Wednesday 23 September 2020

GEAR REVIEW: Simond Edge 8.9mm Triple-Rated Rope

Climbing ropes have changed massively in the 20+ years in which I've been buying and using them. Back then a climber in the UK would generally choose between a Single rope of ~11mm, or a pair of ~9mm Half Ropes. Over the years rope technology has got better and better, and we're now used to using skinnier ropes that are lighter to carry to the crag, handle better even in wet and icy conditions, and look much cooler to boot! A more recent development has been for ropes to be rated to more than one of the UIAA standards. "Triple Rated" ropes are certified to be safe to use as a Single Rope, or as one of a pair in a Half or Twin Rope system. One of the main advantages of this is sheer versatility for days or trips away, allowing you to climb on a Single rope when appropriate (e.g.classic mountain rock, mountaineering etc), or pair it up with another rope for days when you prefer to use Half ropes (e,g, UK trad cragging). Perhaps the most well-known of this type of Triple-Rated Rope is the 9.1mm Beal Joker, which has rapidly become a classic of the type, earning a strong following amongst recreational and professional climbers alike. The payback for this has of course been cost--Triple Rated ropes have never been a cheap option, generally costing significantly more than one could buy an equivalent Single Rope for. Thus I was very interested to try the Simond Edge, a UIAA Triple-Rated Rope but at an approachable price. Too good to be true? Let's find out.....

The Simond Edge in use as a Single rope for cragging


Simond is a long-standing French mountaineering brand, who have been and still are based in the Chamonix Valley. Indeed, anyone who has climbing around Chamonix, or in the French Alps is likely to have seen (or bought themselves!) some of their wide range of gear.  Some years ago they were bought as a brand by the sporting superstore chain Decathlon, and now all Simond products are bought through Decathlon, whether in-store or Online. Simond still manufacture their hardware in Chamonix, whereas clothing etc. appears to be made overseas.  Like several brands, Simond do not make their own ropes, instead they are made for them in northern France by Cousin, a long-standing rope manufacturer.


The Simond Edge is a 8.9mm CE certified climbing rope, and meets the UIAA standards for use as a Single, Half or Twin Rope. Used as a Single it is certainly at the "skinny" end of the diameter range(the lightest, skinnies Single Rope on the market is the 8.5mm Beal Opera)! It weighs in at 54 grams/metre, and is available in one colour (Pink!) only. It is available in 50, 60, 70 or 80 m lengths. Sheath percentage: 36%. Impact force 7.9 kN (single rope) / 6 kN (half rope) / 9.5 kN (twin rope). No. of falls 5 (single rope) / 15 (half rope) / 35 (twin rope)

For comparison, the equivalent technical stats for the classic Beal Joker 9.1mm are: Weight 52 grams/metre. Sheath percentage: 35%. Impact force 7.9-8.2 (single) | 5.6-5.8 (half) | 9.1-9.3 (twin). No. of falls 5-6 (single) | 24-26 (half) | >25 (twin)


I have been using the Simond Edge 50m rope for the last year or so. It has often been used fairly intensively, both in my work as a Mountaineering & Climbing Instructor scrambling and climbing, as well as for some personal climbing too. Working in the mountains one can't always choose which days to go onto the hills, so it has experienced everything from dry, dusty heatwave conditions, to torrential rain and dripping belay ledges! I have enjoyed its versatility, and the relative lack of weight when lugging it up and down the Scottish mountains.

Let's get one thing out of the way: the colour! It only comes in a very vibrant shade of pink-I love it it but incognito it is not! With there not being another colour available, you can't buy a second rope of contrasting colour to use as a pair, which is a shame. When guiding rock-climbing, I will often have two clients seconding on separate Single-rated ropes, and having another colour would have been perfect. Likewise if wanting to pair it up to use as Half-Ropes.  I've been able to pair it with other similar ropes that I own,  but always somehow prefer having an exact pair of ropes to use! I was a bit concerned that it may stain with dirt and mud very easily being such a light colour, but this hasn't been the case. I've washed it regularly as needed, but it hasn't required any more care than other ropes.

Handling is generally very good. Initially I noticed it seemed quite prone to kinking and twisting, but over time this has become much less noticeable. This despite me using Italian Hitches a lot when guiding, something which usually encourages ropes to kink badly! It handles as a fairly "soft" rope, easy to clip and easy to tie knots etc. The Dry treatment has been a little disappointing to my mind. These treatments eventually wear off all ropes in my experience, but it does seem to have done so quite quickly. It still handles well in the wet, but does seem to be holding more water than when new.  User reviews on Decathlon's own website describe problems with the Dry treatment feeling "sticky" and discolouring gear, but this isn't something that I've experienced at all.  As with all ropes of this  "skinny" diameter, it does require experience and care when belaying. A rope of this diameter will be compatible with the majority of modern belay devices, but will definitely feel "slick" and require extra vigilance. It may be too skinny for older versions/models of both traditional and assisted-braking devices, so check compatability carefully.

