Food & Recipes

Menus & Recipes

Garrett Ehrke with a typical Denali first course.Climbing requires a much higher energy expenditure on a daily basis than what you may be used to. Eating well and frequently not only sustains energy levels but also keeps positive morale and attitude. By nature, mountains have periods of inclement weather and it is important that caloric intake be high and regular to help avoid hypothermia and other cold weather and altitude related problems. Particularly when climbing at high altitude, where 10,000 calories and 4 liters of water a day, is not uncommon. Alpine Ascents spares no expense in providing high quality, nutritous food on all of our climbs and treks. We are happy to accomodate vegetarian requests whenever possible.

A regular, high caloric intake will aid against hypothermia, exhaustion and other cold weather ailments.
- Complex carbohydrates provide the best source for long-term energy.
- Refined sugars (candy) or simple carbohydrates provide quick short-term energy.
- Meals should also consist of foods which are light and compact to minimize weight and bulk.
- Two to two and one-half pounds per person/per day is considered a well planned trip menu.

Download the Alpine Ascents School Menu Guide for help in planning your own meals.


To master the art of expedition climbing you need to know how to cook good food in the mountains. When you can’t control the weather, when you can’t control your guide, try not to control your appetite. Here are some ideas from very basic to fancy. - Allen Carbert

Grape nuts and instant oatmeal.
Super light and efficient breakfast food that provides energy all day long. Mixing the two is a simple way to make these basic food items more tolerable.
½ cup Grape nuts
1 envelop of flavored instant oatmeal
1-cup hot water
3-tablespoon milk powder
1 tsp butter (optional)

French Toast
Perfect for long breakfasts on rest or weather days. This delicacy requires a decent frying pan and the ability to control the simmer on your stove.
1 bag powdered eggs
10 pieces of cinnamon raisin bread
4 oz nalgene bottle with real maple syrup
1/4 cup butter
1 dash of cinnamon

Mountain Pizza
Who says you can’t have pizza in the mountains? While I doubt your local pizza chain will deliver to the 8,000ft camp on the south side of Baker, you can still make a darn good pizza on your own up there.

Boboli pizza – 1 personal sized pizza crust that is small enough to fit inside your cook pot
Pizza sauce – usually comes with the pizza crust but you can use an instant pesto sauce.
1 shallot/onion and/or 1 mushroom
4 or 5 pieces of pepperoni
One stick string cheese

Put the pizza sauce on the crust. Thinly slice the onion, mushroom, pepperoni and cheese, then layer the ingredients on top of the sauce. Place the pizza in your cook pot with butter in the pot if you have any. Cover with your lid.

Now we’ve got to get that stove simmering to heat the bread and toppings and melt the cheese. Keep the lid on the pot to keep the heat in as you simmer. If you have an MSR Whisperlight, then you have to get the pressure in your tank very low. Release all the pressure in the tank and then give it 2 pumps. (It helps if the tank is half full). Restart the stove and control the flame output to a sputtering. It should be on the verge of dying and you will have to be focused on it to keep it that way. Too hot and you will burn the bread before melting the cheese. Once you have simmered the pizza for about 10 minutes, turn the stove off and let it sit covered for another 10 minutes. This extra time will melt the cheese nicely and then you can walk around and show off your creation. Watch others salivate! Submitted by Gene Pires

Another Pizza Recipe by Jon Holz: This past year my favorite food has been bobili pizzas. I bring a pan since I switched to the titanium pot. The pot lid fits the pan (8 inch). The personal bobili fit that pan pretty well. Slather on some sauce from one of their packets. Slice some mozzarella, add sliced pepperoni and whatever other items you have. I use the windscreen to raise the pan above the flame--simply pinch and roll the ends of the windscreen together, make a circle, put the windscreen around the burner and then pinch it into three lobes around the stove feet. The pan sits on top. Anyhow, cook it for 5-10 minutes on low heat. A little olive oil in the pan doesn't hurt. After a long day climbing up to Shurman, that meal is bound to lift spirits.

After guiding and teaching for countless weeks in the mountains I have come up with my own repertoire of meals and snack foods. Most of them require only slightly more planning and preparation time and cost a lot less than freeze dried dinners. So, for those of you who are interested in trying out their back country cooking, I have written down my most standard and easiest recipes. Some of the following recipes require a small non stick frying pan. They are light weight and cheap and can be bought at REI or any out doors store. - Neil McCarthy


Mexican Refried Beans And Tortillas
1 1/2 cup dried refried or black beans
2 1/4 cup water
4 flour fajitas [small tortillas]
2-3oz sheddar cheese [jalapeno is the best]
2 tbl spoons oil or butter
small container [plastic, for camping] hot sauce

Bring water to boil, add beans , cover pot, let sit until beans are hydrated and soft.
In small frying pan heat some oil or butter, put 1/4 of bean mix on a fajita and top with 1/4 of thinly sliced cheese, cover frying pan with a lid, turn flame down as low as possible you might have to take it off the flame periodically to prevent burning] , fajitas are ready when cheese has melted, eat with hot sauce or salsa

