A sling with an eye in each end is nothing new - loggers call them "chokers" (and hitch them around their trees), crane operators call them "lifting slings" (for hoisting pipes and the like), and in 1974 Bill Forrest made them from 1" military spec. webbing and called them "Rabbit Runners" (bunnies have two ears don't they?) and suggested they be used for climbing. Bill's invention was short lived however - most climbers did and still do use web loops (called runners) for extending their carabiner clip attachment of climbing rope to piton, bolt, nut or cam. In order to be strong, these runners had to be made from rather heavy and bulky nylon tubular webbing which was a convenient by-product of World War II.

Many years later - in the late eighties (with the growth in popularity of recreational climbing) special webs were evolved with hybrid material components - like Spectra - which allowed lighter and more compact patterns to be woven specifically for the climbing market. This new material coupled with advances in sewing techniques and thread all but have retired the "traditional" 1" tubular material - which today seems heavy and "old school" and better suited for industrial purposes. One such material was Mountain Tools® Ultratape™ - an 11/16" wide hybrid of Nylon® , Spectra® and Dacron reg. The key design parameter of Ultratape™ is the balance of these components for optimum climbing performance - strong and light with super abrasion resistance as well as high strength. Ultratape™ is the near perfect material for our Web-Gear™ - runner loops, Snake Runners (sounds stronger than Rabbits eh?) and of course the Webolette® Anchor Sling. In fact it is the only hybrid Spectra® web - from any manufacturer - that can be safely tied in a loop with the water knot (ring bend) or grapevine (double fisherman's) knot. Good to know your emergency rappel sling will hold 5,000 lbf plus!

Back in the 70's and 80's I did my best to become a full time climber and also had the privilege of serving on a Mountain Rescue Association team - where EVERYTHING was equalized, backed up and multi-point anchors were our way of life. Rescue loads included big guys (the rescuers), even bigger patients (who got a ride in the litter) and tons of equipment. The effective but inelegant sling of choice was the bowline-on-a-bight with two tails serving as master load points. This usually was made from 7/16" rope - about 30 to 50 feet - and we used two for redundancy! The principal was sound but the weight and bulk unacceptable for climbing. Enter the cordelette - an import idea of Eupopean invention that relys on rather standard (and still good) nylon accessory cord. I can't rightly say when I saw my first cordelette but it was probably in the mid eighties... I remember thinking it was more a mountaineering sling than for rock climbing... but that was the opinion of a hard core Yosemite rock climber.

Flash forward - 1995 - over 10 years of Mountain Tools® experience (and 20 years of sewing web - harnesses, runners, etriers) and we needed a better anchor sling! A couple of our staff team used cordelettes and recited their virtues (cheap, adaptable,) and vices (bulky, gangly, knot gets in the way). We were challenged and had to do better! For guiding I wanted something easy to teach, easy to verify (at the belay station) and very easy for clients to dismantle, unknot and rack on their harness. We futzed with straps and buckles (inspired by Jeremy St. Ours of Solstice), knotted accessory cord in every conceivable conflabragation and finally - after removing all the unnecessary parts - settled on the Webolette® - an elegant , abbreviated version of the Euro Cordelette (hence our trademark name). Our team was psyched - we had something that was simple, really worked, would save us time and hassle on each pitch and would be a real service to climbers everywhere.

The key to the current Webolette® is the 12 mm Utratape™ Lite material - a blend of Dyneema and Nylon , how it is sewn (much more than meets the eye) and the documentation that accompanies the product - with full description, instruction, do's and don'ts and general anchor smarts. It is the standard SERENE (Secure, Equalized, Redundant, No Extension) anchor system taught by us American Mountain Guides Association professionals. We encourage climbers to embrace our mantra: V-W-8 On Belay! Read up on the reviews ( http://www.gearreview.com/webolette.asp ) and if you have questions about gear, building anchors or anchor slings, give us a call (800 5.10 -2- 5.14 ) or "Ask the Toolman" - we always enjoy hearing from climbers - like you!

Best Climbing,

Larry Arthur, Mountain Tools

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