For several years back in the 90s I taught a wide range of outdoor courses for an Arizona-based retail chain called Popular Outdoor Outfitters. When they decided to add climbing gear they asked me to make a trip to the Outdoor Retailer Show, which was held in Reno Nevada at the time. I came back with a recommendation — “Buy everything from BlueWater Ropes.” BlueWater was one vendor that could provide everything. Not only the best climbing ropes available, but a full line of gear.
The opening order was to be $350,000, but BlueWater turned it down. They had a dealer in Phoenix. A small specialty climbing shop doing an average of $10,000 a year in BlueWater sales. It would take that dealer 35 years to match Popular’s opening order, but BlueWater turned it down. I needed to know why. The answer was simple enough: “Loyalty”. Loyalty to that small dealer took precedence over money. I was disappointed, but impressed with that level of integrity.
A few more years went by before I reconnected with BlueWater. With the encouragement of a friend, Charly Oliver, who had once worked for BlueWater, I approached them about creating a specialty canyoneering rope. The result of our collaboration was the 8mm Canyon Pro, the first rope made in the USA specifically for canyoneering and still the best (in my not-so-humble opinion).
Our collaborative relationship has run 15 years strong now. I consider them to be “conservatively innovative”. I’m always impressed with their openness to new ideas, but that is always tempered by one simple fact — people trust their lives to their products.
People ask me if I have tried other climbing and canyoneering ropes. Of course I have. Ask me why I won’t switch brands and I’ll give you a simple answer: “Loyalty”. BlueWater has earned it.