Beal has been on a roll recently, presenting mind-blowing ropes and continually one-upping themselves in technology and construction. For example, last year they released the 7.3mm Gully – the thinnest and lightest half rope on the market. And their GoldenDry dry treatment enables Beal ropes to be some of the few that pass the rigorous UIAA water repellant standard.

Now they’re raising the bar again with their newest single rope, the 8.5mm Opera. Weighing in at 48 g/m the Opera is the lightest and skinniest single rope on the market. It’s also triple-rated as a single, half, and twin rope. Previously, the title of thinnest and lightest single was held by the Edelrid Corbi, an 8.6mm triple-rated rope weighing 51 grams per meter. Although the Opera is just a scant 0.1mm thinner in diameter, the 3 g/m reduction in weight compared to the Corbi translates to shedding 0.46 lb. for a 70 meter cord – a mighty difference on a long alpine approach.

Here’s the skinny:

The Opera has an incredibly low impact force for each certification type: single, half, and twin. They’re actually some of the lowest numbers in the industry:

Single rating: 7.4kN

Half (double) rating: 5.5kN

Twin rating: 8.8kN

This also means the dynamic elongation percentage is quite high:

Single rating: 37%

Half (double) rating: 32%

Twin rating: 29%

Compare these stats to more ropes.
Check out all the dynamic ropes (560+ options) at:
www.WeighMyRack.com/rope

The low impact force and high dynamic elongation really show up during a fall. The biggest benefit is that a stretchy rope means your gear won’t be as shock-loaded. Which, if your protection is tenuous, is nice piece of mind. As a climber, you’ll also experience a softer catch as there will be a lot of rope stretch. After falling, you might notice you’re lower on the climb than you expected and it’s important to recognize any potential ground-fall hazard due the extra rope stretch. An astute belay partner who can help counter these effects is key.

As with most of Beal’s high performance ropes, the Opera comes equipped with Unicore(R), which means the core of the rope is bonded to the sheath throughout the entire rope. This results in 0mm sheath slippage and eliminates bunching of the sheath. If the rope ever experiences a core shot, the sheath will not fall away from the core. This still means that a core shot is still dangerous because it there is no longer a protective layer to your lifeline. But this time, you may still be able to use the rope (say to jumar up it) to get out of the situation versus potentially becoming stranded.

The Opera has the option to be treated with GoldenDry (translation: the sheath and the core are dry treated with Beal’s proprietary process). This treatment passes the UIAA’s newest Water Repellency standard. Surprisingly, this is not a common occurrence, even with ropes that claim to be dry treated for both the sheath and core. This certification is new for 2014. Here is what the UIAA states:

To qualify for the new standard, a rope sample is subjected to light abrasion over its entire surface, equivalent to a few days’ use. The rope is then soaked for 15 minutes following a precise procedure… To pass the test at a certified laboratory, the amount of absorbed water must not be greater than 5% of the rope’s weight.

So 5% is the minimum and Beal passes this test handily. Liberty Mountain (Beal’s US distributer) touts that the Opera had less than a 2% water absorption when tested by the UIAA. Beal’s official site pads that number as the “Beal Guaranty” is less than 3% water absorption.

Even though this rope boasts some impressive stats, is it great for every situation?

No.

As a single rope, this would not be a great choice for top-roping or projecting; It has the lowest single rope fall rating required to still be certified by the UIAA (5 single rope falls). The Opera would also be a lousy choice for jumaring. Not only is it thin, but the dynamic stretch will not be your friend as you make your way up the cliff.

Note: UIAA Falls for Half: 18, UIAA Falls for Twin: 25

The Opera will excel on alpine and multi-pitch climbs, especially when weight matters.

Example 1: Take the Opera and a lighter tagline for rappels, creating a super light kit.

Example 2: Take the Opera and another light half (double) rope to climb with, creating a versatile setup for climbing and rappelling.

Example 3: Take the Opera alone, as a single, and walk off the route with a smug look on your face knowing how light your rope backpack is, compared to your partner who has to carry the rack down (it’s fair because you bought the rope).

However you use the Opera, it does require extra attention. Skinny ropes with dry treatment are slippery. You may even want to wear gloves for added gripping ability. Fortunately most belay devices are rated to handle a 8.5mm rope, especially any belay device intended for use with twin/half ropes. With the UIAA dry certification, the light weight, and triple-rating, this rope is begging to go on some big adventures.

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The Opera is fairly elusive, so here’s a listing of all Beal’s smaller ropes:

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Alison Dennis

Alison Dennis

Alison (she/her) runs WeighMyRack from her 17' travel trailer. She is currently touring the US and would love if you contacted her to meet up to talk about climbing, climbing gear, or if you have any fun and/or ridiculous adventure in mind.

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