Foodies in the Alaska Range

Integrating a Jim Harrison mindset into expedition cooking has been proven to increase happiness. It’s true that we go to the Alaska Range to climb and ski, but the Alaska Range is known for its unstable, cold weather so inevitably we’re left with a lot of free time. Time to relish in cooking, eating, and drinking coffee.

On one particular trip we were in the midst of cooking dinner when some friends stopped into our cook tent and asked if they could join us during dinner. They sat down with bags of freeze dried meals, I felt bad for them. I finished cooking our steaks with pasta, capers, goat cheese, and kale. We served up the dinner and I glanced over to see their eyes wide open, staring at our plates, and practically drooling. Their freeze dried meals sounded like a good idea until they witnessed our five star meal! Bringing freeze dried meals is simple and doesn’t require much thought, but it’s worth taking the extra time to plan out four or five different breakfasts and dinners. The Alaska Range is a natural refrigerator, therefore, you can take plenty of fresh food and perishables and have them hold up for over a month.

It’s important to have a kitchen cook tent. You can set it up and dig out a living space with benches and a counter. Dig out a box into one of the vertical snow walls inside your cook tent - this is your refrigerator. Step outside the cook tent and dig a hole that is a few feet deep, put any food that you’re not currently using in a bag and bury it - this is your freezer. It’s important to bring a big skillet like one that you’d use at home, a big pot since you’ll be melting snow for water (bring a scoop as well for scooping water out of the pot), and a smaller pot for cooking.

You’ll need the necessary cooking utensils: a spatula, a big spoon, a nice knife, and a cutting board.  Most importantly, make sure to bring a Bialetti or an AeroPress for making espresso.  White gas stoves are the most efficient stove for the Alaska Range unless you’re climbing a route. We bring three MSR Whisperlite stoves, which allows for cooking with two stoves at a time and then we always have a backup. It’s nice to have a foam pad that stays in the kitchen so you have something to sit on. Definitely don’t forget your speaker - a chef needs music to feel inspired.

Some of my favorite “special” foods are bags of frozen veggies like kale, spinach, and edamame. Also: ground beef, smoked salmon, chicken sausages, goat cheese, capers, hot sauce, fresh limes, garlic, and chilies. Crack a dozen eggs into a Nalgene bottle. Prosciutto. Pepperidge Farm Double Chocolate Milano cookies with peanut butter for dipping. Patagonia Provisions canned mussels and crackers. You’ll be glad to have a full kitchen setup with delicacies. This is not only great for keeping your spirits high, but when your neighbors and friends come back to basecamp after a big climb you can whip them up something special and make their day! 

Glacier Margarita


Lemon/lime instant drink powder
Glacier snow or ice

Before your trip
Muddle tequila with some jalapeño pepper and cilantro. Strain and put in plastic bottle for flying to basecamp.

For the cocktail
At basecamp, dissolve drink powder in water to taste. Add a shot of tequila and ice. Stir and enjoy!


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