I’ve been climbing for close to 16 years and have owned more than 20 different ropes, not to mention the countless other ropes borrowed other climbers. So it was not exactly a shot in the dark for me to want to test the Mammut Infinity 9.5mm x 70m Protect rope. Mammut ropes are known to handle well, and more importantly, resist sheath damage for a long time. I also had it on good authority that this particular 9.5 was so burly and tough that it performed like an old 10.2 workhorse. During my month of testing it has been on El Cap, on burly off width climbs, on trad climbing days in California’s Needles, and sport climbing on Colorado’s Front Range. The verdict: the Mammut Infinity is a fantastic buy. To see how it stacks up to the competition, check out our article on the best climbing ropes.
Smooth and Predictable Handling
One of the things I love most about the Mammut Infinity Protect is the way it feels in hand when clipping. A friend commented that she felt the rope was a bit stiffer than others she had used, and I agree with that sentiment. That stiffness makes it easier to clip because it pushes the rope just slightly above the clipping finger instead of directly on it. While working a notoriously challenging and tenuous 5.13 arête in Bishop’s Pine Creek, this ease of clipping was absolutely crucial.
Of course, we can’t talk about handling without discussing the sheath. The sheath on this rope features a tight weave which feels silky smooth to the touch, but not slippery. When brand new, some ropes have an almost slippery feel to them, which is nice for reducing rope drag but can be more difficult to handle. Some of this sheath texture right out of the box is going to be due to the dry treatment, so this rope may handle differently if you get it without one. All that said, I thought the sheath was very tactilely pleasing and has resisted fuzzing or fraying thus far despite heavy use.
Mammut ropes are reputation for durability, and it was a big reason I went with the Infinity. It hardly would be fair to stack this one-month-old rope up against some of the seasoned veterans that I’ve had around for years, but one month in, I’m feeling pretty good about the durability of this line.
I’m not known for being gentle with my ropes. I use them a lot, but perhaps more importantly, I use them in many ways. I sport climb, trad climb, alpine climb, single pitch, multipitch, top rope, rappel, and short-fix (which means lots of jugging), among other things. Usually, finding a rope that can withstand all that abuse is rare to impossible. But I think the Infinity may just be an exception to the rule. It has withstood all the abuse I’ve put it through without even the slightest of sheath fuzzing, soft spots, or abrasions. I have had other ropes develop a full-blown core shot in their first month from less, but a month in with the Infinity, it still looks and feels brand new.
"Protect" Dry Treatment
I haven’t had much of a chance to test the dry treatment in wet circumstances, as I’ve just been lucky with the weather. But what I have noticed is that when packing up in a sprinkle, you can see the water beading up on the surface of the rope and sliding off. This, of course, is precisely what a dry treatment is supposed to do.
Another good indicator of the efficacy of a dry treatment is how clean the rope tends to stay after prolonged use. It’s not just water that a dry treatment sheds, but dirt, grime, and aluminum dust from carabiners. Thus far, my Infinity still looks clean as a whistle. So while there’s not too much I can say definitively about Mammut’s “Protect” dry treatment, so far, it seems to be doing a great job.
Comfort of Catches
All of the other considerations we’ve discussed above would be moot if the Infinity gave uncomfortable catches. Any quality rope you buy should give a safe catch but comfort is king and it can go either way. A rope that’s too stretchy will make you uncomfortable if you fall near the bottom of a route (nobody likes to deck on rope stretch). It it’s too stiff, you’ll be cursing your belayer for the hard catch any time you whip.
As it turns out, the Mammut Infinity does great with catches both at the starts of routes and the ends. It gives enough stretch to make the catch painless enough, yet not so much stretch that somebody who falls top roping a longer pitch will deck five meters up. I’m not sure how Mammut does it, but the Infinity seems to hit that super sweet spot, making this one of the more comfortable ropes I’ve used.
Construction: Ideal Rope Width
The Infinity is a 9.5 that performs like a 10.2, which, in my opinion, means it’s the best of both worlds (and the reason we favor this diameter in our article on the best climbing ropes). This is the workhorse you want for your everyday sport and trad cragging purposes, whether hangdogging, top roping, projecting, or tieing in for the send. At 9.5, it’s still light enough that you could bring this along as your alpine climbing line, but I’d probably recommend going down closer to 9.0 just for the weight. That said, this is an excellent line for long multi-pitch trad days, especially when the approach is short.
What We Like
- Durability—this rope takes a licking and keeps on clipping.
- Cost—it’s not the cheapest rope on the market, but you get what you pay for. In this case, you get a great rope.
- Performance—in the end, it just does everything it’s supposed to do and nothing it’s not. It catches falls, resists abrasion, and shows minimal wear and tear after significant usage.
What We Don't
- At this point, I haven’t come up against any real gripes with the Infinity. The only thing I could think of would be cost—you can find other ropes of this length and diameter for cheaper. That said, the Infinity is a cut above some similar less expensive lines I’ve had.
It would be foolhardy to compare any two ropes of different diameters, so let’s stick to 9.5s here. Two other 9.5mm ropes I have experience with are the Edelweiss Energy Arc, and the Maxim Pinnacle. These are great ropes to compare the Infinity to, because they rest, respectively, on par with the Mammut and on the high-end side of the spectrum.
The Edelweiss Energy is a fine line at a competitive price ($280 for a 70m length). I had it for many years and was very happy with the abuse it took. Unfortunately, it was something of a wet fish after just a couple months of usage, becoming rather floppy and limp. The Mammut Infinity shows no sign of doing the same, at least not nearly as quickly. I also recall the Energy becoming fuzzy more quickly than the Infinity. So, in this case, it's a clear win for the Mammut.
Perhaps less predictably, I would have a hard time recommending the Pinnacle over the Mammut Infinity. Maxim ropes are beautiful, and handle better than any other rope I’ve ever used. But on more than one occasion, I’ve been surprised at how quickly they fray and core-shot. I had the Pinnacle a few years ago on a trip to South America, and ended up core-shotting it after one pitch of jugging. Now, jugging on a 9.5mm dynamic line isn’t exactly the intended usage. But after doing some jugging on the Infinity, and seeing no damage at all, I would have a hard time buying the more expensive Pinnacle instead.
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