Monday, September 21, 2009

Three Rules for Tough Trips

We've all been on outdoor trips where the whole situation gets a bit sideways, or at least requires operating at a high output level for longer than is comfortable. Here are three rules for these kinds of trips:

1. Move the team forward. If you're sitting on your ass or standing around blankly you're doing something wrong. Figure out what will keep the team and yourself moving forward, even if a very small amount, and do it. Multiple one to ten minute slow-downs add up to hours and days very rapidly when on a long climb or trip.

2. See and accept the situation as it is. Improve it. If it's really bad think of Shackleton. See, not so bad.

3. You can complain, but it's gotta be funny or it's just whining.

I remember reading a story years ago about a friend, Barry Blanchard, suffering on a climbing trip where he wasn't up to the climbing standard. He cooked more, dug more caves, stacked ropes, did whatever he possibly could to move the group forward. That story stuck in my mind as a standard to try and follow--Barry is normally one of the best alpine climbers going, but on that trip he wasn't. He was still a very valuable part of the team. My best climbing and adventure partnerships have all broadly followed the three "rules" above. A fourth rule is that sometimes you can't live up to the first three; try and do better when you can.

1 comment:

Ralph said...

Will, I've just discovered your blog and am enjoying it. Good ideas for long trips!

On an Alaska Range trip years ago, we were stuck for several weeks in bad weather, so to prevent the boredom and arguing, we set up a track and raced every day around it. We made ice blocks with cool-aid, and had other games to keep us occupied.