Although technically in the same mountain range, the gear list for K2 is much different from that of Everest’s. K2, the King of Mountains, is located in the more remote Karakoram mountain link, accessible from Pakistan. The remoteness of the mountain means you’ll be spending a lot of your time at Base Camp or other camps, with little possibility of leaving for any reason to fetch anything in any of the nearest villages, not that mountaineers on expeditions like these do, but still, it’s worth nothing you’ll want to have all you need with you already.
Food Supplies You’ll Need on K2
On Everest, it’s possible to import some of your food from the nearby villages, many mountaineers and expedition teams often count on getting their fresh vegetables, bread and fruits from them; however, on K2, that’s not an option. If you’re climbing on your own, or as part of a private team without the reliability of commercial expedition food planning, you’re going to want to spend just as much time planning your meal supply as you do on gear planning. It should be noted that if you’re going to want fresh bread, it’s recommended to bring your own supply of ingredients and bake it yourself, chapati style in a pan. We have a great Bannock bread recipe for this. When climbing K2 be sure to have:
A Supply of Protein
Preferably, pack and plan for some non-perishable sources of protein like:
- Lots of nuts. Peanuts have one of the highest protein contents in the nut family, ironic because it’s technically not a nut. But they carry 38 grams of protein in each cup. Other high-protein nuts include pistachios (25g), almonds (20g) and Brazil nuts (19g), grams measured per cup.
- Seeds are also a good source of protein and take up a lot less space than nuts, making them an alternative to them when pack planning. Seeds with high protein include sunflower seeds (31g) and pumpkin seeds (12g). If you want to add some protein into your tea, try bringing some flaxseed (31g) or chia seeds (17g), per cup and per 100 grams respectively. We found already shelled sunflower seeds by YankeeTraders (2lb). It saved space because the shells were gone and they were roasted and unsalted.
- Dried meats can be an invaluable source of protein for mountaineers. Be sure to account for some meats in your pack planning, good sources include beef jerky (9-13g), turkey jerky (11g) and meat sticks (9g), all measured per ounce. Jack Link’s are a top brand, but we also liked the Classic Exotic Jerky Sampler by Jerky.com that included a 4-pack sampler of venison, boar, buffalo and elk for $24.99. Another popular option was the Jerky Original Venison pack.
- Pouch fish can also be used as a good and space-saving source of protein. Now that we don’t have to carry it in a can, you can get fish in pouches from trusted brands with little to no water to contend with when opening. These include foil pouch tuna (17g) and salmon (25g). Canned sardines and herring come in small containers that fit anywhere, at 20g and 15g respectively. Our favorite options were Chicken of the Sea Pink Salmon pouches and Bumble Bee Premium Light Tuna.
- Meat Sticks are actually a very big comfort on the mountain, it’s not steak, but the taste of real meat is incredible if you’re working with limited supplies. Meat sticks include pepperoni logs, salami logs and soppressata logs. Our favorite brands are Bridgeford Old World Pepperoni and Boar’s Head Meat Sticks.
A Supply of Carbohydrates and Grains
Carbs are just as important as protein when endeavoring on high-energy activities, you’ll want your body to have something else to burn besides your body’s protein and vitamins. Make sure to pack some, and theses are space-saving and easy options:
- Instant mashed potatoes can be a filling option for a carb, and there are instant ones from top brands like Idahoan that only require boiling water. The packets come in individual 4 oz. sizes or family sizes, which can feed a team of three or four people.
- Instant oatmeal can be an easy breakfast that also only requires boiling water, along with some protein packed items we mentioned, a good, hearty portion will provide a lot of energy. Our go-to selection was the 52 Count Variety Pack by Quaker.
- Easy bread ingredients are usually a staple on K2 since fresh bread is not readily available. Most mountaineers opt for a yeast-free/unleavened bread that can be cooked in a shallow pan without a lot of fuss. These include Chapati, flatbreads and pita bread. We have an easy Bannock Bread Recipe that works well on expeditions.
