For 15 years of my life, I had a horrendous case of insomnia. Sleeping in the comforts of my own bed (which was during my high school years was a water bed), a restful night of sleep regularly eluded me. I memorized the Presidents backwards and forwards. Didn’t work. I memorized the Roman Emperors backwards and forwards. Didn’t work. I used to sit up reading Greek Mythology in the hopes that I’d be bored to sleep. Didn’t work. Turns out, I just needed to eat less carbs and start watching Sex in the City with my then girlfriend. I’ve slept like a baby ever since.
So, as I’ve become an adventurer, and especially as a mountain climber, I’ve found that there are places that are you are required to lay your head that are less than ideal for stretching out and getting some quality shut eye. Here are my two favorite insomnia inducing camp sites:
Camp 2 – Ama Dablam (20k ft): the Southwest Ridge on this 22,525ft/6,812m is technical, but the best route to the top. It is a clean ridge free of avalanche and rock fall danger. For a mountaineer, this is an epic trip. However, knife edge ridges often form wonderful pinnacles that are fun to climb, but can be uncooperative when it comes to nice flat, clean places to pitch a tent. In this case, it is the only place to camp between the relatively benign Camp 1 and the much higher Camp 3 in the snow. The 45-degree slope with thousands of feet of cliff on all sides requires one to be roped in at night.
Ledge Camping on El Capitan: not all of us have the skills to be as good as Alex Hanold to bound up El Cap ropeless in 2 1/2 hours. On the classic Nose Route, the rest of us require around 31 pitches to get to the summit, which can take 2 – 5 days. That requires hauling up and anchoring a ledge to sleep in.
What are some of your craziest campsite experiences?