Short-term catas­tro­phes play out fast. Take this quiz to find out how you’d fare.

Backpacker - - The Survival Issue -

1. Mid­way through a river cross­ing, you’re swept off your feet and into the rac­ing cur­rent. You de­cide to:

(a) Crawl stroke like mad for the river­bank. (b) Ditch your pack, flip over onto your back, and float feet-first down­river. (c) Swing your trekking poles over­head in hopes of snag­ging a low-hang­ing tree branch.

An­swer: (b) Float­ing belly-up, you can use your feet to push off boul­ders and other ob­sta­cles while pro­tect­ing the old brain­case. Back­stroke with your arms to steer. If you hit an eddy or other calm stretch, flip over onto your stom­ach and swim to the bank.

2. You’re cross­ing a frozen lake, but— sur­prise!—you hear a sud­den crack and feel your­self plunge un­der­wa­ter. Your plan?

(a) Ditch your trekking poles and bust out the beached-whale move. (b) Use your poles to span the break so you have some­thing to sup­port your weight while you call for help. (c) Stab those car­bide tips into the ice and claw your way out.

An­swer: (c) If you were smart, you’d have brought some­thing like ice claws (ba­si­cally lit­tle dow­els with spikes on the end) in case of a plunge. But some­times sharp pole tips will do the trick. Get hor­i­zon­tal, float your legs up be­hind you, and frog-kick your­self for­ward onto the ice.

3. In a hurry to pick up a re­sup­ply be­fore the post office closes, you’re hus­tling down the trail when a rat­tler sinks its fangs into your an­kle. You’re 5 miles out, and there’s no cell re­cep­tion. You should:

(a) Ap­ply a tourni­quet to keep the venom from spread­ing. (b) Keep on walk­ing; you’ve got a lim­ited amount of time. (c) Wait for help. Sit­ting still will slow the venom’s spread.

An­swer: (b) True, a jackrab­bit heart rate will pump venom through your sys­tem faster. But in most cases, you’ve got a few hours be­fore you’re in real trou­ble—long enough to hike a ways, but not enough to spend the night. Stay calm, try to ID what bit you, and walk at a steady pace to­ward the near­est trail­head. Have cell ser­vice? Call 911 ASAP.

For each in­cor­rect an­swer:

For each cor­rect an­swer:

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