Objects Database

Troll Whillan's Sit Harness

Accession Number


Object Name

Troll Whillan's Sit Harness




Hermione Cooper

Accession Date


Brief Description

Yellow 'Troll' Whillan's sit harness. Large metal buckle. Four black nylon equipment loops hanging from harness. Red plastic ice axe holder.


nylon, plastic, metal,


Size Large. 133( l ) cms

Number Of Objects


Inscription Description

"TROLL" embroidered along outside. Also white label with inscription WHILLANS SIT HARNESS MADE IN ENGLAND BY TROLL" Union Jack and "TROLL MADE IN GT. BRITAIN" on safety label on back and "LARGE" handwritten in ink. Small label with " L" and "FABRIQUE EN ANGLETERRE" "TROLL MADE IN ENGLAND" stamped on red plastic holder. Initials "NG" also handwritten on back.


yellow, black



Object Production Place



Rope, leather and webbing from parachute harnesses were just some of the materials used for early climbing harnesses until nylon tape was invented, sometime in the 1960's, we think. The Americans wrapped tape around their bodies in various configurations and called it a 'Swami belt.
In 1970, not long after his successful climb of the Troll Wall in Norway, Tony Howard set up his mountaineering equipment company, Troll. Pretty soon after they teamed up with legendary climber, Don Whillans and between them they produced one of the first sit harnesses made/sewn with tape - Whillans used one on the South face of Annapurna and climbers all over the world used them for decades to come.
The central crutch strap on the Whillan's was said to have rendered several male climbers impotent and they were not the most comfortable for abseiling, though they did probably prevent lots of male climbers from falling off as the resultant damage to the nether regions was unthinkable!
The Troll Whillan's Harness was however a major step forward in climbing/mountaineering equipment development and just about every climbing harness on the market some forty or fifty years later is based on this original design.
We've got a few Whillan's harnesses in the collection so we've added this one to help with the various colour schemes!!!

Acquisition Date


Condition Check Date



Spectrum : UK Museum documentation standard, V.3.1 2007



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