Field Tested: Petzl Volta 9.2 review

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…

TheAlpineStart_Petzl_Volta_Review-2The black-on-black scheme isn’t easy to spot, even in bright sunlight!

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.

TheAlpineStart_Petzl_Volta_Review-3The ends of the rope are made with an UltraSonic Finish which fuses the sheath to the core, minimizing wear.

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.

TheAlpineStart_Petzl_Volta_Review-1This is the extent of the fuzzing after about five months of abuse — pretty good in our opinion!

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.

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