8 Ways to be a Stellar Adventure Buddy in 2018

Alpine Journal Image Stellar Adventure Buddy.jpg

For many of us our time spent in the mountains is among the most rewarding personal experiences we’ll have in life. And these experiences are only enriched by the friends that join us out there. Simply put, nothing can replace a stellar adventure buddy.

After you’ve spent any time in the mountains – whether hiking, climbing, skiing, what have you – chances are you can think of a friend who has been by your side through thick and thin. A friend who radiates awesomeness. He or she is your go-to adventure buddy: that friend that never says no to a big day in the mountains, and that adds both tangible and intangible value to any outing in the mountains.

Let’s take a look at some ways how we can be that stellar adventure buddy:

  1. Do your own research and planning. Before you even step out your front door, do your own research on what your group is going to be doing, where you’ll be doing it, and what the conditions will be like when you get there. Study the maps, read the beta, and be ready to contribute. Don’t assume you’re off the hook because your buddy knows the way. Own the trip as if you’re leading the charge (even if you’re not)!
  2. Be on time!  Whether you’re picking up your buddy at his or her house, or rather meeting at a park-and-ride or at the trailhead, be on time! Gather and double check all your gear the night before, and pack up with plenty of time to meet up. Don’t make ‘em wait, and start off on the right foot. 
  3. Share the load. While the vast majority of your gear taken on any given trip is likely for your own personal use, it’s common to also have some group gear that will be shared. At the trailhead, before setting out, offer to split up and carry the group gear, including tents, camp stoves, fuel canisters, and the like. You take the tent poles and stakes, and I’ll take the rest of the tent – or vice versa. It might be common sense, but it’s all about being a good team player and sharing the load.
  4. Communicate. During every phase of your outing, communicate openly and often about your situation and the group’s situation as a whole. At the outset discuss the group’s plans and agenda, and a “Plan B” if anything were to change. Speak up and check in regarding pace, navigation, weather, safety, etc. Be vocal, and ask the same from the rest of your group. As is the case for most anything in normal everyday life, communication is key.
  5. Take your turns.  Some mountain missions are simply easier – even necessary – as a group. It’s the age-old adage of power in numbers. On those trips, take your turns doing those big and small tasks that are meant to be split up. Take your turn at the front of the line breaking trail through the deep snowpack during the way up. Lead a pitch after your friend has led his/hers. Stick it out and melt some more snow for drinking during the winter day’s outing. No one likes to get stuck solo with the group task at hand.
  6. Come through in the clutch. If you spend enough time in the mountains, you know that things don’t always go as planned. Your headlamp batteries die. You rip a huge hole in your down puffy. Your bootlace snaps in half. Your ski binding locks up. You sprain your finger taking a whipper. The proverbial shit hits the fan. But sometimes, not all is lost. Sometimes, your hiking, climbing, or skiing partner swoops in – and saves the goddamn day. Why not be that partner? Consider bringing a small kit of commonly useful items to do just that – for example, a few extra batteries, an arm’s length of perlon cord, a small SAM splint, and a multi-took or pocket knife, just in case! Have a few wraps of duct tape around your trekking pole or water bottle – because you never know when that magic adhesive will be needed! And so on. I’m not suggesting you need to bring the kitchen sink, or learn MacGyver-like survival skills. Just think about how you can help when things go awry in the mountains. Because it feels good to save the day.
  7. Be a trooper.  Speaking of hiccups in your trip, when push comes to shove and the going gets tough out in the mountains, be sure to stay positive. Be a trooper. Nobody likes a ‘Negative Nancy’ or ‘Debbie Downer.’ If the weather goes sour, or if there is a delay or detour, or if Murphy's Law seems to be in play, be the one that keeps the group’s morale up. Positive mental attitude can go a long way, even in the mountains.
  8. Share good snacks! Oh, and a whiskey flask. Finally, and some might say most importantly, be the adventure buddy that shares the good snacks. Did your group just bust their asses to gain a ridge en route to the summit? Dish out a few peanut butter M&M’s for your friends. Does your buddy need a sugar boost after a tough pitch? Bust out the Sour Patch Kids. Settling in at camp around the camp stove? Pull out your whiskey flask and pass it around. Everything tastes better in the mountains, especially if it’s unexpectedly shared by a kind friend.

Whether of euphoria or misery, monotony or triumph, each of our moments in the mountains are simply better when shared with our go-to adventure buddies. Let’s be better adventure buddies for our adventure crew in 2018.



Scott Kranz