A Perilous Hobby: Vertical Camping With Portaledges

Published June 10, 2011
Updated September 28, 2018

An amazing set of photos showing how climbers catch some sleep on the sides of mountains with portaledges for vertical camping.

Next time you’re passing by a cliff and happen to see a precariously hanging tent with campers inside, don’t be alarmed, it’s just a portable ledge (portaledge):

Vertical Camping Photograph

Portaledges — or deployable hanging tents — might seem like a thrill-seeking activity (and it can be), but the idea has actually been around since the 1950s. During this time, rock climbers began to stay overnight on the mountains they were scaling and started looking for convenient niches in the mountainside to make their bed.

Sleeping On A Mountain Ledge Picture

The first portaledges were used in Yosemite National Park and were non-collapsible cots or hammocks. Climbers would sit on a Navy surplus canvas chair and rest their heads on their dangling rucksacks.

Hammocks Vertical Camping Advertisement

Bat Hammock Vintage Ad

Vertical Climbing Advertisement

Sleeping On The Side Of A Cliff Picture

More Amazing Photographs Of Portaledges

Portaledge Photograph

Portable Ledges for Climbing Picture

Vertical Camping Sleeping

Vertical Climbing and Camping Photographs

Issues of safety, of course, are ever-present. Gordon Wiltsie recently photographed these daredevil escapades on the Great Sail Peak, Canada during the Arctic spring. The dangers were tenfold during this time because chunks of rocks and ice would fly down sporadically. Rolling over, too, could be dire.

Vertical Climbing In Canada Photograph

Portaledges

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