Sterling Evolution Helix 9.5 Rope


While durability might be the most important aspect of a rope that can’t be determined from the product page, it’s also the factor I like talking about the least.

All ropes experience wear differently, and people often draw conclusions about a rope’s durability from a sample size of one. Both of these things make the scientist in me cringe.

That said, there are some quantitative things to be said in this department. First, the Helix has more sheath material than many of its predecessors at Sterling. This is a plot of all Sterling ropes arranged by sheath proportion (by mass):

Dave Alie reviews the Sterling Evolution Helix for Blister Gear Review

Of note here is that the Evolution Helix has more sheath (41%) by weight than any almost all their other single lines. That’s especially impressive when you consider that it is also thinner and rated for more falls than the Velocity, Sterling’s flagship single rope.

While it is possible to core shot any rope—even early in its life under the wrong conditions—my experience has been in line with the numbers: the Helix has held up fantastically. I’ve used the Helix extensively for cragging in Colorado and Wyoming, and taken it into the alpine to run it across some granite.

Considering the mileage, it’s in very impressive condition. I held off publishing this review (and the forthcoming Aero review) so that I could be sure about my experience with the durability of the rope. But after a full spring and summer I’m happy to say it has held up very well.

The Helix’s Home Turf

This brings us to possibly the most important part of the review: what is this rope good at? What sort of climber is the Evolution Helix a good choice for?

Thinking of it as a do-it-all rope really is the best approach.

If you’re just looking for something to use in the alpine or snow, then you should purchase a thinner single and save some weight on a long approach. The Helix isn’t too heavy to bring on high altitude trips, but if that’s your main objective and you don’t plan on using it much elsewhere, go with something lighter.

Dave Alie reviews the Sterling Evolution Helix for Blister Gear Review
Dave Alie lowering his partner on the Sterling Evolution Helix, Wine and Roses, Fremont Canyon.

If you’re primarily cragging in groups or just single-pitching (especially if you’re doing it at a moderate level or are just getting started), go for something thicker than the Helix. Get something super beefy and stop worrying about what it weighs.

Bottom Line

The Sterling Evolution Helix, then, is really perfect for climbers with one foot in each of these categories. Ratcheting up the amount of sheath material while keeping the diameter of the rope down makes it robust enough to handle daily use, but still practical enough to fit into a pack for your handful of alpine trips per season.

If this sort of versatility is what you need, then the Evolution Helix is top notch and stands right up there with the Mammut Infinity as my favorite all-in-one rope.

Leave a Comment