25 September 2013

Technique: pitching a tent on rocky slabs

My favorite natural environment is rock; granite to be precise.
I am not a rock climber these days but I have always gravitated to locations where exposed granite forms the landscape.
Last season I traveled to the  High Sierras, to a familiar area.
This season I chose to undertake a sea kayak trip instead where thousands of little island gently emerge from the sea and create incredibly smooth landscapes.
There is a strong similarity between the High Sierra and the Stockholm archipelago; both have glacially polished granite, the latter at sea level.
For the Sierras I chose a very light shelter since I knew I didn't need an inner tent to protect myself from insects.

PeeweeLake camp_c

For Sweden I chose a tunnel tent: a known design able to shed wind well.
I chose a non-freestanding tent over a more pitch-friendly free standing one because of weight and bulk. I dislike travelling with heavy gear and flying across the word to reach my destination usually limits my choice of equipment; there is an incredible difference between car camping and international travel.

Tunnel tents however pose some problems when pitching on hard ground.
Staking out the ends of the tent is essential  to keep the tent erect (unlike in a freestanding tent).
Since polished granite offers too much resistance for conventional pegging (like rock-hard ground!) a little tinkering on my part is usually necessary to have a secure shelter for the night.

Sunset at Windy camp_c

Instead of relying on pegs at the stake point I collect a stick and a couple of decent size rocks.
I insert the stick into the stake loop of the tent and place it horizontally on the ground where a large rock will secure it in place. I find that a rock on top of a stick is generally a way better anchor than a typical tent peg pushed into soft ground.

Furthermore, where the ground is a polished slab there are usually a few cracks.
Here is where I like to place a little wired metal wedge designed for rock-climbing  (aka stoppers, nuts, rocks etc).
A carefully placed wedge is bombproof and no amount of wind will rip that anchor out.

rock anchor_c
Black Diamond stopper
In locations where there is little to no trees, or large boulders to create a wind break, I am confident that my tunnel tent will stand  up to strong winds, even without any pegs secured into the ground.

Windy on Magic_c

rock anchor_gdn
Omega Pacific wedgie


  1. Hmmm, new kind of use for my climbing-gear, I see. Cool, thank you. :)

  2. Very clever. Now I can rescue my climbing gear from its long retirement in a cupboard. Thanks


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