Fourteen 14ers – Food Rations

At the end of March we’ll start a ski traverse across fourteen of Colorado’s ’14er’ peaks. Our team of four will ski from Monarch Pass to Turquoise Lake. Using National Geographic TOPO mapping software, the stats look like 130 miles, 40,000′ of vertical climbing, and the option for 3 ration caches.

I’ve stacked the deck with James Healy as a cook extrordinaire, Fritz Howard as ‘knower’ of local terrain and Zach Holtzman as master trail breaker. Actually those skills are just the additional gems they bring to the trip. Each of them skis face shots or crust with a fifty pound pack, navigates safely through avalanche terrain , and is comfortable in a tent for weeks.


For years I considered winter camping food preparation as much fun as scraping ice off the bottom of my skis – important, but bothersome. In 2000 James and I were on Denali with my regular climbing partner Trey Cook. We started our rotation of cooking with Trey, then me, and followed up with James. Before James served his first meal Trey and I knew we were out of our league, and very happy about the realization. Our camp chores were quickly rearranged so James cooked and Trey and I did everything else!  Six days later James led the steep section through the upper West Rib to the summit… proving himself ‘multi-faceted’.

We opted out of pulling sleds because they prove to be cumbersome traversing side hills and ridges. Consequently we are uber-weight conscious and will need to use ration caches along the way. James will organize all food and fuel needs, buy it, and remove weighty packaging and re-package it for the trip. He’ll then work with Fritz to place cache sites on the route.

James has useful rules of thumb for allocating food and fuel and their weighty consequences, explained below.

Crunched a little ration plan and if we are able to re-ration every 4 days or less, total weight for food and fuel should not exceed 12 lbs each (10 food + 2 fuel – 1 liter). Extras (personal treats, energy bars, bourbon) would add more. If we went 6 days without a re-ration, total weight would go up to about 16.5 lbs ea.

Ration is based on winter, which is usually about 2.5 lbs of food per person per day in order to get enough calories. If we are really concerned about traveling ultralight, we could shave it down to 2.25 lbs, which would save us about 1 lb each for 4 days. Fuel is generally about 1/2 liter/stove/day. We will have 2 stoves, so about 1 liter of fuel each day, depending on how much snow we are melting for water. We can bring iodine or a filter and fill up from streams if available.

Total ration weight for 13 days is 130 lbs at 2.5lbs/p/d before treats. Will pull together the plan and have everyone review it so no foods are forgotten and distasteful items are eliminated.

Any thoughts on route going from North to South or South to North? Looking at likely re-rations and dates.

More posts as we get closer to our departure date.  Dave, James, Zach and Fritz    26FEB10

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