The Ultimate American Cliff-Camping Trip Every Adventurer Should Do


IT’S A SUNDAY IN ESTES PARK, COLORADO—not lengthy after the solar has set over Twin Sisters Peaks throughout the canyon and close by Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park—and I’m sitting some 100-200 toes up within the air on the aspect of a cliff ready to eat a steak dinner.

I’m not on strong floor both. I’m carrying a harness and hanging out on a Black Diamond portaledge, a transportable cot, if you’ll, product of nylon and aluminum. There’s a major anchor level wedged into the cliff’s pure cracks to which my harness and a sequence of straps and clips are secured, like a suspension system.

This isn’t one thing reserved for professionals like Tommy Caldwell who spend days within the sky on precarious climbs. You are able to do it, too. It’s one of many 200 guided excursions that comprise Airbnb Adventures, a brand new set of prolonged Experiences the model rolled out this month. They embody every little thing from testing paranormal exercise in Utah and Nevada to actions geared towards adrenaline junkies like this one.

The magnificence of those Adventures is you possibly can immerse your self in one thing wholly international. For me it meant discovering out I’m, it seems, type of afraid of heights—and subsequently attempting to cover any apprehension from my girlfriend and a pair strangers. However, after a busy day of climbing, sport climbing, and traversing a by way of ferrata (a protected route with a sequence of built-in ladders and a cable line operating alongside the mountain), all I can take into consideration is how hungry I’m. And that’s when Steven swings in.

“Bon appétit,” says Steven Moss, a climbing and journey information at Kent Mountain Journey Heart, as he arms my girlfriend, Taysha, and me a plate of broccoli, potatoes, and a medium-rare steak. He’s clipped into his harness and twine, carrying a helmet and a headlamp that spotlights our dinner within the sky. To be clear, this isn’t “faux” meals; it tastes approach too good to be immediate. He and our second information, Stephanie Maxwell, ready our meal utilizing a cast-iron pan and a Jetboil. We inhale it. We kinda need to: It’s chilly sufficient that the meals will get immediately chilly. However we don’t care. It’s precisely what we wished to eat after hours on the wall.

Climbing as much as Deville three in Estes Park, Colorado. by Taysha Murtaugh

The day began round midday at Kent Mountain Journey Heart—or KMAC—which leads outside adventures regularly, in addition to the occasional cliff-camping tour or cliff picnic (a “clifnic”). Our host, Dustin, greets us and introduces us to Moss and Maxwell. They go over the packing record they despatched us just a few days prior earlier than we pack up the van and drive to the mountain. Sleeping bag? Verify. Additional layers? Verify. Sunscreen? Already on.

We strategy the Cheley Camp entrance and Moss and Maxwell lead us on a hike via evergreen bushes as much as our tenting vacation spot, Deville three, declaring the metamorphosed granite and Juniper bushes alongside the way in which. “How’s the pace?” Moss asks us earlier than we cease for a fast sack lunch and clip into the cable of the by way of ferrata.

As soon as we attain the highest, we gear as much as rappel right down to the portaledges, which Maxwell already assembled. I take the rope and thread it via my harness loops. First up underneath the underside loop, then the highest loop. I pull it tight, then comply with it alongside a figure-eight knot.

cliff camping airbnb adventureKMAC information Steven Moss, proper, coaches the writer, left, via rappelling right down to the portaledges in Estes Park, Colorado. by Taysha Murtaugh

Maxwell and Moss examine every part of the rope all through the day and reassure me every little thing is able to go. They’re seasoned professionals at KMAC, which is a part of the American Mountain Guides Affiliation. In different phrases, they know what they’re doing. That is all comforting as a result of although I’m having one of many best days of my life, I’m terrified. (It’s solely the following day they inform me these afraid of heights ought to contemplate attempting one of many different actions KMAC affords first.)

“The whole lot’s secure?”

It gained’t be the final time I ask these newbie questions.

I unclip from the wall and attempt to belief the rope. I’ve by no means rappelled down the aspect of a large cliff earlier than, and the guides can inform by my loss of life grip. They inform me this primary part is the toughest half, which is sensible as a result of I can’t see the bottom but.

Possibly that’s an excellent factor.

“I’m going to present you a problem,” Moss says. “I need you to let go of that proper arm.”


My arms really feel drained from hanging on so tight.

“I’m with you right here,” Moss says, grabbing the rope to point out me I’m safe. “You’ll be able to really feel me tugging on you. We’re nonetheless tied in—tremendous robust.” He instructs me to let my arms fall to the aspect and lean again, maintaining my heels sturdy and legs straight. It’ll be loads simpler this manner.

“Feelin’ good?” he asks me.

“You look superb,” Taysha encourages me. “It appears nice.”

She provides me the boldness I have to settle down and go for it. I do know it’s going to be enjoyable.

Moss provides me a fist bump. “There we go, he’s nonetheless smiling.”

Oh, shit.

Airbnb AdventuresCliff tenting in Estes Park. by Steven Moss

THE PORTALEDGE IS simply large enough to suit Taysha and me and our two giant packs. Once we transfer, it generally shifts, relying on how heavy both aspect will get. I can’t assist however maintain onto the straps connected to the wall for the primary couple of minutes.

A fast break and Moss asks if we wish to throw on our climbing footwear and go up once more. Neither of us have ever climbed outdoors of a Brooklyn Boulders’ wall earlier than, however we all know that is what we signed as much as do.

cliff camping by Steven Moss

It’s golden hour after we end the quick climb. Moss later tells me: “A lot of the strains you had been taking had been across the 5.7 vary—that’s known as the Yosemite decimal system… and it’s principally a system of how we grade rock climbs to check them to at least one one other.” Not unhealthy for our first time.

airbnb adventure cliff camping by John Lonsdale

We clip again into the by way of ferrata to look at the solar set from one of many peaks, snack on orange-and-hazelnut chocolate bars, and switch our headlamps on to rappel again down, eat, roll out our sleeping pads and luggage, and settle in for the night time.

SUNRISE HAPPENS AT 5:30 a.m., however I’ve been awake for hours. I slept higher than I assumed I’d, carrying most of my layers and zipped into my sleeping bag with loads of room to stretch out. I used to be frightened about us falling off the aspect through the night time however we’re each nonetheless there and strapped into the wall like Moss and Maxwell mentioned we’d be.

cliff camping airbnb adventuresThe cliff tenting set-up. by John Lonsdale

Moss and Maxwell are already up, too, making us breakfast: an egg burrito and low.

“That is so stunning,” Taysha says. I let go of the straps, sit again, and watch the solar fall over the evergreens. Our time within the sky’s nearly up.

cliff camp airbnb by John Lonsdale

BACK ON THE GROUND we hike to a shed to drop off some gear and cargo up the van once more for the quick drive again to the KMAC workplace. Moss says, “That 10-15 minute van experience to the car parking zone is extra harmful than the precise actions we’re doing up prime.” It’s not even midday, however I’m prepared for a feast—and a beer.

I ask our guides if they’ve any suggestions.

“Rock Minimize,” Maxwell says, steering us away from just a few different institutions which can be on the touristy aspect. It’s a close-by brewery that additionally occurs to have a rotation of meals vehicles out on the patio.

Maxwell has some extra knowledgeable recommendation earlier than our journey ends: Ask for “the Kate Particular,” she provides, a mixture of a bitter and an IPA.

It’s not on the menu at Rock Minimize however they know precisely what we’re asking for. Taysha orders one and I get a Galactic Portal. “We simply went cliff tenting,” we inform them as we transfer on to the patio. We order meals and end up our beers earlier than it’s time to go to the airport and go house.

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