Before we get to the news of the Icon 9.1 and Wave 9.3, we feel it’s our duty to give you a little background on how these ropes came about. For years the 9.4mm Dominator was BlueWater’s go-to rope for elite climbers. Then, out of nowhere, BlueWater was no longer able to get the yarn. This doesn’t sound like a big problem until you realize that this specific yarn came from one country, and all of a sudden it was no longer available.

BlueWater tried to recreate the Dominator with other yarns from their factory but it simply wouldn’t work. The characteristics weren’t the same and the fall ratings were lower.

Instead of trying to roll out a rope that was “almost the same” but not perfect, they decided to completely redesign their skinny ropes with yarn they knew was dependable. The biggest changes were in the sheath — for construction they went down to a 40-carrier sheath (vs the more popular 48-carrier). Using a 40-carrier construction, they were able to get a tighter weave which helps make up for the fact that it has less nylon as you do down in diameter. This allowed BlueWater to make a skinny rope that wears well and can last longer than other ropes of the same diameter.

A complete overhaul in design required more time than just swapping out the type of yarn as a simple re-design. Yet this had to be the path, as BlueWater wouldn’t settle for a simple modifications, they “wanted something perfect.”

Although you will inherently be reducing strength due the smaller size, BlueWater feels that you don’t need to sacrifice durability when you want to go down in diameter. And that’s what the 9.1mm Icon and 9.3mm Wave represent.

The Wave and Icon are similar ropes in terms of design. The only significant difference is that the 9.3mm Wave has more core yarn in it, versus the 9.1mm Icon.

9.1mm Icon (single)

The go-to rope for Tommy Caldwell and Cedar Wright.

Static Elongation: 7.2%

Dynamic Elongation: 32.7%

Impact Force: 8.8kN

UIAA Falls: 5

Weight: 55 g/m

9.3mm Wave (single/half)

Get creative: Buy an 80m rope, and chop it in two for a 40m alpine set.

Static Elongation: 4.3%

Dynamic Elongation: 33.6% (single), 28.9% (half)

Impact Force: 8kN (single), 6.1kN (half)

UIAA Falls: 6 (single), 17 (half)

Weight: 56 g/m

Want to compare these stats to more ropes?
Check out all the dynamic ropes (560+ options) at:
Additional rope features available

Both the Icon and the Wave have the option of a standard finish or a double dry (sheath and core) treatment.

BlueWater doesn’t believe in marking the middle of ropes with ink but they are into bicolor ropes that indicate the middle more dramatically. One interesting note about BlueWater’s bicolor implementation is that instead of air splicing the rope midway and starting a new weave (the norm for bicolor technology), BlueWater employees will instead manually pick up and move the bobbins. This game of “musical bobbins” allows BlueWater to eliminate any splices. The only downside is price, as this extra manual labor adds up in cost.

Final Buying Note:

Buying skinny ropes like these isn’t going to be the best idea for newer climbers, particularly folks who enjoy top-roping. Although BlueWater works hard to make these skinny ropes durable, you’ll still be climbing on a skinny rope that will, no matter what, have less fibers than a thicker rope. It’s also a really big transition from thick gym ropes (10mm+) to these skinny ropes. The thinner diameter can mean a big adjustment in belaying techniques–and you don’t want your belayer caught by surprise. Once you’ve had experience and feel comfortable with 9.9 or 9.7mm ropes, it would be a safer time to consider another step down in diameter.

Confident you can handle the 9.3mm Wave and/or the 9.1mm Icon? Have it ’em: