Teshil describes his experience as he helps plan the meals with Singaporean team Big Mountains on Small Budget for the first Singapore attempt on Mt Trishul (7120m) in September 2019
The exciting bit of planning a self-sufficient expedition in a remote region is the logistic that comes along with it, both in terms of gears and food. Now, when you add the element of high altitude to it, it becomes even more tricky in terms of food planning. On one side you must consider the weight you have to carry, and, on the other end, you must take into account the extra cooking time.
We don't have the perfect solution, but the list below details our FIVE key considerations (acronym BOLTS – we all love acronym, don't we?) in our planning phase for our attempt on Mt Trishul (7120m).
1. Balanced meals
This is not a critical criterion but to me it's an interesting personal challenge to be able to plan a balanced meal up in the mountains. While carbohydrates are easy to plan for, sourcing for meat, vegetables and fruits is the hardest part. We manage to get our hands on dry food as well as some multi-vitamin to complete the set.
2. One Pot Meal
At the high altitude we are heading to, we are expecting strong winds. The only place we might be able to cook could be in the 5-star comfort of our tent's 'gigantic' vestibule. Hence, meals preparation should be fast and efficient. That is the beauty of one pot meal; switch on the fire and pour everything in the pot and let it cook! Voila!
We just sort everything in one bag, so all preparation is done before the expedition. How amazing is that?
Xieheng is putting everything for one meal in one bag
3. Light with minimal packaging
Putting everything in one bag, means that we reduce unnecessary packaging and weight. It also prevents us from bringing preserved canned food (whose content cannot be emptied beforehand).
To go light, we used a variety of dry food. In Singapore, we managed to get hold of dry mushroom, shrimps, fish, dried meat, mangoes, guavas and prunes off the shelf. Osh helped us dehydrate some broccolis. We could not dehydrate meat by ourselves as it takes very long in our humid climate of Singapore. We also measure each meal's serving.
Three Brocollis in the dehydrator
How much they shrink after dehydration
Three Broccolis fully dehydrated
4. Tasty and to everyone's liking
While we are not heading for our expedition to have a buffet spread, it is important that everyone in the team likes each of the meals that is being planned. At high altitude, we often lose our appetite and having a meal we look forward to, is important. Even if that means having some personalisation in the meals.
Xieheng enjoying all his personalised meals for him and Peter
5. Special treat
Whether that piece of chocolate or that special dinner you plan to cook on that special night, you can decide. You can even have more than one special treat. It helps boost the morale up. For us, the team decided to bring a live goat to base camp and cook it fresh there. That would be something of a special treat.
Distributing the weight for each climb cycle
Every gram counts
Balanced Diet One Pot Meal Light with Minimal packaging Tasty to everyone's liking Special Treat
As we finished packing for our 11 days of meals, the weight amounted to 10kg per person. While we are quite satisfied with that considering how balanced and nutritious our meals are, we are still looking to how we can do our meals preparation better the next time. Do give us a shout out if you have any comments or ideas.