Responsible Rankings

Adding up actions in the backcountry.

It’s easy to talk about making good decisions, but in the moment, walking the walk can prove easier said than done. Deep snow is known to keep skiers out longer than they were planning, excitement alters our ability to think objectively, and the pressure from other group members influences our judgment—for good and bad. Take this quiz to see how’d you fare with these backcountry dilemmas.

1. It’s 3pm and you just finished your fourth run of the day. You’re running low on water but the snow is still good. What do you do?
A. Gulp down the rest of your water to hydrate for the skin back up.
B. Eat snow and go for another lap. Great stories come from exhaustion.
C. Conserve water and make your way back to your rig before the sun sets.
D. Wait for other skiers to come by and ask for their water, then rip another lap.

2. What piece of gear should you carry in case of a skin malfunction?
A. Nothing. Skin technology is infallible these days.
B. A Voile strap.
C. Duct tape—it fixes everything.
D. An extra pair of skins.

3. What are three necessary items to pack with you, aside from your beacon, shovel, and probe?
A. Knife, space blanket, portable speaker.
B. Lighter, pipe, weed.
C. Water, extra layer, repair kit.
D. Cigar, whiskey, Hemingway novel.

4. It snowed a foot two days ago, and today’s forecast calls for clear skies and calm winds. When you get to the top of the ridge, snow is blowing sideways and you’re surrounded by cornices. You:
A. Ski something steeper, because there’s more snow than you expected.
B. Ski the line you were initially planning.
C. Start drinking, so that you won’t remember what happened.
D. Cut your losses and ski something mellow.

5. Your snowmobile is overheating and you don’t have any coolant. What’s an appropriate substitute to get you home?
A. The remainder of your six-pack.
B. Tree sap.
C. Water.
D. The sum total of your group’s urine.

6. Late in the day, it starts snowing and your clothing begins taking in moisture. What do you do?
A. Ski, skin, or hike faster. Your movement will dry out your gear.
B. Turn around and head back to the car.
C. Take off your clothes and hang them in a tree to dry.
D. Make a fire and seek shelter for the night.

7. Your friend takes a digger, has intense pain in her leg, and is unable to ski out. You:
A. Build a travois from tree limbs and haul her out.
B. Make sure she is staying warm and doesn’t have any other injuries.
C. Make a splint for the injured leg and discuss your evacuation plan.
D. B and C. 

8. After discussing your group’s plan for the day, you see a party skiing a route you thought was unsafe. Everyone skis it without an avalanche. What do you do?
A. Yes, it’s safe! Ski the line right next to it for fresh tracks.
B. Don’t let the actions of the other group influence your own decisions.
C. Yell at the other group for skiing something unstable.
D. Return to the car because you’re confused.

9. The skiing was unexpectedly great and you decide to go for a sunset lap. You have two miles to skin out, and by the time you get to the bottom of the drainage, it’s dark. What do you do?
A. Wait for the moon to rise.
B. Wait for the sun to rise.
C. Use echolocation to avoid running into trees.
D. Turn your headlamp on and enjoy the skin out—you brought one, right?

10. You arrive at some unfamiliar terrain and pull your phone out to check Gaia, only to realize the thing is dead. What do you do?
A. Pray.
B. Put it in your crotch in hopes that it will warm up, come to life, and save your lost ass.
C. Take out the map and compass in your backpack, and figure out where you went wrong.
D. Sit tight and wait for someone to come along who has a charged and reliable phone.

Answer Key:
1. C
2. B
3. C
4. D
5. C
6. A
7. D
8. B
9. D
10. C