Matt Johnson

Want To Try Tenting On The Side Of A Mountain?

Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthornePublished: May 30, 2023Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Are you ready for a unique experience that will push your limits? Consider testing your courage by camping on the side of a mountain. Cliff camping, also called vertical camping, will give you a thrilling challenge you won’t soon forget. Picture yourself spending a night on a natural ledge, facing the imposing cliff wall, listening to the sound of rocks, and gazing at the starry sky. Tenting on the side of a mountain is something you’ll never forget. We won’t forget our experience any time soon.

Yosemite National Park is famous for its big wall climbs, exemplified by the Dawn Wall and Half Dome. While many climbers prefer to cliff camp as part of their big wall climb, seasoned climbers also find joy in cliff camping as a stand-alone adventure. In this article, we will take you through the basics of mountain tenting, share tips on selecting the perfect mountain, and guide you in preparing for this unforgettable escapade. So, dust off your camping equipment and venture out of your comfort zone – together, we’ll embark on an adventure of a lifetime!

Why mountain tenting is an adventure you must try!

As an adventure-seeker, you should try mountain tenting at least once. It’s a unique and incredible outdoor activity that offers a one-of-a-kind experience. Imagine waking up to a breathtaking sunrise from the edge of a cliff or sleeping under a starry night sky while cozy in your tent. It’s an adventure that you won’t forget any time soon. The wind blowing through your hair while sleeping on a natural ledge is an experience that only a few other things can rival.

For seasoned rock climbers, half the fun of climbing comes from setting up camp on a big wall and spending the night in the fresh air away from the crowds. Cliff camping is popular among experienced climbers in Yosemite and other destinations worldwide. Sleeping on the side of a mountain is an unparalleled experience that brings you closer to nature than any other activity. The adrenaline rush and the feeling of being surrounded by the environment’s natural beauty make it an unforgettable experience.

Preparation is critical in mountain tenting, but the rewards that come with this camping trip are worth it. Whether you’re a seasoned climber looking to try big wall climbing for the first time or a novice ready to explore free climbing, mountain tenting has something to offer everyone. Pack up your camping equipment, prepare for a good night’s sleep, and embark on an unforgettable adventure.

Choosing the right mountain for your climbing and camping adventure.

Selecting the right mountain is vital when planning for a cliff camping adventure. You must factor in your rock climbing experience and skill level to find a mountain matching your abilities. One such place to begin your search is Yosemite National Park, featuring picturesque cliff walls like El Capitan, Half Dome, and the Dawn Wall.

El Capitan is a true wonder, the tallest cliff in Yosemite, soaring over 3,000 feet above the valley floor. It requires significant experience to conquer, but for avid big-wall climbers, this mountain is the epitome of a perfect challenge. Half Dome is another alluring option for rock climbers due to its steep face, breathtaking scenery, and popularity.

For those new to rock climbing and cliff camping, the Wall may be a suitable alternative. This mountain offers exhilarating free climbing and can be conquered in sections for those who would instead not take on the whole wall at once.

When deciding which mountain to choose, aside from your level of expertise and experience, there are other variables to consider, including your budget, location, and limitations. Camping equipment will also differ depending on the type of climb and campsite you plan for, be it a natural ledge or a big wall. Proper planning and research are vital to informing you of any regulations or restrictions impacting your adventure.

Dawn Wall in Yosemite National Park

Preparing for mountain tenting: physical and mental training.

Mountain Tenting is an unparalleled adventure that only a few dare to attempt. Being well-prepared is crucial for success, especially concerning physical and mental training. As novice cliff campers, we discovered that mountain tenting is not something one can simply dabble in without deliberate preparation.

We began our training by incorporating more cardio exercises into our workout regimen. Mountain tenting requires considerable endurance. Hence we walked on nearby trails, carrying our camping gear to acclimatize to the weight and strengthen our muscles. There are thousands of trails throughout Colorado that are great for preparing you. If you’re not a rock climber yet, now’s a good time to become one. You can start out at climbing gyms and work your way up from the big walls to the high cliffs.

Mental fortitude is just as crucial, if not more so, than physical endurance. To help us gear up for the challenge, we started by visualizing ourselves camping on the rocky mountain’s edge. We imagined setting up camp, unwinding on the natural ledge, and relishing the magical night sky view. Additionally, we learned various breathing techniques to help us fight anxiety, both on and off the mountain.

With ample physical and mental preparation, you can unquestionably enjoy your climb while camping on the mountain. Do not forget that seasoned climbers frequently opt for this type of camping, as it is an incredible way to push one’s boundaries and discover oneself.

Man Climbing a Cliff

Packing list for mountain tenting: essential gear and accessories.

When preparing for tenting on a mountainside, it’s crucial to pack light. After all, you don’t want to be lugging around a heavy load up a cliff! However, packing light doesn’t mean neglecting the essentials, so here are some recommendations to help you pack properly.

