08:22 a.m. EDT May 7, 2003
Little bo peep lost her sheep…. because the Russians ate it! Along with the colorful climbers come their colorful eating delicacies. While everyone is writing about all the tents that recently got destroyed in the hurricane force winds, the North Side Italians and a few others are concentrating on what’s really important – FOOD. The Italians write about their Tortellini Pinton in a four-cheese sauce with a side dish of boiled potatoes and Asiago cheese. Meanwhile, not too far down the road, the Russians killed and ate their own sheep. For 25 USD they convinced the villagers to sell them a live one. At first the locals tried to pawn off a dead one for 7 USD, but the Ruskies said “Nyet!” and opted for a "dog-sized" one instead. So they have a live sheep and a huge appetite, now what?
One of the climbers on the expedition is a hunter as was ready and willing to turn Dolly into dinner, but there was no knife for him to slaughter the animal with. Luckily a nomad came by and helped butcher and cook the meat. This is the kind of stuff you don’t see on Martha Stewart. The whole crew ate like a king for a paltry 25 USD – Trust us, we aren’t making this stuff up.
Sushi for Sisu
The South side climbers are a bit more sophisticated. Today Gary Guller’s Team Everest 03 team tried to pass time in base camp by concocting different recipes from their freeze dried food stash – the result: blueberry cheese cake with a graham cracker crust.
If freeze-dried isn’t your style, you might want to pass up Gary’s kitchen tent for the Adventure Consultants’. Before their second acclimatization trip, clients and leaders alike traded in their sierra cups and sporks for some Chopsticks and wasabi – Sushi and Miso soup for everybody! Someone said they even passed around those steamed mini-towels before the meal.
Cocoa for Cures
Some foods are as good as gold in base camp. Take the Alpine Ascents team for example. They’ve started a program called Cocoa for Cures. Instead of paying the Base Camp Clinic in cash, the team has traded chocolate bars for Advil and other common meds.
For some, food is there to simply put fuel into a body, for others it’s a way to spice up the mundane base camp living, and for a select few, it’s an integral part of the Everest experience. To those few a plate of good food is as necessary as getting good weather forecasts and just as important. On an expedition it is very easy to get depressed – bad weather, broken tents, expedition politics, getting sick, etc. . . There is one thing though that can take the grumpiest climber and turn his or her frown upside down – Food! Everyone looks forward to it and the difference it has on morale is astonishing. Never underestimate the power of a good meal and how it affects a climber’s potential to summit. We await with anticipation the effects of yesterdays high altitude Russian barbecue!
(Note: Sisu is Finish for power)
Drawing by Seg Sjogren