Colorado: Camping Climbers Suspend Selves for Sleepover

One more Colorado post before we move on to the Coolest Road Trip and visit four towns over the next two weeks. There’s a lot to look forward to, but I’m still having a great time reflecting on my rock climbing experience. The more I learn about the sport, the more amazed I become.

Coors Brewery tempted by pumping the smell of hops into the air on my final day in Colorado – walking through the town of Golden we could clearly smell it – but the drinks would come later. Before my last day of rookie climbing, I headed over to the American Mountaineering Museum for a glimpse at what rock climbing looks like at the most elite level.

Portaledge hanging from a tree.

And I’ll tell you: It looks pretty outrageous.

Every time I’m at a museum a part of me feels like I’m doing myself a disservice by cooping myself up inside – it’s a little bit of the restlessness in me – yet without fail I always end up learning something new, a process that reminds me to set aside some time to be inspired by what others have done before me. Not guided, manipulated, or awed into feelings of inferiority, only encouraged to encounter the situations myself.

Another admission: Colorado has cut me down to size. I thought I was in shape, then got kicked around climbing to the top of a 14,000ft mountain. I was comfortable on a bike until I dodged drunks in the Circle of Death. And before I learned about the portaledge, I considered myself adventurous and fearless.

The portaledge is a device/tent that climbers use to sleep during multiday climbs. While lots of people are concerned about their kids rolling out of a bunk bed, advanced climbers are sleeping suspended in the air – sometimes thousands of feet above the ground.

Here are a few photos courtesy of The first one is obviously a joke, but the others are pretty impressive. I have nowhere near the skill and experience this sort of feat takes, but it certainly brings a smile to my face to know that humans can find a way to accommodate almost any situation, no matter how much logic tells us it’s not feasible.


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