21. Food & Water Considerations

In this video we discuss food and water options for mountaineering.

People often default to dehydrated packaged meals, but they can take a very long time to rehydrate at higher elevations, and above 15,000 feet some companies say you will have to boil the meal for as long as 20 minutes.

Real food goes a long way on alpine climbs, especially on longer trips. Eat as much food as you can in the mountains. Things that sound delicious to you like pizza, burgers, and lots of bacon, are often carried on bigger mountaineering expeditions.

Eating a high calorie diet of food you are used to can go a long way towards making you feel and perform better. There is a wealth of information on diet, nutrition, and sports performance. The bottom line with alpine climbing is that it is often difficult to maintain proper hydration and caloric intake.

Find ways to get a balanced diet, and consume adequate water in the mountains.  

“Pocket” foods like shot blocks and gels tend not to freeze like energy bars sometimes do—as such they work well as snacks in colder temperatures.  

One consideration is to try to hydrate with soup mixes, as they can also replenish some salts. And adding some butter to your soup base add fat to keep you warm.

Do what you can to stay hydrated on climbs with longer stretches of technical rock. One consideration is to use use a hydration bladder. While some prefer this system, hydration bladders are also known to be plagued with problems like leaking or freezing, and they are heavy and hard to fill from a trickling alpine stream.

You will cramp less when you are adequately hydrated, so find the hydration system that works for you!

We hope you found this video helpful. Feel free to comment below with questions or thoughts!


Please remember, climbing is inherently dangerous. Climb at your own risk.