The Beer-Based Gratitude Scale for Outdoor People

Recently, I was standing in my neighborhood liquor store trying to decide whether I should buy a bottle of scotch or a six-pack of good beer for a friend of mine. I was borrowing his set of ice tools and seven ice screws for a trip to the Ouray Ice Park. My girlfriend does not own ice tools, and I do not yet own any ice screws. And I am big on appreciation. I figure we’re talking $400 worth of screws and $400 worth of ice tools, so he’s saving me quite a bit of money by allowing me to postpone my investment.

$11 worth of Dale’s Pale Ale ought to cover it. I decided a bottle of scotch would be way over the top.

I was thinking, though, for a guy who doesn’t drink, I seem to purchase my fair share of beer in liquor stores and bars. Maybe it’s because in my hometown in Iowa, beer is currency. I bought my first car for $500 and two cases of Busch Light. My father once rented a skid-loader for a day in exchange for eight steaks and four cases of beer. My friend’s father once picked up a topper for his pickup truck for $15 and a handle of Black Velvet.

There are certain unspoken levels of appropriate gratitude – you wouldn’t ask your friend to help you move furniture all day and buy him/her one drink. No, you would buy them pizza and a bunch of beer, at minimum. It’s the same for the outdoors. So I’ve come up with some rough guidelines to help you decide what’s appropriate when thanking someone for an outdoor-related favor.

1 beer:

* Friend/climbing partner picked you up and drove to the trailhead
* You forgot to pack a tire patch kit or extra tube, you got a flat tire, your friend let you borrow their tube/patch
* You borrowed a guidebook
* You ran out of water on a hike and your friend split their last bottle of water with you
* You are very late getting home from hiking/climbing; friend/climbing partner allows you to tell your spouse that it was his/her fault you are late

2 beers:

* Friend/climbing partner picked you up and drove to the trailhead while you slept in the passenger seat
* Friend/climbing partner picked you up and had donuts and/or coffee for you; you did not sleep in the passenger seat on the way to the trailhead
* Climbing partner led the hard pitch, or pitches
* You borrowed a pair of skis or snowboard
* You are very late getting home from hiking/climbing; friend/climbing partner calls your spouse and explains that it was his/her fault you are late
* Friend/climbing partner cooked dinner on overnight trip; it was better than you can cook at home
* Friend brings firewood for weekend car camping trip
* You bail off climbing route, leaving friend’s gear (can be more, depending on amount of gear left)


* You borrowed a set of ice tools and a rack of ice screws
* You borrowed sleeping bag, tent, or stove for weekend
* Following a bicycle mechanical on a road ride way outside of town, friend drove and picked up you and your bike and took you home
* You borrowed a friend’s mountain bike or road bike

1 beer every time you get together for the rest of your lives:

* Partner dug you out of an avalanche, full burial
* Friend ran to get help when you sustained a leg injury in the backcountry and couldn’t walk; you survived

Photo by Steve Jurvetson

Adventure Journal is free but relies on reader support to make stories like this possible. Please join the thousands of your fellow adventurers and subscribe to our amazing printed quarterly or pick up an issue here.



Four issues, free shipping, evergreen content…