- Instant rice is also a staple on the mount, brands like Uncle Bens are cheap, come in pouches and can be easily cooked with just boiling water. For larger teams, boxed rice like Minute Rice also works.
- Mac and cheese
A Supply of Dairy
Dairy products aren’t something you’re really going to come by on K2 and really remote ranges, but there are still some options like powdered and liquid nonperishable milk products.
- Whole powdered milk items are easier to carry around and prepare on the go with just water. They don’t taste as good as liquid versions, but they will do. Two brands we’ve tested include Klim Dry Whole Milk Powder. It usually comes in a wide can so it can be cumbersome, but you get a lot of it and it’s a fortified milk product. The other brand is Carnation Instant Nonfat Dry Milk. It comes in a pouch in various sizes, so it’s easier to carry. It is not fortified, but it still tastes pretty good.
- Whole non-perishable milks are also an indulgence. They keep well for up to 6 months unopened and often come in quart size, which if shared with climbing partners, can be drunk in one day, leaving no waste. If you’re high up on the mountain, you can keep it cold in the snow if you’re drinking it alone. So if you are going to drink it alone, wait until you’re higher up to open it. Remember, Base Camp is not always cold. We prefer 1 Qt. size Parmalat brand.
- The Wise Company offers the Wise Company 120 Serving Milk Bucket for about $50.00 and it contains 10 pouches of long-term milk alternative product with 12 servings per pouch.
A Supply of Fruits
You’re probably not going to find fresh fruits near K2 that will keep for long, but dried fruits will do. We found some good options:
- Gerbs 2lb Dried Fruit Medleys – Super Fruits was a top pick for us, mainly because we found that Gerbs, which offers allergen friendly foods, also had supplies for nuts and seeds as well. This company was a one-stop-shop in our testing. This medley includes their Super Fruits collection that includes cranberries, goji berries, blueberries, cherries and raisins. They also have a Cape Cod blend and a Cherry and Blueberry blend.
- The Anna and Sarah Tropical Dried Fruit Salad Mix (3lb) was also a good option. Other choices from Anna and Sarah included their Unsweetened Banana Chips and their Dried Kiwi Slices.
MREs and Dehydrated Meals
There are a series of MREs, dehydrated meal packs and emergency food rations that can be purchased online and in outdoor shops. A few we found were:
Emergency Food Rations – 3600 Calorie Bar – 3 Day Supply by Grizzly Gear contains 3600 calories packed into 9 bars. The entire pack lasts 3 days and only weighs 24 oz; each bar contains 400 calories.
- Good old Military Surplus MREs are always an easy option. They contain everything you need to make a full meal in one pouch and can be bought on the cheap. These meals contain an average of 1250 calories per.
Ultimate Survival Technologies 5-Year Emergency Food Ration Bar is a common emergency food ration you can find at almost any department store in the outdoor section. It comes in a bright orange vacuum-sealed foil. Online you can also find the S.O.S. Rations Emergency 3600 Calorie Food Bar
- The Wise Company is all over outdoor shops, online and even being sold on television shopping shows like HSN for emergency preparedness. They offer buckets of prepacked dehydrated food meals that include entrees, drinks and even desserts. We found in our search that it was one of the more widely available brands and easy to have shipped to your home or picked up in-store. It also had a very impressive variety of food choices. We found that the Wise Company Entrée Only Grab and Go Food Kit was the most hassle free option, it’s a bucket with 60 servings of food entrees including Teriyaki and Rice and Loaded Baked Potato Casserole.
DISCLAIMER: Always consult with a nutritionist and a professional high-altitude climbing authority for specific food packing advice.
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Staff, REI. “Backpacking Food: Meal Planning Tips.” REI. Recreational Equipment, Inc, 20 Jan. 17. Web. 16 Mar. 2017. <https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/planning-menu.html>.