As defined by Urban Dictionary, bailing is to leave a group of friends, social gathering, or another such event with little or no warning or reason why. In the outdoor universe, the act of bailing describes someone who cancels plans when their Adventure Partner(s) is relying on the Bailer for said adventure.

The timeline for an outdoor bail can be a few hours or a few months, depending on the trip, and excuses for bailing range wildly from totally understandable to completely ridiculous. Respectable bails include things like waking up vomiting and or hitting a tree on the way to the mountain. An acceptable-once, but not-to-be-repeated reason might be forgetting about a previous commitment. Then there are the ridiculous bails which, at least in my book, will bar you from any future invitations. These include getting too drunk the night before or backing out of a long-distance trip due to your inability to engage in thoughtful financial planning.

The truth about bailing is that we’re all guilty of it it. You are a bailer. I am a bailer. We bail. It’s not a matter of when you will bail, but how. Which raises the question: what type of bailer are you?


The Accidental Bailer
You’re packed and ready to go. You’ve gone to sleep on time, but like a noob your phone died/you forgot to set your alarm/you left everything on silent. So when the time comes to arise from slumber you do not. Because you are still sleeping. Dweeb.

Best case scenario your Adventure Partner calls your life partner who has not neglected their phone, and the life partner answers and wakes you up. Worst case, your buddies go without you and you miss a primo day. You will not make this mistake twice (or, if you do, your Adventure Partner will forever text you at the wake-up time with a middle-finger emoji, and if you don’t text back within two minutes to indicate you are awake… well, you don’t actually know what happens but you assume it would be bad).

The Poop NOT In A Group Bailer
You’re really stoked on this trip and have every intention of going. You’re mostly ready. First, you just need to fix your binding or run to the store to grab a few things or turn in your midterm. But don’t worry, this should be totally fast and you’ll definitely get it done in time.


You don’t.

The Hedger-Bailer
You want to go, but you also want to not go, so you send seemingly innocuous messages asking if anyone else is concerned about the weather or sharing that you’re worried maybe you ate something bad last night. Sure, if someone else writes back with an excessive amount of stoke you’ll probably still go, but, you know, if you don’t really feel like it, you can point back to this original message and say, see? I told you I had some concerns and wasn’t sure about going. It’s a good idea to hedge your bets.

You can follow this bailing technique mid-adventure as well by, say, faking a blister to get out of a cross-country skiing trip gone awry. Theoretically.

Wish you were here. But you’re not, ’cause you bailed. Photo: David Marcu

The Predictable Bailer
We all have that friend… you know the one. The one you like a lot, but who can be unreliable when it comes to following through. Their impending bail can be so predictable that you often make backup plans in anticipation. The most challenging part of making plans with a predictable bailer is when they don’t actually bail, and you then have to become the bailer on your backup plans (which, frankly, you were more excited about at this point anyway).

Don’t know a friend like this? This means you ‘re the predictable bailer. Jackass.

The Ghost Bailer
Three weeks out you’re in. Ten days to go and you’re super stoked. Four days before, you message back and forth about logistics. Then, with 48-hours to go, you fall off the face of the earth entirely.

Despite many efforts by your Adventure Partner(s) to get in touch, you do not reply. You figure it’s easier to ghost this conversation than put on your big-kid pants and own up to the fact that you’re a little overwhelmed at the moment. Eventually, you’ll respond. Probably four minutes before the planned meet-up time.

The Something Better Came Along Bailer
Potentially the most infuriating bailer, you are the Tinder-addicted equivalent of an adventure buddy. Sure, you’ll swipe right on a mellow day in the backcountry… that is, until a bigger/better/longer/harder/prettier/gnarlier/more Instagram-worthy adventure comes along. You’re only doing it for the bragging rights, after all, so you just go ahead and get yours. Damn the consequences.

Be warned: in my experience karma tends to bite this kind of bailer. Probably because the universe reviles you as much as the rest of us.

The Unicorn
I am hesitant to write this down lest we scare off this extremely elusive bailer, but you, my beloved friend, are a rare beast indeed. You know how to set an alarm like a champ, you always have your poop in a group, and once you commit you’re in regardless of external circumstances. Until reading this blog you’ve never even heard of ‘ghosting’. The only thing more consistent than a Predictable Bailer is your commitment to showing up on time. You never bail.

We are forever grateful to you for your endless stoke and beautiful mane of flowing locks. You bring the best beer and car snacks too. May we all be worthy of your greatness.

**Huge thanks to the incomparable Theresa Sippel, who helped brainstorm all the bailers while we were skinning up a 5,000ft glacier!

Read more from Kristina Ciari at Occasionally Epic

Top photo: Simon Migaj