Switcharoo Guest Post: bean roulette and yurts with Ben Horan

Good morning, and welcome back to Skinning with bear spray. Unfortunately, you’ve been bamboozeled by the oldest trick in the book: the bait and switch. I’m The Gentleman at Large, and I’m taking the reigns today. You can see what David has to say for himself over at the Gentleman at Large blog!


I was sitting across a roughhewn wooden table from a man in a bandanna. We both sat with straight backs and leaned in toward each other slightly. Sweat beaded on my forehead. The room was very loud and dozens of people crowded around us, waving cash and yelling. In the other man’s right hand was an old revolver with the bluing faded near the muzzle. It was pressed against his temple and when the hammer fell on an empty cylinder the metallic click was drowned out by cheering and jeering and a new round of betting. Neither of us allowed our gaze to break from the other man’s eyes. He slid the revolver across the table to me.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “this sounds a lot more like a scene from The Deer Hunter than something that actually happened to you.” I have to admit that you’re right. And while I’ve never played Russian Roulette in a steamy Vietnamese prison camp, I have tried to finish all of the food that we packed on a yurt trip to avoid packing it out.  And as we passed the pot of reconstituted beans back and forth it began to feel a bit like a gun to the head.


I’ve had the opportunity to spend a few weeks in yurts in recent seasons, and like to think I’m becoming an old hand at backcountry ski trips. And so to make your next hut trip experience more pleasant, I’d like to offer a few bits of advice.

  • Spring for the gear haul – $200 for a five mile gear haul sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? It is. They’ve got you over a barrel, and who cares? Do it, and then bring whatever you want. Throw your food in there. Throw a keg in there. Probably hang on to your avy beacon. Definitely don’t worry about how you’re going to get all that stuff you packed back to the car – it’s pretty much all just food anyway and you’ll probably finish it.
  • Do not look at a map – You paid for a snowmobile shuttle, so you’re good. You don’t need to know where you’re going, just follow the tracks. Be sure to disregard any fine print that could suggest that the gear haul only goes three quarters of the way to the hut. That’s depressing and you can deal with it when you get there.
  • Bring your own everything – Sharing is bullshit. Everyone should bring their own: tortillas, cheese, granola, beer, bread, peanut butter, mustard, and coffee. Nothing makes me angrier than when someone doesn’t bring their own mustard and then asks to use some of mine.
  • Pack only dried staples – Oats. Flour. Beans. You’re a regular homesteader out in this here frontier-style fake-house. Be sure to pack food like you’re playing Oregon Trail. Canned beans are for quitters. Store-bought bread is a sin. Bring a rifle in case you need to shoot a buffalo.
  • Booze. Lots. – During the Napoleonic Wars, sailors in the British Royal Navy received a daily ration of a gallon of beer, a pint of wine, or a half pint of rum (depending on availability). Who won the Napoleonic Wars? Not Napoleon, that’s who. Take a page out of Lord Nelson’s book and have a nip with breakfast.
  • Keg beer – Nothing steams my Twinkie (and there’s nothing worse than a steamed Tinkie) more than trash. And if you run the numbers on a group of ten, drinking a gallon of beer a day, for three or four days, you start to come up with a lot of empties. You can remedy this by just bringing a keg. Alternatively you can leave the keg in the truck with a large spool of tap hose and run that in behind you on the approach. Don’t forget to find a volunteer to hang out in the parking lot and pump!
  • Earplugs – You never really know someone until you sleep next to them at altitude after they’ve had their daily ration of beer. Now of course I don’t snore, but you sure do and so I always travel with earplugs. They’re also useful on airplanes, in the office, and at your next high school reunion.

I do hope that this has been as helpful for you as it’s been fun for me. Please do check in at The Gentleman at Large for regular Tuesday updates on better living and a healthy lifestyle!

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