There’s something exhilarating about rock climbing that keeps people coming back, scaling different surfaces, and pushing themselves to the limit.
Last time, we discussed just how amazing it can be to cap off a day’s climb with a hang in your favourite hammock or hanging tent on the side of a mountain. Whether your end goal is the summit or simply an unforgettable adventure, it’s hard to beat vertical camping and hanging out in a hammock suspended high above the ground.
Of course, when you’re hanging out hundreds of feet above the ground, safety must always be your primary concern. This is doubly true if you’re planning on catching some shut-eye while you’re up there!
Not only do you need a good understanding and grounding in rock climbing safety, but you’ve got to flip all your usual camping knowledge and know-how on a 90-degree angle.
Vertical camping isn’t for everyone!If you’re just starting out in the rock climbing world, consider setting extreme cliff camping as a goal for when you get more comfortable.
It’s not for the faint of heart, either, and carries serious risks. What’s more, this type of camping is one of the most challenging types of camping around.
If you’re genuinely interested in getting started, though, we’ve put together a few tips for safety that will let you enjoy what can only be described as one of the most amazing, adventurous experiences available.
Before you even begin to climb, make sure all your equipment is in good working order.
This means you’ve got a sturdy helmet, comfortable clothes that don’t inhibit your movement, sleeping gear, your hammock, long climbing ropes, pitons…
…and of course, dependable hammock straps.
As you would with all your climbing gear, give your hammock and its straps and fasteners a good test. Make sure everything is working properly and that the hammock and strap materials aren’t showing any undue signs of wear.
CAUTION:If you notice any damage, it’s highly recommended that you replace your hammock entirely. While some minor issues can be repaired, you want a high-quality hammock that you can trust will support you while you’re suspended.
Whenever you get into a hammock, sit in it first before swinging your legs in.
Run a gear check for your climbing equipment, too.
Before you head out to your climbing site, and before you start to climb, you should check all your equipment to ensure it’s in proper working order and will keep you safe.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Tying a knot for climbing isn’t rocket science, but it does take some practice.
There are plenty of knots out there that can lend a hand while climbing, but, generally speaking, there are 7 need-to-know options you should practice before you climb:
You should always clip your rope through carabiners on quickdraws. Always keep the carabiner gate opposite your direction of travel, and use locking carabiners on important places. Rope should always run back to front when clipped, too.
In the climbing world, vertical camping typically takes place on what’s known as a big wall. These are sheer cliff faces that talented climbers scale in teams to keep an eye on each other and help belay for added safety.
Hammocks, hanging tents, and portaledges (literally portable ledges you can secure to a rock face) are all popular camping options, but hammocks are by far the most versatile option thanks to their portability and how quickly they can be set up. They also make it possible to camp on a wider variety of surfaces.
As you start your ascent, it’s important to pace yourself. On a typical hike or camping trip, it’s easy to set up your tent after a long day. Dropping a part or piece of equipment is pretty easy to address.
When you’re halfway up a cliff face, it’s a different story.
After a full day of climbing, you’re likely worn out and ready to catch some shut-eye. You’ll probably be tempted to rush the campsite set up so you can finally take a break. Human error is by far the biggest cause of injuries and fatalities when climbing. Fatigue makes it easy to forget simple details
Take the time to do it right, and set up camp before fatigue really starts to set in.
A suitable campsite while climbing is typically a fairly even rock face, though hammocks and other options make it possible to camp in a wide variety of locations.
When you’re set up in your hammock for a rest, enjoy the experience! Take a breather. You’ve earned it, after all!
The biggest advantage hammocks have over portaledges is, by far, how they hold and secure you. You won’t do much tossing and turning in a hammock, and even if you did, your safety line will secure you.
A portaledge, meanwhile, offers more room to move. As such, you could wake up facing open space, with only your safety line keeping you from rolling over the edge!
Hammocks offer a fantastic vertical camping experience, letting you sway gently in the breeze and keeping you cozy after a long climb. It’s a challenging, difficult experience to set up a hammock after a long climb, but you’ll never forget what it’s like to wake up and look out over the ground below!
Stay safe out there!