Survive This: Stuck on a Scree Slope

When you're slipping and sliding, don't let your partners help you. Learn how to climb yourself to safety.


The wilderness can be a dangerous place, especially after a zombie apocalypse. This month we’re partnering with AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead to bring you advice on how to survive everything from bad weather to ravenous walkers. Stay tuned—if you can survive the end of the world, you can survive anything.

This story was written by BACKPACKER’s editorial staff. Featured content has not been influenced by AMC.

Predicament: While traversing a gully looking for water, you lose your footing and slip down a steep slope. The good news: You’ve stopped sliding. The bad news: You’re losing your grip.

Lifeline: First, catch your breath and assess the situation. Don’t act until your adrenaline rush has subsided. Survey your surroundings to determine the safest route to safety. Look for lichen-covered boulders–these are more likely to be anchored to the slope. Grassy patches of dirt offer good footing, along with larger stones and roots. Avoid areas layered in loose gravel. Remember that the best path to safety might not be above you, but to your side.

Before you move, make sure you’re facing uphill. Kick steps with your toes and test each handhold and foothold. Edge your feet into the hill and maintain at least three points of contact with the ground. If you’re carrying an ice axe, use it to carve steps or as an anchor*. As you ascend, balance your weight over your feet; leaning too far into the slope might make your feet slip out from under you. If you’re with others, don’t let partners descend to help you; many climbing injuries result from ill-fated rescue attempts. Instead, they can dangle a rope.

*Walkers around? You’re likely safer in technical mountainous terrain, but not always. Avoid low-lying gullies and canyons, where the dead often gather, and don’t get so absorbed in kicking steps that you let your guard down. Your ice axe could be your best line of defense if you get ambushed. If it comes down to it, wield your axe pick-first, and aim between the eyes.

Catch an all-new season of Fear the Walking Dead on AMC starting on April 15 at 9/8c.