Food Glorious Food!

enjoy talking about, preparing, and eating all manner of delicious food and drink. Although every healthy person enjoys eating, I take the subject to a higher plane. This is beneficial on a lengthy expedition because my predilection for a variety of different foods stimulates the appetite where it readily wanes owing to high altitude.

At home I eat a large lunch, a habit aligned with much of the world, and in contrast with the unhealthy American habit of sitting down to a large evening meal. Unfortunately a formal meal in the middle of a climbing day is inconvenient. Thus on an expedition the trend is to eat a hot breakfast and a hot dinner, relegating "lunch" to a day-long snacking affair that begins in the morning and continues until supper.


ased on his expeditionary experience at Mount McKinley, Edward suggests that we select three or four standard dinners, and repeat them, over-and-over again such that the same meal is encountered on every third or fourth night.

While that concept obviates eating the same food on consecutive days, I have plans to augment the variety level. With up to seventeen dinners on the mountain, we decide that roughly two-thirds of them, as twelve meals, should be group dinners. The remaining meals are individual dinners with an obvious definition.

Then, given twelve communal evening meals, I solicit several menu suggestions from every member. Having menu suggestions in-hand, I cull them to thirteen completely different meals with the criterion for inclusion being to maximize their diversity:

fettuccine Alfredo
fettuccine Alfredo

One individual meal night is shared by John and myself - pesto pasta with romano cheese, pine nuts, and olive oil. John's vial of oil had sprung a leak. I acquire a few ounces from the Mallku Expediciones mess tent to make good the difference with our requirements.

I am gratified to learn that John is also fond of exotic food and new taste experiences. He constantly accepts my suggestions for how to "spice" this-or-that dish. Indeed, his spice kit mirrors my own quite closely - curry powder, garlic, tabasco, etc ... .

The predominence of pasta-based meals is intentional: carbohydrate is better tolerated at high altitude than fats and protein. Steak and similar fare could wait.

Eating on the mountain is sometimes the only thing to "look forward to" on an otherwise lazy day. It is with pleasure I state that our choice of dinner items stimulates our appetites, and, with that, improves group morale in a way not possible with freeze-dried food.

Edward corroborates this concept, stating that freeze-dried meals lower group morale and are thus not worth the weight savings.


ttention to variety is not so keen with breakfast. In part this arises because, let's face it, standard breakfast fare is inherently not as varied as lunch or dinner. As with dinner, we decide to have individual and group breakfasts.

The individual meals consist of hot oatmeal (Adam, John) or brown sugar Pop-Tarts (Edward). With eleven varieties ranging from blueberries and cream to cinnamon roll, I can anticipate with relish and then enjoy a different flavor nearly every time.


The group meals are reserved for non-moving days since they ALL involve baking pancakes, one-at-a-time in a small frying pan - a time consuming process. In time I grow quite unhappy with the pancakes for several reasons:

We would have enjoyed scrambled eggs at breakfast. A cheesy omelet would be better still. However I have found that powdered eggs taste bad upon rehydration. Furthermore, they provide no carbohydrate as required for performance enhancement. To bring real eggs up the mountain courts disaster should they break. They also have a lower than ideal calorie / weight ratio.


ll food between breakfast and dinner is included here. We each bring snack food for personal consumption, the resulting items necessarily different between individuals.

My chief sources of energy are granola bars (fifty total), the six varieties enhanced by assorted dried fruit; cashews and macadamia nuts.

On summit day I enjoy a bagel with salmon paté and some romano cheese - constructed the previous evening at Camp Berlin. I unwrap granola bars the previous evening so I do not have to remove hand layers to prepare and eat them.

Other snacks create the illusion of a balanced diet - chocolate covered espresso beans; home-dried salami and jerky; and (!) dried gefilte fish.8

If you are halfway normal then food is a welcome companion in an otherwise tedious day - be it from boredom in a storm-bound tent, or as the sole creature comfort on an exhausting, twelve-hour march. Do yourself a favor and plan to bring enough food, and in sufficient variety to make every meal something to anticipate with relish.

8From east European Jewish cuisine, gefilte fish is generally whitefish or pike cooked with onions and spices, and is generally served with horseradish. To have dehydrated the fish for mountain travel is unique to my knowledge.

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