Beal Stinger 9.4 Unicore - Gear Review
I've never been particularly loyal to one rope brand. I'll pick and chose and try to find the best rope for the job, for a reasonable price. Pre-Covid, I had a trip to Chamonix booked and while we had planned to bring half ropes for most of our alpine climbing, a thin, single 70m rope would be nice to have for certain routes or just cragging in the valley on our days off. Beal's Stinger, at 9.4 mm and 57 g/m as well as a UIAA dry treatment seemed to fit the bill as a good all-around alpine and sport rope, without being too heavy. Beal's Unicore construction—in which the sheath is bonded to the core—was also attractive from a safety standpoint. At that time it was the skinniest single rope I'd ever owned. Thanks to Covid, that trip didn't happen, so I started using the Stinger as my ice climbing rope (when I didn't want halves) as well as my longer rock/alpine rope.
On ice or rock, the Stinger has a very nice soft feel—it clips and ties knots well, without feeling like a noodle. Like most Beal ropes, the Stinger gives a very soft catch—37% dynamic elongation with a 7.5 kN impact force. By comparison, most other 9.4 mm ropes have a lower dynamic elongation (harder catch) and a higher (more force on the gear) impact force. There is a middle mark, but it has faded pretty quickly. It is still visible against the hot pink of the rest of the rope, however.
I must admit that due to the svelte nature of the Stinger, I babied it over the 18 months I have owned it and … it is thrashed. The sheath is heavily fuzzed with numerous flat spots in the core. It has no core shots and still retains its soft catch, but I'm less than impressed with the durability. Sure, it's caught some whips (and still will) but far fewer than some of my other ropes that are older and are in better shape. I've never had a real problem with it icing up thanks to the UIAA certified dry treatment, even with the significant fuzzing that has developed.
While the Stinger stacks up in the stats and is a nice handling rope that is great to climb on, I can't recommend it simply based on its longevity. I think I'm going to retire this one early and turn it into a rope mat.
By Graham Johnson