52 Pieces Of Adventure Advice

Everybody has a few one-liners that always crop up in their head when they’re out hiking, skiing, climbing, and/or having a good time or bad time outside. I brainstormed a few bits of this advice I’ve remembered over the years from mentors, friends, authors, plus some of my own mantras, and a few that Facebook friends sent me. Hope some of these save your ass, or at least put a smile on your face.

  1. Always bring a headlamp.
  2. The best place to keep extra batteries for your headlamp is in another headlamp (an Alaskan guide whose name I’ve forgotten)
  3. When you feel low, eat and eat more. When you feel good, slow down. (Vivian Doorn, advice about 100-mile races)
  4. Don’t buy gear, buy plane tickets (Yvon Chouinard)
  5. Don’t try to muscle through anything—just keep spinning (my friend Mick, on long-distance bike touring)
  6. Always carry a spoon. You never want to miss out on free food.
  7. Always take a big bowl or mug on a group trip, or go hungry.
  8. Ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain (unknown)
  9. Don’t get in your sleeping bag with damp socks on.
  10. Don’t expect a great night of sleep while camping—expect a series of naps.
  11. When you wake up wondering if you should get out of your sleeping bag/tent to pee or if you can get back to sleep without getting up to pee … just get up and go pee
  12. Check your knot (Chris Kalous)
  13. A helmet almost always protects your brain more than a stylish hat.
  14. Pain is just a feeling. (Steve Swenson)
  15. Geologic time includes now. (Gerry Roach)
  16. Sometimes eating’s not about liking. (Jayson Sime)
  17. Always make sure the cap is on your water bottle.
  18. If it hurts to walk and it hurts to run, running will hurt for less time (Brody Leven)
  19. Commit. (Meghan Hicks, on ultrarunning)
  20. If you can follow it, you can lead it.
  21. Sunburns are for amateurs.
  22. Basically you just don’t want to fall when leading ice climbs (Lee Smith)
  23. It’s not really a “dry suit.” It’s more like a “slowly getting damp suit.” (David Marx)
  24. Eventually, they all become rock skis.
  25. Don’t say “photos don’t do it justice.” Somebody’s photos do.
  26. Somebody can ride that on a hardtail.
  27. Only do one stupid thing at a time (Shannon Walton)
  28. Start cold.
  29. The more you know, the less you need (Yvon Chouinard)
  30. If you’re going to go ultra-light, make sure you have ultra-experience. (Nicole Dautel)
  31. The odds on very difficult climbs are not in your favor. So there’s no excuse to show up unprepared, to show up out of shape. (Kelly Cordes)
  32. When skiing in the trees, don’t look at the trees, look at the spaces in between.
  33. There are no bad adventures, just bad company. (Libby VandeKamp Littler)
  34. That’s the thing about goals, they don’t just fuckin lie down for you. (Jayson Sime)
  35. There’s really no such thing as a self-arrest once you get going on a steep slope—you really have to stick the landing if you fall. (Lee Smith)
  36. Never stand when you can sit. Never sit when you can lie down. (The first rule of mountaineering)
  37. Going one mile an hour with zero breaks is faster than going two miles an hour and stopping to catch your breath every five minutes.
  38. Most tents are no good without the poles.
  39. Don’t plan on it not raining.
  40. There are two easy ways to die in the desert—thirst and drowning. (Craig Childs)
  41. Learn how to fix a flat tire and always carry a spare tube.
  42. Breathe.
  43. It’s easier to stay out than get out. (Mark Twain)
  44. You’ll be fine. (Alex Honnold/anyone who’s ever sandbagged a friend)
  45. Pick your partners first, then the objective (Penn Newhard)
  46. Ideal circumstances rarely make for interesting stories. (Scott Nowacki)
  47. If you wouldn’t ski it withOUT your avy beacon, you still shouldn’t ski it WITH your avy beacon. (Peter Wadsworth)
  48. If you always eat your best food first, you’ll always be eating your best food. (unknown NOLS instructor)
  49. Never judge the weather from your sleeping bag. (Phil Powers)
  50. Go average, go often. (Reid Pitman)
  51. If there is a solution to the problem, why worry? If there is no solution, why worry? (Bill Thompson)
  52. Wear a hat. (my mom)


More stories like this in my new book, Bears Don’t Care About Your Problems, out now.