Scarpa North America Blog

Happy Hour at Basecamp: 3 Things to Do When Stuck in a Tent

Jul. 21st 2014

Joel Bettner, a skier, mountaineer and coach based in Boulder, Colo., considers what “happy hour” means in basecamp.

It’s the “in-between” time on an expedition that makes all the difference. So many of us plan adventures with an eagle-like focus on a big goal, all too often neglecting the time spent waiting out storms, recovering or generally living in a tent. That time not actively pursuing the big goal can make or break you; it’s crucial to your sanity and therefore crucial to your success.



First and foremost, the people you choose to spend your time with on an expedition are crucial. You have to know you’ll mesh and work well in difficult circumstances and for a long period of time… even when you smell terrible and can’t stand each other’s faces anymore.

Once you’ve found the right partner it’s time to put some thought into those around-the-fire, trapped-in-a-tent, hanging-out-at-basecamp activities. Below are three things that work well for me in a snowy environment. Make those your very own expedition happy hour!

Always, always bring a deck of cards. It seems like a little kid distraction or old man ritual, but a deck of cards goes a LONG way. Sure, you could write them off because they’re a bit of extra weight, but they provide a versatile form of entertainment that can be used over and over again. Play gin, crazy 8s, go-fish, hearts, war, as*hole… whatever your fancy. In my book, that sanity saving is well worth the weight.


Books & audiobooks. The smartphone has really changed the way we approach the mountains and expeditions. It is such a multi-purpose device and as long as you haven’t drowned it in a pile of melted snow, it is a great tool. When it comes to reading, you can cram multiple books into one small, lightweight device.  Reading on your own allows you to escape into your own world for a little much needed “alone” time (even though you’re right next to your smelly tentmate). When you’re not jonesing to find out what happens to Katniss Everdeen next, it can provide hours of conversation later.


Cook. Anyone who does an entire expedition on nothing but dehydrated food is missing out. Splitting the tasks up for cooking a real meal at camp leads to easy chatting and a further sense of team building amongst expedition members.

And these just scratch the surface. Do you have favorite camp activities? Let us know!

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