I’ve never done any bigwall climbing, but I have done a good deal of rock climbing and backpacking, so I decided to combine them into a mini-bigwall adventure.
I hiked in with a friend, arriving at the top of the cliff around sunset. We spotted a ledge just big enough to sleep on, then rapped down with our backpacks, spent the night, and rapped the rest of the way down the next morning. In theory this sounds pretty straight forward but as with most new adventures we learned a lot on the way.
Here are a few things I learned…
- Lowering backpacks down a cliff is a pain in the ass, no matter how light they are.
- Two people plus two full backpacks all clipped to the same anchor can get messy.
- Keeping everything clipped in to something is doable, it can feel like a pain but it also felt safe which was cool.
- Rappelling with a very light pack on your back is doable, but for a heavier pack a chest harness makes a huge difference.
- Everything takes longer…rappelling, setting up “camp”, getting into your sleeping bag, finding your headlamp…when you’re on the side of a cliff and everything is clipped to everything else it can easily take twice as long to do things.
- Don’t even think about bringing a stove. Do consider bringing a giant bag of pasta with cheese sauce (yum). For my post on Stove-free backpacking go here.
- Sleeping in a harness is fine, even sleeping in a harness with some gear clipped to it is fine…leaving the nut tool on my harness while sleeping was not fine.
- Oddly enough, sleeping on bare rock without a sleeping pad was super comfy!
Also, the weather said 8-10 mph winds and partly cloudy, but in reality it was mostly clear with 0 mph winds. This meant more bugs, and my sleeping bag was way to warm forcing me to choose between sweating my balls of or getting my face eaten off by mosquitoes…ultimately my silk bag liner came to the rescue protecting my face from the bugs while still enabling me to get a bit of fresh air, but this was a close call! I was able to sleep but not super well. I’d love to do this again at a less buggy time of year, and if I had to do it again tomorrow I’d try and bring a much lighter bag so I could comfortably burrow down in it without drowning in my own sweat.
And that’s my Little Bigwall adventure! In all I had a great time, learned a lot, and highly recommend you give it a try sometime!
NOTE: Anyone giving this a try should have a reasonably solid climbing background. This is not a next step for non-climbing backpackers!