BlueWater Rope Factory Tour
I recently returned from a trip to the good old south. I love visiting the south. It’s absolutely one of my favorite places. With southern hospitality and world class climbing, I can’t ask for much more. In fact, I think we should start an initiative to instill “southern hospitality” to the rest of the nation. I pretty sure everyone would be a whole heck of a lot happier if people were inherently kind to each other.
But, alas, that’s probably a bigger topic than I can tackle right now….
On this trip in particular I was fortunate enough to visit with one of my longest sponsors and good friends, BlueWater Ropes. I have had the pleasure of knowing the BlueWater family for well over a decade now. It is a family run business that employs almost 40 local people in the central Georgian town of Carrollton. Having been in the outdoor industry for almost two decades, I know it is a rare treat to have a family run company. Add on top of that, they make the best ropes out there – long lasting, durable, excellent hand – (that’s sincere, I’ve used a lot of other ropes, and these are the best), and you’ve got an amazing company.
I’ve seen pictures and videos on how ropes are made, but getting to personally tour the factory was impressive. The amount that goes into our climbing ropes from conception, to design, to manufacturing, to quality control, to shipping, is mind blowing. Each employee is responsible for their own station, ensuring that every single rope is made to the highest standard.
Having climbed on these ropes for so long, it was especially interesting to see how they were constructed. I would pass from stall to stall watching my old standbys (The Dominator, The Eliminator, and The Bluewater II) spin from individual strands into a familiar multicolored rope.
I recently learned how amazing these ropes are. Back in 2005, my partner Tommy Caldwell and I were working on free climbing The Nose of El Capitan. We knew that it was going to be a huge undertaking, consuming our lives for at least two or three months that fall. We also knew that to properly work on the most difficult pitches (The Great Roof and Changing Corners) we were going to have to spend the majority of our time rappelling down from the summit. These crux pitches are closer to the summit, making it the most viable access point.
We ordered two 600′ lengths of the Bluewater II ropes. We jumarred up and down, climbed on them, rappelled on them, basically used them as much as possible for two months straight. At the end of our stint on the Nose they seem “slightly” used. A couple years later, Tommy went back and used them for the same purpose for his free ascent of Magic Mushroom with Justen Sjong. A couple years after that, they have been in use for his attempt on The Dawn Wall with Kevin Jorgeson.
Kevin mentioned to me last month that our original Bluewater II ropes were just retired last year! Those ropes sure had contributed to some of the most impressive free climbing that has happened on El Cap. Maybe we should start a new “bronzing” station at the BlueWater factory for retired ropes! 🙂