the ends!). Longer ropes can always be cut shorter as they get older to make them closer to a 60m rope and get rid of any worn ends.

 

TYPE

Single ropes are usually a thicker diameter, and tend to be heavier. These ropes are best suited for top roping single pitch climbs, but can also be used on multi-pitch. However, for multi-pitch climbs where routes can wander and you want to cut weight, you should look at double ropes. Double ropes are skinnier and can be used as twin ropes or half ropes. Twin ropes are both clipped into gear, so each rope operates independently should one rope fail. Half ropes alternate where one rope is clipped left and one rope is clipped right. This helps reduce rope drag. Doubles are especially ideal with two followers.

 

WEIGHT

While weight is not such a big factor when you are top roping, if you have a long approach, you will be looking to cut down on weight. On longer routes, you want to minimize the weight you are carrying, especially on multi-pitch where you will also be wearing a pack and carrying gear on your harness. And if you are carrying double ropes for your ice climbs, you will definitely want to take weight into consideration.

 

TREATMENT

Treatment refers to the dry treatment of a rope, meaning the company will coat the rope to help it repel water. Dry treatment not only helps with the longevity of a rope, but it is a non-negotiable feature to have when ice climbing where you are in wet conditions and cannot have your rope absorbing water and freezing. A dry treated rope will have a longer life span, and if you are exposed to the elements on a climb, by not absorbing all the water, the rope will not become heavy.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

UIAA RATING

The Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme (UIAA) is the international mountaineering and climbing federation that creates safety standards to which all climbing ropes must adhere when developing ratings. Fall ratings test rope failure by these standards.

 

IMPACT FORCE

This term describes how much force is put on a falling weight and is listed in kilonewtons (kN). In general, a higher impact force rating on a rope indicates a softer catch on the climber, belayer, and gear because the rope has more dynamic stretch. Knowing how to give a soft catch is ideal for sport climbing where you are taking a lot of falls, but when ice climbing, you don’t want to fall at all so it’s okay for an ice climbing rope to have a lower impact force rating.

READ MORE

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About The Author

Born in Maryland, Lindsay Rohrbaugh is an avid rock-alpine climber and mountaineer. An urban wildlife biologist by trade, she is also a travel writer and student of Integrative Medicine. When not in school or conducting field work on bats and turtles in Washington, DC, she is out climbing rocks and peaks or scaling high points across the globe. She’s hiked the Lares Trek in Peru and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and climbed various routes in Morocco, Peru, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. She has even tried her skills at deep water soloing! Her weekends are often spent with her husband in their newly self-built cabin in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

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