The Simond Edge in use guiding on a damp day in the Cuillin, Isle of Skye

In terms of durability I am impressed. A lightweight skinny rope such as this is never going to last as long as a thicker rope, but given the amount of use it has had it's holding up well. Yes, there are signs of slight wear, but no more so that I would expect from any comparable rope really, especially one that has "enjoyed" rough, scrambling ground, many direct-belays on rock spikes, and plenty of time on the rough Gabbro of the Skye Cuillin. It's not a workhorse rope by any means--if you want a rope that will last for lots of cragging, top-roping or sport climbing then this (or any similar rope) is not the ideal choice, but if you want a versatile, lightweight rope for mountain adventures or trips where you might want to do a mixture of everything, then it should be on your radar. The sheath percentage is similar to that of the Beal Joker, but less than some other competitors on the market (in very rough terms, a higher sheath percentage suggests better wear resistance/durability).As I say, in practical terms it seems at least as good as any other similar rope I've used in the past.


 I think it's fair to say that all Simond gear is usually at the Low to Mid price-point compared with some other brands, and the Edge is no exception. At £79.99 (September 2020) for a 50m skinny Triple-rated rope it is excellent value for money. Similar alternatives from more "premium" brands are likely to cost you another 50% on top of that at least. In recent years I have bought and used two other "budget" 50m Single ropes from other (well-known) manufacturers, that cost about the same as the Edge.  One of these is already showing serious wear, and the other is so stiff as to be unpleasant to use for many applications. In comparison, the Edge has been and continues to be a "go to" rope for me. I know that some climbers are slightly wary of Simond gear...there is a suspicion that because it is so cheap compared to other brands that it must be inferior. This was one of the reasons I was keen to try the brand for myself, and I'm pleased to say that, for the Edge at least, I can't find any basis for those worries. I'm looking forward to trying other items from their range in the future.

The Edge in action on East Buttress, Beinn Eighe


Overall, I have been very impressed with the Simond Edge. This sort of rope is not appropriate for every user, but if you are after a Triple-Rated rope it deserves serious consideration.  It's light to carry in your backpack, handles well and looks good!  I'm not sure that the Dry coating is quite as effective as that on other, more expensive ropes, but at this price point I suppose something has to give. I also really wish it came in another colour as well, but again perhaps that would increase manufacturing costs. However. the crunch question is always, of course, would I part with my hard-earned cash for another? Absolutely, yes!

Sunday 26 July 2020

The Freedom of the Hills--Lockdown Lifts

Since lockdown has eased here in Scotland it has been a real treat to get out and enjoy our wonderful hills. One unexpected benefit of the lockdown has, I suppose, been a reappreciation it seems to have given us all, myself included, of what a wonderful part of the world we live in. A real privilege. Even if we were never allowed to leave Scotland or the UK again I don't think I would ever exhaust the supply of scenic views, great mountains and fantastic climbs. I've posted a selection of photos from the last few weeks to give you an idea of what I have been up to. Despite the obvious hammer-blow to tourism generally, visitors are returning gradually to the Highlands, and I am looking forward to guiding folk up our hills, scrambles and climbs once again, and passing on knowledge to those keen to be able to undertake independent adventures of their own in the future. Much thought, discussion and practical planning has gone into how to return to the mountains with clients in a COVID-secure way---it's a new experience for all of us, but we're in it together, and the mountain adventures are feeling even better after the enforced absence!

The wonderful mini-mountain Stac Pollaidh, NW Highlands

Me seconding Vlad the Impaler, Stac Pollaidh. HVS 5a ***

Bill enjoying freedom
Coiling the ropes on the summit of Stac Pollaidh
A stunning day on East Buttress, Beinn Eighe, Torridon. Diff ***

Myself and Sandy, Beinn Eighe

Atmospheric but easy climbing, Beinn Eighe
Heading for the Munro of Ruadh Stac Mor, Beinn Eighe

Staff training with Scotch on the Rocks Guiding--looking at adaptations to make activities COVID secure

Observing a Scotch on the Rocks Guiding Summer Mountain Leader Preparation Weekend

The hills are full of life right now 
Cragging in the sunshine at Logie Head on the Moray Coast

Afterthought Arete, the classic scramble/easy climb, on a cold day in the Cairngorms

Cioch Nose, one of Scotland's most classic mountain climbs. Applecross, NW Highlands

Lots of air on the Cioch Nose

Enjoying the last of the pitched climbing on the Cioch Nose

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Spring lockdown & a look back at winter

As I write this the world seems a very different place from just a few weeks ago. What we took for granted has been wrenched from us, and we're all feeling vulnerable and uncertain. For my own part, grand Spring climbing plans are on hold, and work trips to Skye, Wales, Morocco and closer to home have all been cancelled or postponed. Planning anything is impossible at present. On the one hand such frivolous activities may seem unimportant in the midst of crisis, but on the other I realise again just how much the mountains and wild places mean to me and so many clients and friends. They are what makes us who we are.  I have been in touch with all of you who had bookings for April and May----thank you for your understanding and flexibility.

