What do Climbers Eat While Climbing Mount Everest?
Climbing Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, is a feat that requires both mental and physical strength. From dealing with brutal weather conditions to enduring the physical strain, climbers need to stay on top of their game. A significant part of this preparation involves nourishment. Having a well-planned food strategy is as important as having the right gear or the perfect climbing team. The foods that climbers consume while climbing Mount Everest are specifically chosen to meet the unique nutritional demands of their bodies under the extreme conditions.
Energy Needs of Everest Climbers
At high altitudes, the human body burns calories at a much faster rate than usual, leading to an increased demand for calorie-rich foods. According to studies, climbers burn approximately 6,000 to 10,000 calories daily while climbing Everest. Therefore their food consumption needs to match these nutritional necessities.
Mainstay Foods for Everest Climbers
The caloric density of foods, their weight, and suitability to be consumed at high altitude are the main factors that determine the diet of a climber ascending Mount Everest. Common options are instant noodles, cheese, nuts, dried fruits, salami, energy bars, and chocolate bars. These food items provide high energy and are lightweight, making them perfectly suited for the expedition.
Hydration at High Altitudes
Maintaining hydration levels is as important as consuming calories. However, as convenient as carrying bottled water sounds, it’s not practical due to the freezing temperatures. Therefore, climbers melt snow to obtain drinking water or use water purifying tablets with the available water.
Meals at Everest Base Camp and Higher Altitudes
The meal plan differs substantially depending on the location on the mountain. At Everest Base Camp, climbers do enjoy more diverse food options, including freshly cooked meals with meat, vegetables, and bread. As climbers move to higher camps, the food options become limited due to the harsher conditions. They rely more on packaged, instant, and freeze-dried meals because they’re lightweight and easy to prepare (only requiring the addition of boiling water).
Diet Challenges at High Altitudes
Climbing Everest is not just physically demanding; it also challenges the appetite. As climbers ascend, they often experience diminished appetites or even altitude sickness, making it hard for them to take in the necessary nutrition. In such cases, ginger helps with nausea while appetite stimulants help maintain the calorie intake.
1. Do climbers cook their own food while climbing Mount Everest?
Yes, climbers usually cook their own foods, especially when they reach higher altitudes. Portable stoves are used for boiling water, heating pre-packaged meals, and even making hot drinks.
2. How much food is carried by each climber?
The exact amount of food carried depends on the climber’s personal preferences and dietary requirements. Nonetheless, on average, a climber carries about 2 kg of food per day.
3. Why do climbers prefer high-calorie foods?
Climbers prefer high-calorie foods because they need to meet their bodies’ increased caloric demands without carrying excessive weight in food supplies. High-calorie, dense foods provide the necessary energy and nutrients without being bulky.
4. Is fishing or hunting an option for food while climbing Mount Everest?
No, fishing or hunting is not an option while climbing Mount Everest. The harsh weather and high altitudes are not conducive to wildlife, making it impossible for climbers to rely on hunting or fishing for sustenance.
5. What kind of food is available at the Everest Base camp?
At the Everest Base camp, climbers have a broader range of food options, including freshly cooked meals comprising meat, vegetables, pasta, rice, and bread. These meals are prepared by specialized kitchen teams at the camp.
Despite the adversities faced on this perilous journey, a well-planned diet can significantly contribute to making the climb to the top of Mount Everest successful. Understanding the nutritional needs, carrying the proper food supplies, and maintaining hydration levels are key elements to undertake this challenge.