First up, a quality backpack is non-negotiable. Look for a robust pack that can snugly hold all your essentials. It should also have a well-cushioned harness and straps that won’t trigger discomfort. Equally crucial is a durable and sturdy tent. A tent with a robust frame that can withstand rocky and windy conditions is a must-have for any camping adventure. Lightweight tents will also be ideal as they make movement within the tent easy to maneuver.

Your sleeping bag quality can affect how well you sleep during your camping adventure. Ensure you choose a good quality sleeping bag that can keep you warm during cold nights. Aim for a mummy-style bag that can easily pack into your backpack. Equally important are warm jackets, hats, and gloves to protect you against cold nights.

Headlamps and quality multi-tools are also essential to your comfort and safety on a mountain camp, and with their importance at night, extra batteries will come in handy. Packing enough water to stay hydrated throughout your camping adventure is also crucial. Pack some energy bars, nuts, and dried fruit to snack on when you need energy.

It’s important not to overpack clothes – just enough layers to keep you warm and dry. Being prepared with these essentials will help ensure you have a comfortable and enjoyable camping experience.

Choosing the right tent and sleeping back for mountain tenting.

Choosing the right tent and sleep setup for mountain tenting is crucial to your comfort and safety during your adventure. You don’t want to be caught without proper shelter when you’re out in the wilderness. So, let’s look at what you need about tents and sleeping bags for cliff camping.

One thing to keep in mind is that you will be setting up camp on a cliff edge or a natural ledge. That’s why the tent must be designed for cliff or vertical camping. You don’t want to be someone whose tent comes crashing down the cliff!

Most big-wall climbers prefer a single-wall, waterproof tent with a flat design that doesn’t take up too much space. You want something that will protect you from the elements but won’t weigh you down during your climb. The tent should also be easy to pitch and anchor to the wall of the cliff. You don’t want to spend all day setting up camp!

Some popular tent options for cliff camping in Yosemite National Park include the Black Diamond Cliff Cabana, the Metolius Gizmo, and the Big Wall Double. These tents are durable, weather-resistant, and lightweight enough to carry during your climb.

But a good tent isn’t enough to ensure a good night’s sleep during mountain tenting. That’s where a sleeping bag comes in. Like the tent, the sleeping arrangements must be designed to withstand harsh weather conditions at high altitudes.

It should be lightweight, compact, and packable to fit easily in your backpack. Most experienced climbers prefer down sleeping bags, which are lighter and more compressible than synthetic bags. The last thing you want is a sleeping bag that takes up half of your backpack!

Popular sleeping bag options for mountain tenting include the Western Mountaineering Ultralite and the Feathered Friends Swallow. These sleeping bags are designed to keep you warm and dry in harsh weather conditions.

But before you rush out and buy a tent and sleeping bag, it’s best to check the gear requirements of the route you plan on climbing in Yosemite National Park. And don’t forget to talk to experienced climbers for recommendations! Choosing the right tent and sleeping bag can make all the difference between a comfortable night’s sleep and a storm shelter.

Setting Up Camp and Staying Comfortable on the Mountain

When setting up your mountain tent, there is much to consider to ensure a comfortable and successful camping experience. Here are a few tips to help you along the way:

Pick the perfect spot.

First, you must choose the best spot for your tent. Ensure it is level and sturdy, and avoid areas with loose rocks or steep inclines. Trust us; it’s better to have a restful night’s sleep than a rocky one.

Carefully pitch your tent.

Once you’ve found a secure spot, it’s time to set up camp. Ensure your tent is anchored tightly to the mountain, and ensure the ceiling is breathable to avoid waking up damp or suffocated. Stop for a moment to take in the stunning scenery around you.

Stay organized.

An organization can make all the difference when living in a small space. Keep your gear and equipment tidy and ensure nothing is lying around that could fly off the mountain in the wind. Staying organized will help you get a good night’s rest.

Keep warm.

The mountain air can get chilly at night, even in the summer, so ensure you have the right sleeping bag to keep you cozy. Down sleeping bags are popular, but synthetic options are more reliable in damp conditions.

Enjoy the experience.

Mountain camping can feel daunting, especially if the weather turns bad. Make sure you have a shelter to weather the storm, and, above all, stay positive and enjoy the adventure. Remember, this is a unique opportunity most climbers never get to experience. Embrace it!

Pack your bags and start climbing!

The beauty of mountain tenting is genuinely an adventure one must experience in their lifetime. The thrill of physically and mentally pushing yourself while taking in breathtaking views of nature is an experience that will leave a lasting impression. However, preparing yourself mentally and physically and having the proper gear and accessories to ensure your safety and comfort while traveling up the mountain is crucial.

For rock climbers, campers, or anyone seeking an adrenaline boost, this experience will provide you with an unforgettable burst of energy like no other. So, as we wrap up this post, we hope our tips on mountain tenting have piqued your curiosity and inspired you to embark on this enchanting journey. The feeling of summiting a majestic mountain is simply one of the best rewards we can offer ourselves!


Matt Johnson

Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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