“It takes a certain kind of person to scramble up a mountainside, rappel down to a nylon cot no bigger than two sleeping bags (called a portaledge) and spend the night on the side of a cliff,” writes Sarah Sekula.
Cliff camping, as it’s commonly called, is definitely an epic experience for the right kind of person.
“For daring big-wall climbers, it's been commonplace for decades. When they trek up walls too tall or too difficult to climb in a single day, they simply camp on the cliff face,” notes Sekula.
Created by Harry Kent of Kent Mountain Adventure Center in Estes Park, the portaledge is a way for climbers to give cliff campers a try.
Climbers don’t have to worry about the setup — just the sleeping — when it comes to cliff-side camping.
“By about 11 a.m. we arrive and our intrepid guide, T.J. Sanford, leaves to set up our cliff-side cots.He hikes to the summit to rig the anchors, rappels back to the ground, hikes back up to the summit again and then hauls the gear up with a pulley system. Later, he'll assemble the portaledges right before we rappel down to them to settle in for the night,” says Sekula.
Sekula notes that they appreciated the help with setting up as they had a lot of other things on their minds.
“We could have opted to be more involved in the setup process, but as newbies, we had enough on our minds,” she writes. “In fact, there are so many unknowns: For starters, how will it feel to sit on a tiny platform, 300 feet off the ground? Will our brains allow us to fall asleep come nighttime?”
Sometimes, when sleeping on a cliff, it’s good to not look over the edge.
“Once my sister makes it to the ledge, it takes another 30 minutes for us to feel okay looking over, and another half hour passes before we remove our helmets. My sister and I handle it all fairly well, but I assume not everyone does,” writes Sekula.
However, the views may be worth the feeling that you are on the edge of a near death experience.
“Once I finally get comfortable, I'm able to fully appreciate everything surrounding me, right down to the neon-green lichen covering parts of the cliff face. The view includes the 14,259-foot Longs Peak, Jurassic Park (a series of gorgeous domes) and Mummy Range,” says Sekula.
For more on what it’s like to sleep at the world’s scariest campsite, read on here or watch the video below.