The fine folks at Pemba Serves recently sent me a 70m Petzl Nomad climbing rope to review. Since there are sadly no rock climbing crags near my house and a climbing trip to Red Rocks fell through, I have been using the climbing rope mainly for lead climbing at my local gym.
The Petzl Nomad is a 9.8mm good all around single rope. Consider it the meat and potatoes of climbing ropes, the do-everything, go-to rope of average diameter, weight and fall rating. The Petzl Nomad is not too light and definitely not too heavy (63g per meter) and perfect for sport, trad or alpine rock, ice and snow.
Out of the box, the climbing rope comes in a nice butterfly coil and is ready for action. All my partner and I had to do was tie in to either end and start climbing! When belaying or rappelling, I found that the Nomad really slid smoothly through my Reverso 3 belay device, where I have had trouble in the past with thicker ropes being jerky because of too much friction.
Another benefit of the 9.8mm diameter and lighter weight is that you get less rope drag and have to exert less energy when pulling up to clip a draw, important for a full day of multi-pitch climbing or if you are trying to send a difficult route.
You can really feel the Duratec dry treatment and smoothness of the outer sheath when lowering a climber- you definitely get some rope burn! After a few days out though the climbing rope softens up quite nicely.
A highly visible 6" black center marker lets you know when you have hit the middle of the rope and you can also feel a slight difference when the center marker runs through your belay device. Personally, I am partial to using two different colors to tell me when I have hit the center of the rope, especially for multi-pitch climbs where I may not see the center marker pass through while looking up at my lead climber.
The Petzl Nomad has a fall rating of 7. I didn't exactly take any whippers to test out this rating, but – it turns out – there's not a real-world correlation between fall ratings and the number of falls you can take on a rope before you should consider retiring it. The UIAA standardizes falls to be used to test ropes in laboratory situations, and these test standards differ by rope category (for instance, between Single Ropes and Half Ropes.)
The standards themselves are useful in comparing one rope against another – as long as they are in the same category – but there's no hard-and-true link to fall-ratings and how they perform (or wear) in the real world. Many factors come into play, such as the type of terrain you climb on regularly (slab versus overhanging, for instance), the type of rock you climb on (sharp limestone versus smooth granite, or vice-versa), and how much dirt, grime, and water you typically encounter with your rope. Suffice it to say, for the diameter, weight, and intended use of the Nomad, a fall rating of 7 is right in line with what's out there.
Bottom Line: The Petzl Nomad is a fantastic all around rope. The Duratec dry treatment means I can use this rope for ice and alpine climbing this winter without having to worry about the rope getting wet or freezing.
The Nomad is durable enough to use for top roping but where I think the rope really shines is in sport and trad lead climbing, especially multi-pitch. Cheryl and I used a 60m version when we climbed the First Flatiron this summer. The rope worked great but we could have used this 70m version as we came up a tiny bit short on some pitches and the rappel.
I haven't used the Nomad long enough to let you know how the sheath holds up or have an opinion on long term durability so I will keep you posted.