Let’s address the main issue first: Petzl ropes don’t have a very good reputation, even among the company’s reps and sponsored athletes. Even my personal experience was less than stellar: I had a pair of Dragonfly 8.2 half ropes that got super-fuzzy and started wetting out after just three ice climbs. But with the introduction of a new range of ropes at Summer 2013 Outdoor Retailer, and a new rope-manufacturing partner, this is about to change.
The Alpine Start has had a Volta 9.2 for several months now, and the rope has been seeing regular use in all sorts of conditions — ice, mixed, rock, alpine — as well as all types of climbing, from repeated falls on various mixed projects to top-roping at sport crags. In all these scenarios, there is absolutely nothing to complain about. Well, maybe the colour combination: our test rope came in black, which in and of itself isn’t an issue, but it’s damn-near-impossible to see the black middle marker…
The new Petzl ropes are made by Edelrid to Petzl’s designs and specifications. Petzl wants to stress that these aren’t a re-brand but rather brand-new ropes from the ground-up. For a complete overview, check out Petzl’s website: http://www.petzl.com/en/outdoor/verticality/ropes Edelrid has been making ropes for a long time, and have a very good reputation, so it’s really good to see Petzl partner with a quality manufacturer.
The Volta 9.2mm is a multi-standard rope, certified for use as a single, half or twin rope, making it extremely versatile, especially in alpine terrain. At 55-grams per meter, it’s weight is similar to other ropes of this diameter. The Volta features a Duratec Dry dry treatment, and resisted every effort to wet it out, even during long, wet, spring ice days. The rope also comes with a number of other labels — UltraSonic Finish, ClimbReady, EverFlex — but all you need to know is that the rope handles beautifully. Every person who’s climbed on it — from professional athletes to mountain guides to weekend warriors — has commented on the smooth, soft feel and supple handling. This is a really, really nice rope.
After five months or so of weekly use, hundreds of pitches, dozens of rappels and almost exclusively tarp-less use (in the interest of fully abusing this rope, it’s been used without a tarp during the review period) the Volta still shows minimal fuzzing. It’s a wonderful rope to work with, whether you’re tying knots, clipping pro or even just coiling it and the end of the day, and I honestly cannot find any real faults with it. The black-on-black marker is hard to see, and the rope itself doesn’t stand out well from its surroundings (in photos it just looks like a black line, not very attractive). But that’s about the only thing I can comment negatively on. Unless you really like black, just buy the orange one: I’ve used it and it’s a much nicer colour.
In a really nice time-saving touch, the rope comes coiled ready for use (that’s what the ClimbReady label means) so all you need to do is unpack it and throw it in your pack. I don’t know why every rope manufacturer doesn’t do this.
Pros: Durable, good dry coating, wonderful handling, light.
Cons: Black-on-black middle marker not the best (solution: buy the orange one).
Overall: A solid re-entry for Petzl into the rope market. Recommended.