Many of you will also know that I am also a doctor, and thus for me this has not been a time of staying at home, but transitioning back to the hospital as a regular workplace. It's not the mountains, but at least I feel I'm helping to some degree, and am lucky to be in a position to do so. How long this crisis will go on for  no-one can say, and it will be a slow readjustment as and when we come out of "hibernation". But the mountains and crags will still be there for us, and will be all the more pleased to see us for having had some peace.

It's been a while since my last post on the Blog, and sorting through photos to post up has made me take stock and realise that I've had a busy, productive winter, and have been really very lucky. The below video is just a very small selection of photos from the winter, a mixture of play, work and more learning.

Best wishes everyone, look after yourselves, see you on the mountains soon.

Tuesday 4 February 2020

January catch up

January has been a frustrating month for those hoping for non-stop winter conditions. Temperatures have been up and down, alternately bringing good snowfalls only for the snow to be washed away into the rivers a few days later. There have been plenty of stormy days, but some quieter interludes too. I have enjoyed being on the hill both for work and play. I have been working with clients from Glenmore Lodge and Scotch on the Rocks Guiding, as well as guiding private On High Hills clients. I've managed some climbing in the Cairngorms as well, and some ski-touring too. We're currently into a more optimistic spell of weather, with some good snowfalls and colder temperatures. Fingers crossed for this to continue!

The West Drumochter hills

Ski-touring on Geal Charn, Drumochter

Approaching Fiacall Buttress, Coire an t Sneachda

Climbing "Whose Line is it Anyway?" II/III Coire an t Sneachda

Guiding private On High Hills client Ian, in the Grey Corries, Lochaber--a hard day in deep snow: snowshoes indispensable!

Thursday 9 January 2020

That's better! Winter returns

A welcome return to more normal temperatures for the time of year, and a new, albeit, light covering of snow. Today I was out climbing with my friend James on an easy mountaineering route in Coire an Lochain in the Northern Corries of the Cairngorms. A beautiful day of no wind, great views and lots of sunshine. The snow in the gully was lovely to climb, having become bullet hard from lots of freeze-thaw cycles. It looks set to stay cold for the foreseeable future-great!

Enjoying The Couloir

Coire an Lochain

Smiles all round!

More smiles!

Wednesday 1 January 2020

What a year!

Happy New Year! Thank you to clients, friends and colleagues for a whirlwind 2019, and here's to an equally good 2020.

Trekking perfection--Tour du Mont Blanc, July 2019

Like most years, for most people, 2019 has had its ups and downs for sure. But when I scan back over the diary and photos it brings back lots of happy memories. Guiding and instructing clients at home all over the Scottish Highlands has been a big part of the year, and I have worked on Skye, in Torridon, the Cairngorms, Ben Nevis and Glen Coe, and everywhere in between! It's been fantastic meeting lots of varied people, some after an adventure, others looking to learn new skills, and some just wanting to spend time in our wonderful hills and glens.  There's been climbing, scrambling, walking and even the West Highland Way!  Further afield I have taught navigation in the Lake District, and guided the wonderful Tour du Mont Blanc trek (twice!).  Personal climbing has taken me all over Scotland, as well as to Spain, Morocco, Chamonix as well as the more esoteric delights of Fairy Cave Quarry in deepest Somerset! Personal skills development for me included finally gaining my UIAA International Diploma in Mountain Medicine, as well as the Snowsport Scotland Alpine Ski Leader award. In between all that a juggling act of family, home-life as well as a little bit of medical work. Phew!!

What about 2020? It's already looking like another busy one! Skye, the Dolomites, Morocco are already confirmed for work, and I'm really looking forward to all of it!

Guiding the Traverse of Liathach, Torridon

Teaching climbing, Dunkeld

Personal climbing, Chamonix

Glacier skills & crevasse rescue as part of the UIAA Diploma in Mountain Medicine

Guiding the Aonach Eagach, Glen Coe

Autumn sunshine boulding in Torridon

Abseiling into Creagan a Cha No, Cairngorms

Teaching rock-climbing, Glen Nevis

Personal climbing, Puig Campana, Spain

Personal climbing, Pygmy Ridge, Cairngorms

Chimney Rib, Caingorms

Bouldering in Torridon

Liathach traverse in winter

Great turns on Cairn Gorm in November
Superb scrambling in Morocco--Tizgut Ridge
Alpine rock in Morocco--Millennium Ridge, 1500m of climbing

Bouldering in the Peak District!

Friday 27 December 2019

A good start, temporary blip

We've had a good start to the winter season here in the Highlands, with people being able to grab winter climbs, walks and ski-tours recently. I was most recently out on Christmas Eve, and enjoyed great snow-ice conditions in Coire an-t Sneachda in the Cairngorms.  The next few days look set to deliver a big thaw unfortunately, with strong SW winds likely to deplete the snowpack significantly. All is not lost though, as it looks set to cool down again next week, and the winter is still young!

Central Left-Hand I/II, Coire an-t Sneachda, Cairngorms, 24/12/19