Behold the Power of Fine Dining at Altitude

Life is brought down to the basics: if you are warm, regular, healthy, not thirsty or hungry, then you are not on a mountain. . . . Climbing at altitude is like hitting your head against a brick wall – it’s great when you stop.
– Chris Darwin

One of the most important things when you are climbing a mountain at altitude is what you eat.

The higher you go the less air your lungs are able to take in and the more your body is working to produce oxygen in your blood stream to keep your body from shutting down.

As we begin to prepare our packing list, one of my team mates asked what food we can expect on this journey, giving us an idea of what snacks we should take of our own and how much we need to take.

Ronnie Muhl, or expedition leader, informed us that we are going to feast like kings and queens!

Here’s a little flash back to our team about to enjoy breakfast one morning on Kilimanjaro.

Here’s a little flash back to our team about to enjoy breakfast one morning on Kilimanjaro.

My journey up Kilimanjaro saw us fed to the nines and at the end of each day’s hiking, I was famished. At least for the first few days. Maybe it was a combination of excitement and the hard work (which except for summit night) didn’t feel like hard work at all. By mid-trip though my appetite began to waiver fast and at night and during the day trekking, I had to force myself to eat. When you have no appetite this is not an easy thing to do but with a quick reminder of how high you are and what you still have lying ahead of you, your hand is moving to gracefully shove food down your throat, reminding yourself as you chew on your mouthful that your body is doing amazing things for you and this is an act of loving your body and giving it the energy it so desires and craves as you climb higher. I wonder how many days in on Aconcagua it will be before my appetite refuses to leave camp and show up at the next camp!

Each day on Aconcagua as we make our way up to Base Camp we can expect lavish (for a mountain) three course meals for breakfast and for dinner and if it’s anything like our Kilimanjaro trip they are not lying either!  Our lunches will be pre-packed and will consist of things like fruit, sweets, chocolate bars, fruit juice and ham and cheese rolls, which we will snack on as we hike each day.

Red wine pouring down

According to Ronnie, in the evenings, maybe while playing a game of the very addictive “Monopoly Card Game” we’ll also indulge in a little bit of Malbec wine.  To give you a little background on Malbec wine, it originates from the Bordeaux region of France and this grape is among the “big six” for red wine grapes. The French plantations of Malbec are now found primarily in Cahors in South West France.  It is increasingly celebrated as an Argentine varietal wine.  Malbec has found both fame and fortune and glory in the sun-drenched climate of Argentina.  This is Argentina’s signature grape and it is quickly making a new name for itself with red wine lovers.  Hmmm, I’m already looking forward to it!

In the three camps that we’ll set up above Base Camp as we make our way to the summit, our meals will be prepared by Ronnie and our local guides.  These meals will consist of things like tea and coffee, biscuits, muesli and fruit for breakfast and the evening will consist of pre-dinner snacks like cheese, salami, nuts and biscuits, which will be followed by soup and probably a package of high quality freeze-dried food, followed by fruit for pudding!

BackCountry Cuisine

Surprisingly, when you’ve been hiking for hours and you are exhausted, these taste pretty good! Some roast lamb we had on the Fish River Canyon & Otter Trail hike did it for me both times and all you need to do is add hot water!

Some of you might turn your noses up as freeze-dried food but if you have ever done strenuous hiking all day, there is nothing better than those freeze-dried foods and they honestly can taste like a Sunday’s roast dinner. But then again maybe it’s the altitude playing tricks on your mind. I’m guessing by this stage my appetite will probably still be sitting somewhere at Base Camp or below!

Weight loss at altitude is quite rapid and on 7 days on Kilimanjaro I lost over 5kgs but one thing Ronnie has assured us that even though we may lose weight on this expedition, it will not be a result of lack of good, wholesome food and sustenance.

I’m guessing it’s still a little too early to start packing….

~ 79 Days: 20 Hours: 53 Minutes: 27 Seconds to Aconcagua, Argentina. ~

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