Walker stuffs his face with a hearty sandwich after a long day on The Captain. (Photo by Mike Kerzhner)
My favorite thing to do on a climbing trip is eat. Climbing comes in at a close second, of course; but most of the time, I’m thinking about what I’m going to eat next. Climbing is a calorie-demanding sport, especially on long trips where not eating enough one day can adversely affect you on subsequent days. You need to replenish often and with the right foods. Consuming a lot of calories will not only guarantee you the energy to send over multiple days, it will keep you focused while climbing and warm and happy at night. I argue that spicing things up in the camp kitchen, will make it easier to eat more food, thus leading to a more rewarding adventure. How does biting into a tuna wrap with kimchi and cilantro after a high point on your project sound? Or a delicious stove-cooked dinner of pasta with diced tomatoes, broccoli, and fried eggs, to fill your belly after jamming splitters in the Creek. As you may have noticed by now, much of what I eat tends to be vegetarian. I find that this is a great compliment to living out of a cooler. I have prepared a few meals ideas along with their necessary ingredients in order to sweeten your next climbing trip.
Mike Kerzhner wishing he had brought more than just bars on a annual NIAD. Mike has never eaten a bar since.
Usually, when I’m scrambling in the morning to get ready for a big day, these are my go to meals. They are fast, satisfying, and leave enough time to pack gear and lunch before climbing.
Summertime in Squamish makes for a delicious freshly harvested blackberry sandwich. (Photo by Clara Louise Lopes)
-Scramble eggs in a pan with butter or oil, cover with a handful of feta or cheddar cheese. Turn off heat and place tortilla over the eggs to soften for 1 minute, then wrap it up! Add avocado, Chili Garlic Sauce, and/or salsa for a more deluxe version.
Bring water to boil in a small pot. Add half a cup of oats per person. Add chopped nuts, sliced fruit, a spoon full of nut butter or coconut oil, and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit while you pack your gear.
Try this for a rest day:
Zuccini Pancakes with Feta Cheese
Combine pancake mix, eggs, milk, and shredded zucchini. Place skillet on stove and add coconut oil. Once the pan is hot, add pancake batter and sprinkle feta on top as the pancakes are cooking. To save time and fuel, make a large single pancake to split among everyone. To make the pancakes easier to flip, be patient and wait for bubbles to form in the center.
Slow rest day morning in Indian Creek calls for a pancake breakfast
This is the meal where climbers lose the most calories, because we are often too busy climbing to put much thought into it. Prepare your lunch while making a quick breakfast in the morning to guarantee that you will have something satisfying to eat out on the rock. For longer days where the cooler won’t be close by, try packing a couple of homemade snacks and some fresh fruit instead of bars. You will be surprised how much more energy you have to lead that next pitch. Wraps are a great option, because they can turn leftovers and fresh ingredients into portable meals.
Aubry Verret is all smiles after she bites into her chickpea salad wrap on top Lovers Leap in Tahoe. (Photo by Amy Verret).
Almond butter and Cream Cheese Wrap
Top a large tortilla with almond butter, cream cheese, sliced fruit (bananas and apples work well), and chopped nuts (leftovers from your oatmeal breakfast). Experiment with different ingredients, the more the better.
Canned tuna/chickpea wrap
Combine a can of tuna or slightly mashed chickpeas, with sauerkraut/kimchi. Other good additions are diced apple and shredded carrot. Wrap it all up in a tortilla with optional avocado, and greens (kale or cilantro).
The makings of the best wrap ever!
I reached out to a few fellow climbers for lunch suggestions:
Fueled his recent ascent of Joe Blau 5.14c, with Salami and cheese sandwiches.
Prepares for battle on Jumbo Love with avocado, hummus, cheese, and greens, sometimes individually or altogether on a sandwich. He also really likes beets.
Prefers to a haul a baked sweet potato with a hardboiled egg, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar, on a multi day adventure up El Cap.
A cool kit for your lunch. Food for two on a medium wall.
Stuff your face, you’ve earned it! These are some of my go to dinners for on the road meals.
Frying up eggs for a pasta dinner. (Photo Anthony Lapomardo)
Fried eggs over pasta
Mix cooked pasta with canned diced tomatoes, cooked broccoli (throw it in the pot with the pasta to cook), bread crumbs fried in oil with garlic; cover with fried eggs.
Vegetable Curry with Chickpeas
Fry onions, potatoes, green bell pepper, broccoli and any other desired veggies in a skillet. Meanwhile, get a pot of rice on to cook. Add 1-2 cans of coconut milk and copious amounts of curry powder, cumin, and turmeric, or just a flavorful pre-made curry sauce to the veggies, and simmer until they are soft. Mix in a can of chickpeas and serve it up over the rice.
Black Beans and Quinoa
Cook a sliced onion and a green pepper in a large pot; add chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and garlic. Add two cups of water and one cup of quinoa to the pot, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is cooked. Mix in a can or two of black beans and top with avocado, cilantro, feta cheese, and hot sauce. (The leftovers will make a great wrap for lunch the next day).
Eating well will keep you going strong for the duration of your trip. There’s no reason to subsist on only bars and trailmix. A little creativity and extra thought will have you dreaming about your sandwich instead of your send, and transform your climbing menu from dirtbag to delicious.
Walker Emerson is a contributing writer for the Planet Granite Blog. He also sets routes at Planet Granite under the alias ‘Smash’. When he’s not plugging grips and jugging lines, he can be found on weekends clipping bolts at Jailhouse or sailing the granite seas of Yosemite.