D4 Portaledge Update March 24, 2017
Exciting things are happening in the continuing development of the D4 production Portaledge. First, the ledge has been wall-tested by its inventor, John Middendorf, on Ozymandias--Australia's iconic big wall in Mt. Buffalo--see the Ozy Trip Report) The four major new features [namely, the hybrid diameter tubing, the curved corners, the four-point equalising suspension, and the new D4 Haulsack] have performed amazingly well, each bringing new significant improvements to the modern portaledge design.
D4 Portaledge on Ozymandias, Mt. Buffalo. Photo by Simon Mentz.
First Wall Review: The curved corners and the hybrid-diameter tubing design create an incredibly rigid ledge, with almost no flex even when dancing in the portaledge (Simon Mentz, my partner on Ozymandias, will be working on a video documenting our climb). The four/eight point equalising suspension system exceeded all expectations to make a strong and stable platform with no micro-shifts of the ledge (as typical with 6-point systems) while moving about, while also minimising extra weight and creating simplicity in adjustment. The Ready-to-Deploy Haulsack is a big breakthrough and enables the ledge to be deployed and packed up quickly and efficiently--plus the whole system is so compact that it's super easy to shove it inside even an already-packed haulbag (though of course it can be hauled separately too), so there's no reason not to use the D4 as a super comfy belay ledge!
The D4 is so easy to deploy and pack up, there's no reason not to use it as a belay ledge on the big stones!
Standard Features: The overall weight of complete portaledge system (ledge, fly, fly pole, haulsack, and included quicklink for the fly/ledge attachment (saving a carabiner) is now at 16.2 lbs. (7.3kg.), a bit heavier than the first protos primarily because we have upgraded to a beefier waterproof fly material--but overall, the D4 is still lighter than even the competitor's single portaledges! We have innovated new ways to construct the fly and vent system, and the fly fits snugly on the frame even before tightening the drawcords! The prototype beds are made from lightweight 210D Dyneema fabric, which offers uncompromising strength and puncture resistance. Even though this material is very expensive and generally only seen on high end packs, we plan to use it for production beds due to its exceptional and unique characteristics of lightweight strength.
D4 Ledge in the Tarkine. Photo by Steve Pearce.
Prototypes and Testing: We are continuing to send out more prototypes for testing and feedback. Yosemite Demo #1 goes out on Monday to Eliza Kerr, who plans to climb as a mother/daughter team on El Cap in April; this ledge should be in continuous use in Yosemite for the next few months. Steve Pearce of The Tree Projects, has given us glowing reports of the ledge after attending the Tarkine Tree protest--this ledge has also gotten wide coverage by the Bob Brown Foundation. The D4 portaledge is really the first true "tree portaledge", with minimal flex even with only one frame point of contact. And we should soon hear back from Marek Reganowicz, who is scheduled to be completing his first winter ascent in Baffin Island.
Steve Pearce during a Tarkine Tree Protest--notice no flex of the ledge even though the frame has only one point of contact. No other ledge will be so rigid in this situation.
We are also continuing to get additional coverage in the media as interest in this new paradigm in portaledges increases, including Gripped Magazine and Gear Junkie. Additional links if you have not seen them are here: Business Insider, ABC Radio Interview (w/ pics), ABC Online, and Big Wall Gear Facebook page.
KICKSTARTER--Tell your friends!: We still have 16 ledges available at the Kickstarter discount ($1080 complete with ledge, fly, flypole, and haulsack--the best deal in portaledges on the market) , so please share the link with your friends: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1188459201/the-d4-portaledge. Even if your friends do not need a portaledge, we have cool perks and the funding will be used to sponsor the most extreme big wall expeditions worldwide. We know this new portaledge will be in high demand once the big wall season kicks into gear, but as we are only committing to producing Kickstarter orders this year, order soon! Last week for the discounted Kickstarter orders!
Other things: I have updated the Set Up Sequence video showing the set up by assembling the long tubes first, then the end tubes. However, Steve Pearce has since discovered an alternate method, and tells us he had an easier time setting up the end tubes first (making two big "U's"), then the long tubes. Either way, the deployment and pack up of the D4 ledge is really quite straightforward and intuitive, and much easier than other designs, thanks largely to the new D4 Haulsack design and integrated fly/ledge ability.
There are ongoing tweaks to enhance the usability of the ledge and fly, and we are dialing in the "camping features" such as the optimum lengths of the adjustment straps, position of clip-in daisies, and the way the fly pole attaches. We are also working on a new innovative fly door, which we plan to extensively test to ensure the storm-proofness of the ledge, but it will likely become a standard feature in our Kickstarter batch, as it really offers amazing versatility--more details to come soon. We are committed to offering the finest uncompromising tools for every vertical camping need!
Detail of the fly pole attachment, as well as new 2" web reinforcement at wall side corners--totally bomber!
Fly Pole setup now part of frame, rather than fly, increasing the versatility and adjustability of the system.
Thank you for your ongoing interest in this project!
Yours, John Middendorf.