How To Be A Terrible Adventure Partner

Sometimes, when you invite a new friend out skiing, biking, climbing, or backpacking, it goes really well. But maybe, during the course of the day or trip, you get the feeling you’d like to not ski or bike or climb or hike with that person again. In that case, you can ignore their phone calls, graciously deflect their requests to hang out again, or flat-out tell them you’d rather just be non-active friends and keep the relationship to activities like drinking beer and eating nachos.

Or, you can sabotage the whole deal by being a complete shitbag of a partner. Here are some techniques to help you do that:


Make vague plans.
Give bad directions to your house or the trailhead. Don’t discuss who’s bringing what gear for both of you (tent, rack, rope, et cetera). Verbalize all times with the suffix “-ish,” giving you plenty of leeway to show up at, say, 7:45, when you planned to meet at “7-ish.”

Drink a whole bunch.
Drink a lot of beer and/or liquor the night before so you can, in the words of Arlo Guthrie, look and feel your best. A hangover is a good start, but if possible, try to eat combinations of food and liquor that have a good chance of making you vomit and/or racking you with diarrhea the next morning. Example: Jagermeister, followed by something fried (and possibly served on a stick) at 2:30 a.m. If you can’t find anything fried on a stick, go get something off the 7-Eleven roller grill. I heard Ueli Steck lives off that kind of stuff.


Example: Your friend says, “I’ll pick you up at 7 a.m.” Set your alarm clock for 6:45 a.m. and hit the snooze button at least once. Or, don’t set an alarm at all, and wait for your friend’s 7:05 a.m. phone call to rouse you. Then say, “I’ll be out in a second, I just have to eat some breakfast, make coffee, brush my teeth and grab my stuff.”

Pack your gear the morning of.
This increases your chances of forgetting crucial things like a harness, rain jacket, and food and water. You know where everything is in your house, right? And it’s impeccably organized, so you basically only need five minutes to get all your stuff together, no matter what sport we’re talking about.

Don’t pack food.
As soon as you get into your friend’s car, announce that you need to “get something to eat.” Have them run you by a place that serves breakfast burritos/sandwiches and coffee and get some breakfast. Better yet, have them stop the car twice—once for breakfast, and once for coffee.

After breakfast, Announce a second (or third) stop, in which you will run into a grocery store “real quick” to get some food for the hike/bike ride/climb. Alternately, don’t do this, and wait until you’re a good ways into the trail or approach and ask your friend, “Did you bring any food and water? Could I have some?”

Don’t prepare your stuff.
Do not check your bike tires or chain the night before—wait until you get to the trailhead and your friend is astride his/her bike waiting for you. Then say, “I just need to pump up my tires. And lube my chain.” If you’re climbing, keep the rack unorganized so when you pull it out of your pack, it’s a big ball of tangled metal. In backcountry skiing, it’s always cool to realize the batteries in your beacon are dead exactly as your partner clicks into his/her skis.

Forget some stuff.
Climbing? Don’t pack the rope. Or the rack. Skiing? Forget your ski pass, or beacon. Biking? Forget the only pair of shoes that work with your SPDs. Most importantly, forget your wallet so your friend has to pay for beers and burgers afterward.

Break their stuff.
It’s fun for everyone when you can find a way to ski over the back of your friend’s skis, especially if they’re new, or just intermittently knock your edges up against theirs in the lift line. You can also rip their tent or inexplicably melt a hole in it, or just flat-out fall into it and break a pole or two when you get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. When climbing, everyone gets a cam or a nut stuck from time to time, but leave several hundred dollars of your partner’s pieces in the rock throughout a route and they’ll never forget you. Especially if you get to the belay and subtly put the blame on them: “Man, you really wedged those things in there.”


Keep some of their stuff.
If you’re climbing, absentmindedly keep a couple of your partner’s cams in the bottom of your pack when you’re sorting gear, and discover it when you get home. Also works with bike pumps, tire levers, or other bike tools. This can be especially memorable if you figure out you kept some of their stuff after you’ve gotten off a plane to somewhere halfway across the country or globe.

Put some bad photos of them on Facebook and/or Instagram.
And tag them. And make sure you only post photos of yourself where you’re looking really good.


9 replies on “How To Be A Terrible Adventure Partner

  • MattV

    Good article. I had a great non-activity friend who loved to be woken up by me ringing his doorbell on powder days. He was very Spicoli-esque so it was hard to get mad at him and plus he made a mean egg sandwich and sponsored all the safety meetings. I just learned not to plan with him on epic days.

    Also, I believe it was Woody’s son Arlo who sang about getting drunk so he “looked and felt his best” assuming you’re quoting from “Alice’s Restaurant”

  • Jack

    My friend once drank a ton of coffee before a couple pitch climb and ‘accidentally’ peed on my other friend while up on a climb. I happened to be on a pitch near there and got to witness the whole thing. I was hoping to see that featured in the “Day of” section but I guess it may not be a common occurrence.

  • Lisa

    I just referred to you as the “Ryan Gosling of the mountains.” Stoked to hear you speak at Salvagetti Bikes (some of their employees are why I moved from Chicago to Colorado).

    I do think you need to retitle this post to: “Ahhhhh, THAT’S Why I’m Partnerless!”

  • Casey Greene

    If your adventure fails due to your partner being way over-their-head, make sure to lay a heavy dose of blame on them, and do so at every possible chance in the future. It is in no way your fault for choosing the wrong partner.

  • Kim

    My favorite is the friend who insists on smoking weed through the most technical parts of the adventure, then realizes at the end that they didn’t pack enough food for the trip.

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