The Beal Opera 8.5 is not only the lightest and thinnest single rope on the market, with the inclusion of Beal’s UNICORE technology, it’s also a very safe rope. While it didn’t hit the market in North America with much fanfare this rope, and the Unicore tech in general, is a game changer! One of the biggest dangers in climbing is damaging or cutting a rope: sharp edges, falling rocks, crampons, etc. can all lead to a rope failure which is catastrophic in a single rope system! I’ve had the opportunity to test out the Beal Opera on both rock and ice over the past year and am sold, this is a great rope: versatile, light, dry and safe!
- Triple rated (single, double & twin)
- Golden Dry (UIAA certified Dry) or Dry Cover available
- Weight: 48g/m (the 50g/m barrier has been broken)
- Length: 60m & 70m
- Color: Blue or Green with black centre mark or dual-pattern green
- UNICORE technology
- Fall Rating: 5 (single rope)
- Impact force: 7.4kN
- Sheath %: 39
Test rope: Green 70m Golden Dry
Because so much of the story with the Beal Opera is the UNICORE technology let’s quickly chat about it. What has been coined as UNICORE tech is basically a thin membrane that’s placed between the core and the sheath. This membrane bonds the sheath and the core together while still allowing for the rope to stretch under load. So what does it mean? Well basically if you damage the sheath, the rope will still function as designed instead of potentially breaking! Of course this doesn’t mean you should continue to climb on a damaged rope! To really get a feel for the difference check out this video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtURlhPssQI
The Beal Opera 8.5 is supple, smooth and easy to belay with… well almost too easy to belay with really! I used the Edelrid Mega Jul belay device with the Opera as it handles thin ropes exceptionally well. I’m sure that a Petzl Reverso 4 would also do the trick.
As a very thin and triple rated rope the dynamic elongation, basically how much the rope stretches in a fall, is quite high at 37% (the Mammut Serenity is 31% for comparison). The upside to this is a very low impact force in a fall which is great for your gear but the down side is the additional distance traveled requiring extra caution off the ground or over ledges. It sucks if you’re a second struggling with a crux as well as the rope will stretch after a take which means lost vert.
The tightly woven sheath of the Opera has been surprisingly durable so far with little wear showing on the 70m Green Golden Dry rope after a season of climbing ice and mixed. To truly test the durability of the rope I’ll need to put a bunch more miles on it and put it through a summer of rock but so far so good.
Golden Dry Treatment:
The Golden Dry treat on the Opera worked great time and time again this past winter ice climbing at the coast, and it can be wet on the coast! Of course I didn’t use the rope on any rock so the dry treat and surface rope fibers stayed pristine. After several weeks of use there was no noticeable difference in the feel or handling of the rope and it didn’t matter if it sat in a puddle while I belayed it stayed dry.
Pros: Versatile, light, supple, dry & safe
Cons: Not available in many stores
Overall: This is a fantastic rope for ice, alpine and multi-pitch rock where weight is critical and the improved safety of the UNICORE a huge bonus.
I was provided a review sample but this didn’t influence the review in any way.