I was scrolling through Instagram recently and came across an image of somebody seemingly camping while suspended from a wire, high in the mountains. If I’m honest, it made my stomach turn a little. While I’m all for adventure, the thought of camping in the sky seemed a little too much. But is sky camping real?
If you’d been hoping to suspend yourself while sleeping, you’re going to be disappointed. These images of people sky camping aren’t actually what they seem. Instead, these are images of people enjoying extreme hammocking thousands of feet in the air.
For those of you that have read the captions on said photos, you’ll have noticed that they claim to have been taken in China. But any seasoned traveller will tell you that those images were actually taken in Italy; that’s Mount Piana in the background. So why on earth would anyone go to the length of making up sky camping when it’s not actually something that exists? Let’s find out!
Is There Such Thing As Sky Camping?
No. Let’s keep this part short, shall we? If you’ve been dreaming of camping way above the surface of the earth, the best you’re going to get is climbing a mountain and setting up camp at the top. You certainly aren’t going to be able to dangle from a wire and catch some Z’s overnight.
So Where Did The Rumour Come From?
I am always telling my kids not to believe everything they see on the internet. But it would seem that us grown ups can be just as naive and gullible when we see something potentially exciting. Of course, the extreme among us would love the concept of sky camping to be real so when you see the photos, it’s something you may have added to your bucket list.
But back to the internet which is to blame for a lot of false hysteria and that’s exactly what happened with sky camping. The original image was taken from a Facebook post and this showed people in hammocks that dangled thousands of feet up in the air. The caption for the post simply ready Sky camping in Shanghai. And this simplicity really got people talking because it didn’t take long for the post to go viral around the globe.
It was everywhere; Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, TikTok, Google. Go search it right now and see just how many results you’re confronted with. On the original Facebook post, people were commenting at lightening speed and there were mixed reactions to the image.
However, while a lot of people were astounded at this new extreme form of camping, many others could see that the wool was being pulled over their eyes. Commenters noted that this location was about as far away from China as you could get; in reality, the images were taken in the northern part of Italy. If you’ve ever been to Shanghai, you’ll know that this isn’t even a mountainous region.
But what shocked people was that, even though the location was wrong, the pictures were in no way altered. That’s right, for once, Photoshop was nowhere to be seen. There were actually people suspended up there in a hammock, but what they were doing wasn’t camping.
So, What On Earth Were These People Doing Up There?
According to Google, camping is the act of spending a holiday living in a tent. Now, let’s be realistic here, you can’t spend an entire holiday swinging thousands of metres above the ground, can you? So, what these people were doing, definitely wasn’t by definition, camping.
But they were hanging out up there and the proper name for this activity is extreme hammocking. Yes, it appears that anything you can do normally can be made extreme; even the simple act of relaxing in a hammock.
The concept of staying in a hammock suspended at a great height came from big wall climbing. When people do big wall climbing, they often need somewhere to stop and rest, which is where the suspended hammock would come in pretty handy.
Of course, there’s more to extreme hammocking than just having a kip in between climbing. This is an adventurous activity that isn’t for the faint hearted. In fact, extreme hammocking can be very dangerous if you don’t have the right skills. You’re going to be thousands of metres up with nothing by air below you and in order to remain safe, you’re going to need to have had lots of practice in both highlining and slacklining.
Slacklining involves walking over a tightly strung piece of webbing. This webbing is normally connected via two trees although other points can be used. It’s incredibly difficult to perfect but enjoyable nonetheless. On the other hand, highlining takes place much higher up; everything else is very much the same. So, once you’ve perfected slacklining, you’ll progress to highlining and only then might you be ready to take on the challenge of extreme hammocking.
Should I Try Extreme Hammocking?
I can’t stress enough that extreme hammocking isn’t something you can just get up one morning and decide to do. Despite how easy those Facebook images make it look, this is an incredibly dangerous pursuit.
I’ve already explained the need to learn highlining and slacklining but you;ll also need to have a lot of other physical skills such as rock climbing and not to mention a strong stomach.
Even when you have all of this, you can’t just turn up at an extreme hammocking location and get started. Without the right equipment and immense attention to detail, you could very realistically plunge to your death. And when all of this is in place, there’s still a huge risk to extreme hammocking so enter at your own risk!
Choosing The Right Gear
I could sit here all day warning you about the dangers of extreme hammocking but if you’ve got your mind set on it then there’s not much I’m going to be able to do to change that. But at the very least, I can offer you some advice on choosing the right gear.
If you’re going to take the chance, then you’re going to need the following as an absolute minimum.
A superb quality hammock; don’t settle for anything less than the best here. You want a hammock that is incredibly reliable and strong but don’t choose something so complicated that you can’t set it up easily.
A strong and long slackline; to suspend your hammock, you’re going to need a slackline. You’ll choose a location where there are two suitable points to secure the line and make sure that it’s long enough and super strong.
Hammock straps; having excellent quality hammock straps goes without saying. Choose something versatile and durable that’s going to offer the best security.
Heavy duty equipment; there is no room for error when it comes to extreme hammocking. In order to ensure your safety, make sure that every piece of equipment you use such as carabiners are heavy duty and designed for outdoor pursuits. Rock climbing equipment is usually the best option.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen the images of people sky camping in China. Only, they’re not in China and they aren’t sky camping. So, what are they doing?
Sky camping is not a real thing but what these folks in the photos were doing was extreme hammocking. These particular shots were taken in Italy although you can take part in this activity anywhere.
But do so with caution. Extreme hammocking is called extreme for a reason and is super dangerous. You’ll need highlining and slacklining skills as well as physical strength, attention to detail, the ability to rock climb and a whole host of special equipment. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.