A few weeks ago I took some new friends into the backcountry. Temps were low, snow was forecasted, and I was stoked. In my excitement, I forgot to ask a critical question that’s standard for me: “do you have any health issues I should know about?”

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It turns out that someone in our group did, which lead to some unexpected complications on the trail to the point where I was calculating contingency plans and landing sites for helicopters should we need to call for help.

Thankfully, we got everything under control and made it home safely. It was an important reminder for me and I wanted to share it here with you all.

Gathering medical information before a trip into the backcountry is always a good idea. If someone has a condition that they share with you, make sure you talk about potential issues that might arise as a result given the difficulty of the trail and the weather. Make sure you know where their medicine is if they take any and how to administer it. If you can, make sure you have a PLB or satellite communication device (we always carry our Garmin Explorer+ with us) so you can call for help if things take a turn for the worse.

Remember to have these chats calmly and with kindness; the last thing we want is for the person to feel stigmatized or discouraged or to perpetuate ableist ideas and behaviors. If they think they are capable of the adventure, respect their bodies, boundaries, and self-knowledge. Don’t patronize, just carry on with your badass selves knowing you’re ready to act if something comes up!

Stay safe out there, friends!

Questions, Comments, or Concerns? Let me know!