See that nasty black cloud? That is what is known as "Bad Weather." It exists!

See that nasty black cloud? That is what is known as “Bad Weather.” It exists!

You don’t have to be into outdoor stuff long before someone trots out this at once tired and also insane bit of tripe. “There’s no bad weather, just bad gear!” trumpets some attention-seeker in response to a reasonable concern about the weather being bad. S/he holds forth at any opportunity, blaring on about how s/he thinks nothing of 80mph howling winds and buckets of precipitation and wouldn’t think of canceling or delaying a trip for something as trite as weather, after all, s/he has The Gear For It! All you need to conquer any sort of atmospheric disturbance is more and different stuff than the stuff you have got. Only pussies change their plans because of weather, is the underlying message. Real Outdoorspeople just get better stuff.

If you’re sane, you recognize at once that this is ridiculous. OF COURSE there is bad weather and of course one can’t always overcome it with gear. Don’t believe me? Ask any one of the corpses on Everest or Denali, or perhaps one of Alaska’s own Special Wanderers who have turned up dead, one by one, after a period of having gone allegedly mysteriously missing, though what the mystery is when we’re talking about people who set off in the wilderness armed with little more but their intentions and don’t turn up after a while, I’ll never understand. Ask anyone who has gotten frostbite, or nearly drowned, or had to be rescued or has gotten lost or gotten disoriented or what have you. How many of those instances wouldn’t have even happened if their hapless victims had simply looked out the window and thought, “wow, that’s terrible, not too sensible to be out and about in that!” and changed their plans?

It's true that I'm enjoying this particular bad weather because I've got the gear for it, but the bad weather is still there. Don't be ridiculous.

It’s true that I’m enjoying this particular bad weather because I’ve got the gear for it, but the bad weather is still there. Don’t be ridiculous.

Now, before anyone jumps to the comments to blather about how those people would indeed have been helped by additional gear, let me address that argument straightaway. Just shut up. The very best gear on the planet has and will fail and prove to not be enough at some point. No one met their demise in a storm high in the death zone thinking “this weather is just peachy, it’s me darn down suit that isn’t good enough!'” High altitude mountaineering gear is light years better now than it was in the days of George and Andrew, and people still die up there as a matter of course. Even sophisticated machines like airplanes and helicopters have weather minimums, and not because they just don’t have a helicopter good enough yet, it’s because there is, in fact, such a thing as “bad weather.”

The top piece of gear that every single person possesses is that organ between one’s ears. And if that is faulty, no amount of Gore-Tex or overblown electronic gadget is going to fill the gap. People with the slightest lick of sense know that there’s a time and place for everything, including summit-tagging and shooting the Rabbit Creek culverts below Hillside Drive. Sometimes you can do it safely, other times you’ll be dead.

So, yes, there is indeed bad weather. There’s also nothing wrong with both pointing it out and being prudent about venturing out in it. Of course, “bad” is somewhat subjective based on one’s own experience and tolerance levels, but the stubborn insistence on bad weather being but a figment of one’s imagination is just ludicrous and dangerous.

We walked a quarter mile in this tempest, in full rain gear and boots, before conceding that the weather was indeed bad and we'd rather go home.

We walked a quarter mile in this tempest, in full rain gear and boots, before conceding that the weather was indeed bad and we’d rather go home.

Has anyone, by the way, stopped to think about what they’re saying when they recite that flaccid old piece of rotting rhetoric? What they’re saying is basically one or more of the following:

  1. I’m better than you because I have more stuff.
  2. You wouldn’t be such a chickenshit if you’d just go buy some more stuff.
  3. If you had the right stuff, you’d want to go, so clearly you got the wrong stuff. You should go buy the right stuff.
  4. I bought enough stuff that the powers of nature can never possibly harm me. I’m basically impervious to weather now.

There’s little question as to how ridiculous someone would sound saying any of the above out loud, but somehow “there’s no bad weather, just bad gear” has gained traction as an acceptable rebuttal to the weather forecast. For the love of dog, let’s stop shaming people for not being good little consumers when they decide they’d prefer to stay warm and dry at home for a day rather than run out and buy a $1000 outfit so they can go anyway. Repeat after me: It’s OK to back out because the weather is bad.