Curried Couscous And Pita Bread
2/3 cup couscous
1 cup water
1/2 cup dehydrated vegetables [ any mix works; corn, peas, carrots, peppers. sold at larger grocery stores or at REI]
1/4 tsp or 1/2 cube bouillon the spices can be mixed at home and brought along in a small plastic bag
1 tbsp curry mix
few red pepper flakes
1/4 cup raisins
1/3 cup cashews
1 small can chicken{optional]

Bring water to boil, add dehydrated veggies, boil for 2 minutes, add couscous, spices and raisins, cover pot, take off the stove and let sit for 5 min or until couscous is done, add cashews and chicken, reheat if necessary, eat with pita bread

Pasta Dinners
Regular pasta works really well up to about 10000 feet. Then the lower boiling point of the water can turn you pasta into a starchy mess. For higher altitude I recommend you get the kind that has eggs in it. It doesn't stick and it requires less water to cook. I also recommend egg pasta if you have to melt all your water from snow , to safe fuel. With your pasta you can have all different kinds of sauces which are listed below. I always bring parmesan cheese, garlic salt and hot sauce to spice them up.

Tomato Marinara Sauce:
1/2 package marinara dry mix
3 tbsp dried tomato paste [can be found in bulk section where spices are. If you can't find the dried paste bring 1/2 of a small can in a plastic bag, carry it in a cup or bowl for protection]
2/3 cup water

Bring water to boil, in a bowl combine hot water with marinara mix and tomato paste, let sit for 5 min, pour over your cooked pasta

Alfredo Sauce
1/2 package dry alfredo mix
To prepare alfredo sauce follow instructions on package I usually add several items to make the sauce more interesting:
1/2 cup rehydrated peas
3oz gorgonzola or blue cheese
garlic salt
parmesan cheese
chopped and fried pieces of sausage

Pesto Sauce
1/2 package dried pesto sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
garlic salt
parmesan cheese
To prepare sauce follow instructions on package. To give it more texture add 1/2 cup rehydrated vegetables

Tomato and Salmon Sauce
1/2 cup chopped dried tomatoes
small piece of smoked salmon
marinara tomato sauce [see above for preparation]
Soak dried tomatoes in enough hot water to cover them, pour off extra water, mix with tomato sauce, cut salmon into small pieces and add to sauce, add

Corn Pasta
This is pasta completely made of corn. It's a great to break the wheat routine. It cooks quickly and it's very tasty. Some larger grocery stores carry it in bulk , otherwise it can be found in health food stores. I usually fry the cooked and drained pasta in my frying pan with some olive oil and marinara sauce. Don't forget the parmesan!


Here are some alternatives for those of you who tire easily of hot oatmeal and granola. Be aware though that you might need more time to fix hash browns or pancakes in the morning! Give yourself the extra 20min to get ready. One of my favorites is butter toasted bagels with jam or cheese melted on top.

Butter Toasted bagels:
Cut bagel in half, butter both sides, fry in frying pan while keeping the lid on, if the bagels are getting old add a few drops of water to the pan, eat with jam, sugar and cinnamon, or melt some cheese on top.

One cup of Pancake mix [Krusteaz whole wheat mix works great], add the called for amount of water [see package], heat some butter in frying pan, cook pancakes carefully on low heat [they easily burn, ask you guide how to depressurize your stove], eat with maple syrup, jam, or sugar and cinnamon.

French toast:
Mix 1/2 cup water with 3tblsp 2% milk [or nonfat, but 2% tastes much better], and 1/2 cup dried eggs[at REI], cut bagel in half and let it soak up the liquid [in pot or bowl], heat some butter in frying pan and fry bagel until lightly brown on both sides, eat with jam, maple syrup, or sugar and cinnamon.

Hash browns and cheese:
Rehydrate contents of one small box of hash browns [can be found at bigger grocery stores], heat 2 tbsp of butter or oil in frying pan, add hash browns without any extra water, fry until gold brown, top with 2oz of cheese and and cover until melted, salt to taste.


There, of course, are the standard items like gorp, candy bars, power bars, dried fruit, nuts, sausage, cheese, bagels, etc... They all taste alright and are great sources of energy. However, after a while one may crave some foods that are more fun and less dense. I recommend you bring a bit of both. Here are some ideas :
- Pre-made bagel sandwiches with cream cheese, pickles, cured ham, mustard [or bring your own condiments for sandwiches like cream cheese, cheese,
salami, other dried meats, pickles[in ziplock bag], mustard, peanut butter and jelly [ always repackage glass jars or large tubes, be aware of the weight]
- Bag full of Salty Mix made with pretzels, tortilla chips, roasted almonds, and whatever else you may favor. You can also buy mixes in bulk but they are usually made with lots of cheap oils that are hard to digest.
-Poptarts [the unfrosted kind are my favorite]
-Whole Wheat .phpberry or Apricot Bars [some larger grocery stores sell them in the bulk section, the original ones taste much better than the nonfat
ones, you also need the fat ]
-Special dried fruit like ginger, mango, papaya, chocolate covered raisins, etc....
-Package[roll] of MariLu vanilla or cinnamon cookies
-Fruitbread [I butter the pieces before the trip]
-Anything else that you know you like, doesn't break into a million pieces, and keeps fresh for a few days

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