For almost three years now I have been climbing with the Tendon Master range of ropes. During this time I have used almost every style from half ropes, light weight single ropes and thick single ropes for big wall climbing. For this review I am going to focus on the 7.8mm Master Half Ropes. These are my favourite ropes for ice and winter alpine climbing. When its time for summer alpine and rock routes I usually move to a pair of 8.5mm Master Half Ropes.
Over the years I have tried many different half ropes for winter alpine and ice climbing. In a typical year I spend between 4-6 months mountaineering or climbing using half ropes. This usually means over the course of a year I will really thrash what ever ropes I am using. Therefore, dry treatment, durability, cost and the way the rope handles is very important to me. Before switching to Tendon ropes I mostly climbed with Beal and Stirling.
The first thing I noticed when taking my Tendon Master ropes out of their packet was the difference in feel. Take a Beal Ice Line for example. When you first use them the coating is hard and wax like. This makes rope handling difficult. The ropes feel more like a cable. Over time they would soften (about the same time the dry treatment wore off) but what I really like with Tendon is that from day one my Tendon Master ropes are easy to handle. This is especially important when you are using skinny ice climbing ropes that can easily slip through a gloved hand when holding a leader fall.
Recently I have used the same pair of Tendon Master half ropes on two five week climbing trips to Patagonia. Granite, lots of rappels, wet conditions, falling rocks and the occasional fall really puts half ropes to the test. After many Patagonia trips it was common for me to simply throw my rope in the bin before flying home. I was pretty stoked when I was able to leave these two ropes in my gear stash for next year still in good enough condition to climb on for a third season. In my experience Tendon ropes last much longer than the equivalent Petzl or Stirling rope. Value for money is also an important factor for many climbers. This is another point I really like about Tendon ropes. Of course this will differ from country to country but in my experience for the quality and long life you receive from the rope the price of a Tendon Master rope is excellent compared to almost all other brands.
Overall, and I give full disclosure here that we receive sponsorship from Tendon I rate the Master series of ropes as the best I have used. If your unsure and want to try switching over to the Tendon Master series take this small challenge. Buy one Tendon Master rope and one similar rope (same size, specification etc) from a competing brand and see which one lasts the longest. I have often been on trips where I brought my Master rope and another friend had a rope from a different brand. After climbing for the trip with the two half ropes together the Tendon rope is always in the best condition.