2023 NSS Convention display
 Displays at the 2023 NSS Convention in Elkins, West Virginia. 

What's the story?

Long, long ago I developed an interest in rappelling and ascending devices. Not knowing which would be the best for me, I decided to collect one of each device so that I could compare how well they worked. Little did I know what I was getting myself into! I've spend a fair amount of time and money collecting things that have no real monetary value, and have decided to show some of what I have here. Click here for a quick glance at my collection.

I do not run an equipment business. I don't sell anything listed in this site. Please don't send me catalog requests or equipment orders.


My Ten Most Wanted List

I'm always looking for additions.
If you have something that I'm missing and are willing to donate or deal, please email me.

This site is an expression of my hobby and I provide it as a service to the vertical community. Each of the devices on these pages is part of my personal collection. I've used many of these in a variety of test situations as well as caving and climbing, and have formed my own opinions of how well each of my devices works for me.

Forming opinions of how well your device works for you is your responsibility. Never, never, never apply my opinions to your gear! Please remember, your needs may be different than mine. In particular:

  • I am not Tarzan of the Jungle and I don't swing through the trees,
  • I do not run into burning buildings to jump out the windows, and
  • I no longer actively interfere with natural selection.

I have no objection to anyone doing these things, but I do not discuss how any device will work in those any of those situations. If you do any of these, that's fine. Regardless of how you plan to use them, you must acquire your own devices and form your own opinions. Never assume that my gear or opinions have anything to do with your gear or application.

Don't Die!

I'm not writing an instruction manual, and it's your responsibility to get proper training before using any rappelling, ascending, belaying, or other climbing device. Vertical work is dangerous and nothing short of complete abstinence can make it completely safe. I'm still alive after 50 years of a vertical lifestyle, but far too many former friends are not. Don't even think about learning anything about anything from an internet web site.

Natural selection works, and it's forever.

Angel Soto

Cueva del Altar, Mexico

Recent Thanks

  • Special Thanks to Barb Ritts, Ken Kramer, and Rachel Saker and many others for helping me load, transport, set up and take down my display at the 2023 NSS Convention.

What's New?

The collection now has 4504 cataloged items of 3774 different types. Thanks to many contributors, it continues to grow at an accelerating pace. Go to the Recent Updates page to see what's new, and the Construction Plans page to see what's coming.

The Collection at a Glance Area shows my equipment display at the 2023 NSS Convention, where I displayed 3702 items. This was a huge effort, dwarfing the previous display at the 2009 International Congress of Speleology/NSS Convention held in Kerrville, Texas, USA, where I displayed 1299 unique items and promised myself never to do it again. I think it unlikely that I will repeat the effort, as it took me 22 months to prepare displays for 2023.

Where did I get these?


Can't find it? 

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Past and Future

Just the FAQs

  1. Many people around the world send me emails about this site. I love receiving these, and encourage anyone who has questions or comments to send me a note.
  2. Collecting all this stuff is expensive and I welcome equipment donations. In general I don't trade devices out of the collection unless I have accidentally acquired multiple duplicates - if I traded my collection away, then I wouldn't be able to share everything with all my readers. Sometimes I can work a deal where I trade new equipment obtained through a third party.
  3. Many things on this site are no longer available. If you can't easily find something from your local suppliers or through an internet search, the odds are that I can't either. If you ask, I'll try, but please make the effort yourself before you ask me.
  4. I hold and maintain a copyright for the contents of this site.
    • If you have your own site, you may provide a link from your site to mine. That is absolutely OK.
    • If you want to quote short excerpts (online or elsewhere), that is fine with me, provided you credit this site as the source.
    • Some people use my site information to describe things that they list on eBay. That's fine with me, but if you do,
      1. please verify that everything you say is true, since I describe the one in my hands, not the one in yours (I've seen errors), and
      2. please credit my site as the source of your information.
    • If you want to use this information for any commercial purpose whatsoever, you must ask me first.
  5. I run this site at my own expense as a service to others.
    • Sometimes I make mistakes. If you spot a factual mistake, please tell me and I will try to fix it.
    • If it is merely a difference of opinion, then I will consider your views, and I might even put them on this site. You might change my views, but you might not.
    • If you don't change my opinion and we continue to disagree, you can put youropinion on your own web site with no hard feelings from me. That's fair!
  6. I started this site on August 17, 1999 as a way to share information in a more flexible format than publishing a book could provide. It traces its history back to these three articles that I wrote a decade earlier:

Prusiking book cover


Bob Thrun, a fellow caver and equipment collector passed away in his home on February 7, 2017. He was 77 years old.

I met Bob in the 1970s, and talked with him at caving functions many times over the years. We mapped caves together in West Virginia and in Costa Rica, and had several professional interests in common, but our main connection was our common interest in vertical equipment technology. Surprisingly, I never had a chance to visit Bob so I never saw his collection before his death.

Bob's 1971 book Prusiking inspired me to start my collection, and when he passed he left his collection to me. In return, I dedicate this web site to Bob's memory.

The Distant Future

The National Speleological Society and I have executed an agreement that would eventually allow my collection of rappelling, ascending, and similar equipment to be transferred to the NSS museum under mutually acceptable terms and conditions. The agreement should ultimately give the NSS Museum the collection with means to maintain, display, and enlarge it after I am gone.

The collection will remain in my possession and under my care for the foreseeable future.

For far more content, use a larger monitor and a full-width window.

Hundreds of cell phone users complained and asked me to for a simpler, mobile friendly site. In particular, they wanted me to limit each page to a small number of pictures and minimize my use of text. This new site provides what they asked for.

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Last Modified on June 24, 2024
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