10 Things to do While Stuck in a Tent
Greetings friends! I write to you from a tent in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. A raging tempest has kept my climbing partner, John, and me bound to our two-person tent. For three days we’ve hardly left our cold and cramped nylon kingdom. The storm will pass tomorrow (hopefully) and we’ll be able to continue our climb!
John and I have been at each others throats, to say the least. We’ve both done some things we regret — like when I threatened to stab John — But that’s to be expected. Getting along with climbing partners is an art!
Which is why I wanted to share with you some tips, in no particular order, of how to make time pass pleasantly while stuck in a tent.
Read a Book
On the first day of the storm, we weren’t concerned about being stuck in the tent — for we had books to read. How the time passed! Without getting out of our sleeping bags, John and I were transported to distant lands of goblins and trolls.
If someone was making a movie of us, our time with the books would be a happy montage: fast cuts of laughter, tears and definitely some bottom-lip biting in rapt concentration. Sadly, a book has only so many pages, which were quickly swallowed up by the burdensome number of hours we faced.
As a system of time-passing and entertainment, alcohol has no match on earth. It’s good for combating boredom in any case, especially when stuck in a tent.
Once the books ran out, John and I turned to alcohol. Time passed so quickly that after a certain point, I couldn’t remember anything. But just like books, alcohol last only so long.
Don’t Get Hung Over
Uhhhh — this was our refrain on our second morning. A few notes about vomit:
a) The smell won’t come out of a sleeping bag. Ever.
b) When you’re in a tent in the middle of a snow storm, getting outside to keep your sleeping bag away from vomit is difficult.
c) The smell of vomit seems to intensify hangover symptoms.
Practice Onanism (Discreetly)
If the legitimate sexual act cannot be procured, onanism is a sufficient replacement. This poses problem if you share a tent with a partner of a gender that doesn’t interest you sexually.
I’m not saying you should do it, but if you do, be sure to minimize your sound and movements to escape detection.
Just like the obese of our society, you should eat food to forestall boredom. John and I broke into our stash of candy on the afternoon of the second day, reliving the sugar-high memories of our youths. After my third Reese’s, I forgot I was in a miserable little tent in the middle of Alaska.
That is, until a piercing sound broke the spell…
Just Don’t Chew it Loudly!
John’s violent chewing. I mean, who chews like that? Chomp, chomp, chomp! It sounded like the gates of hell slamming open and shut.
“John, stop chewing so loudly,” I said.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
What does he mean what do I mean? The nerve of that guy. I took this as confirmation that he was chewing this way on purpose. Did he want me to go crazy? Did he want me to go crazy so he could steal all of my possessions? Hmmm…
Secure Your Valuables
Always remember to keep your valuables, like your car keys and wallet, in a safe place. Preferably hidden from your climbing partner.
By evening the second day, I no longer felt safe in my tent with John. He would just stare off into space for long periods of time, like he was deliberately avoiding looking at where I hid my wallet. Why would he do this unless he was plotting to murder me in my sleep and steal all of my money?
Respect Other People’s Space
Respecting your partner’s space is very important when sharing a tent. A point which John fails to understand.
Midway through the second night, John turned over in his sleeping bag and bumped my leg. I knew it! I had stayed up all night, knowing he would try to pull something.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, you son of a bitch?” I respectfully asked.
“Oh, I’m sorry, man,” he fatuously replied.
“You’re not sorry,” I said with a calm and steady voice. “You keep hogging all of the tent space and I’m sick of it!”
Keep Your Knife Sharp, Just in Case
Always keep your trusty knife sharp — you never know when you might need to defend your life from a dirty traitor.
On day three, John woke to me sharpening my knife on my whetstone. He must have felt bad about the night before, because as soon as he saw me, he said, “Sean, what the fuck are you doing? And where did you get that whetstone?”
“John, I understand you’re mad,” I told him. “I just don’t feel safe sharing a tent with you anymore. And don’t mind the knife – I’ll only use it if I have to.”
Sometimes, Climbing Partners Need Time Alone
No one says that you have to spend every waking moment with your climbing partner. Sometimes you just need some space.
Like on this climb, when John told me I was crazy and that he was leaving the tent, to hell with the storm. We all have our own little quirks that other people just have to accept.