Misery in the outdoors usually revolves around four things. Cold, wet, tired, or hungry. Being one of the four is really guaranteed on any trip. Two of four is still not unusual, par for the course on any longer or more commiting trip. Three or four of the above is generally when you really start to rethink what you did to get yourself where you are.


Solo aid climbing in the rain. A slow and methodical process with little protection from the elements. Pretty scarey as well.

That is not to say a trip can’t get worse. Injury or other more serious complications can make a trip more than just miserable.


Nick had a season ending injury when he fell and broke his heel. While he did seem to be capable of entertaining himself during the imposed house arrest, I suspect the immense amount of free time with no ability to climb or ski was at least a little miserable. He did manage to get out and leave the crutches behind for a bit of climbing.

Misery can be classified along what has been proposed the “Fun Scale”. Fun can be broken down into three types:

Type I is true fun in the moment. A warm day at the beach, a good movie, a barbeque, or clean, safe climbing.


Nick at the finish of a Ski Mountaineering Race. Hard work but fun during the race and rewarding to have finished. Hard to believe but very little misery involved.

Type II is something that is tough in the moment but afterwards, upon reflection, you know you enjoyed what you did. Most climbing and lots of ski touring falls into this category. You might be terriefied or exhausted during the activity but afterward you have no regrets.


Sarah skinning up Cayoosh Peak along the Duffy Lake Road. Ski touring requires long efforts of hot sweaty work in a steep slippery skin track though wind, snow and even rain. The payoff comes on the descent where misery on the uptrack is forgotten.

Type III is true misery. You finish what you are doing with no intention of ever putting yourself through it again. Type III may be accompanied by a near-death experience. Luckily I can’t think of any personal examples.


Alexis with a bloody nose waiting for a ride after finishing a painfully slow ski traverse of the Garibaldi Neve with the BCMC. I asked never to be invited on a BCMC trip again.

Ice climbing is a relatively new activity for me. Luckily I have a good group of friends to follow. It also brings a new meaning to misery for me. Coastal ice is generally characterized by its wetness. Ice climbs obviously form where waterfalls exist in the summer. When lucky, these are totally frozen. Unfortunately every climb I did this year had water raining from above, along the surface of and underneath the ice. You have to deal with being cold and tired from climbing, not to mention scared of ice collapsing from underneath you or daggers falling from above, but you do it all while in the shower.


Ice rarely forms in Squmish but when it does it is a treat to walk out of the house and climb. On this route, Alice on Ice, water was flowing steadily under the curtain of ice. Right after taking this picture, Nick who is climbing pulled his pick out of the ice and a spray of water shot out of the hole he created. He had to continue climbing though and got soaked in the process. Luckily, being five minutes from home meant being a bit wet was not an issue.


Paul B led a particularly excellent climb on this dagger with torrents of water showering down. Nick and I followed, belayed safetly from above, in less that half the time he took and were completly soaked, so I can only immagine the discomfort leading this steep climb during a 55 minute ice-water shower.

The upside of any miserable day outside is that it leads to a renewed appreciation for the comforts of home. A burger, soda, and nap are all the best after a long hard day.


Alexis in the car home from a 22 hour non-stop push to ski Mt. Rainier. 48 hours after the last time either of us had slept.

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