Welcome to the Olympics of Hiking
You may not be able to ski jump or drive a bobsled, but you're a master at hanging bear bags, gorging on ramen, and smelling really, really bad. Win a medal at one of these 11 events.
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It’s been four years since the last Games. For that whole time, we’ve been looking forward to the moment when the torch-bearer rounds the bend, flaming marshmallow held aloft in a glowing symbol of the competitive spirit. They’ll throw it into the great brazier, eyes raised as if in praise to the Greek gods who oversaw the first Games, and the crowd will well with emotion. A confetti of Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts will rain down on the citizens of the world, and the Games will begin.
That’s right. After years of denied bids, the Olympics of Hiking have come to the BACKPACKER offices.
This year we’re looking forward to a slightly updated schedule of events, designed to showcase the skill of the best and brightest hiking athletes on the planet. Here’s what you can expect from this year’s Games.
The Bear Biathalon
Nations will go head to head in a dual-sport competition, consisting of throwing a bear bag and accurately firing a pre-shaken canister of bear spray at a long-range target. Windy conditions promise to make this a memorable event.
Competitors will use both knowledge and cunning to sweep up all traces of passing, according to the seven principles of LNT. This event is unique in that no medal is awarded: feeling superior to everyone else is a much better prize.
Often mistaken for the relatively mundane activity of simply trying to get in and out of a hammock, hammock yoga is as much about flourish and flair as it is about balance. Contested in both singles and partner matches.
Now in its inaugural year, ramen gorging is expected to draw a younger, college-age demographic to the games.
Alpine Lake Diving
Competitors will step up to the edge of the pool in the nude, as a nod to the manner in which the sport is most often performed. Categories include cannonball, cliff dive, bellyflop, and headfirst-dive-without-hitting-the-bottom.
While the live animals used in the original event have this year been replaced with realistic replicas, the game retains the all-out physical displays and carefully harnessed aggression that made this such a popular sport in its early years. Competitors will receive a deduction for every hole chewed in their packs.
100-Yard Dish Dash.
This is a test of speed with unusually high stakes: unlike in the Summer Olympics’ well-known 100-yard dash, the last-place finisher of the Dish Dash must then scrub day-old macaroni and cheese residue from five titanium pots with cold water and a regulation-size plastic spoon.
In this event, which is as much about preparation as performance, competitors have one week to cultivate a particularly memorable odor and to develop a routine to effectively flaunt it in front of judges, whose backgrounds (typically in sewage management) make them notoriously difficult to impress. We recommend spectators bring binoculars, as the seating in the Freestyle BO arena is set further back than in most events.
Aside from participating in a skin-out weighing of their kit, athletes must also prove their ability to brush their teeth with a handle-less brush, rehydrate a meal on an alcohol stove in high winds, and construct a livable shelter from Tyvek and dental floss in under three minutes.
Speed, strength, and teamwork all come into play in these rugged, high-altitude matches. Peakbaggers must fight their way up a crowded trail to reach the top as fast as possible. Elbow-, knee-, and hip-checking are permitted. There are no time-keeping officials in this race; competitors simply meet up at the trailhead and compare their times on Strava.
Mummy Bag Sack Race
Spectacular falls are common in the highly restrictive regulation down bags used in this event. The clock doesn’t stop until the athlete has both crossed the finish line and successfully crammed their bag into an absurdly small stuffsack.