Online dating in small mountain towns is a special phenomenon, fraught with challenges that might horrify most city dwellers. For example:
—Repeated awkward encounters in town’s only grocery store with that dude you accidentally Superliked.
—Your back-to-back Tinder dates know each other well because they’re actually climbing partners—and in fact, they’re going on a mission together tomorrow morning.
—Scrolling past all of your friends, the men your friends already dated, and that guy you always see on the mountain whooping it up under the lift—to discover sadly that you’ve scrolled through all the options.
—Simultaneously running into three of the guys you matched within the last 24 hours at the pub.
—Meeting up for backcountry adventures out of cell service, which opts you out of the requisite exit strategy of your roommate calling you with an “emergency.”
But seriously, Tinder dating in mountain towns can actually be fun! If you’re a first-timer, we’ll help you out with what to expect and some typical scenarios, so you’re primed and ready to make the most of your outdoor Tinder date. In general, there are five classic categories of Tinder mountain town men.
The Extreme Athlete
Typical Profile: Every photo is either an intense action shot or a glory shot on top of a mountain at sunrise. Description reads: “Endorphin junkie. Caffeine-free, alcohol-free, gluten-free.”
Typical Date: Because extreme athletes tend to be hyper-focused, this quickly turns into a solo date as he out-runs you, climbs out of sight up the skin track, and generally leaves you in the dust. In your solitude, you wonder how this is possible when he had no coffee and ate three raisins for breakfast.
Likely Outcome: You decide you like triple-shot Americanos before dawn patrols and post-adventure beers way too much for this to ever work.
Lifelong Ski Bum
Typical Profile: Shots of him hucking a cliff, skinning up the mountain, and in the white room. He doesn’t work in winter, holding down raft guiding, fire-fighting, or other summer seasonal work long past his 20s. Usually suffering from classic Peter Pan syndrome.
Typical Date: He shows you just enough of his secret stashes on the mountain to impress you. You show him none of yours, well aware that the commitment phobia of this category of Tinder mountain man has reached iconic status. If he’s around for a third or fourth date, you might consider taking him to one of your favorite lines.
Likely Outcome: You remain friends, because he makes for a reliable ski buddy, if not a reliable boyfriend.
Hunt ‘n’ Fish Enthusiast
Typical Profile: He’s proudly holding up the biggest fish he’s ever caught, standing solemnly behind a majestic dead animal, or mid-target practice with a big gun.
Typical Date: He takes you fishing at sunset in his beer-stocked raft—or his favorite riverside fishing hole if he’s more on the dirtbag side of things. He patiently tries to teach you to fly-cast, and either a) gives up when you continually get the line stuck in every bush within a 20-foot radius, or b) is somewhat astonished when you cast like you walked straight out of A River Runs Through It and earnestly tries not to be threatened by your superior skill.
Likely Outcome: You share a kiss as dusk lengthens. If you’re into it (and depending on how many beers you had), you extend the date to grill the fish one of you caught.
Typical Profile: Hard to spot to the untrained eye. He’s wearing the requisite plaid and cuddling the requisite dog on the edge of an alpine lake. Close inspection will reveal the shirt is spotless, and careful questioning over text will reveal that’s his buddy’s dog and that lake is actually right off the highway.
Typical Date: After trying desperately to convince you to meet for a glass of wine, he eventually gives in to mountain biking or some other activity that requires sweating. He brings up the rear on the trail, and has excuses ready every time he comes huffing up, i.e. “I really need to oil these calipers,” or “I’m just so tired from that 50-kilometer trail run I did yesterday.” At this point, you’re onto him that he has no idea what calipers do and he only runs when chased.
Likely Outcome: You drop him when he suggests splitting up to shower before going to the brewery for the post-ride beer.
Typical Profile: This one comes out of the blue, and could look like any category of mountain man. He uses good grammar, has a regular job and has never taken a selfie from the driver’s seat of his car in his life. He prioritizes relationships with people as much as recreation, and loves when the two dovetail.
Typical Date: After witty banter over text, you decide to risk it and go for an overnight date, maybe camping at the trailhead for an alpine start. He packs your favorite whiskey. You carry on an enthusiastic conversation for six hours on the trail, negating any need to carry bear spray.
Likely Outcome: You backpack off into the sunset, dreaming of two-person tents, matching ski shells, and what to name the dog you’ll adopt together.
See? For all its hilarious pitfalls in tiny mountain towns, outdoor Tinder dating actually is fun. But let’s be honest—it’s actually most fun for your friends who aren’t on it who like to scroll through your account. Just make sure you set strict parameters based on the above primer before handing over your phone.
And keep your eyes peeled for the unicorn.